Owen Farrell ran out of time when kicking a crucial penalty at the Rugby World Cup - with England trailing Samoa in the match.
England recovered to defeat Samoa 18-17, thanks to Danny Care’s late try, and it spared Farrell from huge embarrassment.
The fly-half, who broke Jonny Wilkinson’s all-time England points record earlier in the Pool D game, violated World Rugby’s new ‘shot clock’ rules.
Farrell exceeded the 60-second time limit allowed by referees as he lined up a penalty kick, with England trailing 17-11 to Samoa late in the contest.
The referee, Andrew Brace, blew his whistle when Farrell eventually went to take his kick, with the Saracens star having already run out of time.
Farrell scored his kick but England did not get the three points due to the time violation - which was the first time it had happened this tournament.
“I didn’t see the clock. I wasn’t aware. It was above where I was picking my target. I got lost a little bit in the kick,” a relieved Farrell said afterwards.
“It wasn’t good enough and I’m glad for the team’s sake that it didn’t cost us. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”
According to World Rugby’s rules, which were introduced in an attempt to speed up the game at the start of the year, a penalty kick “must be taken within 60 seconds (playing time) from the time the team indicated their intention to do so, even if the ball rolls over and has to be placed again.”
As Farrell took longer than 60 seconds, the kick was disallowed and a scrum was awarded by the referee.
In commentary on ITV, the former England player Ugo Monye commented: “That’s unbelievable”.
It summed up an error-strewn performance from England, although Steve Borthwick’s side were already assured of their place through to the quarter-finals are group winners.
Care scored the winning try seven minutes from time to spare England’s blushes and complete a 18-17 victory over a superb Samoa side.
Two tries from winger Nigel Ah-Wong had Samoa leading deep into the match, but their dreams of a first win over England were ended by poor discipline as they lost centre Tumua Manu to a yellow card and conceded repeated penalties that gave England the territory they needed.
England lost 30-22 to Fiji in a warm-up fixture ahead of the World Cup and may meet them again in the quarter-finals, where they will need an improved performance after a sloppy showing against Samoa where they made numerous handling errors and battled with the high tempo game of the Pacific Islanders.
England had secured top spot in Pool D but advance with a clean sweep of four wins after lock Ollie Chessum scored their opening try on a day when captain Farrell broke Wilkinson’s points record of 1,178 as he kicked three penalties.
Includes reporting from Reuters
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies