2 Oct 2011

England edge Scotland to reach quarter-finals

6:08 am on 2 October 2011

England rallied in the second half to defeat Scotland 16-12 on Saturday and ensure a place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals after the first game on neutral territory between the union code's oldest rivals.

A Chris Ashton try, his sixth of the tournament, near the end of the Pool B clash on a wet and windy night at Eden Park set England up for a quarter-final against France next Saturday.

France limped into the knockout stages despite losing 19-14 to Tonga in Wellington, their second loss on successive Saturdays, while twice champions Australia took their place in the last eight with a 68-22 victory over Russia.

The Scots, who needed to win by eight points to reach the knockout stages, dominated the forward exchanges to lead 12-3 after 56 minutes.

But they then messed up the kickoff and turned over possession to England. Jonny Wilkinson, who had endured another indifferent day with the boot, dropped a goal to spark the revival which preserved the 2003 champions' unbeaten record.

Tonga celebrated the biggest upset of the tournament and the greatest day in the Pacific Islanders' rugby history while at the same time lamenting the 25-20 loss to Canada which has ultimately cost them a quarter-final place.

The Tongans squandered the opportunity to score at least five tries against the twice finalists, who needed an injury time try to Vincent Clerc to capture a losing bonus point.

Australia's victory came at a price with a hamstring injury for Drew Mitchell that looks likely to have ended the winger's involvement in the tournament.

The Wallabies joined their Tri-Nations' rivals New Zealand and Australia in the knockout phase and the Wallabies might have to beat them both to reach the final if Ireland defeat Italy on Sunday to finish top of Pool C.