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Rugby News

May at the double in England victory

Jonny May celebrated his 50th cap with two tries as England booked a place in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals with victory over Australia on Saturday.

England, whose final pool fixture against France had been cancelled in the typhoon which swept Japan last weekend, led 17-9 at half-time after Leicester Tigers wing May had dotted down in the left-hand corner twice in a matter of minutes.

And, although the Wallabies claimed the first score of the second half and closed the gap to one point, the day belonged to the white shirts in the Oita Stadium as Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson added more tries in a 40-16 victory for England.

Australia started brightly but 10 minutes of possession was rewarded with only a penalty from Christian Lealifano before England gained territory and - with Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi making two prominent carries – they got instant reward with May’s opener in the left-hand corner on 18 minutes.

Then, with just two more minutes gone on the clock, he did it again.

Henry Slade picked off Australia ball on his own 22 and, as he broke clear, he delivered an exact kick ahead for May to gather and score in the same corner, with Tigers team-mate George Ford off the bench as the first to congratulate him. Owen Farrell added his second conversion to make it 17-3.

An exchange of kicks made it 17-9 in England’s favour at the break and the Wallabies quickly added a try after the restart when wing Marika Koroibete showed his pace and power to race clear from halfway and the conversion trimmed the gap to a single point.

But England’s response was instant with prop Sinckler put through a gap for a 20-metre run to the posts and Farrell’s conversion provided some breathing space again.

Australia threw on former Tigers centre Matt Toomua after Farrell had made it 27-16 with a penalty, and Ford joined his Leicester colleagues May, Tuilagi, and Ben Youngs on the field after an hour.

An interception from May and a clever kick down the touchline by Youngs kept Australia pinned back as Dan Cole was introduced to make it five Tigers in the England ranks.

And Youngs almost had a try from a snipe around the blindside as the forwards set up a drive to the line, though he lost control just as he reached to touch down in the corner. England were already playing with a penalty advantage and Farrell added the three-pointer instead.

Another kick put England more than two scores ahead on 72 minutes and Watson ran in an interception try which Ford added the conversion in the closing five minutes to spark the celebrations on the pitch and in the stands.