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Graham Jenkins
Graham Jenkins | Columnist Index
Graham Jenkins is a former senior editor of ESPNscrum
English press united in praise and surprise
Graham Jenkins
October 7, 2007

While their fans celebrated their famous victory over Australia into the early hours, England's press were busy heaping praise on Brian Ashton and his side.

The English media were united in their praise for a battling performance from England that kept their hopes of defending the Rugby World Cup alive.

Awaiting them next weekend is a semi-final match-up with France but before then they can bask in the praise of a surprised but grateful media.

Here scrum.com looks at the coverage of England's epic 12-10 win over Australia.

"It isn't often that prop forwards are named man-of-the-match in such a mighty showdown as this. It's usually the preserve of the glamour boys. But the nomination of Andrew Sheridan was worthy and proper yesterday. He epitomised the reason why England retain their tag as reigning world champions for at least another week, and why they go to a semi-final in Paris next Saturday." - Daily Express

"Where that performance came from, I have not the faintest idea. All I cared about in Marseilles last night was that it came from somewhere. I cared because it showed a magnificent, bubbling rugby nation in a good light after some months of derision, because I could imagine thousands of good people back in England going barmy, and could see at the Stade Velodrome, with my own eyes, tens of thousands of long-suffering England fans no longer in pain." - Sunday Times

"Nobody gave them a chance. If the truth be known they didn't much fancy it themselves. But yesterday afternoon in a match that turned world rugby's form book on its head, England powered into the semi-finals of the World Cup. It was a performance of immense character and courage, a performance that came out of the blue but one with which Australia can have absolutely no grumbles." - Daily Telegraph

"Utterly brilliant. This was rugby resurrection on a grand scale, a side reborn, a country re-ignited, a hemisphere rekindled. In a most remarkable demonstration of how to haul yourself up by the bootlaces, England rose from the depths of defeat against South Africa on a horrible Friday night in Paris to shine on a sun-filled afternoon in Marseille. The architects of the victory over the side that had started as red-hot favourites were the forwards. Nothing new there. It was the tale of four years ago, when England defied no odds at all to become champions of the world. That was in a different place, in a different age, with a different team." - The Observer

"They were written off by the rest of rugby, given no chance against the high-flying Australians, and expected by everyone to be returning home this morning. But England, incredibly, are still in the World Cup and it is the Wallabies who are left in despair. It was not a pretty win but, frankly, who cares?" - Daily Mail

"Behind on the scoreboard for the majority of the match, they held on and scraped into the last four of the 2007 Rugby World Cup by making the most of an astonishingly incompetent performance by their opponents. Their was nothing convincing about their display except their relentless aggression and sheer doggedness." - The Guardian

"For Sir Clive Woodward, read plain old Brian Ashton? For Sydney read Paris four years on? Anything seems possible after England, unrecognisable from the dross they delivered in the pool stage, came up with pure gold to beat Australia, again, in the quarter-finals here yesterday. It was a 22-carat performance and if it was not quite déjà vu it was uncomfortably close." - Independent on Sunday

"No-one thought England could relive their incredible Rugby World Cup win against Australia of four years ago. But they did. Two unique qualities made them triumph - English grit and Jonny Wilkinson's boot. And fans can hang on to the dream - that England will keep the World Cup. After yesterday's epic performance, nothing is impossible." - Sunday Mirror

"YEP, that is still all we've got. Heart, bottle, burning desire, unbreakable spirit, call it what you want. Oh, and yes - Jonny Wilkinson. Barely able to haul his battered body into the bowels of the Stade Velodrome, Wilkinson (below) had emptied his vast tank of courage. It was by no means his most accomplished game in the white of England, not even his finest hour. But he was a limping, bruised yet towering symbol of one of the most epic team performances in English sporting history." - News of the World

"The opening 20 minutes were England's best in four years. But it was the pack who pulverised Australia's powder-puff scrum and allowed Wilko and Co to play. The damage inflicted by England's front row, in which prop Andrew Sheridan was at his savage best, allowed the backs the freedom of Marseille. Two years ago at Twickenham, Sheridan did a one-man demolition job on the Wallabies. The Sale bulldozer produced a similarly brutal display here, although this was no one-man effort. " - Sunday People

"Quite what else galvanised the men in white to this performance only they can know but, if you can bottle it, someone will make a fortune. They were magnificent, especially in defending the breakdown, but they also showed more enterprise, handling skill and naked ambition in 80 minutes yesterday than they have done for the past four years. No going gently into the long dark night for the World champions, who now keep that title for at least one more week." - The Scotsman

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