November 23, 2013
Shaun Johnson went over at the death before converting for the win © Getty Images
England suffered World Cup semi-final heartbreak as defending champions New Zealand converted a last-minute try to seal a dramatic 20-18 win at Wembley.
New Zealand had beaten England at the same stage in both 2000 and 2008, but this defeat was by far the most gut-wrenching of all to take.
The hosts were 8-0 ahead but fell behind 14-12, before eventually edging back in front 18-14. With seconds to go, however, England conceded a needless penalty for a high tackle on Sonny Bill Williams, with Shaun Johnson jinking over before converting his own try to secure a berth in the final.
Sean O’Loughlin had crossed to open the scoring for England after 15 minutes with Kevin Sinfield converting the try before kicking a penalty between the posts for an 8-0 lead.
But Roger Tuivasa-Sheck went over form close range after an acrobatic piece of skill from center Dean Whare to keep the ball in play as New Zealand hit back. Johnson converted and added a penalty to level the scores at 8-8 at the break.
New Zealand came racing out of the blocks in the second half with Tuivasa-Sheck adding his second try only four minutes after the restart, with Johnson kicking another penalty.
But Watkins pierced the Kiwi defense to dive over as England fought back. Burgess then stormed through from 20 meters out to add another try.
Sinfield converted for an 18-14 lead with 11 minutes left on the clock, but England eventually cracked under sustained New Zealand pressure with George Burgess’ high tackle on Williams. New Zealand took full advantage of their good field position with Johnson silencing Wembley.
New Zealand will now face Australia in the World Cup final after the Kangaroos destroyed Fiji 64-0 in Saturday’s second semi-final at Wembley.
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