Care spares England blushes as Wales see off Georgia
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Care spares England blushes as Wales see off Georgia

A late try from Danny Care enabled England to salvage an 18-17 win against Samoa in Lille.
A late try from Danny Care enabled England to salvage an 18-17 win against Samoa in Lille.

PARIS - England survived a huge scare in the Rugby World Cup on Saturday, coming from behind courtesy of a late Danny Care try to beat Samoa 18-17.

Wales, meanwhile, secured top spot in Pool C with a 43-19 win over Georgia before Ireland faced Scotland in Paris with the Scots aiming to cause a major upset.

England, who were already guaranteed to finish top of Group D after wins over Argentina, Japan and Chile, opened brightly in Lille with a try by lock Ollie Chessum and a penalty from Owen Farrell, which took the captain past Jonny Wilkinson's points record for England.

"What a player he is," said a relieved England coach Steve Borthwick.

"I know everyone is going to talk about kicking the points but what a phenomenal player and leader.

"He was integral today leading this team through a very difficult (game) through a performance that was very scrappy to get a win. A great player and leader."

Samoa, who have sputtered through the tournament with defeats by Japan and Argentina, sparked into life however, with two thrilling tries from wing Nigel Ah-Wong.

Playing with real passion, pace and power, the Samoans had finally shown up at the World Cup and they might have had a third try but Duncan Paia'aua's effort was ruled out by the TMO for a knock-on in the build-up.

Leading 14-8 at half-time, Samoa continued to dominate the start of the second half, Paia'aua again denied, this time by George Ford's cover tackle.

Lima Sopoaga stretched the lead with a penalty before England, with Marcus Smith introduced at 10 in place of Ford, began to show some initiative.

Farrell, who passed Wilkinson's England points record of 1,179 with his first penalty, pulled another back before being timed out for taking more than 60 seconds on a penalty.

England were trailing 17-11 when replacement scrum-half Danny Care nipped through for a try seven minutes from time.

The conversion from Farrell put the 2019 finalists into the lead and they clung on for the win in spite of a brilliant break from Neria Fomai -- tackled close to the line by 36-year-old Care.

"It was not pretty," said Borthwick, whose side are likely to face another Pacific Islands team, Fiji, in the quarter-finals.

"It was not the performance we wanted but you saw a determined group of players finding a way to navigate being behind on the scoreboard and then finding a way to get the result at the end," Borthwick added.

- 'Job done' for Wales -

As far as Wales coach Warren Gatland was concerned, the 43-19 win over Georgia in Nantes was a case of "job done" as it cemented top spot in the pool.

Wales will now play the winners of the showdown between Argentina and Japan, who meet in Nantes on Sunday, in the quarter-finals in Marseille next weekend.

Victory came at a price though with emblematic No 8 Taulupe Faletau ruled out for the remainder of the campaign after suffering a broken arm.

"It's a big loss for us," said Gatland who will also be sweating over fly-half Gareth Anscombe who cried off after injuring his groin in the pre-match warm-up.

Anscombe will be assessed over the next 72 hours.

Louis Rees-Zammit scored a second-half hat-trick of tries and Sam Costelow, a last-minute stand-in for Anscombe, booted 13 points to settle Welsh nerves against a game Georgian team in a sun-kissed Stade de la Beaujoire.

Tomas Francis got Wales moving with the opening try after 16 minutes but in spite of full-back Liam Williams adding a second, they only led 17-7 at the break.

Rees-Zammit, 22, stepped up in the second half, touching down three times as Georgia appeared to be coming back into the game. George North also touched down for the Welsh.

"It wasn't pretty," Gatland said. "Even though we weren't at our best, we got the job done. We'll now focus on next weekend."

Georgia showed flair and courage in taking the game to the Welsh with Merab Sharikadze, Vano Karkadze and Davit Niniashvili all touching down.

However, coach Levan Maisashvili said he was "very disappointed" with the campaign which saw them lose also to Fiji and Australia, and scramble a draw with Portugal.

"We had objectives: to win two matches, but we didn't achieve that," he said.

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