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Premiership Rugby

Woodward hails ‘common sense’ victory

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Whilst France floundered in the greasy mire, England took to it like ducks to water and played the game in tune with the prevailing conditions by keeping the ball tight and focusing on moving points-machine Jonny Wilkinson up the pitch to kick the goals.

"You have to play the conditions and we did that," said Woodward.

"It was like a monsoon when we were driving here, then it was fine. It wasn't a case of adapting our gameplan, it was just common sense.

"France could not control it and in the end they fell apart.

"I thought we played it pretty well. The forwards were magnificent, particularly Martin Johnson and Wilkinson is, well – Wilkinson!"

England were roared on by a massive support as they rolled over France by 24-7, and Woodward paid tribute to the travelling fans who filled the Telstra Stadium.

"We have a lot to celebrate tonight, and the fans are incredible – better than Twickenham," he said.

"I put Jason Leonard on at the end for his 112th cap. It is a happy changing room.

"But we came here to win, not to come second. We have had a good day, but no more than that – now we are looking forward to playing in the Final."

England captain Martin Johnson also heaped praise on Wilkinson, who scored all of England's points against France.

The England fly-half has received criticism from various quarters of the media for some faltering displays during the tournament, but his skipper was happy to share his own view of Wilkinson after the game.

"He's the best fly-half in the world," said Johnson.

"Every team would want to have him – I'm just glad he's on our team.

"We kicked the ball more today than we probably have in the whole tournament – but you have got to do it.

"We forced them into mistakes and played the second half in their half. We needed passion and we came through. It was a great display."

England will now play the hosts on Saturday for a chance to hoist the Webb Ellis trophy, and Woodward – who had long predicted that the Wallabies would make the Final – is relishing the prospect.

"If six weeks ago someone said to me 'what is your dream Final?' I would have said England v Australia.

"It's going to be a great week. I'm really looking forward to playing the Australians.

"I thought they were outstanding. They were in a different league to the All Blacks yesterday [Saturday].

"Well done to Eddie [Jones] and George Gregan for handling themselves so well."

"It is about winning in the World Cup Final now, and I'm still confident that this England team can beat anyone, anywhere."


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