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Punters put their cash on Wilkinson.

Byline: By Bryn Littleton

World Cup fever has gripped the North-East with Newcastle Falcons star Jonny Wilkinson leading the rugby revolution.

The fantastic fly-half was the star of the show as England cruised past France into this weekend's showpiece finale.

His kicking prowess has led local bookmakers to lay out a string of "novelty bets" to entice punters through the doors.

If you fancy a flutter on Wilkinson scoring more points than the entire Australian team or scoring a "full house" which consists of a try, a penalty and a drop goal you can do so at North-East based Chisholm Bookmakers.

Director, Neil Chisholm, said people have been flocking to the bookies to back England.

"We are offering even money that Jonny Wilkinson will score more points than the whole Australian team and 7-1 Wilkinson will score a full house.

"Then we have bets that Wilkinson will not miss a kick in the final and how many points he will score."

Chisholm's had England favourites from the start of the tournament, but said there was a flurry of large bets on New Zealand, knocked out by the Aussies on Saturday, in the early stages.

At the moment Chisholm Bookmakers have England at 4-7 and Australia 5-4, but that may vary as the weekend approaches..

Sports shops are also struggling to meet the demand for the special edition World Cup rugby shirts.

TOFFS, The Old Fashioned Football Shirt company, sell the shirt but are having to re-stock twice a week.

John Parker, who works for the company, said: "The shirts are hard to get hold of at the minute because the demand has been so high.

"The new tight-fitting shirts for the World Cup don't have a sponsor on the front so they are distinguishable from the Five Nations shirt and as soon as we get them in they are going straight out.

"One thing which we have noticed is that we sell out of extra large and extra extra large the quickest. That is because the shirts are very tight and people like to wear them a little looser."
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 18, 2003
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