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Rugby Union: JONNY COME LATELY; The Final Betting Rugby World Cup Final 2007 Wilkinson can kick England to Unlikely victory.

Byline: By Luke Thornhill

HE MAY have barely been able to stand up straight in an injury ravaged four years since kicking England to the title in 2003, but Jonny Wilkinson is a man for the big occasion.

Despite his points being the deciding factors in Brain Ashton's side's transformation from also rans to potential history makers, he still has room for improvement.

Having missed his first three attempts, his conversion rate of 62.5per cent was below his high standards.

As he stood over the ball with five minutes to go against France on Saturday, he was racked with nerves.

But, once again, he showed why, when the pressure is on, England can rely on him.

If England are to become the first team to successfully defend their world title, then Wilkinson, left, will only have a chance if he can keep the scoreboard ticking over. Snap up Paddy Power's 11/10 for England to be the first points scorer - with an early Wilkinson penalty kick all but guaranteed.

If the match goes to England's game-plan then there will be few try-scoring opportunities for either side, but there are enticing rewards should England manage to cross the Springboks line.

Paul Sackey has been a revelation in this tournament, with the London wasps wing one of the few bright points of the group stage for England.

Take a punt on him to score the first try of the game at 14/1, making sure you take advantage of the each-way option ensuring you get a payout if he get a payout if he gets one of the first three tries of the game.

Jason Robinson's try was crucial in the 2003 win, he's also worth backing each-way to repeat the feat at 16/1.

Both of England's wins in the knockout stages have come by narrow margins, and expect the ultimate fate of the webb Ellis Trophy to be decided by brute strength.

After the victory over France, coach Ashton actually claimed his side had tried to play too much rugby.

England will boast a weight advantage in the scrum, and certainly don't expect a repeat of the 36-point margin (25/1 with Paddy Power) from the group stages.

A late score could once again be decisive, so take a bet on the tournament being decided by a margin of five points or less, England are 13/2 to edge it by that score, with South Africa 9/2.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 20, 2007
Words:409
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