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Super sub Danny Care on his England try and win-saving tackle

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Veteran scrum-half Danny Care has reflected on his pivotal 14-minute Rugby World Cup cameo off the England bench on Saturday, scoring the converted try that got England 18-17 in front on 73 minutes and then making his win-protecting tackle on Neria Fomai just metres from the try line with 75 seconds remaining.

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England had already qualified for their October 15 quarter-final in Marseille as Pool D winners with a game to spare, but their winning run going into the knockout stages was very nearly derailed in a dramatic contest in Lille where Samoa were the better team and would have been deserving winners if they didn’t let slip the lead they commendably held for 44 minutes.

Such was the level of England’s struggle that even skipper Owen Farrell was inexplicably timed out on the shot clock with his team trailing 11-17.

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However, with Samoa soon suffering a Tumua Manu yellow card for an incident involving Farrell, the numerical advantage was exploited when Care waltzed in by the posts with possession snapped up from a scrum near the line.

“I was itching to get on,” he beamed in the aftermath. “I thought I was going to go on a bit earlier but then they made a couple of backline changes and when you are the last back, you know you’re not going to get an awful lot of time.

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“But I just wanted to get on and help. You want to play in these big games. You never know how many you have got left in you at my age,” he said.

“It was one of those moments I didn’t think I would get again. I missed playing for England but scoring a try and making big plays for your country, that’s why we are all here.

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“That is what we want to do. From being a little boy, that has been the dream and I’m still here now, trying to do it. It wasn’t an amazing performance from us but we are really proud of how we dug in and found a way to win. I’m just delighted to be part of that.”

England wouldn’t have been celebrating a victory if Care had perfectly timed his 78th-minute cover run which successfully chased down Fomai and prevented the Samoan winger from scoring the winning try.

“Kev (Sinfield, defence coach) always says defence shows your attitude and how much you care for the team,” explained the replacement No9.

“I thought the boys put their bodies on the line against some big, big men all night. When you come off the bench you have got to help out where you can. George Ford set the tone for that in the first half, chasing back and making that try-saver. Ollie Lawrence made a big one too.

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“When people make breaks, you have got to do your best to get back and do your best to stop them. It is all a bit of a blur, to be honest. I just remember running back and thinking, ‘I’ve got to make this’, especially after I’ve done an Alan Shearer celebration after scoring a try. You can’t not make that tackle but I’m pleased I could just help the team.”

Having started the September 23 rout of Chile, Samoa was the second time at the finals that Care had come off the England bench as he was also their sub No9 the first day versus Argentina.

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With England now set to play against in Marseille five weeks after that opening weekend win at the Velodrome, does Care now fancy his chances to getting a start ahead of Alex Mitchell?

“I don’t mind, honestly! We all want to play as much as we can but whatever role they ask me to do, I am more than happy to do it.”

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mitch 1 hours ago
The Wallabies team Joe Schmidt must pick to win back Bledisloe Cup

Rodda will be a walk up starter at lock. Frost if you analyse his dominance has little impact and he’s a long way from being physical enough, especially when you compare to Rodda and the work he does. He was quite poor at the World Cup in his lack of physicality. Between Rodda and Skelton we would have locks who can dominate the breakdown and in contact. Frost is maybe next but Schmidt might go for a more physical lock who does their core work better like Ryan or LSL. Swain is no chance unless there’s a load of injuries. Pollard hasn’t got the scrum ability yet to be considered. Nasser dominated him when they went toe to toe and really showed him up. Picking Skelton effects who can play 6 and 8. Ideally Valetini would play 6 as that’s his best position and Wilson at 8 but that’s not ideal for lineout success. Cale isn’t physical enough yet in contact and defence but is the best backrow lineout jumper followed by Wright, Hanigan and Swinton so unfortunately Valetini probably will start at 8 with Wright or Hanigan at 6. Wilson on the bench, he’s got too much quality not to be in the squad. Paisami is leading the way at 12 but Hamish Stewart is playing extremely well also and his ball carrying has improved significantly. Beale is also another option based on the weekend. Beale is class but he’s also the best communicator of any Australian backline player and that can’t be underestimated, he’ll be in the mix.

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