Wales seek to score famous win over fancied England

BRISBANE: It will be pay-back time for Wales when they face up to England in the World Cup quarter-finals here on Sunday, centre Mark Taylor says. 

The Welsh have had a hard time of it in recent years against the team they most love to beat winning only one of their last 10 meetings to leave the all-time head-to-head at 49 wins apiece. 

It's all light years removed from the glory days of Welsh rugby when England mustered only one win over the Welsh between 1965-1979. 

But 30-year-old Taylor, who is judged to be back playing at the level that earned him a place on the Lions squad that lost 2-1 to Australia in 2001, says all that could change come Sunday. 

He is confident that on the back of the outstanding Welsh performance in the 53-37 defeat by the All Blacks on Sunday a similar showing against England could well signal a famous victory. 

“Two important factors are that, okay, we didn't beat the All Blacks but because of our performance we regained our confidence,” said Taylor, who scored his ninth try in 43 appearances for the Welsh against New Zealand. 

“Also with five wins on the bounce and giving one of the two best sides in the world a real run for their money there is no reason why we shouldn't believe in ourselves for Sunday's match.” 

Taylor said that the match with the All Blacks had erased memories of the 55-3 humiliation they were subjected to in June this year but that in no way wiped out recent thrashings by England. 

Since Scott Gibbs's epic last minute try and Neil Jenkins's conversion to deprive England of the then Five Nations Grand Slam in 1998 England has scored over 40 points in each of their meetings culminating with a 50-10 victory last year - this season it was a relatively respectable 26-9. 

“We owe England a few!” he said. 

“However while one needs no motivation for a match with England, not even a World Cup quarter-finals, we won't go into it thinking we have solved all our problems just because we have done well against the All Blacks. 

“That would be fatal and I remember once going in with a similar frame of mind against the English and we were back in the dressingroom 80 minutes later feeling very sorry for ourselves!” 

Taylor said, however, that the difference in the morale of the camp could not be more different than a few months ago when they were in the depths of despair. 

“It's amazing what winning will do for you and what it does for you as a player as you start to want to have the ball and do something with it. 

“Having five wins in a row after 10 successive defeats does wonders for the spirits.” 

Taylor did admit that the style of game the All Blacks had played could have been ideally suited to the Welsh preference for throwing the ball around. 

“Very open games like that suit us as we showed against France in Paris in 1999 and 2001 (winning twice). 

“However England are a more structured side than the All Blacks and have quality throughout the team. 

“Also when they get a sniff of the tryline they know how to cross it.” 

For all that Taylor, who has captained his country twice, will be hoping come Sunday night he has reason for a similar feeling he experienced following the All Blacks clash. 

“I only got to sleep at six this morning. I just couldn't sleep – it was exhilaration at our performance.” – AFP 

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