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Top 20 try saving tackles of all time: No.10-6

Ben Smith

In our new Top 20 feature, Brendan Gallagher rates the magic moments when defence thwarted promising attacks.

Before we get things underway with Part Three, read who preceded this list:

Here, Brendan counts down from 10 to 6…

6 JPR Williams – on Jean-Francois Gordon for Wales against France at the Arms Park in 1976

The powerful French wing was hurtling towards the line and was about 18 inches short when JPR emerged from nowhere to dismiss the Frenchman from his presence with a no-arms tackle into touch. His shoulder charge would result in a penalty try and a red card now but back in the wild west of the 70s it was fine.

7 John Eales – on Rob Andrew in the 1991 World Cup final

Right at the death, and trailing 12-6, England broke in midfield and Andrew seemed clear, but the youthful Eales showed a remarkable turn of speed for a lock to close the England fly-half down and bring him to ground with a low tackle. As we got to know Eales better we began to appreciate that actually it was pretty routine for an extraordinary all-round rugby player who went on to also captain the Aussies to a second World Cup in 1999.

8 Ben Smith – on Manu Tuilagi in the second Test against New Zealand June 2014

England had been a tad unlucky not to win the first Test and experimenting with Tuilagi on the right wing were 10-3 up a week later when he intercepted shortly before half-time and headed for the hills 70 yards out. Smith had acres of ground to make up but judged his chase perfectly and decked Tuilagi  before bouncing up to secure possession as well. Wondrous. NZ won 28-27.

9 Mick ‘The Munch’ Skinner – on Marc Cecillon for England against France 1991

It’s the titanic, brutal, World Cup quarter-final between France and England at Parc des Princes. England have battled their way to a 10-6 lead but midway through the second half the French are absolutely battering the England line. Scrum five, the French move forward purposefully, Marc Cecillon picks up cleanly and surges forward powerfully. At which point he gets marched back five yards in an all embracing man hug by the Beast of Blaydon. England celebrate like they have won the final itself.

10 Joe Worsley – on Vincent Clerc for England against France 2007

World Cup semi-final England are trailing 9-8 with less than 13 minutes to go when Imanol Harinordoquy bats back a crossfield kick into the hands of speed merchant Vincent Clerc with 20 yards to the try line and no defender in sight. Suddenly Joe Worsley appears from nowhere, cutting the angle brilliantly, and just manages to ankle tap the normally predatory Clerc. French heads drop, England regroup, and they go on to claim a famous 14-9 win with a late penalty and even later dropped goal from Jonny Wilkinson.

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