Dan Biggar said he and his Wales team-mates had produced the “best day’s rugby of our careers” after he masterminded a spectacular come-from-behind 28-25 World Cup win over England on Saturday.
Fly-half Biggar kicked 23 points – a record haul for a Welshman against England – including converting scrum-half Gareth Davies’ try under the posts that levelled the match at 25-25 with nine minutes remaining.
Then, to the despair of the bulk of the 81,129 crowd at England’s Twickenham home ground, Biggar’s 49-metre penalty – his eighth successful goalkick from as many attempts – edged Wales in front.
Biggar found himself given frontline kicking duties after Wales lost star fullback and super-boot eigh Halfpenny before the tournament started, with first-choice scrum-half Rhys Webb ruled out as well.
“For us to come here, no one gave us a hope,” said Biggar.
“I feel cheeky taking man-of-the-match. It should be shared by all of the boys today,” added the 25-year-old Ospreys stand-off.
Wales twice trailed by 10 points but, crucially, never allowed World Cup hosts England to get out of sight.
“We kept on believing,” said Biggar after his 36th Test.
“We kept sticking to our structure. It was the best day’s rugby of our careers.”
Wales coach Warren Gatland praised Biggar by saying: “Dan kept us in the game.”
In the dying seconds England had a chance to level at 28-28 but rather than give Owen Farrell – who like Biggar landed all of his goal-kicks – another shot from out wide, they opted for a line-out in the hope of a match-clinching try.
But Wales defended the catch and drive before claiming a famous win.
“We were debating with a few minutes to go would England take a shot at goal, but they went for the corner,” said Gatland, who started his career as Wales coach with a come-from-behind win over England at Twickenham in 2008.
“It could easily have ended up a draw as well.”
Gatland, who guided Wales to the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup in his native New Zealand, said the fact his players had been able to play more with ball in hand during the second half had been the key to their victory.
“It’s a tough place to come and win,” Gatland remarked of Twickenham.
“We said at halftime that we have been here before in 2008, when we were behind.
“We dug deep, had a good second half and stayed in the match.
“The second half we got our hands on the ball a bit more and we played a bit more in the wider channels. We got outside them a little bit”
Pool A has been dubbed the ‘group of death’ as it features England, Wales and two-time champions Australia, with at least one of the rugby giants set for an early exit as only the top two sides go through to the quarter-finals.
Wales’ win on Saturday came at a cost with full-back Liam Williams (concussion), wing Hallan Amos (shoulder) and centre Scott Williams (knee) all suffering injuries late on which forced Gatland to desperately re-jig his back division.
Wales next play Fiji, the team that knocked them out of the 2007 World Cup in France, at the Millennium Stadium on Thursday.
“We lost another couple of players – we are running out of players in Wales,” said Gatland.
“They all dug deep and they have all worked so hard.
“We have such a limited pool of players to choose from. I’m so proud of them.”