Northern Transvaal 28
A Northern Transvaal side containing five Springboks avenged their second string's midweek defeat to Ulster at Donnybrook yesterday, and move on to England for the second half of their six match tour in better fettle than they started it a week ago.
Alas though, this was no substitute for the "A" fixtures which act as such a mouth-watering aperitif on international match weekends. Even an Irish A side disguised as a Combined Provinces XV could not entice the parochial Dublin rugby folk in anything like the numbers that supported Leinster a week ago.
Granted, the full ripple effect caused by the withdrawals from today's full squad meant two further disruptions to the Irish wannabees, but this could hardly excuse a disappointing home performance in which few enhanced their reputations. Possible exceptions were the burgeoning tight-head Paul Wallace and the athletic No 8 Victor Costello, a gentle giant requiring careful handling who was good going forward without answering reservations about his play going back.
Behind the scrum, the story was not much better. David O'Mahony's crispness of pass and link play along with Mark McCall's dextrous handling were further pointers towards their futures, but neither the outside-half Alan McGowan nor the demoted full-back Conor O'Shea, nor for that matter Richard Wallace, could put into check seasons that have gone sadly awry.
O'Shea did send Rob Henderson over for a ninth-minute try; the Provinces flattering to deceive by taking a 5-3 lead but once McGowan failed with two kickable post-interval penalties when just 15-8 in arrears, Northern Transvaal pulled away. Johannes Ackerman lorded the front of the line and their pack recycled the ball swiftly, winning the ruck count by 50- 17. Joost Van Der Westhuizen launched wave after waves of attacks, and they should have run in a hatload more tries than their relatively modest haul of three.
Combined Provinces: Try Henderson; Penalty McGowan. Northern Transvaal: Tries Naude 2, Ackerman; Penalties Van As 3; Conversions Van As 2.
COMBINED PROVINCES XV: C O'Shea (Landsdowne), R Wallace (Garryowen), L Boyle (Harlequins), M McCall (Bangor, capt), R Henderson (London Irish), A McGowan (Blackrock), D O'Mahony (Cork Constitution); J Fitzgerald (Young Munster), W Mulcahy (Skerries), P Wallace (Blackrock), J Ethridge (Blackrock), S Jameson (St Mary's), S McKinty (Bangor), V Costello (St Mary's), S Rooney (Lansdowne). Replacement: S Byrne (Blackrock) for Mulcahy, 45).
Northern Transvaal: J Du Toit; F Naude, B Van Straaten, F Meiring, J Olivier, R Van As, J Van Der Westhuizen; L Campher (W Hills, 69), H Tromp, M Hurter, J Otto, J Ackerman, R Kruger, A Richter (capt), B Rossouw (P Joubert, 53).
Referee: J Wallis (England).