Burke denies Newcastle

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The Independent Online
Rob Andrew knows more than most about the necessities of careful team- building. For almost a decade England built a team around the former Wasps' outside-half, which brought the national side their most successful sequence since the 1920s.

Having apparently turned his back on any extension to a glittering international career, Andrew is fostering a new spirit at Kingston Park as he attempts to bring fame and glory to Newcastle in the image of the club's wealthy benefactor, Sir John Hall.

As Andrew tries to complete the assembly of his dream team - which is unlikely to include the mercurial David Campese, who says he wants to fight for his place in the Australia side - he no longer faces the distraction of a recall to the England side to face Scotland at Murrayfield.

While the England coach, Jack Rowell, has decided that Andrew has no place in his short-term planning - and figures out how to get the best from his team, which is transparently less than the sum of its parts - Andrew is piecing together a side which may soon be a force in the land.

They came perilously close to beating New South Wales in a match vivid with movement and fiercely contested until it was put beyond their reach by two late penalty goals by the full-back Matt Burke.

Newcastle hardly made the start Andrew would have wished. Tony Underwood, the England winger, was left stranded as Matt Burke raced into the corner for the opening try, to add to his fourth minute penalty.

Confronted by a pack which outweighed and outsized them, Newcastle won as much possession as they dare hope for; and used a good deal of it intelligently and at pace, in a way England can only, in Rowell's words, aspire to.

For this Newcastle were indebted not only to Andrew, but his former Lions' partner Gary Armstrong, who stretched the tourists' back-row defence to breaking point; though for 40 minutes it brought no reward.

Having weathered this storm, all appeared to be running smoothly for the tourists - Scott Bowen had filleted the Newcastle defence for a try at the post - when Underwood popped up on the right wing and delivered a perfect pass to put Martin Wilson across at the corner.

With the adrenalin still pumping, Wilson got the new half under way with an 80-metre interception try. Andrew drilled over a long penalty and Newcastle were back in the game. Despite two more Burke penalties, Newcastle kept up the pressure and were handsomely rewarded when flanker Tony Mullarkey was driven across.

Despite another penalty from Andrew, Burke had the final word with two killer penalties.

Newcastle: Tries Wilson 2, Mullarkey; Penalties Andrew 2. New South Wales: Tries Burke, Bowen; Conversion Burke; Penalties Burke 6.

Newcastle: P Belgian; M Wilson, M Shaw, R Cramb, T Underwood; R Andrew (capt), G Armstrong; M Long, N Frankland, P Van-Zandvliet, J Dixon, R Metcalfe, A Mullarkey, S Cassidy, D Quinn.

New South Wales: M Burke; A Murdoch, J Madz, R Tombs, M Mostyn; S Bowen, S Payne; M Hartill, M Bell, A Blades, W Waugh, J Wellborn, W Ofahengaue, D Manu, T Gavin (capt). Replacements: M Dickson for J Madz 39; S Domoni for D Manu 24.

Referee: S Lander (Kirby, Wirral).