England find form against New Zealand

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The Independent Online
England Under-21 15

New Zealand Under-21 6

England's young prospects - the 11 of them who kept their places, anyway - atoned for their defeat by the Irish Under-21s last month with a superlative effort at Northampton last night which mixed try-scoring panache with an all-consuming defensive rearguard.

The New Zealanders had won all six of their previous tour matches, mostly by substantial margins, but there has been an abrasive edge to their play, which has not always endeared them.

Shane Carter, last night's reserve hooker, was sent off against the Combined Services - and banned for two matches - and the London players who faced the tourists last Friday could scarcely believe the number of warnings Brian Campsall was prepared to give without resorting to the ultimate sanction.

Still, just like New Zealanders at every other level, these under-21s have the ability to increase the tempo of the game at a moment's notice, and that generally means winning rugby. Don Rutherford, technical director of the Rugby Football Union, has been positively drooling over them.

Not bad when you consider they are not an international side, but sponsored as individuals and sent here under the auspices of an Auckland rugby magazine. Hence there were no caps for the England players, though you would never have guessed from the way they played.

In the first half, they tore into the New Zealanders with a style reminiscent of their seniors against Canada last Saturday, the big forwards - including the gargantuan 7 ft 1 in lock Richard Metcalfe - winning most of the ball. And a lively back division using it perceptively.

Tim Stimpson succeeded with his second penalty and after 24 minutes the New Zealand defence opened up when Jason Keyter, thundering through the middle, took Neil Ryan's pass and put Nick Greenstock over.

Critically, Stimpson missed the conversion and then two straightforward penalties, and though Michael Blank, a replacement for the injured Mano Flutey, missed his own first penalty he had no such trouble with the second.

The tourists had begun belatedly to assert themselves towards the end of the first half but wasted one glorious opportunity when Colin Benge ignored the four men outside him and died with the ball.

This was the prelude to a creative opening for the second half but The England defence was tight enough to deny even Norman Berryman, the danger man who faced the Lions for North Auckland last year, and New Zealand were restricted to Blank's second penalty.

Unabashed, England came straight back to score another blistering try, Stimpson joining the line at full tilt and penetrating far enough for Austin Healey to score and Stimpson himself to convert.

The New Zealanders were growing increasingly exasperated with the French referee but, despite incurring his displeasure, they maintained the pressure sufficiently to have three more shots at goal. Each time, however, Blank fired blanks.

England: Tries Greenstock, Healey; Conversion Stimpson; Penalty Stimpson. New Zealand: Penalties Blank 2.

ENGLAND UNDER-21: T Stimpson (W Hartlepool); J Keyter (Harlequins), N Greenstock (Wasps), M Denney (Bristol), A Healey (Orrell); N Ryan (Waterloo), A Gomarsall (Wasps); M Volland (Northampton), N McCarthy (Bath), N Webber (Moseley), G Archer, R Metcalfe , M Corry (Newcastle Gosforth, capt), G Seely, A Pountney (Northampton). Replacements: P Shadbolt (Saracens) for Volland, 27-32; E Anderson (Moseley) for Keyter, 49.

New Zealand Under-21: XV: S Davis; N Berryman, M Going, C Benge, B Davis; M Flutey, K Gray; A Dempsey, J Marsters (capt), J Hammond, L Walters, A Gibbs, C Davis, D Muir, J Collins. Replacement: M Blank for Flutey, 16.

Referee: J Dume (France).

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