London looking to blaze another trail

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The Independent Online
As London have just lost the first two of their Divisional Championship matches, the idea that their game against Western Samoa at Twickenham this afternoon might do for England what their metropolitan predecessors did against Australia in 1988 might just be an exaggeration, writes Steve Bale.

But there it is: Tony Jorden, the London coach, believes his side can go the same way as Dick Best's. It is not an exaggeration to state that it was London's thrilling win rather than England's a few weeks later that initiated rugby's great national revival.

Post-South Africa, English rugby is almost as confused about the way forward as it was then. If only the setting were suitable for such a grand design. The Rugby Football Union would be grateful if as many as 10,000 turn up, an attendance that would swamp the Harlequin ground across the road but will be lost in Twickenham's concrete bowl.

On the other hand, the Test is a 78,000 sell-out, though whether the islanders produce a performance worthy of such an audience will remain imponderable, not least to themselves. "Our boys tend to play well when they are not expected to win, and when they are expected to win they struggle," Bryan Williams, their coach, sighed.

Although they had the better of the draw with Scotland, their form has been so variable - a thrashing for Oxford followed by defeat at Cambridge - that by the time they return to Twickenham on 16 December the performance at Murrayfield will be all but meaningless.

LONDON: J Ufton (Wasps); D O'Leary, P Mensah (Harlequins), N Greenstock (Wasps), A Adebayo (Bath); D Pears (Harlequins), S Bates (Wasps, capt); J Leonard, B Moore (Harlequins), I Dunston (Wasps), S Snow, M Watson (Harlequins), L Dallaglio (Wasps), A Diprose (Saracens), R Jenkins (Harlequins).

WESTERN SAMOA: A Autagavia (Suburbs); B Lima (Marist), S Laeaga (Suburbs), G Leuapepe (Te Atatu), T Fa'aiuaso (Apia Police); D Kellett (Ponsonby), J Filemu (Wellington); M Mika (Otago University), T Leiasamaivao (Wellington), G Latu (Vaimoso), M Birtwistle (Suburbs), P Leavasa (Apia), S Smith (Helensville), P Lam (Marist, capt), S Kaleta (Ponsonby).

Referee: N Lasaga (France).