Northerns benefit from familiarity

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The Independent Online
Emerging England 3

Northern Transvaal 19

England players have more than the World Cup in South Africa to aim at, with those involved in this hastily arranged fixture at Bristol thinking of another part of the southern hemisphere, Australia, where an England team will tour when rugby followers' attention will be elsewhere in May, writes Steve Bale.

Derek Eves's much-changed collection showed last night that it is near- impossible to come together at lunchtime and expect to give a co-ordinated performance six hours later, though the mutual unfamiliarity of England's third string was no bar to an enterprising spirit.

This quality, essential as it is in an international side, is all very well when you are putting 97 points on Romania A but insufficient against opponents of the relative accomplishment of Northern Transvaal, fifth of the six Test unions in last season's Currie Cup.

However, when it came to mutual familiarity they were somewhat better served than Emerging England, this being the fifth match of a tour which will conclude at Gloucester on Saturday. The South Africans' unfamiliarity has been with the conditions, and even the dry of the Memorial Ground - easily the best conditions of their experience here - was cloying by comparison with the billiard-table surface of Loftus Versfeld.

This was reflected in the suspicious manner of their play, the most substantial ground invariably gained by the thumping punting of Rynhardt van As and Dawie du Toit, and it was entirely appropriate that the Northerns' try came from close to a scrum and close to the line.

The charge-down of Nick Beal's kick led England to carry over their line and when Adriaan Richter picked up Ruben Kruger was there to score. Otherwise it was left to Van As, who converted Kruger's try and added four penalties to Guy Gregory's one for England.

England: Penalty Gregory. Northern Transvaal: Try Kruger; Conversion Van As; Penalties Van As 4.

EMERGING ENGLAND: T Stimpson (West Hartlepool); S Hackney (Leicester), N Beal (Northampton), G Stocks (Sale), P Holford (Gloucester); G Gregory, A Gomarsall; D Molloy (Wasps), G Adams, D Crompton, M Haag (Bath), J Fowler (Sale), R Jenkins, C Sheasby (Harlequins), D Eves (Bristol, capt). Temporary substitute: M Corry (Newcastle Gosforth) for Fowler, 26-33.

Northern Transvaal: D du Toit; J Olivier, B van Straaten, F Meiring (C Breytenbach, 11), F Naude; R van As, J van der Westhuizen; L Campher, H Tromp, M Hurter, J Ackermann, J Otto, B Rossouw, A Richter (capt), R Kruger.

Referee: G Simmonds (Cardiff).

n Gary Halpin, the Ireland prop, scored three tries as the Barbarians demolished East Midlands 56-19 at Northampton yesterday.