Rugby: Springboks' late surge

England A 20 South Africa A 35
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The Independent Online
The Junior Springboks used their own feet for target practice at Gloucester last night but despite limping badly from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, they managed a comprehensive victory over an under-powered England A outfit. The tourists, armed with a class back row and scalding pace on both wings, scored five tries to two to end England's long unbeaten run at second- string level.

For all their superiority up front, the Boks came dangerously close to fouling up. Their full-back Dawie du Toit had the chance to put his side out of sight by half-time yet contrived to throw the simplest of scoring passes to the impressive Marius Goosen a mile forward. The tourists' front- row effort had diminished at the same juncture after rank indiscipline from their props, Ollie le Roux and Willie Meyer, who both took a violent dislike to the Coventry lock Dan Grewcock and were shown yellow cards for blatant stamps. Walking on eggshells for the rest of the encounter, they could not match their early domination of the England scrummage.

As a result, the home side were able to make a much better fist of the second half than looked likely at the interval, which they reached 18- 7 adrift. Steve Ojomoh, the England captain, had been magnificent in adversity throughout the opening period and as he found more support in the second half the tables slowly turned. Austin Healey dummied over after 58 minutes to put his side within a point and when Mark Mapletoft, his half-back partner, landed his second penalty 10 minutes from the end, England were in front for the first time.

Conscious that they were about to let their number one priority match slip away, the South Africans reacted with extreme urgency and scored three tries in the closing eight minutes to reassert their authority. The first fell to Goosen after a fine pass out of the tackle from Edrich Lubbe and the left-wing then turned provider for McNeil Hendricks to streak away for the clinching try. The No 8 Rassie Erasmus rubbed it in with a close-range score in injury-time.

The tourists, bolstered by the collective aggression of their pack, hit the ground running when the blind-side flanker Corne Krige was driven over from a line-out in the fourth minute. The Western Province loose forward was outstanding throughout and he crossed for a second time on the half-hour after strong running from Goosen. England's only score of the opening half was a try from left-wing Spencer Bromley, created by full-back Chris Catling.

England A: Tries Bromley, Healey; Conversions Mapletoft 2; Penalties Mapletoft 2.

South Africa A: Tries: Krige 2, Goosen, Hendricks, Erasmus; Conversions Koen, 2. Penalties Koen 2.

ENGLAND A: C Catling (Gloucester); B Johnson (Newbury), J Baxendell (Sale), N Greenstock (Wasps), S Bromley (Harlequins); M Mapletoft (Gloucester), A Healey (Leicester); M Volland (Northampton), S Mitchell (Wasps), N Webber (Moseley), D Grewcock (Coventry), R Fidler (Gloucester), G Allison (Harlequins), S Ojomoh (Bath, capt), R Jenkins (Harlequins). Replacement: P Sampson (Wasps) for Catling, 80.

SOUTH AFRICA A: D du Toit (Northern Transvaal); M Hendricks (Boland), J Joubert (Natal), E Lubbe (Griqualand West), M Goosen (Boland); L Koen (Western Province), G Scholtz (Western Province); O le Roux (Natal), N Drotske (Orange Free State, capt), W Meyer (Eastern Province), R Opperman (Orange Free State), H Louw (Western Province), C Krige (Western Province), P Smit (Griqualand West), R Erasmus (Orange Free State).

Referee: D McHugh (Ireland).