Rugby : Stroll for Springboks

South-West 20 South Africa A 62
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The Independent Online
Some things never change. As long ago as 1984, English rugby die-hards were bending over backwards to give the then ostracised Springboks a game. Midway through the first full year of professionalism they are still at it, albeit for different political reasons.

Divisional rugby is the current hobby-horse of Twickenham's traditionally- minded elements. No matter that the idea is anathema to nine out of 10 leading clubs, or that rugby relations England-style mean that the latest South-West side is a fourth-string line-up at best, stripped of players from Bath, Bristol and Gloucester. Last night's game at Exeter would have gone ahead even had the home team consisted of a dozen colts from Plymouth and three old lags from Dartmoor Prison.

As it turned out, South-West were able to field something rather more competitive than the visitors had been led to expect. Paul Guttridge and Bob Armstrong, club mates at Bristol only three seasons ago, embarrassed the tourists from the start with their know-how in the mauls and with the prolific Exeter halfback pairing of Andy Maunder and Andy Green combining smoothly, the first half had the air of a real contest.

Green swapped half a dozen penalties with his opposite number, Louis Koen, before the visitors made their first decisive move on 35 minutes, their fullback Marius Goosen's pace proving too much for the home midfield to handle. His try was converted by Koen and even though Green added a fourth penalty, South-West were still four points adrift at the interval.

They were a lot further adrift within 10 minutes of the re-start as tight forwards Hottie Louw and Dale Santon - combined weight, 35 stone - rumbled in from close range. Goosen cruised in at the left corner for his second score before handing over the rapier duties to Deon Kayser, the Eastern Province right wing. He ran in three tries - the centre Marius Moolman added another at the death - as the South-West defence was stretched far and wide. Their only reply came from Maunder after a run from the winger Brian Johnson created the opening.

South-West: Try Maunder; Penalties Green 4; Drop goal Green. South Africa A: Tries Kayser 3, Goosen 2, Louw, Santon, Moolman; Conversions Koen 5; Penalties Koen 4.

SOUTH-WEST: P Belshaw (Reading); B Johnson (Newbury), A Turner (Exeter), N Osman (Newbury), T Holloway (Newbury); A Green (Exeter), A Maunder (Exeter, capt); P Gutteridge (Reading), K Brooking (Exeter), N Collins (Newbury), R Baxter (Exeter), D Pratt (Reading), N Southern (Exeter), R Armstrong (Plymouth Albion), A Knox (Lydney).

SOUTH AFRICA A: M Goosen (Boland); D Kayser (Eastern Province), M Moolman (Boland), M Hendricks (Boland), R Loubscher (Eastern Province); L Koen (Western Province), W Swanepoel (Orange Free State); O Le Roux (Natal, capt), D Santon (Boland), D Benter (Griquas), H Louw (Western Province), B Els (Orange Free State), J Coetzee (Boland), C Krige (Western Province), J Williams (Northern Transvaal). Replacement: T Arendse (Western Province) for Williams h-t.

Referee: N Lasaga (France).