Rugby Union: Campese helps Waratahs to conquer Bristol

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

STEVE BALE

Bristol 23 New South Wales 34

On his farewell visit to these shores David Campese alighted in the West Country last night and, though the ex- nonpareil Wallaby was mostly confined to watching from his wing, he did at least preside over a victory by the Waratahs against the English First Division's seventh-placed side.

Bristol have had a creditable record over the past couple of years of fitting big-name touring teams into the hectic schedule and, in accordance with New South Wales' elevated status, all the club's international players turned out.

For Mark Regan, England's hooker, that meant a disconcertingly early chance to show his throwing-in in Paris was too bad to be true. It was also a first return to the Memorial Ground for the new Wales outside-half, Arwel Thomas.

The possible future Boy Wonder posed an early threat when Bristol relieved the Australians of the ball and he accelerated up the blind side to instigate an attack that eventually petered out.

Better followed, however, when Thomas was again involved in constructing a sparkling try created by swift transference along the threequarters and scored by Dave Bennett. Thomas converted from a wide angle but failed dismally with two rather easier penalties.

These miskicks were symptomatic of personal misfortune that went from bad to worse, leaving Thomas to hope no Wales selector was present. The home forwards had no trouble winning the ball, but neither Thomas nor any other back could do anything with it.

They thus failed to exploit NSW's pre-season rustiness and whenever the tourists, who have another seven matches throughout the British Isles, had the sniff of an opportunity they showed how it should be done.

Campese went 60 yards before having the ball tapped out of his hands by Jason Keyter on the Bristol line, but after half-an-hour the breakthrough came when Matt Dixon and Campese combined to put in Tim Kellaher.

Bristol's response was more or less instantaneous. Dave Hinkins lost the ball in the act of scoring before Kyran Bracken scampered over for Thomas to convert. NSW retorted with a 40-yard run which brought another try by Kelaher.

Thomas added a penalty but on half-time Tim Wallace dummied through for a New South Wales try which with his conversion levelled the scores.

Thomas began the second half with his second penalty, but Bristol's advantage was short-lived. Sam Domoni's line-out take and drive produced a try for Daniel Manu, who was again the beneficiary when he pirouetted out of an insecure Bristol tackle.

The jet-lagged Waratahs were clearly tiring by the time Thomas kicked his third penalty but they still had enough energy to finish with the flourish of Kelaher's third try.

Bristol: Tries Bennett, Bracken; Conversion Thomas 2; Penalties Thomas 3.

New South Wales: Tries Kelaher 3, Manu 2, Wallace; Conversions Wallace 2.

BRISTOL: D Bennett (M Tainton, 66); J Keyter, S Martin, K Maggs, M Denney; A Thomas, K Bracken; A Sharp (capt), M Regan (A Wadley, 53), D Hinkins, P Adams, G Archer, M Corry, E Rollitt, I Dixon.

NEW SOUTH WALES: T Kelaher (Randwick); M Mostyn (Eastwood), J Madz (West Harbour), M Dixon (Gordon), D Campese (Randwick, capt); T Wallace, A Ekert; M Hartill, K O'Kane, A Blades (all Gordon), S Domoni, N Harvey, (Northern Suburbs), W Ofahengaue (Manly), F Finau (West Harbour), D Manu (Eastwood). Replacement: M Burke (Eastwood) for Mostyn 27.

Referee: C White (Cheltenham).

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