Rugby Union: Campese's last waltz saves Wallabies

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The Independent Online
Northern Transvaal ....17 Australia .............24

IT NEEDED a moment of David Campese magic yesterday to ensure an Australian win against South Africa's No 3 province in a game played here in blazing sunshine. The match underlined the possibility of an upset in today's Test when New Zealand challenge the Springboks, a determined Northern Transvaal repeatedly disrupting the world champions.

With 10 minutes left of a game riddled with elementary mistakes by both teams, Campese rocked his opponents when, from broken play, he ran towards the posts and lofted a short, high kick. The full-back failed to gather and Campese swept up the ball to score.

Australia's world record try- scorer also claimed his team's only other try. After playing a leading role in starting an attack down the right flank, he was supported by an excellent run from Jason Little, who created the space needed.

Nick Farr-Jones, Australia's captain, said: 'Although we have still not come to grips with South African law interpretations I can hardly blame the referee when we struggle for possession. We did not perform as champions, which should help us for next Saturday's Test.'

Northern's coach, Eugene van Wyk, believed that his team's display proved that the Springboks have a chance of winning the Tests, although he said: 'I was impressed by the ball-handling skills of the Wallabies and that man Campese is certainly one of the most brilliant players I have seen.'

The tourists were not helped by the loss of Michael Lynagh with an injured knee and they needed to introduce Tony Herbert, Tim Horan moving to stand-off. Lynagh, though, is expected to recover in a couple of days.

His absence did not explain Australia's poor performance. They would almost certainly have lost had Northern possessed an accurate goalkicker like their No 1 man, Nass Botha, who captains the Springboks today. With him away, Luke Smith and Gerbrand Grobler landed only four out of 12 penalties.

At times the game looked more like Australian Rules football, with the ball being lofted high and travelling long distances in the rarified air. It was also difficult to produce any fluency because of the fastidious refereeing of Ian Rogers, who awarded a penalty every two minutes.

He also made a number of mistakes, such as missing a knock-on by Smith which led to Northern's try. That was the only time the Australian defence was beaten and they frequently saved their line with some superb tackling.

Northern Transvaal have an excellent record against touring sides and they were able to match the tourists in the line-out and beat them in the scrums.

Northern Transvaal: Try Schutte; Penalties Smith 3, Grobler. Australia: Tries Campese 2; Penalties Lynagh 2, Kelahar 2; Conversion Kelahar.

Northern Transvaal: G Grobler; J Olivier, R van de Venter, F Meiring, D Oosthuysen; L Smith, J van de Westhuizen; W Hills, J Truscott, D du Plessis, J Strydom, P Schutte, P Pretorius, M Fourie, A Richter.

Australia: T Kelaher; D Campese, T Horan, J Little, P Carozza; M Lynagh (T Herbert, h/t), N Farr-Jones (capt); A Daly, P Kearns, E McKenzie, R McCall, J Eales, T Coker, D Wilson, S Scott-Young.

Referee: I Rogers (Natal).