Rugby Union: Donnelly sets the standard for Australia's day

Tourists' confidence prevails over a lacklustre England.
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The Independent Online
THEY SHALL not pass was the motto of the Australians. They had come this close to a grand slam and were not only determined they were not going to fail, but under no circumstance were they going to concede any tries in this disappointing, and at times, bad-tempered Under-18 Schools international at Bridgwater last night.

While the quality of the play fell well short of the standard expected at this level, England were bereft of craft or guile. Even in the dying minutes, when they pummelled away at the Australian line, England were unable to muscle their way to a try, eventually losing 21-9.

This was a far from vintage Australian side, but they did beat the Scots 54-10, as well as recording victories against Wales by 56-10 and Ireland 22-12. By any measure, it is fairly impressive stuff.

Mind you, England have a decent record in the series of matches, which goes back to 1974. In 11 previous games Australia had only triumphed three times. Having been whitewashed on their own patch in 1997, these young Wallabies were in the mood for revenge.

It was not long before they were on their way to achieving it. Tim Donnelly charged down an attempted clearance by the England outside-half Matthew Leek and followed up to score by the posts. Paul Warwick converted and Australia had taken just two minutes to establish a lead they were never to lose.

No sooner had Leek reduced it with a penalty, than the first of three brawls brought a warning for the England blind-side flanker Tom Barlow. But the real warning for England was in the way they squandered good attacking positions.

When they failed to defend the blind-side of a ruck, Australia made them pay by releasing Martin Schleibs on a 50-metre gallop for a stunning try. With Warwick's conversion, it was 14-3 at the break.

It was no better for England in the second half, despite their end show. Leek kicked two more penalties to haul England to 14-9, but Donnelly's second try and Warwick's third conversion finished England off.

England: Penalties Leek 3. Australia: Tries Donnelly 2, Schleibs; Conversions Warwick 3.

ENGLAND: M Stephenson (Durham); G Arasa (Mill Hill), A Higgins (Christ's Hospital), S Cox (Colston's), T Coughlan (Campion); M Leek( John Fisher), N Dun-

combe (RGS High Wycombe); A Clarke (Colston's), R Sands (J Cleveland Coll), D Del Valle (Colston's), A Alesbrook (Ratcliffe), S Gilbert (RGS High Wycombe), T Barlow (Colston's), T Miklausic (St Peter's, Cheltenham), M Soden (Uppingham, capt). Replacements: C Hodgson (Bradford GS) for Cox, 39; I Vass ( Northamptpn Boys) for Duncombe, h-t; L Deacon (Ratcliffe) for Gilbert, 29; R Devonshire (Hymer's Coll) for Miklausic, 63.

AUSTRALIA: T Talaia (Plumpton HS, NSW); M Schleibs (Chevalier Coll, NSW), J Peesasa (Nudgee Coll, Queensland), P Warwick (Nudgee Coll), P Playford (St Joseph's Coll, NSW); T Donnelly (Marist Coll Eastwood, NSW, capt), P. Sheedy (Marist Coll Ashgrove, Queensland); J Lakepa (Cromer HS, NSW), J Mann-Ra (Nudgee Coll), A Mathison, D Heenan (both Marist Coll Ashgrove), T Makakea (St Edmund's Coll, ACT), A Elphinston (Marist Coll Ashgrove), G Smith (Cromer HS, NSW), G Jenkins (O'Connor Cath HS, NSW). Replacements: J Gamgee (Balgowlah HS, NSW) for Sheedy, 48.

Referee: D Tyndall (Ireland).