Rugby Union: Low-key Campese baffled by Connacht
Thursday 14 November 1996
David Campese produced little to support his claims for a Test place yesterday as the tourists mounted a forceful recovery against Connacht.
Ahead 12-7 at the interval, the Irish provincial side were sensing a famous victory when Eric Elwood's fifth penalty early in the second half gave them an eight-point lead. But Australia rallied with four late tries and ran out comfortable winners in the first game of the Irish leg of their tour.
Campese had a quiet afternoon attempting to regain his Test place for the match against Ireland on Saturday week to add to his 100 caps. A deft piece of handling only hinted at the Campo of old. Yet the Wallaby wing was mobbed at the final whistle by a crowd of youngsters in what was probably his last appearance at Galway's Sports Ground on the west coast of Ireland.
George Cregan sparked Australia's comeback when he was rewarded for supporting a break by Owen Finegan with a try. Cregan scored again when he darted over from close range after Finegan had been held up as Australia increased the pressure on the Connacht forwards. Finegan then ran over himself to make the game safe for the tourists.
While that brought a measure of relief and joy to the Australians, the game produced a moment of hilarity that belonged to Connacht when they scored a late consolation try.
The entire Connacht team, apart from the thrower and the scrum-half, formed a line-out close to the visitors' line. The lock, Graham Heaslip, won the ball and as the whole team drove on, it was fellow second row Shane Leahy who was credited with the try.
"I have never ever seen anything like that," said a bemused Campese after the match. "It certainly gave the Irish and the crowd a bit of fun."
The Australians had the last laugh, however, as Alistair Murdoch ghosted through the defence to bring up the fifth try in the final seconds.
Connacht: Try Leahy; Penalties Elwood 5. Australia: Tries: Cregan 2, Finegan, Gavin, Murdoch; Conversions T Wallace 3; Penalties T Wallace 2.
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