Rugby Union: NZ Barbarians play out farcical mismatch

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The Independent Online
The North 0 New Zealand Barbarians 86

The New Zealand Barbarians reached for their prayer mats after this 14-try demolition of the North at the McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield, yesterday.

First they gave thanks that none of the opposition was seriously injured, for the match had turned mismatch when 12 of those who had played for the North in the midweek defeat by Queensland withdrew from the side last Friday. The New Zealanders' second prayer will be for England, who they hope will turn up at Twickenham with a fully representative side to face them next Saturday.

After the events of the previous days, which have given a new twist to the turmoil which has engulfed the Rugby Football Union in their dispute with the English Professional Rugby Union Clubs, we can be sure of nothing. No England players have yet signed an RFU contract and all of them are bound by Epruc's contractual arrangements.

The eight Sale players who pulled out last Friday said they felt over- exposed, and concerned about potential injuries in unequal contests. The Lions manager, the former Sale player and North chairman, Fran Cotton, was scathing in his criticism of the players. "I was embarrassed by the actions of the Sale players, I'm totally ashamed of them. They let themselves, their club and the North of England down. It was a very bad error of judgement by a small group of players."

On a pitch liberally dusted with snow and against a team containing seven first-choice All Black and four others who have played Test rugby, the North tackled their hearts out but to no avail. The Division, whose preparations bordered on the farcical after the withdrawals, were splendidly led by their scrum-half Dave Scully and well served by the hooker Terry Garnett and full-back Peter Massey.

It was 40-0 at half-time, with five of the Kiwis' six tries being converted by their outside-half Carlos Spencer. They ran in eight more after the break, with Joeli Vidiri and Andrew Blowers each claiming a hat-trick.

New Zealand Barbarians: Tries Blowers 3, Vidiri 3, Cullen 2, Brooke, Randell, Brown, Mika, Spencer, Robinson. Conversions Spencer 7, Mehrtens.

NORTH: P Massey; R Thompson (both Wakefield), J Harper (Rotherham), D Lyon (Orrell), G Anderton (Fylde); S Binns (Rotherham), D Scully (Wakefield, capt); M Worsley (Orrell), T Garnett (Wakefield), S Turner, P Rees (both Orrell), P Stewart, P Manley (both Wakefield), P Angelsea (Orrell), J Dudley (Rotherham). Replacements: A Luddiman (Harrogate) for Stewart, 60; C Lee (West Hartlepool) for Harper, 63; R Latham (Wakefield) for Worsley, 63; S Burnhill (Rotherham) for Anderton, 72; C West (Rotherham) for Dudley, 75.

NEW ZEALAND BARBARIANS: C Cullen (Manawatu); G Osborne (North Harbour), A Ieremia (Wellington), L Stensness (Auckland), J Lomu (Counties); C Spencer (Auckland), J Marshall (Canterbury); M Allen Taranaki, S Fitzpatrick (capt), O Brown (both Auckland), G Taylor (Northland), R Brooke, D Mika, A Blowers (all Auckland), T Randell (Otago). Replacements: J Vidiri (Counties) for Osborne, 41; A Mehrtens (Canterbury) for Cullen, 47, I Jones (North Harbour) for Taylor, 62; M Ranby (Manawatu) for Ieremia, 67; M Collins (Waikato) for Allen, 69; M Robinson (North Harbour) for Marshall, 72.

Referee: P Adams (Wales).