Abendanon and May earn tough win

SA Barbarians North 31 England XV 57

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The Independent Online

A nasty scare from a scratch side and a trip to hospital for the wing Ugo Monye: welcome to the Springbok badlands, where the grass is bright yellow and the rugby men anything but. England won in Potchefstroom, running in eight tries, but they might have been in trouble but for their blinding pace out wide.

Twenty-one points up at the break thanks to a hat-trick from the Bath full-back Nick Abendanon and a close-range finish from the No 8 Ben Morgan, the tourists were reeled in by the home scrum-half, Shaun Venter, who scored either side of Jamie Gibson's disappearance to the cooler for a late tackle on Deon Scholtz.

Happily, there was some real gas available to England, much of it from Gloucester's Jonny May, who settled things with two tries in eight minutes. Two more scores, the first from Anthony Allen and the second a penalty try, completed the job.

Monye, making his first appearance on tour after injury problems, looked sharp but, after plucking a threatening high ball out of the air and kicking, he collided with Venter and was unconscious before hitting the ground

The England head coach, Stuart Lancaster, was much better pleased with this performance than he had been with the half-baked display against the southern SA Barbarians in Kimberley a week ago. The front-row newcomer Tom Youngs caught the eye at hooker and there was a highly impressive contribution from the flanker Carl Fearns in the loose.

But as the captain, George Robson, admitted: "It was a little hairy out there, especially when we went down to 14 men, and it could have gone two ways." The lesson? There are no easy games in this part of the world.