Spencer takes starring role as England wilt

England 39 Barbarians 52
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The Independent Online

Carlos Spencer gave Northampton fans a tantalising glimpse of the skills and thrills that he will be bringing to the Premiership next season as he helped put a raw England team through the mangle at Twickenham.

Carlos Spencer gave Northampton fans a tantalising glimpse of the skills and thrills that he will be bringing to the Premiership next season as he helped put a raw England team through the mangle at Twickenham.

And there was some good news for the Lions as well. Although Spencer is hoping to play for New Zealand Maoris in Hamilton on 11 June, he has made himself unavailable for All Black selection.

"However well I do for the Maoris, I will not be playing for the All Blacks," said Spencer after an electric display. "I did not want to arrive in Northampton half-way through their pre-season training. So even if the All Blacks have an injury crisis at first five-eighth and lose Daniel Carter and anyone else I will not play for them.

"I have made a commitment to Northampton and I just want to get there. I am excited by the move, it's the right time in my career.I wasn't enjoying my rugby in New Zealand. I just need another challenge."

Spencer, 29, who has made 35 appearances for the All Blacks, certainly did his bit for the Barbarians, his performance belying the fact that it was his first competitive game since fracturing a cheekbone eight weeks ago. In addition to scoring a fabulous first-half try after a brilliant outside break, he also set up position and scores for his team-mates.

He linked superbly well with two other All Blacks, Bruce Reihana and Mark Robinson. Since they will also be Northampton team-mates of Spencer next season, their running off each other would have given any Saints supporters in the 31,253 crowd even greater cause for celebration.

From England's perspective captain Pat Sanderson and coach Joe Lydon felt it was ideal preparation for their Churchill Cup tour to Canada next month.

"That was a very stern test for us," said Worcester flanker Sanderson, who was one of the few England players to shine. "They had world-class players in every position and it was a good workout."

Paul Sackey, the Wasps wing, revealed his power at pace as he ran in two well-taken tries, but there were not enough sparks and consequently little fire in English bellies.

The most worrying aspect for England was their defence. Tom Voyce looked uncomfortable at full-back, a discomfort that Wendell Sailor and Spencer latched on to from early in the game. But the midfield was not exactly watertight either.

One other England player came through the match with flying colours - Voyce's club-mate Simon Shaw. But he was playing for the Barbarians and, as he said, it was easier playing in a team full of fantastic players. But since lock Shaw is also on stand-by for the Lions, it was one piece of good news for the Lions management.

England: Tries Sackey (2), Erinle, Forrester, Sanderson; Conversions Goode (2), Vesty (2); Penalties Goode (2).

Barbarians: Tries Reihana (2), Sailor (2), Spencer, Halstead, Russell (2); Conversions Reihana (6).

ENGLAND: T Voyce; P Sackey, A Erinle (all Wasps), J Noon (Newcastle), J Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester); A Goode (Leicester), A Gomarsall (Gloucester); M Worsley (Harlequins), G Chuter (Leicester), M Ward (Newcastle), L Deacon (Leicester), T Palmer (Leeds), C Jones (Sale), P Sanderson (Worcester, capt), H Vyvyan (Saracens). Replacements: R Morris (Northampton) for Ward, 16; L Mears (Bath) for Worsley, 55; S Hooper (Leeds) for Palmer, 72; J Forrester (Gloucester) for Jones, 65; P Richards (Wasps) for Gomarsall, 57; S Vesty (Leicester) for Goode, 61; M Tait (Newcastle) for Sackey, 74.

BARBARIANS: B Russell (S Africa); W Sailor (Australia), T Castaignède (France), T Halstead (S Africa), B Reihana; C Spencer, M Robinson (all NZ); T Smith (Scotland), M Regan (England), J Visagie (S Africa), S Shaw (England), S Boome (S Africa), C Krige (capt; S Africa), J O'Connor (Ireland), S Chabal (France). Replacements: R Ibanez (France) for Regan, 60; A Lo Cicero (Italy) for Visagie, 66; A J Venter (S Africa) for Boome, h-t; S Setiti (Samoa) for Chabal, 66; B Redpath (Scotland) for Robinson, 57-70; D Humphreys (Ireland) for Spencer, 75; M Burke (Australia) for Castaignède, 63; Castaignède for Russell, 77.

Referee: S Dickinson (Australia).

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