Eng­land es­cape teenage ter­ror

But Attwood cited for dou­ble stamp

Daily Mail - - Rugby Union - CHRIS FOY Rugby Cor­re­spon­dent re­ports from Perth

ENG­LAND nar­rowly avoided be­ing beaten by a boy in their tour opener here yes­ter­day, but i t took a missed last­minute penalty by home fly-half Ber­rick Barnes to save them from yet an­other de­feat Down Un­der.

Martin John­son’s sec­ond-string side were in dis­ar­ray just af­ter half-time as teenage Wal­laby full back James O’Con­nor scored his third try and took his per­sonal points tally to 25, to leave the vis­i­tors trail­ing by 12 points. It was only when Rob­bie Deans be­gan to re­move the Test con­tenders, in­clud­ing O’Con­nor, from his Aus­tralian Bar­bar­ians team in the last half-hour that the tide turned.

Af­ter Queens­land Reds prop Lau­rie Weeks was sin-binned, Eng­land’s pack grad­u­ally ground their op­po­nents down and even­tu­ally cap­i­talised, with tries by Dan Ward-Smith and Matt Bana­han. They led briefly, but a Barnes penalty three min­utes from time lev­elled the scores.

When Olly Barkley then tripped just in­side his own half the hosts were awarded a kick­able penalty f rom the sub­se­quent ruck. Barnes struck the ball well, but it flew just wide. Eng­land had been spared. How­ever, Dave Attwood (be­low) was cited for two counts of stamp­ing. The Glouces­ter lock faced a hear­ing in the early hours of this morn­ing, UK time, with the grim prospect of a ban pre­ma­turely end­ing his tour.

Footage of the sec­ond in­ci­dent shows Attwood’s right foot clearly mak­ing down­ward con­tact with the head of Bar­bar­ians lock Mitch Chap­man, who is ly­ing un­der him. Home cap­tain Stephen Hoiles can be seen ap­peal­ing to the touch judge to take ac­tion against the 23 -year-old, to no avail. A blood­ied Chap­man was forced to leave the f i eld to have sev­eral stitches, but re­turned to fin­ish the match.

Af­ter­wards, John­son was i n bullish mood de­spite wit­ness­ing yet an­other dis­jointed at­tack­ing per­for­mance. The man­ager said: ‘Both camps think it’s a four-round fight and it’s level af­ter the first round. We did a lot of good things but com­pounded some er­rors which put us into a lot of strife.’

O’Con­nor, 19, de­liv­ered his hat­trick in the space of 22 min­utes ei­ther side of half-time and Eng­land sim­ply couldn’t con­tain him. Strike one stemmed from a mid­field burst by livewire hooker Huia Ed­monds, with the full back round­ing off the slick move in the corner af­ter hold­ing off Barkley and Ugo Monye. Strike two was more of a solo ef­fort. Nick Cum­mins gath­ered a spilled pass and surged in-field. When the ball went wide to O’Con­nor, his s t op - and-go burst wrong-footed Lee Mears and he left Barkley and Delon Ar­mitage stand­ing to cross. The hat-trick try was a deft piece of poach­ing as Josh Valen­tine kicked past the iso­lated Bana­han and O’Con­nor gath­ered to dive over. He weighed in with 10 kick­ing points to boot and his ex­u­ber­ance was in stark con­trast to so much of what Eng­land pro­duced. Af­ter a bright start when Barkley sent Char­lie Hodg­son hurtling through in mid­field, they lapsed into a grim rou­tine of driv­ing through nar­row chan­nels and clut­ter­ing the mid­field with big for­wards.

Eng­land did man­age to score three tries though. Mears bur­rowed over by the posts just be­fore half-time, Ward-Smith struck much later af­ter Court­ney Lawes had been stopped in front of the posts, and Bana­han gal­loped in by the corner flag shortly af­ter.

Driv­ing on: No 8 Dan Ward-Smith makes ground for Eng­land GETTY IM­AGES

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