Mon, Jun 28, 2004 - Page 20 News List

South Africa, Romania win

AP , BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

South Africa's Victor Matfield, right, is tackled by Gethin Jenkins of Wales in a rugby test at Loftus Rugby Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday.

PHOTO: EPA

Australia, New Zealand and South Africa completed their June test rugby programs unbeaten with thumping home wins on Saturday, and jacked up anticipation for the Tri-Nations next month.

Australia crushed England 51-15 to end a five-test losing streak to the World Cup champion, New Zealand dispatched Argentina 41-7 to remain undefeated against the Pumas, and South Africa flexed its forward muscle in burying Wales 53-18.

Meanwhile, Romania players and officials wept tears of joy after beating Six Nations side Italy 25-24 for the first time in more than 10 years at Bucharest.

The Tri-Nations teams will each play the new Pacific Island Warriors over the next three weekends before their annual three-way showdown begins on July 17.

Australia regained the Cook Cup from England for the first time since 1999 in the first test between them since the World Cup final last November, won by England in extra time.

Winger Clyde Rathbone, a late replacement for Wendell Sailor who strained a hamstring in a pre-game warmup, scored three tries, hooker Jeremy Paul bagged two second-half tries, and center Lote Tuqiri added the sixth for the Wallabies.

"We took the opportunities when they came," Wallaby captain George Gregan said. "We've certainly been on the wrong end of the scoreline for the past four years, so it was good."

Man-of-the-match Joe Roff racked 21 points after kicking eight of 11 attempts.

Flanker Richard Hill and captain Lawrence Dallaglio scored England's tries, the team's first of its Southern Hemisphere tour after 36-3 and 36-12 losses to New Zealand.

"We have had a very tough tour, well beaten in three games," said Dallaglio. "We made a lot of mistakes, and they made us pay for them. We have to take stock and go back and not panic."

Scores

* South Africa 53 (Brent Russell 2, John Smit, Breyton Paulse, Wayne Julies, Johannes Conradie, Schalk Burger tries; Percy Montgomery 6 conversions, 2 penalties) def. Wales 18 (Dwayne Peel, Shane Williams tries; Gavin Henson 2 penalties, conversion)

* Romania 25 (Ionut Tofan, Costica Mersoiu, Ovidiu Tonita tries; Tofan 2 conversions, 2 penalties), def. Italy 24 (Nicola Mazzacato, Gonzale Canale, Scott Palmer tries; Francesco Mazzariol 3 conversions, penalty)


England has lost four straight tests for the first time under coach Sir Clive Woodward.

"From my point of view to play so poorly in the first half and then back into it before the last half hour was very disappointing," said Woodward. "We tried to catch up a little too quickly and kept turning the ball over."

Rathbone, who said he had about three minutes to get himself ready after he was told he'd be starting in place of Sailor, put Australia up 21-8 with his second try just 15 seconds before halftime.

Dallaglio scored England's second try in the 48th minute to get within eight points, but Australia romped away. A Roff penalty two minutes from time lifted Australia passed 50 points before a record crowd of 52,492 at Suncorp Stadium.

In Hamilton, New Zealand, All Black flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens scored 16 points with an impeccable kicking display in the 68-test veteran's first start in two years. He kicked two penalties and converted New Zealand's five tries to flatter an unimpressive All Blacks performance.

No. 8 Mose Tuiali'i scored New Zealand's first try in the fifth minute of his debut test and Sam Tuitupou scored another in his first run-on appearance for New Zealand.

Speedster Joe Rokocoko scored his fifth try in three tests this season, his 22nd in a 15-match career, while captain Tana Umaga crossed for his 28th test try in his 56th appearance.

Mils Muliaina added New Zealand's final try 15 minutes before fulltime and Mehrtens' conversion -- his seventh goal from as many attempts -- took his record points tally for New Zealand to 948.

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