Christian Wade scored a 75th-minute try to boost the England Saxons to a 29-26 win in George as well as a 2-0 series victory. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The SA A team let this one slip. Their forwards began strongly at the set pieces and collisions. The hosts would have scored more than 12 points in the first half if not for the wayward goal-kicking of Francois Brummer. The SA A flyhalf missed three attempts on goal during this period, and eight points went begging.
The SA A side did manage to score a try on the half-time hooter and a further two five-pointers right after the break. Sergeal Petersen was involved in all three scores.
The Cheetahs winger scored his first try after the hooter to propel the SA A side into the lead. He added a second to his tally in the 43rd minute when he took an inside pass from Francois Venter.
The two Cheetahs players combined again in the 46th minute to score SA A's third try. Petersen showed exceptional skill to grubber down the right-hand touchline and regather. The cover defence came across to shut him down, and Petersen kicked again for Venter to chase. The No 13 won the race to the loose ball and scored.
Brummer found his radar to add the extras. At 26-8, it appeared as if SA A were on track for a big win, and that the Saxons were destined to end their tour in disappointing fashion.
But the English side hit back immediately. Tommy Taylor had scored a try off the back of a maul in the first half. The Saxons hooker scored his second of the evening after the visitors set the lineout and powered over the SA A tryline in the 48th minute.
The Saxons defence continued to pressure the SA A side, and that pressure told in the 57th minute. Scrumhalf Piet van Zyl threw a shocking pass only 10m from his own tryline, and the visitors pounced. Matt Kvesic scored from the subsequent phase, and Danny Cipriani's conversion reduced the deficit to just four points.
The SA A defence battled to keep the Saxons out in the latter stages. The visitors continued to hammer away at the hosts, and replacement scrumhalf Micky Young found Wade with a sharp pass.
The England winger crossed the tryline unopposed, and Cipriani nailed the touchline conversion. Cipriani's kick was important, as it meant that SA A needed to score a try to win the game and draw the series. Less than five minutes remained at that point.
It was the Saxons, however, who finished stronger at the death. They played the game deep down in SA A territory, and eventually won a penalty on full time. Young booted the ball over the deadball line, and the game and series ended with the Saxons as deserved victors.
South Africa A – Tries: Jean-Luc du Preez, Sergeal Petersen (2), Francois Venter. Conversions: Francois Brummer (2), Leolin Zas.
England Saxons – Tries: Tommy Taylor (2), Matt Kvesic, Christian Wade. Conversions: Danny Cipriani (3). Penalty: Cipriani.
South Africa A – 15 Leolin Zas, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Lukhanyo Am, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Oupa Mohoje (c), 6 Jean-Luc du Preez, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Lizo Gqoboka, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Ntando Kebe, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Travis Ismaiel.
England Saxons – 15 Mike Haley, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Christian Wade, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Don Armand, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Dave Attwood (c), 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Subs: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Micky Young, 22 Sam Hill, 23 Sam James.
Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images