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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
England made to dig deep
England's Ben Johnson proved a powerful presence in midfield
England's Ben Johnson proved a powerful presence
Gauteng Falcons 27-36 England

England finished their summer tour of South Africa on a high, after a hard fought victory over an uncompromising Falcons side.

The tourists scored five tries, while 11 points from fly-half Ali Hepher's boot made a telling difference.

Gauteng, whose line-up included several players with Super 12 experience, comfortably proved England's toughest midweek opponents.

Prop Darren Garforth went off midway through the second half nursing what appeared to be a serious-looking facial injury after a prolonged brawl with Gauteng tighthead Jaco Espag.

Espag's fellow prop, Gunder Williamson, was sin-binned in the first half for stamping, and England full-back Josh Lewsey also received a yellow card, his offence being a late tackle.

Darren Garforth was on the wrong end of South African hospitality
Darren Garforth was on the wrong end of South African hospitality
England, after drawing the Test series 1-1 with South Africa, were determined to end their five-match trip on a winning note.

When they breezed into an early 17-3 lead, courtesy of tries from centres Ben Johnston and Will Greenwood, it looked like another comfortable outing.

But Gauteng, who had defeated both Scotland and Wales in recent seasons, proved they were made of stern stuff.

Their full-back Piet Matthys touched down six minutes before the break, and then their impressive centre Joe Esterhuysen was worked clear by skipper Eugene Meyer for another score.

Hepher had converted both England tries and kicked a penalty, but the tourists still trooped off at half time having been clawed back to 17-17.

Borthwick, one of the outstanding success stories on England's trip, crossed for a try 10 minutes after the break, but Gauteng replacement Pieter Jordaan kicked a penalty to ensure that England, on this occasion, were going right to the wire.

Wing Rob Thirlby sprinted across for England's fourth try in the 69th minute, Hepher converting, but again Gauteng showed their character in front of a vociferous home crowd, Esterhuysen slicing open England's defence and Jordaan adding the conversion.

England now led 29-27, and it took a try from flanker Joe Worsley two minutes from time - converted by Hepher to make the game safe.


Gauteng Falcons: Matthys, Douw, Esterhuizen, Meyer, van Deventer, van Rensburg, de Kock, Williamson, van der Walt, Espag, Schroeder, Wegner, Botha, Heunis, Steinbach.
Replacements: Willemse, Jordaan, Badenhorst, Roux, de Beer, Britz, Pieters.

England: Lewsey, Thirlby, Greenwood, Johnson, Hanley, Hepher, Walshe, Rowntree, Long, Garforth, Sheridan, Borthwick, Worsley, Volley, Corry.
Replacements: Wood, Lloyd, Stimpson, Flatman, Regan, Greening, Shaw.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

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