England eclipse Allstars
Iain Morrison reports from Twickenham.
September 18, 1999
The lights were on but most people stayed at home as a disappointing crowd of ten thousand odd witnessed a west London mugging tonight as England smashed and grabbed their way to an impressive victory.
After their low-key kop out at Anfield last week this was just the performance to put a smile on Clive Woodward's face two weeks from their World Cup opener against Italy. Madness may have cancelled their scheduled appearence here at Twickenham before the kick-off but there was mayhem a-plenty as England totally eclipsed a very decent Premiership Allstars side outscoring them by thirteen tries, none were down to luck, to just three.
The pre-match fireworks were matched by a spectatular opening as the sides outpaced the clock scoring twenty-five points between them with only fifteen minutes gone. England showed great pace, vision and relentless support to grab four of the five early tries and stamp their authority all over their forlorn opposition whose hard work was not compensated with any hard cash.
An early Johnny Wilkinson penalty was bolstered by touchdowns from Matt Perry, Phil de Glanville and the flying Dan Luger. At this point England were threatening to run away with a game that had hardly started.
The one blot on their otherwise spotless copybook was a soft try conceded to Tony Diprose. He scooped up a Cockerill lineout throw that was so squint it needed corrective surgery, and simply barged his way over.
However normal service was soon resumed as Austin Healey flyhacked his way upfield to allow opposite winger Luger to grab his second as the Allstars conspicuously failed to turn defence into attack. Minutes later Healey helped himself to another score as England remained rampant.
England crossed for two more scores thanks to Dallaglio, again and Luger, again. Jason Keyter stole a consolation try in reply as he latched onto Thierry Lacroix's cross-kick. It was a brief lull in the the relentless one-way traffic.
With the Allstars having already used four of their nine replacements the only question at half time was whether they scratch side would run out of players before they leaked a century.
Inevitabley the pace of the game slowed to merely manic in the second half. England maintained their shape despite the numerous substitutions one of which let Mike Catt out of the bag to grab two touchdowns. In all there were another seven tries to complement nine in the opening forty, six of which went to England.
Martin Corry, Neil Back, Richard Cockerill and David Rees joined Catt on the score-sheet before the latter, with seeming inevitability, was sidelined with another injury. Bristol's new signing Mike McMullen went over for the one Allstars effort after the break.
England were almost completely excellent but their traditional virtues of fitness, strength and determination were complemented by some dazzling running rugby they will do well to reproduce in the tense atmosphere of the World Cup.
Then opposition is unlikely to be supine but still England did pretty much all that was asked of them here tonight, including Jonny Wilkinson who was on target with 13 out of his 14 kicks at goal. They will go into the competition in good heart, and even the Kiwis might order a copy of this video.