Luther Burrell started against New Zealand © Getty Images
Rugby News Mixed weekend for international Saints
There was delight, drama and despair among the Saints on international duty this past weekend.
In all 12 players from Franklin's Gardens were on representative duty from one side of the International Date Line to the other - the long way round!
The weekend of action started in Apia, where Kahn Fotuali'i and George Pisi started for Samoa in their summer test against Italy, along with former Saint Fa'atoina Autagavaia. In a game of few chances in wet conditions it fell to Tusi Pisi to hold his nerve from the kicking tee to keep the score board ticking over. This the fly half duly did, punishing Italian ill-discipline with five penalties in a 15-0 final result, the Samoan's fifth win over the Azzurri in six meetings.
A few hours later England were involved in another dramatic clash against the All Blacks, this time under the roof in Dunedin. Luther Burrell and Tom Wood both started the game, with Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes coming off the bench.
England got off to a fantastic start and led 10-6 at half-time. But the world champions turned on the style after the break, and while England scored two late converted tries there was just not enough time to finish off what would have been a remarkable comeback, New Zealand running out 28-27 winners.
Later on Saturday George North's Wales were overpowered by South Africa in Durban, conceding five tries in a 38-16 final result.
Then in Los Angeles overnight Saturday into Sunday there was disappointment for Cam Dolan, Samu Manoa and the USA against Japan in their opening Pacific Nations Cup match. Dolan got on the score sheet in a promising first half which ended with the teams tied at 17-all. But while Manoa stood out in defence after the break even he could not stop the Japanese scoring 15 unanswered points to take themselves out to a 34-17 lead. A fourth quarter rally brought the Eagles back to a five-point deficit, only for a late penalty to seal a 37-29 win for Japan.
The final game of the weekend was back in New Zealand, with England Under-20 leaving the best until last, overwhelming Ireland in the Junior World Championships semi-final. Howard Packman and Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi both started the game, and both got on the score sheet with eye-catching tries.
Packman's catch, stop and side-step showcased the winger's fleet-footedness, while Hobbs-Awoyemi was more direct, coming onto a ball at pace to crash over from close range. Sam Olver came off the bench in a 42-15 final result that put England into their third Junior World Championship final in four seasons.