Thomas Waldrom of England is tackled by Ross Geldenhuys. Photo: Getty Images
JOHANNESBURG: England ran in eight tries en route to an ultimately comfortable 54-26 win over the South African Barbarians in a tour match at GWK Stadium in Kimberley on Wednesday.
The visitors recovered from conceding a third-minute try to lead 25-14 at half-time and four final-quarter tries gave the Red Roses a flattering winning margin on a clear, early winter afternoon in the Northern Cape capital.
An England team boasting some of the best club players in the country were expected to dominate hastily assembled semi-professionals from the second tier of the domestic Currie Cup competition.
However, only two-try eighthman Thomas Waldrom and to a lesser extent, nippy scrum-half Danny Care, raised their hands for inclusion in the match 22 for the crucial second Test against South Africa in Johannesburg Saturday.
Leicester Tiger Waldrom was voted man of the match after an outstanding display in the loose and scoring a try in each half before being substituted with 12 minutes left.
Care, back in the white jersey for the first time since last August after being arrested three times for drink driving and once for an alleged sexual assault, was a livewire operator and grabbed an opportunist late try.
England captain and lock George Robson said: “The Barbarians offered a great challenge and I am proud of my guys with Thomas Waldrom standing out. We had to work pretty hard for our victory today.”
But the England performance won little praise from recently retired South Africa lock Victor Matfield nor former Springbok and Italy coch Nick Mallett, who were working as TV analysts.
No one except Waldrom, and possibly Care, pushed their case for inclusion in the second Test team, said Matfield, who hung up his boots after South Africa were eliminated in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals.
Mallett said England coach Stuart Lancaster will not be happy that his team conceded four tries against semi-professionals, nor the indiscipline that saw 12 penalties awarded against them.
Visiting flank James Haskell was yellow carded eight minutes before half-time when referee Jonathan Kaplan lost patience with the continuous infringements of the touring pack.
A South African selection faithfully following the Baa Baas tradition of running the ball at every opportunity took advantage of the numerical advantage to score a converted try and close the gap to 11 points by half-time.
Left wing Norman Nelson scored a superb try on 55 minutes to leave the South African side only nine points adrift before tries from lock Graham Kitchener and left wing Christian Wade sent England clear.
Wade (three), Waldrom (two), right wing George Lowe, Kitchener and Care scored tries for England and fly-half Charlie Hodgson kicked four conversions and two penalties from 10 shots at goal.
Lowe was a last-minute replacement for fit David Strettle, fuelling media speculation that the latter may be in line for a Test call-up when the team is announced Thursday.
England will have to make at least two changes from the backline that started the first Test with a thumb injury forcing full-back Mike Brown to return home and an eye operation preventing centre Brad Barritt playing until next week.
Eighthman Jacques Engelbrecht, hooker Hannes Franklin, Nelson and replacement back Ntabeni Dukisa crossed the try-line for the Baa Baas with fly-half Elgar Watts converting three, including a retake when England charged early.
Trailing 1-0 in the three-Test series, England face the Springboks at Ellis Park this Saturday and on June 23 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth with another game against a Barbarians selection in between.