O'Connor brilliance holds Eng
Perth - Teenager James O'Connor put on a scintillating one-man display as the Australian Barbarians drew 28-28 with England on Tuesday in Perth.
O'Connor scored 25 points - the home team's entire score at that stage - to put himself right in the frame for Wallabies selection before being taken off in the 47th minute.
When he left the field the Barbarians led 25-13 and his performance, just a few days shy of a year since he made his run-on Test debut, must have impressed Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
The 19-year-old's heroics, with three tries, two penalties and two conversions, helped the Barbarians overcome a sluggish start that saw the visitors skip away to a 6-0 lead on the back of two Olly Barkley penalties.
O'Connor was on the bench for the Wallabies' 49-3 win over Fiji on Saturday, but was not called into action in that match.
The early stages saw the English dominate the clash between two second-string sides made up of players mainly on the fringes of national selection, and the tourists threatened the try line on a couple of occasions, but rusty ball handling cost them a bigger lead.
However, O'Connor brought the home crowd to life in the 22nd minute, when he bustled over in the corner for his side's opening try.
The Western Force prodigy missed the conversion, but slotted a penalty to give his team the lead in the 27th minute.
He then went over in the corner again in the 30th minute and added the conversion for an unlikely 15-6 lead given the balance of play.
England's Lee Mears dived over next to the post in the 37th minute and the simple conversion by Barkley made it 15-13.
O'Connor then extended the lead again when he added a penalty after the half-time hooter to make it 18-13 at the break.
In the 44th minute, the teenager made it a hat-trick of stunning tries when he again dived over in the corner, before producing a superb conversion from the side line.
When O'Connor left the field, the momentum of the home side was lost, and another Force player, Nick Cummins, fluffed a chance to put the match beyond doubt when he fumbled the ball forward with the try line beckoning and no England players left in his path.
England then surged back into the game late, after Barbarian Laurie Weeks was sent off.
The tourists got back into the match through a converted try to Dan Ward-Smith, before reclaiming the lead when Matt Banahan surged over in the corner after a break down the left side.
However, a Berrick Barnes penalty levelled the scores in the dying minutes and Barnes had the chance to snatch victory with the last play of the match, but his penalty attempt faded just wide.
England play the Wallabies in a Test match in Perth on Saturday evening.
Australian Barbarians 28 England 28
Barbarians: Tries - James O'Connor (3). Conversions - O'Connor (2). Penalties: O'Connor (2), Berrick Barnes.
England: Tries - Lee Mears, Matt Banahan, Dan Ward-Smith. Conversions - Olly Barkley (2). Penalties - Barkley (3).
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (AUS)