Friday 23 March 2018

Spirit of Barbarians still alive and kicking as star-studded side prove too classy for Boks

Barbarians 26
South Africa 20

Ian Chadband

A CLASH of surprising quality at Twickenham between an invitation XV and South Africa's second team ended in deserved victory for the Barbarians.

Only 31,000 turned out, raising questions about the Baa-Baas' place as an afterthought in modern rugby, but some of the rip-roaring fare on offer made the former Springbok Nick Mallett launch a defence of the significance of the hooped adventurers.

"It's a fixture which has huge relevance still and it's a great pity more people didn't come and watch what was a very high-quality game," said the Barbarians' coach.

For half an hour, the Boks looked strangers to each other while the Baa-Baas offered an impersonation of a well-drilled unit, piling into a 19-3 lead through two tries from Drew Mitchell and another from James O'Connor. It was not just a rare treat to watch but also, according to captain Matt Giteau, a restorative to play in.

It had been a difficult few weeks for Giteau -- dropped by the Wallabies for the first time in five years after the hammering by England. However Giteau's exquisite inside pass and Will Genia's reverse flick, which set up Mitchell's brace of tries, were also a reminder of why we love to watch Barbarians rugby.

When the Springboks, relieved to have broken the shackles with Odwa Ndungane's interception try, belatedly asserted themselves, roused by a rumbustious cameo from Tendai Mtawarira, it started to feel like a contest.

But the Baa-Baas' decisive try came from South Africa-born Italian forward Quintin Geldenhuys, which nullified late Boks scores from Bakkies Botha and Bandise Maku. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Barbarians -- J O'Connor; J Rokocoko (S Rabeni 63), A Ashley-Cooper, M Nonu (S Donald 63), D Mitchell; M Giteau (capt), W Genia (A Ellis 48); S Perugini, S Moore (K Mealamu 40), N Tialata (J Yapp 63); A Van Zyl, C Jack; R So'oialo (Q Geldenhuys 48), M Williams, C Bourke (D Braid 22).

South Africa -- P Lambie; O Ndungane, A Jacobs, A Strauss (C McLeod 63), L Mvovo; E Jantjies, F Hougaard; C Oosthuizen (T Mtawarira 45, W Kruger 67), A Strauss (B Maku 59), CJ Van Der Linde; B Botha (F van der Merwe 29), A Hargreaves; W Alberts, J Smith (capt), R Kankowski (K Daniel 54).

Ref -- P Gauzere (France).

Irish Independent

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