Cuthbert double does for Ireland

Date published: May 28 2015

Alex Cuthbert scored two tries to help the Barbarians to a deserved win over Ireland 22-21 at Thomond Park.

Up against an Irish team which was desperately lacking in ideas, the Baabaas chucked the ball around, and ran in three tries through Cuthbert in either half and Zane Kirchner.

Ireland stayed in touch with tries from Craig Gilroy, the returning Chris Henry and Paddy Jackson, but generally they struggled to create anything, particularly with a misfiring maul.

Of course they were missing the likes of Paul O'Connell and their first-choice half-backs, but very few players stuck their hands up for World Cup consideration.

In sodden conditions it was the visitors who started the quicker, with Cardiff Blues winger Cuthbert going over in the corner after quick hands from the Baabaas.

While Robbie Deans' side were living up to their reputation, playing everything through the hands, Ireland were sticking to Joe Schmidt's rigid game plan, taking no risks.

They moved in front after a series of scrums five metres out, eventually going through their backs and producing a clever set-play that sent Gilroy through a gap and over the line. Ian Madigan, trying to earn a spot as Jonathan Sexton's back-up, converted to give Ireland the lead.

That was it for scoring in the first half, although there was still time for both looseheads to be sin-binned, Jack McGrath for dropping a knee on the back of Konstantin Mikautadze at a breakdown, while Roberto Tejerizo was then yellow-carded for a succession of scrum infringements.

The Barbarians started the second half as they had the first, crossing for a splendid try. This time it was an individual effort from Kirchner, who burst through the weak tackle of Leinster teammate Madigan before chipping over Dave Kearney and collecting to dot down. Jimmy Gopperth was on target with the conversion this time to make it 12-7.

Although this team will bear very little resemblance to the side that will turn out at the World Cup, it was far from convincing stuff from Ireland, who then conceded a penalty, which skipper Shane Jennings, in his final match, chose to kick. Gopperth made no mistake to push the lead to eight points.

Ireland had regularly turned to their maul with little success but when they finally got it going it was Henry, back from his mini-stroke, who got the try. Madigan converted from out wide to cut the deficit to a point.

The Barbarians might have been expected to fade, but this was a similarly unfamiliar Irish team, and the visitors sealed the win after a long period of possession in the Irish 22 before Cuthbert powered over from close range after a long period of pick-and-go.

Ireland had the final say with a late try from Jackson, with a drop-kicked conversion from the touchline by Madigan, but they ran out of time to get back into Baabaas territory to try to steal the win.

The scorers:

For Ireland:
Tries: Gilroy, Henry, Jackson
Cons: Madigan 3
Yellow card: McGrath

For Barbarians:
Cuthbert 2, Kirchner
Cons: Gopperth 2
Pen: Gopperth
Yellow card: Tejerizo

The teams:

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Colm O'Shea, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Ben Marshall, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Cian Kelleher

Barbarians: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Joe Rokocoko, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 David Smith, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Ruan Pienaar,  1 Roberto Tejerizo, 2 Deon Fourie, 3 Adam Jones, 4 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 5 Konstantin Mikautadze, 6 Shane Jennings (c), 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 8 Ryu Koliniasi Holani
Replacements: 16 David Ward, 17 Saimone Taumoepeau, 18 Matias Diaz, 19 Nathan Hines, 20 George Smith, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Tusi Pisi, 23 Gio Aplon

Venue: Thomond Park, Limerick
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Andy Brace
TMO: Dermot Moloney