Planet Rugby

Barbarians too hot for Springboks

04th December 2010 13:48

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Drew Mitchell slides over for Barbarians against South Africa

Got a couple: Drew Mitchell

Two tries from Drew Mitchell were the difference between the Barbarians and Boks, with the 'hosts' winning 26-20 in an entertaining clash at HQ.

It was a fine advert for this historic spectacle, not least because the Baa-Baas were celebrating their 120th year. It was a very happy birthday.

Mitchell was again a key outlet on the wing while Anton van Zyl, very much a South African, put in a dominant performance in his adopted pack.

Several games across Britain were called off due to the weather this weekend but the London pitch looked in surprisingly decent nick for the contest. And that was great news for the supporters who had braved the cold to come out and watch such a star-studded Barbarians team in action. They did not disappoint either, with Ma'a Nonu dominating the midfield, Neemia Tialata lapping up some running up front and James O'Connor roaming.

It was that man Nonu who got the 'hosts' on the front-foot too as he slipped the net on halfway, beating three defenders to take his side up to the 22. From there the Barbarians mounted serious pressure on the Springbok whitewash with the score looking ominous. Finally it came on six minutes when Will Genia popped an inside ball to in-form Wallaby team-mate Drew Mitchell for the opening score of the day.

South Africa did knock over a response through a penalty from fly-half Elton Jantjies four minutes later, who made a nervy debut in green and gold particularly from the kicking tee.

But that only awoke the Baa-baas beast as a mistake at the Bok line-out saw All Blacks prop Tialata rampaging at the visitors' whitewash. He came close but the damage was done, with numbers to the left resulting in a simple run-in for O'Connor, who kicked the extras.

More was to come for the now warmed spectators though and it was arguably the moment of the match. Yet again from turnover ball, captain Matt Giteau stretched his legs down the left wing before a slick inside ball to Adam Ashley-Cooper then saw the centre chip over and from there it was a foot-race that Mitchell won. The Waratahs winger was definitely following up his hat-trick against France with another strong performance, this time at Twickenham.

Peter de Villiers had obviously had a stern word with his charges at the break and credit to them, the Springboks came out firing on 44 minutes. The try came from a Barbarians mistake however, as Nonu's speculative pass found the hands of Odwa Ndungane.

Jantjies sent over the simple conversion and the scores were 19-10 with a great deal of time remaining. But the Lions number ten then proceeded to miss the opportunity to cut the lead further just before the hour, and it was not the most difficult of shots.

A South African-born player then scored a five-pointer however, it was the Italian lock forward Quintin Geldenhuys who got over following another sustained period of possession. O'Connor added two more points and the game as a contest seemed to be over.

The Boks did rally late on though as Bakkies Botha and replacement hooker Bandise Maku crossed on 71 and 80 minutes respectively to cap an entertaining affair at Twickenham.

Man-of-the-match: Many put their hand up for this gong but we have gone for a South African playing in Barbarians colours. Anton van Zyl was a real physical presence for his side and led the pack with a powerful performance. Mentions go to Ma'a Nonu, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell, who were all threatening throughout.

The scorers:

For Barbarians:
Tries: Mitchell 2, O'Connor, Geldenhuys
Con: O'Connor 3

For South Africa:
Try: Ndungane, Botha
Con: Jantjies
Pen: Jantjies

Barbarians: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau (c), 9 Will Genia, 8 Colin Bourke, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Rodney So'oialo, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Anton van Zyl, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 John Yapp, 18 Quintin Geldenhuys, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Seru Rabini.

South Africa: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Adi Jacobs, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 François Hougaard, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Willem Alberts, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Gio Aplon.

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Christophe Berdos (France), Peter Allan (Scotland)

By Adam Kyriacou