Planet Rugby

Barbarians bow to England

30th May 2010 18:09

Share:

Nick Easter England

Test passed: England captain Nick Easter gets into the spirit of things

England kicked off the mid-year internationals with a 35-26 victory over the star-studded Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday.

Like their footballing compatriots, Martin Johnson's troops put together a serviceable performance to bolster spirits ahead of the daunting trip south of the equator.

But having led 25-7 at the break, questions will be raised to why the locals failed to throw away the key.

In the end they were forced to kick penalties in order to quell a typically cavalier showing from the famous international side.

James Haskell, Shontayne Hape, Ben Foden and Mike Tindall all touched down as England made the most of some generous defending to cruise to victory.

Toulon-bound winger Paul Sackey scored a try in each half for the Barbarians and replacements David Smith and Census Johnson rumbled over to give the scoreline an air of respectability.

England head Down Under on Monday night for a five-match tour that includes two Tests against the Wallabies, two meetings with the Australian Barbarians and a clash with the New Zealand Maori.

All three teams will pose a far sterner test than the Barbarians, who at times reacted to the sunshine over Twickenham as if they were playing touch rugby on the beach.

The match did at least give Johnson a chance to run the rule over a clutch of returning players and new faces before the tour starts in earnest a week on Tuesday.

Charlie Hodgson, back after two years in the international wilderness, made a lively contribution at fly-half and finished with ten points before a bloody nose forced him off, while the back row of Nick Easter, Delon Armitage and Haskell were all prominent.

And scrum-half Danny Care responded well to the gauntlet that Ben Youngs threw down with his performance for Leicester in Saturday's Guinness Premiership final.

England made countless line-breaks and Mark Cueto was a constant danger with scything runs from deep but there remain question marks over Hape at inside centre.

Ultimately, however, Johnson will need to see his men tested in far more hostile surroundings to draw any firm conclusions.

The Twickenham announcer's last words before kick-off were to prepare the 41,035 crowd for "80 minutes of world-class rugby" although for most of the match the Barbarians offered anything but.

They may be proud to uphold the old amateur ethos of bonding at the bar but optional defence neither makes for a decent contest nor, in this case, helps to properly assess England's strengths.

Hodgson scuffed his first penalty low, wide and ugly but responded positively to send Cueto past a distinctly uninterested Florian Fritz and on a 70-yard burst.

England kept the pressure on with good hands from Foden and a Steve Thompson charge before the Barbarians were penalised for offside and this time Hodgson converted.

The Sale fly-half showed good strength to wriggle out of two tackles on half-way before offloading for Dave Attwood to rampage forward as England began to tick.

Hodgson slotted a second penalty before Haskell showed some clever footwork to skip away from Sackey and Ross Skeate, who collided in pantomime fashion as the Stade Francais flanker touched down.

England extended their lead to 20-0 when Hape stepped through a giant gap between Fritz and Ben Kay to score on his senior debut.

Finally the Barbarians offered something worth cheering as Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, a member of Toulouse's Heineken Cup-winning team, brilliantly collected his own chip and sent Sackey over for the try.

Sackey fended Hodgson off on his way through and the England fly-half was forced to make way for Olly Barkley.

The Barbarians began to play as if they were the Harlem Globetrotters but England's response was instant as Easter swooped on a loose ball.

The captain galloped over half-way before Thompson slung the pass wide for Foden, who raced in for England's third try and a 25-7 half-time lead.

The Barbarians' saloon-door defending continued after the break as Tindall slipped Fritz's tackle and sailed untouched through a gaping midfield hole to touch down under the posts.

Cueto embarked on a third break but once again failed to find his support runners, something that will concern Johnson given the paucity of the opposition.

Both sides began to ring the changes and the Barbarians began to play more direct rugby and profited to the tune of three second-half tries.

Smith crashed over in the 56th minute after a bulldozing run before Johnson, the giant Samoan prop who gave Tim Payne a tough afternoon in the scrum, drove over for the Barbarians' third.

Sackey's second try was a thing of beauty as Cedric Heyman dummied a flick behind his back and stayed in field long enough to supply the scoring pass.

Barkley rounded off the day with a penalty shot at goal in the last minute, a decision which was rightly greeted with derision by the supporters.

The scorers:

For England:
Tries: Haskell, Hape, Foden, Tindall
Cons: Hodgson 2, Barkley
Pens: Hodgson 2, Barkley

For Barbarians:
Tries: Sackey 2, Smith, Johnston
Cons: Elissalde 3

The teams:

England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter (captain), 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 James Haskell, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Jon Golding.
Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Tim Payne, 18 Dan Ward-Smith, 19 Joe Worsley, 20 Joe Simpson, 21 Olly Barkley, 22 Mathew Tait.

Barbarians: 15 Paul Warwick, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Florian Fritz, 11 Cedric Heymans, 10 Jean-Baptiste Ellisalde, 9 Byron Kelleher, 8 Xavier Rush (captain), 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Rodney So'oialo, 5 Ben Kay, 4 Ross Skeate, 3 Julian White, 2 Benoit August, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Census Johnston, 18 Jerome Thion, 19 George Smith, 20 Pierre Mignoni, 21 Fabrice Estebanez, 22 David Smith.

Referee: Jérôme Garces
Assistant referees: Romain Poite, Pascal Gauzere
TMO: Bob Ockenden, David Matthews

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs Leicester19:45
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton Treviso17:00
Glasgow vs Ulster19:35
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs Montpellier20:45
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs Blues19:35
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954