Wallabies pip Barbarians in classic

Date published: November 1 2014

Michael Cheika’s reign as Australia coach got off to a winning start as the Wallabies edged to a 40-36 win over the Barbarians.

Michael Cheika’s reign as Australia coach got off to a winning start as the Wallabies edged to a 40-36 win over the Barbarians.

It was a thrilling encounter with both teams prepared to throw the ball around and the backlines looking dangerous throughout.

In Cheika’s first game in charge he’d chosen to rest a number of players, while handing Reds half-backs Will Genia and Quade Cooper recalls at Twickenham.

And after the Barbarians threatened to cut them open for much of the first half, the Wallabies finally got the upper hand and eventually took control, holding on despite a late Baabaas comeback.

It was certainly a spectacle though, and the Barbarians were largely responsible for that, staying true to the famous black and white jersey’s traditions.

They showed their intentions from the off, with an American football-style throw-in at the first lineout from Steven Luatua.

From their first penalty in kickable territory they set up a rolling maul and thought they had scored, but Jaco Peyper called it back for an infringement in the build-up. Still, Australia had already been penalised and soon after the Baabaas had their first try, John Kirwan’s team had their first try.

Using all the tricks in the book, it was Colin Slade’s delightful pass out of the tackle that set Nick Cummins on his way. The former Wallaby winger crashed into Quade Cooper but when the ball came back right, the Barbarians had an overlap and Frank Halai was able to step in and cross.

It took until just before the half-hour for Australia to hit back, but they were on the mark when Sam Carter crashed over but after Cooper converted, the Barbarians hit straight back.

Adam Thomson, part of a hugely impressive back row, finished off a move which started through the excellent Luatua, and again featured Halai in the build-up. Slade’s conversion made it 12-7 to the Baabaas but Australia were back in front before half-time.

It came thanks to some great work from Tevita Kuridrani, who caused the Barbarians trouble all game, with Benn Robinson eventually the man to go over.

Having helped his time to a 14-12 half-time lead, Kuridrani got on the scoresheet himself early in the second half, crashing through for a great individual try.

At 21-12, the Barbarians could have just collapsed, but they came back once more thanks to Francis Saili, who had enjoyed a fantastic day. Slade converted before adding another penalty to put Kirwan’s team back in front.

Australia reacted with a try from Rob Horne, who was served by Matt Toomua, and when Bernard Foley went over two minutes later it seemed over as a contest.

Sean McMahon, on his first Wallaby appearance, then went over and Bernard Foley, on for Cooper, converted to make it 40-22.

It looked all over but the Barbarians hit back with Cummins earning the biggest cheer of the afternoon when he ran on to Tim Nanai-Williams’ exquisite delayed pop pass.

And two minutes later it was Marnitz Boshoff who went over to get the Barbarians back within a score.

Australia, to their credit, kept attacking, and even when the 80 minutes were up, they didn’t initially kick it out.

But after both sides had given it a go in search of a final try, the Wallabies decided enough was enough and settled for an entertaining victory.

Man of the match: There were so many people who impressed, particularly for the Barbarians, but there’s no question that Tevita Kuridrani was the difference between the teams. A menace with ball in hand, he scored one, set up another and was everywhere.

Moment of the match: How to choose? In the end we’re going to go with Nick Cummins’ try that got the Baabaas back into it. The Honey Badger was the man everyone wanted to see, and he looked to enjoy that try. It also sparked the dramatic late comeback!

Villain of the match: No-one in a game like this. Played as Baabaas matches should be.

The scorers:

For Australia:
Tries: Carter, Robinson, Kuridrani, Horne, Foley, McMahon
Cons: Cooper 3, Foley2

For Barbarians:
Tries: Halai, Thomson, Saili, Cummins, Boshoff
Cons: Slade 2, Boshoff 2
Pen: Slade

The teams:

Barbarians: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Tom