Barbarians 11 Australia 60

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Saturday afternoon will probably be one that the Barbarians rugby annals will wish to forget after a crushing 49 point defeat at the hands of the Wallabies in front of 51,000 at Twickenham.

After a couple of impressive victories against New Zealand and South Africa on the very same pitch over the past two years, the Baa-Baas coaching staff would have been forgiven for expecting a little more from a mixed squad of world-class internationals. Perhaps the weight of a long and intense season, which concluded in a ferociously contested World Cup Finals left the Barbarians with nothing to give an expectant crowd of rugby fanatics keen to see their favourite stars perform.

In the end, the fixture turned into a non-contest with Australia dominant in most areas of the field and the Barbarians looking tired and lacking creativity in most of theirs. The Australians ran home eight tries (six coming in a second half rout) after the Barbarians world-cup winning coach, Graham Henry, made seven changes at half-time. Australia played the kind of expansive running rugby that the mostly neutral crowd would have hoped to see from the men in black and white hoops. The Wallabies backs showed all the talent and exuberance of youth in an ideal warm-up for their repeat of the World Cup 3rd place play-off against Wales at the Millenium Stadium this weekend with notable performances from several.

PUMA’s James O’Connor looked a natural in his new role at fly-half breaking the gain line with ball in hand, distributing effectively and kicking intelligently to direct several of Australia’s best tries, as well as taking 20 points with the boot including 7 conversions, 1 penalty and 1 drop-goal.

Victor Matfield turned in a familiarly heroic performance in his farewell match as captain and appeared all over the field with some crunching tackles, and was even given the honour of attempting to convert the Barbarians solitary try in the 80th minute – as might have been expected, the result was more Victor Matfield than James O’Connor!! After a decade of dominance in the second row, the 34-year-old moves onto a career in broadcasting and coaching with the Bulls at home in South Africa. Good luck Victor!!

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