Australia put woeful Barbarians to the sword
Graham Jenkins at Twickenham
November 26, 2011
Wallabies wing Lachie Turner touches down in the corner for a try against the Wallabies at Twickenham
© Getty Images
Australia warmed up for their re-match with Wales next weekend with a 60-11 demolition of a lacklustre Barbarians side in a largely uninspiring clash at Twickenham.
The Wallabies ran in eight tries in a hopelessly one-sided encounter that will have done little to prepare them for their showdown at the Millennium Stadium next weekend while the Barbarians' poor showing will have disappointed a bumper crowd of 51,000 fans who flocked to English rugby's HQ hoping to take in another memorable chapter in their storied history but witnessed one of their most forgettable displays.
Wingers Digby Ioane and Lachie Turner and lock James Horwill led the rout with two tries apiece with centre Rob Horne and replacement Radike Samo also getting in on the act. Fly-half James O'Connor, in his first international appearance at No.10, slotted 20 points in an assured display with the Barbarians, coached by former All Blacks boss Graham Henry, limited to just two Danny Cipriani penalties until rugby league international Sam Tomkins crossed in the final moments.
A chorus of boos greeted the Wallabies' decision to go for the posts with just two minutes on the clock but O'Connor had no qualms about slotting his first points of the game. In contrast, the Barbarians were at their crowd-pleasing best shortly after only for Tomkins, a high-profile recruit from the Super League side Wigan for a one-off appearance, to spill the ball with his first touch.
The crowd welcomed O'Connor's decision to send the next penalty into the corner but their adventure almost back-fired with the Barbarians' Robbie Fruean intercepting and racing downfield but the Kiwi centre failed to find Tomkins with what would have been a scoring pass. Fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper was sin-binned for his attempt to stem the tide and Cipriani, looking to catch the eye on his first appearance at Twickenham since his last England cap in 2008, put the Barbarians on the board from the kicking tee.
A crunching hit from former Australia captain Stirling Mortlock on David Pocock, leading the Wallabies for the first time, emphasised that this game was far from a friendly - a fact underlined by a drop goal from O'Connor midway through the half. They had more breathing space a couple of minutes later thanks to a moment of class from Ioane. The Wallabies' speedster picked the ball up in midfield before powering through a glaring gap in the Barbarians' defence with O'Connor adding the extras.
Barbarians winger Bryan Habana picked up that gauntlet and produced a superb burst to create an opening of his own a couple of minutes later with Wigan fullback Tomkins, playing on the wing, again running a fine support line but the pass was forward.
The Wallabies' indiscipline cost them dear again on the half hour with prop James Slipper the latest to trek to the sin-bin after a cheap shot on Cipriani. But Australia took the latest blow in their stride with another sweeping move sparked by prop Salesi Ma'afu almost adding to their lead only for a forward pass to deny them.
But their perseverance would pay off just before the break with Turner squeezing home in the corner after the Barbarians were guilty of kicking away possession with the clock already run down. The half ended in confusion with Barbarians scrum-half Peter Stringer snaffling the ball off the tee as O'Connor was caught taking too long with the conversion - with referee Romain Poite ruling that the Wallabies' playmaker had started his run-up.
A high shot from Ma'afu on Barbarians replacement Richard Kahui allowed Cipriani to reduce the arrears in the opening minutes of the second half but it would not get any better for them. A raft of changes soon ignited a scoring spree. Scrappy lineout ball was swept up by hooker Stephen Moore who popped the ball to fellow replacement Horwill who coasted over just moments after entering the fray. O'Connor showed he had learnt his lesson with the conversion - promptly sending it sailing over to cement his side's lead.
The Barbarians' hopes then suffered a double blow with a yellow card for replacement prop Salvatore Perugini followed by the Wallabies' fourth try from Horne who pounced on a loose pass from Cipriani. O'Connor's conversion put the result beyond doubt with 25 minutes to go as time and space became increasingly simple for his side to find.
Another direct run from Horwill brought him his second try midway through the half and Turner was also able to double his tally after some good work from Ashley-Cooper. O'Connor added both conversions to heap woe on the listless Barbarians who struggled for any kind of possession.
The inevitable half century came with ten minutes of the game remaining with Ioane showing great strength and skill to force his way over. O'Connor's sixth conversion was swiftly followed by his seventh after Samo strolled over off the back of a scrum in the shadow of the Barbarians' posts.
The Barbarians rallied in the dying moments of the game with a rare sortie upfield rewarded with their only try through Tomkins who showed great composure to dot down in the corner. The last say was left to veteran lock Victor Matfield whose last act as a player before retiring was to shank the conversion which summed up the Barbarians' day.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum and you can also follow him on Twitter.
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