Baa Baas beat the Boks again
December 4, 2010
Barbarians winger Drew Mitchell celebrates his first try in the game against the Springboks at Twickenham
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Wallaby winger Drew Mitchell notched twice as the Barbarians claimed an exciting 26-20 victory over South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon.
The Springboks had been hoping to exact some revenge for their defeat at the hands of the Baa-Baas at the same ground in 2007 but they ultimately left themselves with too much to do after an opening quarter in which they conceded three tries, with Mitchell dotting either side of his compatriot James O'Connor.
Indeed, the Springboks, fielding only three of the side who started last weekend's 21-11 victory over England last weekend, were run off their feet in the first half as the all-star Baa Baas turned on the style. Coach Peter De Villers retained only winger Lwazi Mvovo, scorer of the second Springbok try which sealed England's fate, lock Bakkies Botha and flanker Juan Smith, who led the side in the absence of the injured Victor Matfield.
The Barbarians, fielding six All Blacks and six Australians, including 20-year-old Wallabies winger O'Connor at fullback, brought flair and attacking ambition to Twickenham. Wales flanker Martyn Williams was their only British starter but he was prominent as the Barbarians applied the early pressure which resulted in lively Australian scrum-half Will Genia's neat reverse pass sending countryman Mitchell powering in for the opening try after six minutes.
While the invitation side opted for scrums or tapped their penalties in true Barbarians tradition, South Africa opted to kick theirs to try and stay in touch and 20-year-old fly-half Elton Jantjies opened their account in the 10th minute.
But the Barbarians hit them with two tries in a devastating five-minute spell to stretch their lead to 19-3 after only 21 minutes. Prop Neemia Tialata gratefully accepted a long botched line-out throw from South African hooker Adriaan Strauss to drive to within a yard of the try-line. The Baa Baas whipped the ball along the line and Kiwi powerhouse Ma'a Nonu's gave O'Connor the space to run in unchallenged for a try which the youngster converted from the touchline.
Jantjies missed a rushed penalty attempt, after the ball fell over, but there was no stopping the flamboyant Barbarians and Mitchell struck again in the 21st minute. His Wallabies team-mate Adam Ashley-Cooper was felled as he kicked ahead but Mitchell won the chase to touch down loose ball and O'Connor was again on target from wide out.
A barnstorming run by flanker Willem Alberts, scorer of last weekend's first try against England as a replacement, enabled South Africa to mount their best first-half attack and hooker Strauss drove into the heart of Baa Baas' defence but it all came to nothing when scrum-half Francois Hougaard spilled a straightforward pass.
South Africa finally got a foothold in the game four minutes into the second half, courtesy of a telegraphed pass from Nonu which enabled right-wing Odwa Ndungane to intercept and race half the length of the pitch before touching down between the posts to leave Jantjies an easy conversion. However, Jantjies missed the chance to cut the deficit to six points when he missed another easy penalty shot after 57 minutes.
Giteau passed up the chance to stretch the Barbarians' lead to 12 points when he went for touch instead of kicking a simple penalty and, following a concentrated spell of pressure, the bold approach paid off when Quintin Geldenhayes, their South African-born Italy international replacement prop, bundled over in the left corner with O'Connor again on target.
South Africa rallied with two late tries, from lock Botha in the 71st minute and replacement hooker Bandise Maku in the last attack, to put a respectable slant on the scoreline but it was too little, too late.
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