Barbarians snatch victory over England
May 29, 2011
Fly-half Frederic Michalak celebrates scoring against England at Twickenham
© Getty Images
The Barbarians snatched a dramatic 38-32 victory over England in an entertaining non-cap clash at Twickenham.
A last-gasp try from Dutch winger Tim Visser - his second in the game - saw the world-famous select side edge out a largely experimental England side who had looked on course for victory having weathered an extremely physical challenge that took its toll.
Tries from centre Henry Trinder and wingers Ugo Monye and James Simpson-Daniel put the hosts in control in the opening period but centre Benoit Baby and fly-half Frederic Michalak kept the Barbarians in touch. And they kicked on after the break with Visser and flankers George Smith and Joe van Niekerk crossing to turn the game on its head. Tom Johnson would reclaim the lead for England only for Visser to strike in the 78th minute and win the game for the Baa Baas.
An early scrum penalty went England's way and the ball was swiftly kicked to the corner in a clear statement of intent. The ball was moved quickly off the lineout and some strong running from centre Matt Banahan drew the defence before fly-half Charlie Hodgson worked the ball wide to Trinder who dived over for the opening try that was converted by his No.10.
The Barbarians responded in kind with winger Paul Sackey making the initial in-roads before a delayed pass from Michalak allowed Baby to ghost through all too easily before stepping around fullback Mike Brown on his way to the line.
Michalak added the extras but his side were soon back on the defensive with another strong run from Banahan causing trouble before a chip through from Hodgson narrowly evaded a desperate lunge from Johnson. Further pressure brought more reward with Hodgson opting to kick the next penalty through the posts to restore his side's lead.
Opportunism was the key to the next England score with quick ball and good hands creating the opening for Monye. The Quins speedster then chipped ahead before pressurising the retreating Barbarians fullback Nicolas Jeanjean who released the ball after the tackle allowing his rival to scoop it up and dot down for the score.
Hodgson continued his strong opening with the conversion but the Barbarians rallied strongly only for Baby to run out of room as he closed in on the corner. England were much more ruthless with ball in hand and were soon celebrating their third try. No.8 Luke Narraway pounced on a loose ball in midfield before feeding his Gloucester team-mate Simpson-Daniel who injected some pace to cut inside Ruan Pienaar on his way to a well-worked try.
Hodgson made it four out of four from the kicking tee before Van Niekerk became the latest Barbarians player to get little change out of the committed England defence. Some indiscipline from the hosts handed the Barbarians an attacking scrum inside the 22 just past the half hour and Michalak's dancing feet took him close but he lacked the muscle to get the ball down.
England flanker Carl Fearns was sin-binned in the aftermath for his efforts to kill the ball and the Barbarians soon had the ball over the line only for Van Niekerk's pass to Sackey to be called forward in a major let off. England's scrum continued to creak but they wriggled free of the shackles with a burst from Brown only for scrum-half Paul Hodgson to pass to Michalak who raced back down field to score in the corner before making it a seven-pointer.
The Barbarians began the second half brightly with England's hopes dealt a blow with a knee injury to Monye that ended his game. England were soon back to full strength with the return of Fearns but they could not prevent the Barbarians eating into their lead. A cross kick from Michalak found Visser out wide and he shrugged off Simpson-Daniel before speeding down the touchline to score.
Hodgson had the chance to give his side some more breathing space but hooked his next penalty attempt wide of the posts. And England were made to pay for his failures with some direct running and some soft hands from replacement Joe Tekori creating just enough space for Smith to burrow over in the corner to bring the Barbarians side level. And they were not finished there with England's attempts to play their way out of trouble inside their own 22 leading to another score with Van Niekerk showing good strength to muscle his way over for a try.
Michalak's conversion took the Barbarians out to a seven point lead before a lengthy delay to allow treatment to England prop Joe Marler who was eventually stretchered from the field. When play resumed, the host enjoyed a rare foray downfield with the end result a Hodgson penalty that was greeted with boos by the crowd.
Willie Mason made his entrance with fifteen minutes remaining to add even more bulk to a formidable Barbarians back line with replacement Seru Rabeni the next to make his mark - with a high tackle catching Trinder.
Stephen Myler added a little invention to the England back line for the closing stages and his chip ahead almost put Banahan away. The ball was recycled and a quick tap turned the screw with the ball eventually worked wide to Johnson who dived over to give England a narrow one-point advantage.
But the Barbarians were not done and conjured a typical crowd-pleasing score to steal the game. Tekori opened his legs to gallop into the England 22 before feeding Van Niekerk on a great angle inside. The Toulon talisman was brought down just short of the line but still had the composure to deliver a delightful off load to Visser who crossed for the try and the win.
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