Habana fires Baa-Baas to famous victory
December 5, 2009
The Barbarians celebrate their victory over New Zealand at Twickenham
© PA Photos
Schalk Burger Stephen Donald Fourie du Preez Jaque Fourie Matt Giteau Richie McCaw Nick Mallett Victor Matfield Jamie Roberts Joe Rokocoko
A hat-trick from South African winger Bryan Habana propelled the Barbarians to an historic 25-18 victory over New Zealand at Twickenham.
The Springboks speedster struck twice in the first-half to give the Baa-Baas the lead at the break and added another in the second period to end the All Blacks unbeaten run in emphatic style. Winger Ben Smith and lock Anthony Boric crossed for the tourists but they were unable to prevent the Barbarians notching only their second victory over New Zealand.
Australia fly-half Matt Giteau tormented New Zealand with a commanding display in front of a 63,554 crowd who were treated to a clash that may have failed to live up to the intensity of a Test match but delivered in terms of entertainment.
The Barbarians' line-up boasted a staggering 925 caps and the run-on side included six Springboks, four Wallabies and an All Black in the form of winger Joe Rokocoko. Wales and Lions centre Jamie Roberts ensured some northern hemisphere interest while the traditiion of an uncapped player was honoured with the inclusion of Cheetahs prop WP Nel.
The All Blacks fielded what was effectively their second string in the last game of their current tour that has seen them register victories over Australia, Wales, Italy, England and France. However, they did include recently-crowned IRB Player of the Year Richie McCaw but he was unable to prevent the Barbarians notching a headline-grabbing win.
New Zealand opened the scoring with a penalty from fly-half Stephen Donald but their decision to opt for the posts was greeted with a chorus of boos from a crowd keen to see a feast of running rugby.
Both sides appeared to respond accordingly with the All Blacks ambition proving to be their undoing. Hooker Corey Flynn surged into the 22 but found support slow in coming and Wallabies fullback Drew Mitchell pounced on the loose ball before darting up the touchline. Habana loomed up on his shoulder to claim a well-timed pass before beating the cover defence to the line.
Giteau slotted the tricky touchline conversion and kept the pressure on with a muscular run that swept him within five metres of the line. Scrum-half Fourie du Preez almost wriggled over but was denied by McCaw in the nick of time.
The Barbarians were building up an impressive head of steam but New Zealand weathered the storm and responded well to take the lead. Centre Luke McAlister made the initial break that stretched the Barbarians' defence, creating an overlap that straight running and quick hands exploited to send Smith over.
New Zealand continued to dominate but were once again hit with a classic counter-attack. Habana grabbed a loose pass from Donald and juggled the ball before racing away for his second score - leaving McCaw in his wake.
The Barbarians almost stretched their lead a couple of minutes into the second half when a clever cross-kick from Giteau found his international skipper Rocky Elsom but the Wallabies flanker was denied by a try-saving tackle from McAlister.
Habana then provided a fine example of his defensive strength to prevent All Blacks scrum-half Brendan Leonard crossing after a sustained spell of pressure. And the Barbarians then turned the screw with a penalty from Giteau.
The All Blacks refused to buckle and another strong run from McAlister began a move that ended with Boric crashing over although his score had to be confirmed by the Television Match Official.
With the game in the balance, the Barbarians produced what would be the match-winning score with Giteau again creating the opportunity with an incisive shortside break, drawing the defence before the ball found Habana who gladly claimed his hat-trick score.
All Black substitute Mike Delany landed a penalty with nine minutes to go but replacement Morne Steyn stepped off the bench to respond in kind. The All Blacks conjured one more attack in the hope of grabbing a share of the spoils but a crunching tackle from Barbarians flanker Schalk Burger brought an abrupt end to the move and with it ended New Zealand's hopes.
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