Wallabies hammer Barbarians
June 6, 2009
Australia's Lachie Turner evades the tackle of the Barbarians' Sonny Bill Williams
© Getty Images
The Wallabies cantered past the Barbarians 55-7 in their first rugby hit-out of the season as the invitation side's spirited challenge failed to materialise.
Inspired again by brilliant fly-half Matt Giteau, the Wallabies scored eight tries to one and despite not being at their best, it was enough against a weary Barbarians who counted 10 New Zealanders in their line-up.
The Sydney Football Stadium crowd of 39,688 had enough to enthuse about, as the game's poster boy Sonny Bill Williams made a solid first appearance with few chances. All Blacks star Luke McAlister, on trial for a recall after two seasons in England, also had little chance to shine as the Wallabies dominated possession but would have pleased coach Graham Henry in the stand with his few touches.
The Wallabies hadn't lost to the Barbarians since 1976 and never looked like it tonight as they raced in four tries in the final 15 minutes as the Barbarians tired. Winger Drew Mitchell led the way with a double.
The marketers billed it as a Stirling versus Sonny Bill show: Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock against former Kiwis league international Williams; seven months since he walked out on his Bulldogs club and headed to France.
Williams didn't disappoint, and the crowd roared as he nearly scored with his first touch, in the third minute. Williams charged past his opposite Mortlock from a gap created by McAlister, but was upended by halfback Luke Burgess under the posts and the move broke down.
Mortlock only had a short wait for his revenge when he smashed Williams in a front on tackle as he ran on to a McAlister skip pass. It set the tone for the night as nearly every Wallabies back lined up to take their shot at the 107kg powerhouse. The Wallabies dominated the first half, rattling up three tries in 17 minutes to lead 20-7 at the break.
The Barbarians, including 775 test caps in all, found it tough going a week after beating England at Twickenham. There, they raced to a 33-6 lead but tonight they were sluggish, showed their limited preparation and fell off tackles as the Wallabies hogged possession.
Former All Blacks flanker Jerry Collins was at the forefront of the Barbarians' charges but there was little flow or space against a willing home defence. Burgess set up the Wallabies' first try, to lock James Horwill in the sixth minute, when he raced onto a chip kick to put the hosts on attack. The halfback later departed with a hip injury.
Mitchell scored their second from a loose ball when he brushed off former Highlander Seilala Mapusua, who departed before the break with a leg injury. Giteau then weaved his magic with a double dummy which fooled everyone, including Mapusua and Williams, to stroll over untouched.
The only joy for the Barbarians came on the halftime hooter when their captain Phil Waugh, playing his regular teammates, stole an intercept and sent McAlister away. He found Williams, who was hit hard by his shadow Mortlock, but the Barbarians regrouped and former Chiefs five-eighth Glen Jackson put England winger Iain Balshaw over in the corner.
Former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Ben Blair got their chances off the bench, with Blair's energy sparking the Barbarians in the second spell as the Wallabies lost some of their shape.
Williams broke through and offloaded for Blair who burst clear, but after Williams handled again they turned over the ball. But in a flash the Wallabies went back on attack and reserve halfback Josh Valentine sent hooker Stephen Moore on a 30m gallop to the posts, to make it 27-7 with 20 to go.
Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Lachie Turner, Stirling Mortlock (capt), Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell; Matt Giteau, Luke Burgess; Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Al Baxter, James Horwill, Nathan Sharpe, Matt Hodgson, George Smith, Richard Brown
Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Ben Alexander, Dean Mumm, David Pocock, Josh Valentine, Quade Cooper, James O'Connor
Barbarians: G Murphy (Leicester Tigers & Ireland); I Balshaw (Gloucester Rugby & England), S Williams (Toulon), S Mapusua (London Irish & Samoa), J Lewsey (London Wasps & England); L McAlister (Sale Sharks & New Zealand), C Whitaker (Leinster & Australia); C Dermody (London Irish & New Zealand), S Bruno (Sale Sharks & France), BJ Botha (Ulster & South Africa), C Jack (Saracens & New Zealand), P Tito (Cardiff Blues), J Collins (Toulon & New Zealand), P Waugh (Waratahs & Australia, captain), R Elsom (Leinster & Australia).
Replacements: S Brits (Stormers & South Africa), G Somerville (Gloucester Rugby & New Zealand), M Corry (Leicester Tigers & England), S Betsen (London Wasps & France), J Marshall (Saracens & New Zealand), G Jackson (Saracens), B Blair (Cardiff Blues & New Zealand)