The Wallabies made hard work of it but they have held on for a 31-28 win over the Barbarians in Sydney this afternoon. Duncan Paia’aua scored a brace while starting at 10 for the Wallabies but the win comes at a high cost though with Lukhan Tui and Jack Dempsey limping off with injuries that will more than likely rule them out of the Spring Tour.
The match was played in warm conditions with both side trying to respect the concept of traditional Barbarian games although the memo may not have made it to the officials room with two yellow cards late in the game against the Barbarians halting any chance of a famous victory.
The Wallabies had all the ball in the opening ten minutes on the back of five penalties dished out by referee Brendon Pickerill against the Barbarians. After opting for a series scrums in the 22, Duncan Paia’aua strolled through some pedestrian defence to open the scoring.
There was nothing pedestrian about Wycliff Palu’s defence though after being a late call up for Jacques Potgieter and he smashed Jordan Uelese with a trademark hit in a throwback to his Waratahs days.
The Barbarians finally got their chance to throw it around and made some good metres out wide. They managed to get some penalties of their own and came up with an old school Barbarians move with Taniela Tupou crossing the line but it was pulled back because of the old ‘footy up the jumper’ trick.
They wouldn’t have to wait too much longer as Queensland Reds hooker Andrew Ready spun out of contact with Samu Kerevi and Lukhan Tui to score. Quade Cooper converted to make it 7-5.
It was back-to-back-to-back tries with three in five minutes for the Barbarians with Taqele Naiyaravoro getting over the line first with some razzle dazzle handling skills from Tim Nanai-Wiliiams in the lead up.
Tom Banks got his name on the try scorers list as Naiyaravoro made a break down the right wing after Kerevi attempted to intercept, and with Cooper’s third conversion it was 21-5 after 30 minutes.
Just on half time, the Wallabies reduced the margin with Henry Speight finding some room in the Barbarians defensive line after being set up by Kerevi and Paia’aua’s conversion made it 21-12.
The second half started with the Wallabies on attack but not able to get through a determined Barbarians defence. It took 15 minutes for the next score with Jack Dempsey, who started at open side flanker, handling a number of times before scoring the Wallabies third try to make it 21-17.
There were some strong displays from the bench including Ben Maccalman and Stephen Moore and that lead to the Wallabies getting back in front in the 62nd minute with Paiau’aua scoring under the posts for his second of the match after replacement Curtis Rona found open space off a nice Lopeti Timani short ball.
The lead changed hands again shortly after with Naiyaravoro bagging his second after Tom Banks collected a Quade Cooper kick in behind the Wallabies defence and a simple draw and pass saw the big man with an easy run to the line.
But that would be the end of his contribution as he copped a yellow card in the 70th minute for a deliberate knock down with the Wallabies on attack in the 22.
The Barbarians task got even harder as they went down to 13 men with Cooper following Naiyaravoro to the naughty chair after high shot on Israel Folau and the 2 man advantage was too much to hold out as the Wallabies rolled over a maul the resulting penalty with Moore awarded the five pointer. Paia’aua converted to make it 31-28 with much ‘advice’ heading the referees way as to how Barbarians games work.
The Spring Tour squad will be announced tomorrow with a few players putting their names in the mix including Ben McCalman with a nice cameo off the bench but there won’t be Lukhan Tui amongst those names as he suffered a hamstring injury that will reportedly rule him out for 4-5 weeks. Jack Dempsey could also be in doubt after hobbling off late in the match with what appeared a serious leg injury.
The Game Changer
The two yellow cards late in the game ruined the contest that would have most likely seen the Barbarians hold onto a famous win.
The G&GR MOTM
Jack Dempsey played well at openside and even scored a try himself before having to limp off the field late in the match. A strong cameo from Ben McCalman off the bench was worthy of a mention as was the double from Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Paia’aua 2, Speight, Dempsey, Moore
Conversions: Paia’aua 3
Tries: Naiyaravoro 2, Ready, Banks
Conversions: Cooper 4
70 mins – Naiyaravoro (Barbarians) – Yellow
71 mins – Cooper (Barbarians) – Yellow
Photos by Peter Mitchell
If you have a spare 20 minutes, you can watch Alan Jones giving his appraisal of the match and all things rugby in general in the post match presser.