Barbarians 11 – Australia 18
Sekope Kepu (pec muscle) and Matt Dunning (achilles) might not agree due to their injuries, but what a way to end what must go down as a successful European tour. Approaching tonight my worry was that this was going to be an exhibition game where the likes of Habana and Rococoko were going to run through a tired and inexperienced Wallabies side. How sweetly wrong I was.
What a dooley of a match. The BaaBaas threw everything at this side including the kitchen sink in the form of the brutal Collins and Burger combo, and the Green and Gold defence was nothing short of awesome. The hits going on in midfield from the likes of McMenimum, Chisholm, Mumm and TPN were nothing short of crazy and it ultimately won them the match.
Far from being weak links, the new boys and non starters on the tour definitely staked some claims.
Take for example our new Wallaby fullback James O’Connor. I now know what the fuss is all about – he simply has the X factor. Being under a sky high bomb with Rococoko and Burger haring down had absolutely no impact on the kid. He is ice cold and at such a tender age is making the right decisions and seeing space around the park that others can’t find. He needs to start tests next year.
Another guy who lived up to his hype was Polata-Nau, who was electric around the field (the backpass to Ioane was magic) and his throwing on the money (at last!). I feel Pococks cameo put another nail in Phil Waugh’s coffin. I hadn’t realised just how pwoerful he is on his feet. As for Quade, he also improved his stock, showing an ability to push the ball around the park.
Some of the old regulars put their hands up as well. Lote’s hit on Steyn (who had an absolute shocker) toward the end not only drilled the saffa girly-boy back 10 metres it also lifted the whole team just at the right time. Mitchell’s set up of the final try, where he cut back in to make the space for Lakky, was class and he again looked solid at the back. AAC looked much more comfortable back in the line, even playing at 12.
Overall, this game did more than Deans could probably had hoped for giving some of the more fringe players the chances they needed to show what they could do under fire. It also showed that the spirit and knowledge of doing what it takes to win games now runs right through this whole squad. It’s a hunger for winning and proving what you’re made of which tonight they did against some of the worlds best.