Big Joe drives Baa Baas win

Joe van Niekerk helped the Barbarians to a 38-32 victory over England at Twickenham on Sunday.

Van Niekerk was one of two Springboks in action for the famous club, as Ruan Pienaar started the game at scrumhalf. It was a superlative display by the Toulon-based loose forward, and some powerful ball-carrying contributions eventually culminated in a five-pointer early in the second half.

England started the game well, shooting to a commanding 24-7 lead, but an intercept try by Freddie Michalak marked the start of the Baa Baas’ comeback. They eventually took the lead on the hour when George Smith dived over in the corner.

Tom Johnson scored for England in the 73rd minute to set up a dramatic end to this encounter. Poor defence at the death allowed the Barbarians to counter-attack, and Van Niekerk’s run and offload set up the winning try for Tim Visser.

While England were missing a few key players, the result will concern manager Martin Johnson who has three months to prepare this side for the World Cup. The Boks lost to the Baa Baas last November, but it was a game that featured second- and third-choice players and was staged at the end of a demanding southern hemisphere season.