JON CARDINELLI watched the Wallabies thrash the Barbarians 60-11 to ensure Victor Matfield’s international career ended on a depressing note.
Australia edged South Africa 11-9 in last month’s World Cup quarter-final, a result that stretched their record against the Springboks in 2011 to three from three. This Saturday’s fixture at Twickenham represented a final attempt at revenge for Matfield, but as much as he tried as an individual, he couldn’t lift the collective to the point where they could mount any real challenge.
The result sees the Baa Baas missing out on a hat-trick of wins against the Sanzar nations, having beaten New Zealand in 2009 and South Africa in 2010. It also sees Wallabies coach Robbie Deans getting one over the All Blacks’ Graham Henry and Steve Hansen, who took charge of the Barbarians for this particular encounter.
The Baa Baas looked a disinterested and disjointed bunch for much of the contest. They butchered two early try-scoring opportunites, and failed to make the Wallabies pay when Adam Ashley-Cooper and James Slipper were yellow-carded at separate intervals in the first half.
The visitors struggled to fire early on, but certainly looked the more structured and ambitious of the two teams. It finally came together in the 26th minute when flyhalf James O’Connor found Digby Ioane, who proceeded to expose some poor Barbarians defence.
This aspect of the Baa Baas’ game grew worse as the game progressed. They managed to keep the Wallabies in check in the first half thanks to the two yellow cards, but in the second stanza, there was no stopping the relentless green and gold wave.
The Wallabies’ bench provided the desired impetus, but the defensive effort of the Barbarians was nothing short of shocking. In a definitive period between the 40th and 70th minute, those wearing the black and white hoops ushered the Wallabies to the tryline no less than five times.
It will go down as the worst performance by a Barbarians side in recent times. Although they managed to score one consolatory try in injury time through young league star Sam Tomkins, it was the gutless defensive effort that will anger officials and members of an extremely proud and elite club.