Entertaining running rugby is at the heart of the Barbarians F.C.’s century-old history of taking on international teams, and the composite side lived up to those traditions in a 31-all draw with South Africa at Wembley.
It was a distinctly Kiwi-heavy Barbarians line-up, with 10 New Zealanders in the starting side – including halfback Andy Ellis, centre Seta Tamanivalu, Highlanders cult hero duo Richard Buckman and Matt Faddes, and world-class loose forwards Luke Whitelock and Jordan Taufua.
Taqele Naiyaravoro and Paddy Ryan were the Australian contingent in the run-on XV, while Toby Smith, Sam Carter, Nic Stirzaker and Luke Morahan came off the bench.
The ‘Baa Baas’ produced a trademark long-range try after just 18 minutes, with Ellis backing up a freakish chip-and-chase effort by Faddes to run 50 metres and score.
Former Waratahs and Wallabies winger Naiyaravoro followed up that display of finesse with a mind-blowing show of strength just before halftime, shoving off opposite Sergeal Petersen in brutal fashion before dotting down in the corner.
The Barbarians almost scored from a novel penalty set-play after the break, hoisting a bomb at the posts from near the touchline. The TMO ruled Whitelock had knock the ball out of Pieter-Steph du Toit’s hand before Reggie Goodes forced it.
Naiyaravoro and Ellis were integral as the Barbarians topped those efforts, with Morahan finishing a sparkling movement for the first of his two tries.
Blues fullback Melani Nanai had a blinder, featuring prominently in the aforementioned five-pointer with superb quick hands.
Barbarians rugby at its breathtaking best. This has to be up there for one of the tries of 2016?!
🎥the tight five rugby union pic.twitter.com/NN9zoRyZaT
— EatSleepRugby (@eatsleeprugby) November 6, 2016
South Africa trailed 31-19 before rescuing the match with two late tries. Captain Pat Lambie missed a match-winning conversion attempt in the dying stages as honours were shared in the exhibition clash.