The Barbarians and South Africa couldn’t be separated in their clash at Wembley Stadium on Saturday as they had to settle for a 31-31 draw.
In an entertaining clash, played at a frenetic pace, both sides scored five tries apiece although the Baa-baas held the upperhand for large periods before the Boks secured the draw thanks to a late Rohan Janse van Rensburg try.
With this being an experimental side, several Bok players were trying to make an impression on coach Allister Coetzee and Janse van Rensburg did just that with a polished allround performance.
As expected, the Barbarians played expansively throughout and although the Boks said earlier in the week they would not take the famous invitation team on at their own game, that statement proved untrue as they also employed a ball in hand approach for large periods.
The Barbarians did most of the early attacking and were rewarded as early as the fourth minute when Melani Nanai burst through a Jamba Ulengo tackle close to the Boks’ tryline, before crasing over for the opening try.
The Boks struck back five minutes later when, from a line-out inside the Baa-baas’ 22, Pieter-Steph burst through a gaping hole at the set-piece before showing the cover defence a clean pair of heels to score the visitors’ opening try.
That try was cancelled out shortly afterwards when Andy Ellis and Matt Faddes combined brilliantly from inside their 22 before Ellis got over for their second try.
Five minutes later, Roelof Smit capped his first appearance in a Bok jersey when he went over for a try from a driving maul inside his opponents’ 22 but the Baa-baas replied on the stroke of half-time when Taqele Naiyaravoro bumped off a couple of Boks on his way over the try-line.
The Boks upped the ante after the restart and four minutes into the half when Sergeal Petersen left his mark on this match with a superb solo try.
The Cheetahs winger ran onto a pass from Pat Lambie just inside his half and beat a couple of defenders before sellingTaqele Naiyaravoro an outrageous dummy and waltzed over for a deserved try.
The Barbarians continued to attack and their expansive style of play reaped rewards when Luke Morahan crossed for two tries in the next 20 minutes. This gave them a 31-19 lead by the 67th minute but the Boks didn’t panic and first replied via a Francois Venter try in the 71st minute.
With time running out on the clock, they launched several attacks and in the 77th minute Janse van Rensburg ran onto a perfectly weighted pass from Nizaam Carr before crossing over in the right-hand corner for a deserved try which earned his side a share of the spoils.
Tries: Nanai, Ellis, Naiyaravoro, Morahan 2
Cons: Du Preez, Mo’unga 2
For South Africa:
Tries: Du Toit, Smit, Petersen, Venter, Janse van Rensburg
Cons: Lambie 3
Barbarians: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Jordan Taufua, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Reggie Goodes
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Toby Smith, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Richard Mo’unga, 23 Luke Morahan
South Africa: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ruan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Patrick Lambie (c), 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Rudolf Snyman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tiaan Schoeman, 23 Ruan Combrinck
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)