The Wallabies kicked off their 2009 international season with an impressive 55-7 win over the Barbarians at the Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.
The Wallabies dominated possession for most of the game and the BaaBaas were forced to make a lot of tackles and they conceded a few soft tries in the process. The Wallabies continued to pin the visitors in their own half and the BaaBaas failed to use their opportunities when they got into the opponent’s 22-meter area.
The Wallabies started to lose some of their structure in attack towards the end of the first half but flyhalf Matt Giteau was instrumental in keeping the hosts’ attacking game intact. The Wallabies did not look too rusty given that this was their first outing in 2009 and their ability to keep the Barbarians form scoring any points in the second half would have been an encouraging sign for coach Robbie Deans.
The Wallabies scored eight tries with Drew Mitchell grabbing a brace, to record their biggest victory in 11 games against the composite outfit.
Former Rugby League star Sonny Bill Williams looked dangerous and he came very close to scoring his first try with just his first touch of the ball.
He also had a hand in the Baa Baas’ first-half try, scored by Iain Balshaw just before halftime.
The Wallabies led 20-7 at halftime and maintained their dominance in the second period while keeping the fading Barbarians scoreless.
Spiced with some intriguing matchups, the game lived up to its entertainment billing with some adventurous running rugby in front of almost 40,000 fans at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Lock James Horwill charged over off a clever pass from George Smith and wing Drew Mitchell first had a try disallowed before it was reversed by the video referee’s intervention.
Giteau mesmerised the Barbarians’ defence with two dummies before sprinting over for the third try untouched.
The BaaBaas finally got points on the board when English international wing Balshaw finished off in the corner after All Black Luke McAlister had split the Wallaby defence right on halftime.
It was a breathless opening half with both teams committed to uninhibited attack.
The Wallabies lost debutant flank Matt Hodgson (shoulder) and scrumhalf Burgess (hip) just after halftime.
Australia pulled away to lead 27-7 midway through the second half when hooker Stephen Moore backed up a break from replacement scrumhalf Josh Valentine to score a converted try.
Prop Ben Alexander scored just minutes after coming on as a replacement for the Wallabies’ fifth try and greeted it with an extravagant swan dive.
Mitchell completed his try double, followed by replacement flank David Pocock and the exciting 18-year-old back James O’Connor finished with aplomb for the Wallabies’ eighth try in the final minute.
The Barbarians, boasting a total of more than 700 Test caps, lost Wallaby forward Rocky Elsom with a knee twinge on the morning of the match, giving way to former teammate David Lyons, at number eight.
Man of the match: Stirling Mortlock, Drew Mitchell and James Horwill all turned in impressive performances for the Wallabies while Sonny Bill Williams and Geordan Murphy were the Barbarians’ stand-outs on the day. However, ace Wallaby playmaker Matt Giteau was the glue that kept the Wallabies attacking structure together and his performance had the most significant impact on the game.
Moment of the match: Mortlock and Williams’ duel was billed as the highlight of the match and they didn’t disappoint as they tried to win the individual battle. Williams’ first touch of the ball, when he burst through Mortlock’s tackle, and Mortlock’s big hit on Williams soon after gave the game an exciting sub-plot.
Villain of the match: Nobody
Tries: Horwill, Mitchell 2, Giteau, Moore, Alexander, Pocock, O’Connor
Con: Giteau 4, Mortlock 2
Wallabies: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Stirling Mortlock (captain), 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Richard Brown, 7 George Smith, 6 Matt Hodgson, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 James Horwill, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 David Pocock, 20 Josh Valentine, 21 Quade Cooper, 22 James O’Connor
Barbarians: 15 Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers, Ireland), 14 Iain Balshaw (Gloucester, England), 13 Sonny Bill Williams (Toulon), 12 Seilala Mapusua (London Irish, Samoa), 11 Josh Lewsey (London Wasps, England), 10 Luke McAlister (Sale Sharks, New Zealand), 9 Chris Whitaker (Leinster, Australia), 8 David Lyons (Australia), 7 Phil Waugh (Waratahs, Australia – captain), 6 Jerry Collins (Toulon, New Zealand), 5 Paul Tito (Cardiff Blues), 4 Chris Jack (Saracens, New Zealand), 3 BJ Botha (Ulster, South Africa), 2 Sebastien Bruno (Sale Sharks, France), 1 Clarke Dermody (London Irish, New Zealand).
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits (Stormers, South Africa), 17 Greg Somerville (Gloucester, New Zealand), 18 Martin Corry (Leicester Tigers, England), 19 Serge Betsen (London Wasps, France), 20 Justin Marshall (Saracens, New Zealand), 21 Glen Jackson (Saracens), 22 Ben Blair (Cardiff Blues, New Zealand).
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)Tweet