Sunday, December 06, 2009

Barbarians upset All Blacks
Second-string side caught short
TOBY ROBSON at Twickenham -

Bryan Habana's brilliant hattrick gave the Barbarians an historic 25-18 win over the All Blacks and brought the tourists end of year tour to a disappointing end.

It was only the second time the famous invitation side had beaten the All Blacks, coming 36 years after the 1973 side's famous win at Cardiff Arms Park.

The loss leaves the All Blacks with a season record of ten wins and five losses, sadly blighting a bright finish to the season that saw them win six tests in succession.

In front of 63,551 fans the Barbarians, made up largely of South African and Australian players matched the All Blacks in every area with Habana's blistering pace the difference in an entertaining match.

There was an eerie de ja vu about replacement first five Morne Steyn's late penalty as the Springbok players in the side celebrated their fourth win over New Zealand this year.

The All Blacks will be disappointed they conceded two soft first half tries, which both saw Habana sprinting away from the defence.

The match highlighted the difference between the All Blacks first string players and the next tier and in particular at first five where Stephen Donald had a poor first half.

Donald threw the crucial intercept that saw Habana sprint 80 metres on the stroke of halftime to put his side up 14-10 at the break in what was a crucial boost to their confidence.

Midfielders Jaque Fourie and Jamie Roberts were a constant danger in a match that was as entertaining as it was close with Barbarians coach Nick Matllett's star-studded cast throwing the ball wide at every chance.

The All Blacks coaches had taken a punt in leaving out Dan Carter and when they subbed Richie McCaw early in the second half the Barbarians loose duo of Schalk Burger and George Smith thrived.

Habana was brilliant in every respect. His first try came after fullback Drew Mitchell pinched the ball from an unattended All Black ruck and fed his flying wing for a 90 metre crowd pleaser.

Habana's third try on 69 minutes came after he had earlier been knocked out saving a try at the other end tackling All Blacks halfback Brendon Leonard.

Leonard was one of the few players to boost his tour grade with a sharp effort that finally saw his sniping running game unleashed.

But overall it was an unorganised display from the All Blacks, who ended the match with Sitiveni Sivivatu at centre and flanker Liam Messam on the wing for an injured Zac Guildford for the final 18 minutes.

The tourist's scored two tries of their own, wing Ben Smith getting his first try in a black jersey after 24 minutes after Luke McAlister had split the midfield defence. Tamati Ellison, who played well but didn't emerge after halftime, drew in two defenders on the blindside and Cory Jane sucked in Mitchell to put his wing over.

Lock Anthony Boric capped a strong match when he scored with 20 mintues to play and a comeback was on the cards, but Delany missed the conversion.Habana got his third, Steyn cancelled out a Delany penalty and the All Blacks faltered at the finish line after seven weeks on the road.

All Blacks 18 (Ben Smith, Anthony Boric, tries, Stephen Donald pen, con. Mike Delany pen)
Barbarians 25 (Bryan Habana 3 tries, Matt Giteau 2 con, pen, Morne Steyn pen).
Halftime: 14-10 Barbarians


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