Tue, Jun 03, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Barbarians get into Gear to down England

AFP, LONDON

England’s Elliot Daly throws the ball back into play as he heads toward the touchline in his side’s match against the Barbarians at Twickenham in London on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

New Zealand’s Hosea Gear scored two tries as the Barbarians went some way to restoring their reputation with a 39-29 win over an unfamiliar-looking England at Twickenham in London on Sunday.

Following the invitational team’s much-criticized display in a 59-8 thrashing by the British and Irish Lions in Hong Kong last year, England’s 2003 World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward labeled the match “a waste of time,” but in front of a crowd of more than 50,000, the Barbarians ran in five tries from Benson Stanley, Juan Martin Hernandez, Mamuka Gorgodze and Gear, who crossed twice late on.

“The game was won because people kindly kicked to Hosea Gear,” said a smiling Dean Ryan, the Barbarians coach for the match, of the 30-year-old Toulouse flyer, who won the last of his 14 caps two years ago.

On a more serious note, former England forward and current Worcester coach Ryan added: “I’m pleased we represented the Barbarians in a way that allows us to see the talents of a Hosea Gear, but also sees us really work hard to win a game at the end.”

Joe Lydon, the Rugby Football Union’s head of international player development, said a youthful England side had been outsmarted by their vastly more experienced opponents.

“Maths has never been my strong point, but when it took me a good 10 minutes to add up all their caps as against ours, I always knew it was going to be a tough game,” Lydon said. “They are experienced and have quality.”

England were fielding what was, effectively, a fourth XV, with Stuart Lancaster’s initial squad already in New Zealand ahead of next week’s first Test against world champions the All Blacks and players involved in Saturday’s Premiership final between Northampton and Saracens not considered for the match.

The England side boasted just 11 Test caps in all compared with the Barbarians’ tally of more than 700.

However, England went ahead in the 12th minute when No. 8 Dave Ewers drove over for a close-range try converted by Exeter teammate Henry Slade, but the Barbarians, fielding a starting XV featuring 13 players at French clubs, lived up to the side’s reputation for running rugby with a well-worked try of their own six minutes later.

Stanley sold a smart dummy, before a neat exchange of passes saw the All Blacks center cross for a try.

Australian flyhalf Brock James, the traditional uncapped player in the Barbarians side and a teammate of Stanley’s at Clermont, saw his conversion go in off the post.

Wasps fullback Elliot Daly kicked England into a 10-7 lead with a penalty and it was his running counterattack that led to England’s second try, before replacement flyhalf Ollie Devoto’s grubber-kick was collected by wing Charlie Sharples.

However, the highlight of the first half was provided by the Barbarians’ second try.

James’ brilliant cross-kick was taken on the run by Gear and his superbly timed inside pass sent Argentina fullback Hernandez in for a try. James then converted to cut England’s lead to a point.

There was still time in the half for Slade to kick England’s second penalty, with the hosts leading 18-14 at the break, but the Barbarians regained the lead in the 46th minute when Georgia No. 8 Gorgodze charged off the back of a scrum for a try.

James’ conversion and subsequent penalty extended the Barbarians’ advantage.

England hit back when Slade crossed for a try, but his conversion attempt hit the post and stayed out.

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