Best of the Weekend: Barbarians thrashed as Quins keep winning

We were at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon for the rather disappointing contest between the Barbarians and Australia. Here are this weekend’s highlights:

Disappointing exit for Matfield as the Wallabies run in eight tries

Not the best way for the great Victor Matfield to bow out. Nor was it the ideal Twickenham return for Danny Cipriani. Tri-Nations champions Australia looked sharp and committed after a long year, running in eight tries, including braces for Digby Ioane, Lachie Turner and substitute James Horwill.

Australia clearly fancied getting a big win out of this fixture, forgetting the occasion and dominating the breakdown. David Pocock really is a joy to watch, the way he can control matches almost unrivalled from his position. The Wallabies had little trouble breaking through some poor defence and decision-making under pressure, the worst being Cipriani’s cough-up metres in front of his own line into the grateful path of Rob Horne. Horwill’s second try also was pretty flimsy. Credit to Sam Tomkins though. He looked completely lost when I deliberately followed him from the stands early on, but stuck at it, listened, and improved, getting a try at Twickenham on his Union debut as a reward. Good fun? Sure, but more results like this one are something the Barbarians could do without.

Northampton dominate at home, Leicester gaining momentum

Returning to the Aviva Premiership this week, after Round 9 eight points separate the teams between 3rd and 11th. The sides depleted by the World Cup are replenished and starting to click, whilst others are scraping out the tights games through moments of magic. In a neat way, Toby Flood’s disallowed fingertip effort to score against Gloucester is an accurate metaphor for the league right now. The smallest margins matter.

In fact, Flood’s performance this weekend, whilst we’re on it, was truly excellent. 14 points, including one allowed and one disallowed score, reflected just how comfortable, and well, how dramatically different he looked for England at the Rugby Cup, when running out for the Tigers. Some excellent kicking in difficult conditions, neat hands, complete control. A rare English positive at the end of a rough week. Gloucester gave everything at the end, but this was their third home loss in a row, which does not bode well.

Harlequins continued their remarkable run by thumping Newcastle, six tries to the good to win 39-8. 1st against 12th meant a rout was on the cards, and the Falcons obliged with some unimpressive defence. How Seb Stegmann finished his first try will have Alan Tait and Paul Moriarty in tears. The pace of Quins wingers and the hard work up front by the Chris Robshaw-inspired pack all proved too much. On this form, you expect Quins to keep this run going until they face Toulouse. Northampton are also coming back into contention, up into fourth and the playoffs following a big 30-8 win against Saracens. Tries from George Pisi, making up for last week’s howler against the Scarlets, Lee Dickson and Phil Dowson did the job.

Elsewhere, Worcester picked up an important home win against inconsistent Bath, Stephen Donald slumping from Man of the Match against Montpellier to fluffing kicks and passes throughout against the Warriors. A top try from Miles Benjamin and well-timed drop goal from Andy Goode brought home the bacon. London Irish ground out an ugly home win over London Wasps, top points scorer Tom Homer hitting 7 from 8 kicks with Christian Wade the only tryscorer as Irish dominated in the scrum. And lastly up at Edgeley Park, Exeter produced one of the comebacks of the season against Sale, flipping a 23-7 deficit on it’s head to emerge 30-23 winners. More on them later.

Top 6 all win in the Pro 12, with Cardiff smashing Aironi

Form dictated the fixtures in Celtic Rugby over the weekend, with the Ospreys, Leinster, Munster, Glasgow, Cardiff and the Scarlets all picking up wins. Cardiff’s was the most impressive, running in four second half tries against Aironi to win 38-0. Leinster also put 30 points on Treviso, but conceded 20 of their own. Another try for Eoin O’Malley means his star continues to rise. There was also a bonus point at Thomond Park for Munster against Edinburgh, with the brilliantly named Simon Zebo crossing for one of their scores.

All square on Giteau’s debut for Toulon as Montpellier shock Clermont

A frustrating debut for new big money import Matt Giteau saw Toulon end up with a draw away at Castres, with Jonny Wilkinson kicking 17 points for the star-studded outfit. Replacement Pierre Barnard slotted the crucial kick late on for the hosts to level the game in the 80th minute. Elsewhere Perpignan slumped to their sixth domestic defeat in a row, leaking four tries against Stade Français. Montpellier pulled off the big result of the weekend however, scrum half Benoit Paillaugue kicking 19 points and Fijian winger Timoci Nagusa grabbing a brace in their 6 point win over 2nd placed Clermont.

Fiji win the Gold Coast 7s with excellent second half performance against New Zealand

Despite losing to New Zealand in the group stages, Fiji produced a superb second half performance to take the Gold Coast 7s title, which included an incredible effort from Joeli Lutumailagi which put Fiji ahead early on. They ended up winning 26-12, with some truly fantastic celebrations at the final whistle.

Try of the Weekend this week had a fair few contenders; Luke Narraway against Leicester, Lachie Turner’s second try after great work from Adam Ashley-Cooper for the Wallabies. But we’ll give it to Lutumailagi of Fiji. Raw pace.

This week’s Hero is Ignacio Mieres of Exeter. Brought on with 50 minutes on the clock, Mieres instigated the Chiefs comeback, scoring two penalties and converting the penalty try, before intercepting Tasesa Lavea’s pass and racing home under the posts. Mission accomplished.

Last and certainly least, this week’s Villain is James O’Connor. The guy is quality, but he takes ages to kick his goals, and Peter Stringer pounced to stop his conversion on the edge of half-time. O’Connor’s smile summed up the match, but no way would he have been grinning if it was in a game that mattered.

Lastly (because I shamefully nearly forgot), congratulations to the England Women’s side for their win over the Black Ferns at Twickenham on Saturday evening. A brutal encounter that saw England manage to nil the New Zealand side, Maggie Alphonsi was the sole try scorer with Katy McLean adding 5 points from the boot in a 10-0 win.

by Ben Coles

14 thoughts on “Best of the Weekend: Barbarians thrashed as Quins keep winning

  1. The Barbarians game was a shame. Quite a few players, Mealamu and Kaino for example, looked like they were suffering from a world cup hangover

    Still, could have been a different game if Fruean had got that pass away to Tomkins in the first half

    Aussies looked sharp. O’Connor showed Cipriani what proper talent looks like. JOC had a great game. For a young fella who does look very hefty, he really takes some stopping,

    Cipriani was rubbish and if this was his idea of demonstrating what England have been missing, all I can say is thank god. I’d rather have Andy Goode back than Cipriani

    Perhaps he would have done better concentrating on his game in the run up to this, rather than briefing all and sundry about how wonderful he is

    1. I made a similar comment the other day about Goode and people laughed. Don’t think they’re laughing about it anymore.

      That is easily the worst Barbarians game I have ever seen. Cipriani was dreadful. Every time into the 22 and there’s a “clever” chip forward with more weight than Jordan’s combined boobage carrying it way beyond anyone with a black and white shirt. Seriously though, did people hear Stuart Barnes actually trying to compliment him right up to 75 minutes? I think both of them should be up for the chop.

      Matfield looked good though and I was quite impressed with Tomkins in patches. Bergamasco was looking good occasionally too, but no cohesion, no smarts and no down to earth good honest confidence. I know Barbarians are a scratch side, but even Eddie O’Sullivan did a better job with them.

      1. Even Barnes had the decency to stop praising Cipriani after he threw that god-awful nothing pass

        Thought Tomkins did pretty well for a bloke who knows next to nothing about union. Took his try well at the end

  2. Bieber the villain? Perhaps but not for the reasons you explained- yeah Stringer stole his ball, but given how well he controlled that Baa Baas match and that it had no impact on the game, I’m sure he’ll just take it as a learning point.

    The real reason why he’s the villain is because he showed up Danny ‘showbag’ Cipriani for the useless wonder he is. Bieber outplayed him comprehensively and is now supposed to play outside him at the Rebels? Cipriani’s performance (including the panic-ball that resulted in Rob Horne’s try) should prevent him from ever wearing an English jersey again. He’ll be lucky to see the season out in Melbourne.

      1. Just as funny is that Stringer’s steal meant that Matfield’s conversion attempt wasn’t the worst of the afternoon!

  3. I was really disappointed with the Baabaas on Saturday, and I fear for their survival if they’re going to play like that. Rugby fans forked out £60-odd to see a mouth-watering line-up in action, but half of them looked like they didn’t want to be there, and the other half actually didn’t want to be there.

    This Aussie tour is all about the money, but it’s the fans that end up feeling ripped-off. Let’s hope Wales v Australia is better this weekend.

    1. Well the fans know what to do. Don’t turn up! Agree that it would be a great shame to lose the baa baa games – a great tradition. However as an Englishman, I’d rather go and see the baa baa’s v England Saxons or emerging England which would probably be a more competitive game and of more interest. Can’t see how the baa baas can generally be competitive against well drilled top international opposition any more. Wasn’t really interested in seeing the Aussies either (not in a “friendly” anyway!) – seen them enough times over recent months albeit on the telly. Sort of overkill on their behalf.

  4. Barbarians rugby has been gradually losing its relevance since the advent of professionalism and scorelines like we had on Saturday just go to emphasise this trend. When you square off one organised defensive system against a journeyman defensive system then it invariably results in a one sided game than lacks any kind of tension/excitement. I believe the words ‘classic match’ and ‘Barbarian’ will never been used in the same sentence again which is sad, but its just the reality of modern rugby. The sooner they end this silly nonsense the better, it really plays second fiddle to the more serious Lions concept.

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