Barbarians (17) 31 South Africa (12) 31
They may have been cast in the role of the guys who turn up at a Guy Fawkes Night party with ear mufflers and fire extinguishers. But the Springboks more than contributed to the “festival rugby” on show in the enthralling draw against the Barbarians yesterday.
Having vowed to play “test rugby” in the game in preparation for their game against England on Saturday, the Boks were superior in the set pieces, but not so rigidly that they couldn’t get enticed by all the running rugby around them.
The Boks gave as good as they got, matching the Barbarians try for try in the 10-try fest, but quite what they learnt from the exercise will remain a mystery until coach Allister Coetzee announces his team to play England on Thursday.
Owing to the trial nature of the match, thanks to no fewer than six uncapped players in the starting line-up, not much could be learnt other than maybe the breakdown and defence need urgent attention if they are to win next week.
Robbie Deans’ men put the Bok defence under immense pressure in the first 10 minutes of the match by alternating shifting the ball from contact ever so quickly and direct running from the likes of giant winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, centre Seta Tamanivalu and full-back Melani Nanai.
The approach was rewarded with all five of their tries being scored by backline players.
By contrast, both the Bok tries were scored from the rolling maul, the first by the omnipresent Pieter-Steph du Toit, who after finding the maul uncontested turned and sprinted home.
The second, by flanker Roelof Smit, also had Barbarians struggling to defend the maul written all over it as the hosts splintered and allowed him to run through almost in similar fashion to Du Toit.
NECK AND NECK Pieter-Steph du Toit of South Africa runs with the ball during the Killik Cup match against the Barbarians at Wembley Stadium yesterday