Elton’s late rocket seals electrifying Baa- Baas win
A bolt- on fi xture to a bloated autumn produced a breathtaking finish as Elton Jantjies gave a timely reminder of just how valuable a late drop goal can be, completing a stunning comeback for the Barbarians against an Argentina side who have now lost six matches in a row.
Jantjies’s kick wobbled its way over but, after Lood de Jager’s converted try had pulled the Barbarians level at 35- 35, it was enough to seal victory . To do so with a drop goal was fitting because, as the Barbarians coach, Rassie Erasmus, pointed out, his Springboks were left to rue not taking that option against England a few weeks ago. England, too, were criticised for not doing so against New Zealand seven days later and as Jantjies wheeled away in celebration in the 79th minute, it is easy to see why.
“We didn’t in the England Test match, we took it through 20 phases and we could have drop- goaled it,” said Erasmus, whose squad included 10 players involved against England last Saturday. “There was the opportunity to do it there but we didn’t. The boys learned that and took it tonight.”
Argentina will wonder just how they ended up on the losing side but 17 penalties against is a key reason. They were 21 points ahead after half an hour, 14 up at half- time but as the Barbarians emptied their bench after the break, they seized the initiative.
Only 31,000 people were in attendance – double that were here last year for the match against New Zealand, which says a lot about the pull of the All Blacks and plenty about how cluttered the international calendar has become. Victories like these then, are all the more important for the Barbarians’ future. “A lot of people have asked how can you squeeze another game at the end of a long season, but we see this as an honour to be a part of,” Erasmus said.
It must be said it was an experimental Argentina side. Their coach, Mario Ledesma, made 10 changes but if anything this defeat only serves to reinforce their lack of depth. There is plenty of cavalry for Ledesma to call on next year and they do tend to pick up in World Cup years, but England and France, who occupy the same pool in Japan, will not be overly concerned on this evidence.
The Barbarians got off to the perfect start with Juan Manuel Leguizamón, who has 85 caps for the Pumas, collecting Schalk Brits’s offload and going over on the right. But Argentina’s response was emphatic with tries from Matías Orlando, Ramiro Moyano, Pablo Matera and Sebastián Cancelliere. All were converted by the fl y- half, Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, who played with poise throughout the fi rst half, but to demonstrate Ledesma’s problem, he is 29 years old and has three caps.
If the Barbarians had been struggling until that point, they seized their moment towards the end of the fi rst half and hit back with a penalty try after a driving lineout with all 15 players piling in. It brought a beaming smile to Erasmus’s face and was so effective the Barbarians did it again early in the second half, this time Handré Pollard coming up with the try.
Argentina responded in kind with Julián Montoya going over at the back of a driving maul, but their lead was swiftly back to within seven with Damian de Allende – so impressive here against England – winning the foot race to Jantjies’s grubber kick.
By now, Argentina were holding on with the infl uence of Siya Kolisi and Jesse Kriel growing for the Barbarians. Indeed, it was the latter’s break up the middle that led to De Jager’s score with four minutes to go before Jantjies sealed the unlikely turnaround.