John Dyer scored a brace as Fiji edged a Springbok-laden Barbarians side 33-31 at Twickenham on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The exhibition clash at the home of rugby produced 10 tries in total. Makazole Mapimipi, Andre Esterhuizen and Morne Steyn – three of 10 South Africans in the Barbarians match-day squad – touched down for the invitational side.
That’s not to say that the Barbarians came into this game without a plan. Coached by England mentor Eddie Jones and powered by a host of World Cup-winning Springboks, the Baa-Baas sought to control the set pieces and win the gainline battle before shifting the ball wide.
Defence separated the teams in the early stages. A diving tackle by Esterhuizen denied Fiji a try. Later in the half, the powerfully built Sharks centre ran through the Fiji midfield from close range to score.
Fiji came into their own when the game grew loose. Two lapses by the Barbarians resulted in two tries for the Pacific Islanders. Fiji went to the break with a 14-12 lead.
A powerful run by Mapimpi set up Mathieu Bastareaud for a try in the first stanza. Seven minutes into the second half, the Bok wing finished well to claim one for himself.
Beast Mtawarira and Esterhuizen got within sight of the tryline thereafter. The 117-Test prop – playing in his final international game – lost the ball in contact. Esterhuizen appeared to brush the tryline with his one-handed touchdown. The TMO as well as the ref, however, felt otherwise.
Fiji went into the final 10 minutes with an 11-point lead. They controlled possession and territory in the dying moments, and Dyer’s breakaway try sealed a well-deserved win.
The Barbarians had the final say, though. Lukhanyo Am and David Havili combined well to set up Mapimpi for his second of the evening. Steyn crossed the line in the final minute and then converted his own try to bring the Barbarians within two points of Fiji.
The Pacific Islanders held on, though, to claim the win.
Barbarians – Tries: Mathieu Bastareaud, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi (2), Morne Steyn. Conversions: Curwin Bosch, Steyn (2).
Fiji – Tries: Enele Malele, Teti Tela, Johnny Dyer (2), Temo Mayanavanua. Conversion: Tela (4).
Barbarians – 15 David Havili, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Pete Samu, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Campese Maafu, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Angus Cotrell, 20 Matt Philip, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Lukhanyo Am, 23 Morne Steyn.
Fiji – 15 Enele Malele, 14 Jiuta Wainiqolo, 13 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 12 Serupepeli Vularika, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Teti Tela, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Eremasi Radrodro, 7 John Dyer, 6 Mosese Voka, 5 Sikeli Nabo, 4 Temo Mayanavanua, 3 Samuela Tawake, 2 Ratu Veremalua Vugakoto, 1 Eroni Mawi.
Subs: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Joeli Veitayaki, 18 Mosese Ducivak, 19 Tevita Naqali, 20 Mesulame Kunavula, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Caleb Muntz, 23 Cyril Reece.
Photo: Alex Davidson/Getty Images