Wales began the new era under coach Wayne Pivac on a positive note when they beat the Barbarians 43-33 in Cardiff on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Wing Josh Adams – the top try-scorer at the recent World Cup – and hooker Ken Owens scored two tries apiece as Wales put on an entertaining running and handling display. The result will have impressed the new coach, as well as his opposite number Warren Gatland, who recently stepped down as Wales coach after 12 years at the helm.
Wales bossed the collisions and breakdowns in the first half. Bulls and Springbok flank Marco van Staden attempted to stifle and slow the hosts at the tackle point, but was eventually shown a yellow card for cynical play in the lead-up to half time.
Rory Best’s overthrow at the lineout gifted Owens his first try right before the break. Wales went into the break with a commanding 19-7 lead.
Several South African players stood out over the course of the contest. Josh Strauss showed good power to finish a try in the first half, while Andre Esterhuizen was busy on defence.
Curwin Bosch showed his pace and awareness to score a great solo try in the second stanza that gave the Barbarians some hope of a turnaround. Schalk Brits produced a couple of inspired touches when he was introduced late in the game.
Wales reasserted their dominance in the dying stages, though, to have the final say. Leigh Halfpenny’s penalty goal in the 78th minute boosted the Dragons 10 points clear.
The game marked the end of Best and Brits’ international careers. Brits recently featured in the Boks’ successful World Cup campaign in Japan.
Wales – Tries: Josh Adams (2), Johnny McNicholl, Ken Owens (2), Gareth Davies. Conversions: Leigh Halfpenny (5). Penalty: Halfpenny.
Barbarians – Tries: Josh Strauss, Curwin Bosch, Shaun Stevenson, Craig Millar, Pete Samu. Conversion: Bosch (4).
Wales – 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Justin Tipuric (c), 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Subs: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Ollie Griffiths, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Owen Lane.
Barbarians – 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cornal Hendricks, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Pete Samu, 5 Tyler Ardon, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Campese Ma’afu.
Subs: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 George Biagi, 20 Angus Cottrell, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Billy Meakes, 23 Matt Duffie.
Photo: Athena Pictures/Getty Images