Barbarians up and running with Classic win in New South Wales

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The lines three-and-a-half metres up the posts told their own story: they marked the level of the flooding that engulfed Lismore earlier this year.

The water has gone but the rural New South Wales community is still rebuilding and Alan Jones’s Barbarians side played their part in an entertaining rugby occasion to benefit flood relief fundraising.

A crowd of 3,000 at Crozier Field watched them win 27-24 and share nine tries with the Classic Wallabies, who fielded veterans of the calibre of Drew Mitchell, Lote Tuqiri and Morgan Turinui in their ranks.

Brumbies full back Tom Banks and Japan-based fly half Sam Greene each scored two tries and Force lock Richard Arnold – twin brother of the Wallabies’ Rory – galloped over to put the Baa-baas 27-12 clear early in the second half.

But the invitation side couldn’t finish several decent chances after that and then clung on as Jock Armstrong and Byron Hutchinson scoring in the closing minutes. Tuqiri had opened the account for the Classics with Alex Gibbon also striking in the first half.

Sam Greene

Fly half Sam Greene scored two tries at Lismore

“We made quite a few mistakes but that wasn’t my concern,” said Head Coach Jones, whose side face Australia at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.

“My concern was that we really had a go with the football. We played more ball in the air than we did on the ground. There was a heap of kids here who played very, very well."

Banks showed his finishing ability down the right inside the first five minutes before Tuqiri – Australia’s World Cup final try-scorer in 2003 – profited from a superb break by Mitchell and Gibbon picked off an extravagant pass in his own half to put the Classics in front.

The Barbarians regained the lead when Arnold surged over and Banks’s second effort and Greene’s first earned a 22-12 interval lead.

Greene extended the advantage further but the Baa-baas couldn’t hang onto the ball for long after that and lost scrum half and captain Michael Ruru to a hamstring injury.

Teenager Theo Strang – an 18 year-old just out of Scots College – was an impressive replacement and 17 year-old Brett Wellington showed up well in the back row in the closing stages.

The Classics took advantage of handling errors and Armstrong took advantage of one midfield spill before Hutchinson’s try set up a frantic last 10 minutes.

A happy Barbarians team

A happy Barbarians team at Crozier Field in Lismore

BARBARIANS: Tom Banks (Brumbies); Jack Maddocks (Rebels), Tom Connor (Warringah), David Horwitz (Waratahs), Andrew Kellaway (Waratahs); Sam Greene (Toyota), Michael Ruru (Force, captain); Sef Fa’agase (Reds), Anaru Rangi (Force), Salesi Manu (Bond), Richard Arnold (Force), Matt Philip (Force), Max Girdler (Warringah), Kane Koteka (Force), Sam Ward (Warringah).

Replacements: Andrew Ready (Reds), Pekahou Cowan (Force & Australia), Taniela Tupou (Reds), Sam Carter (Brumbies & Australia), Isi Naisarani (Force), Theo Strang (Sydney University), Tim Nanai-Williams (Chiefs & Samoa), Brett Wellington (Scots College).

CLASSIC WALLABIES: Drew Mitchell; Alex Gibbon, Mat Carro, Morgan Turinui, Lote Tuquiri; Nick Jooste, Brett Sheehan; Conor Young, Adam Freier, Matt Gibbon, Jake Douglas, Radike Samo, Dave McDuling, Pat McCutcheon, AJ Gilbert.

Replacements: Billy Johnson, Rory O’Connor, Jock Armstrong, Pat Phibbs, Clay Uyen, James Verity-Amm, Byron Hutchinson, Brendan Owen.