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Fiji hang on to win Killik Cup thriller 33-31

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Fiji pulled off their first win over the Barbarians in 49 years when they hung on for a 33-31 win to lift the Killik Cup at Twickenham.

An entertaining, emotional evening saw modern greats Rory Best and Tendai Mtawarira bring down the curtain on their illustrious careers for Ireland and South Africa.

The Baa-baas couldn’t see them off with a win, though, despite the presence of a clutch of South Africa’s World Cup winners in the side and a brilliant late flourish engineered by Morne Steyn.

Mathieu Bastareaud, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi (2) and Steyn all touched down for the famous invitation side.

Enele Malele, Teti Tela, John Dyer, Temo Mayanavanua all grabbed tries for Fiji before they weathered a second half storm with two tries disallowed as the Baa-baas couldn’t turn their pressure into points.  After a solid 15 minutes of defending Fiji struck with Dyer’s second try completing victory despite a stirring final response from the Barbarians.

It was Fiji's first win over the Barbarians since 1970 — when they stunned a side containing legends like Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, JPR Williams and David Duckham 29-9 at Gosforth.

Bastareaud try

Mathieu Bastareaud scores the opening try

Fiji had started this game with width and adventure with Seru Vularika a stand-out threat in midfield as it took the Baa-baas 15 minutes to threaten.

But they were first on the board after Dillyn Leyds darted down the left with Bastareaud unstoppable from close range for the game’s first try.

Two minutes of Fijian brilliance quickly recaptured the lead, though, with Malele twisting over for their first score followed by a brilliant second which saw Tela finish off a blistering 70-metre counter-attack.

The Barbarians needed some more structure and they found it 10 minutes from the interval with a scrum followed by Esterhuizen’s hard line through Fiji’s defence for a second try.

The teams traded well-constructed tries early in the second half. First  Dyer ploughed over after Frank Lomani’s key aerial catch, then Mapimpi responded for the Baa-baas on the left after Bastareaud made another giant dent close to the line.

Makazole Mapimpi

Makazole Mapimpi flying through Fiji's defence

Fiji kept the opposition at arms length, though, with Mayanavanua adding their fourth try after Tikoirotuma’s offload and the Baa-baas couldn’t apply the killer blow despite working themselves into good positions.

Mtawarira was adjudged to have knocked on as he powered over, then Esterhuizen thought he had scored a second, only for the TMO to judge he had grounded the ball millimetres short, and then David Havili couldn’t hold on to a high pass five metres from the line.

The young Fijian side kept on hanging on and when they had one half-chance they finished it in style, quickly building momentum to send Dyer galloping to the line.

Mapimpi grabbed a second after Morne Steyn put him over on the left — the replacement full back adding an elegant conversion — and then Steyn grabbed his own long-range try and converted in the final minute to set hearts racing again.

Barbarians: David Havili (New Zealand); Dillyn Leyds (South Africa), Mathieu Bastareaud (France), Andre Esterhuizen (South Africa), Makazole Mapimpi (South Africa); Curwin Bosch (South Africa), Joe Powell (Australia); Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa), Rory Best (Ireland), Enrique Pieretto (Argentina), Lke Jones (Australia), Tyler Ardron (Canada), Pete Samu (Australia), Pete Samu, Marco van Staden (South Africa), Josh Strauss (Scotland).

Replacements: Andrew Makalio (Uncapped), Campese Ma’afu (Fiji), Hencus van Wyk (Uncapped), Angus Cottrell (Uncapped), Matt Philip (Australia), Jano Vermaak (South Africa), Lukhanyo Am (South Africa), Morne Steyn (South Africa).

Scorers: Tries: Mapimpi 2 Bastareaud, Esterhuizen, Steyn. Conversions: Steyn 2, Bosch

Fiji: Enele Malele; Jiuta Wainiqolo, Asaeli tikoirotuma, Seru Vularika, Patrick Osborne; Teti Tela, Frank Lomani (Captain); Eroni Mawi, Ratu Vermalua Vugakoto, Samuela Tawake, Temo Mayanavanua, Sikeli Nabou, Mosese Voka, John Dyer, Eremasi Radrodro.

Replacements: Tevita Ikanivere, Joeli Veitayaki, Mosese Ducivaki, Tevita Naqali Mesulame Kunavula, Peni Matawalu Caleb Muntz, Cyril Reece.

Scorers: Tries: Dyer 2, Malele, Tela, Mayanavanua. Conversions: Tela 4.