BARBARIANS coach and former Welsh boss Warren Gatland waved goodbye to Cardiff on an emotional day as the famous invitation side went down to a 43-33 defeat against Wales.

It was a day of emotion too for Irish legend Rory Best who led the Barbarians out for his last-ever match — and we also bade farewell to ageless South African hooker Schalk Brits.

The Baa-baas found World Cup semi-finalists on fire before fighting back and getting close to their opponents, with Wales kicking a late penalty to keep the famous invitation side at arms length.  

The World Cup’s top try-scorer Josh Adams set the scoreboard rolling with a corner touchdown before the inventive Barbarians tried to get back into the match with a cross-kick move from South African fly-half Curwin Bosch.


Rory Best and Schalk Brits bid farewell at Cardiff

However, big Scottish number eight Josh Strauss levelled the scores when he drove through a pile of Welsh bodies to ground near the posts, making Bosch’s conversion easy.

Two tries in three minutes from wing Johnny McNicholl and hooker Ken Owens, either side of a yellow card for the Baa-baas’ flanker Marco van Staden, put the home side 19-7 ahead.

And before the Barbarians knew it, Wales had surged further in front when Owens and Adams grabbed their second touchdowns, both converted by full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

On 51 minutes, the Principality Stadium stood as one to cheer Best off the pitch as he was replaced by Brits, who wrapped his arms around his fellow hooker.

Pete Samu

Peter Samu strikes as the Barbarians rally in the second half

And suddenly, the tries started to flood in as the Barbarians got right back into the match.

From 33-7 down, they scored four tries from Bosch, Stevenson, replacement prop Craig Millar and flanker Pete Samu, with Bosch converting three, against a converted Gareth Davies try for Wales.

That made it a seven-point game at 40-33 going into the dying minutes. But a penalty in front of the posts by Halfpenny left the Barbarians too far behind to win.

Cornal Hendricks

Cornal Hendricks crashes over Hadleigh Parkes

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Johnny McNicholl, Owen Watkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams, Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric (capt), Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rob Evans, Leon Brown, Seb Davies, Ollie Griffiths, Gareth Davies, Sam Davies, Owen Lane.

Scorers. Tries: Adams (2), McNicholl, Owens (2), Gareth Davies. Pen: Halfpenny. Cons: Halfpenny (5).

Barbarians: Shaun Stevenson (Chiefs); Dillyn Leyds (South Africa), Mathieu Bastareaud (France), Andre Esterhuizen (South Africa), Cornal Hendricks (South Africa); Curwin Bosch (South Africa), Bryn Hall (Crusaders); Campese Ma’afu (Fiji), Rory Best (Ireland. capt), Wiehahn Herbst  (Blue Bulls), Luke Jones (Australia), Tyler Ardron (Canada), Pete Samu (Australia), Marco van Standen (South Africa), Josh Strauss (Scotland).

Replacements: Schalk Brits (South Africa), Craig Millar (Sunwolves), Hencus van Wyk (Sunwolves), George Biagi (Italy), Angus Cottrell (Melbourne Rebels), Jano Vermaak (South Africa), Billy Meakes (Melbourne Rebels), Matt Duffie (New Zealand).

Tries: Strauss, Bosch, Stevenson, Millar, Samu. Cons: Bosch (4).

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales). Attendance: 62,138