A youthful Northampton Saints side succumbed to a Barbarians squad packed with internationals in a high-scoring exhibition encounter at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

The world-famous invitational outfit featured a dozen of the Australia A side that recently defeated World Cup qualifiers Portugal in their starting line-up and flew out of the blocks scoring five first-half tries through Ryan Lonergan, Tom Wright, Dylan Pietsch, Caderyn Neville and Filipo Daugunu.

Saints fought back in the second-half with George Hendy and Toby Thame grabbing tries for Phil Dowson’s side, sandwiching Wright’s second of the afternoon and a Harry Johnson-Holmes effort.

The Barbarians had the last laugh however as Nicholas McCurran registered the tenth and final try of an entertaining afternoon at the Gardens.


Despite going in at the interval 29-0 down, the men in Black, Green and Gold had their moments making numerous 22 entries only for handling errors to prove costly.

They were made to pay for their profligacy as Barbarians swept to their first score as Wright and Pietsch combined for captain Lonergan to pull in the offload and score after five minutes.

Twice James Grayson kicked to the corner but Saints couldn’t make it stick and get on the scoreboard, while Hendy’s kick charge down and gather almost saw the full-back sneak in for an opportunist effort.

The visitors were ruthless in registering three more tries before the 20-minute mark as James O’Connor teased the defence before a rapid recycle saw Wright crash through from close range.

An error on halfway soon afterwards was capitalised upon as Pietsch scooped up to run home unopposed.

Barbarians’ fourth was a slick blindside attack that saw Neville find a gap and deft offloads along the left channel kept the ball moving before Neville again poached from a metre out.

There was time for a fifth BaaBaas score before the break as Wright’s diagonal run fed Daugunu back inside to complete the breakaway.

Hopes of a home score before the interval were raised when Tom Seabrook sprinted from his own goalline and reached near halfway. A penalty at the breakdown saw Saints enter the 22 once more, but a maul malfunction saw Saints end the first 40 scoreless.


With half-time replacements Ed Prowse and Archie McParland setting the early tempo, Saints managed their first score of the game five minutes after the restart as the forwards laid the foundations for Grayson to put Hendy through a gap to add to his two tries at Bedford the previous weekend.

It wouldn’t usher a turnaround in fortunes for the hosts, as a sublime chip from Lonergan close to a ruck found the onrushing Wright to canter in from 40 metres out, despite Hendy’s best efforts.

The BaaBaas emptied their bench and it was one of their replacements Johnson-Holmes who picked up from a metre out to burrow over for his side’s seventh.

Saints’ heads did not drop and Grayson’s pass freed Jake Garside, whose offload was well read by the retreating defence, but Hendy remained alert to pounce on a loose ball and overarm back infield for Thame to leap and cross the whitewash.

Entering the final quarter, the BaaBaas had the fans at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens clapping with appreciation as Ryohey Yamanaka latched onto Paisami’s break and fed McCurran to dot down between the sticks.


SAINTS: Hendy, Glister, Seabrook, Litchfield, Garside, Grayson, Braley; A.Waller, Cruse (c), Hill, Vukasinovic*, Irvine, Scott-Young, Pollock, Moore-Aiono*
Replacements: Gradwick-Light, Wright, Millar Mills, Smyth*, Prowse, Sylvester, Logan, Cherry*, Lavin*, McParland, Arden, Thame, Daniel*, Baker

BARBARIANS: Wright, Anderson, Daugunu, Paisami, Pietsch, O’Connor, Longergan (c); Lambert, Lonergan, Talakai, Helu, Neville, Swinton, Uru, Makisi
Replacements: Nakamura, Kobayashi, Johnson-Holmes, Takahashi, Wilson, Shigeno, McCurran, Yamanaka

* Denotes guest player