Tours & Internationals
Ireland too strong for Barbarians
May 27, 2008
Ireland overcame the absence of captain Brian O'Driscoll to record an emphatic 39-14 victory over the Barbarians ahead of their tour of New Zealand and Australia.
O'Driscoll returned to Dublin from Gloucester following the death of a close friend. The Ireland squad head for Wellington on Friday night before facing the All Blacks on June 7 and Australia in Melbourne seven days later.
There is no news at this stage whether O'Driscoll will travel with his colleagues when they leave Heathrow. Stand-in skipper Shane Horgan led by example, scoring two tries during an early onslaught that left the Barbarians gasping.
Coach Michael Bradley, in caretaker control until Munster's Heineken Cup-winning mastermind Declan Kidney takes charge after the tour, could not fail to have been impressed by his team's handling skills and support work. Horgan's fellow wing Tommy Bowe also touched down during the initial blitz, and there was no way back for a Barbarians side high on intent, but lacking finesse.
Number eight Jamie Heaslip added Ireland's fourth and fifth tries, while fly-half Paddy Wallace kicked 14 points as the Barbarians were restricted to converted scores by flanker Craig Newby and number eight Pedrie Wannenburg. Ireland, fielding 12 of their New Zealand-bound squad, made a blistering start by slicing open the Barbarians defence inside five minutes.
Bowe was the beneficiary, sprinting over on an angled run that underlined his quality as an outstanding finisher. And he almost repeated the feat two minutes later, this time after Ireland attacked from deep inside their own half, but the Ospreys-bound wing spilled a difficult pass five metres out.
Wallace added a 10th-minute penalty to his earlier conversion, and a Barbarians side including the likes of Stephen Larkham, Lesley Vainikolo and Michael Claassens found themselves under sustained early pressure. There was no let-up from an Irish team committed to playing traditional Baa-baas open rugby, as two more converted tries in four minutes effectively ended the contest.
Horgan completed a slick move for the first, then he struck again after Claassens' pass was intercepted by Ireland full-back Rob Kearney, rounding off an 80-metre move. Wallace booted both conversions to complete a breathless opening 24 minutes that left the Barbarians playing catch-up, and even when they claimed a consolation score just before the interval, it came at a cost.
Newby, who will join Guinness Premiership finalists Leicester from Otago later this summer, claimed an impressive touchdown that London Irish full-back Peter Hewat converted. But Newby was injured in the process and had to be carried off and taken to hospital as Ireland closed out a 24-7 half-time lead.
Ireland saw scrum-half Isaac Boss sin-binned for obstruction within five minutes of the restart, but another Wallace penalty extended the lead to 20 points. And the Barbarians were then rocked by a fourth Irish try, this time the result of lock Malcolm O'Kelly's powerful running as Heaslip rounded off his committed approach work.
The reliable Wallace landed his sixth successful kick, steering Ireland 34-7 clear entering the closing quarter. It was now all about damage limitation for the Barbarians as they made an inevitable raft of substitutions, which included run-outs for England World Cup hooker Mark Regan, Gloucester prop Patrice Collazo and Saracens fly-half Glen Jackson.
A dust-up between Ireland flanker Neil Best and Baa-baas prop Cobus Visagie ended with a bloodied and bruised Visagie leaving the field, before the rugby took centre stage again when Wannenburg galloped over.
Ireland (24) 39 Barbarians (7) 14
Ireland: Tries: Bowe, Horgan 2, Heaslip 2. Cons: Wallace 4. Pens: Wallace 2.
Ireland: Kearney, Horgan, Duffy, Fitzgerald, Bowe, Wallace, Boss, Heaslip, Jennings, Ferris, O'Kelly, Casey, Ross, R. Best, Young.
Replacements: Caldwell for O'Kelly (57), Jackman for R. Best (64).
Not Used: Court, N. Best, Murphy, Sexton, Dempsey.
Barbarians: Tries: Newby, Wannenburg. Cons: Hewat 2.
Barbarians: Hewat, Anesi, Turinui, Pretorius, Vainikolo, Larkham, Claassens, Wannenburg, Croft, Newby, Skeate, Chesney, Visagie, Bruno, le Roux.
Replacements: Smith for Hewat (73), Jackson for Larkham (44), Chapman for Newby (39), Collazo for le Roux (52).
Not Used: Regan, Dellape, Gomarsall.
Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).
© PA Sport