Barbarians spoil Fiji’s Centenary celebrations

Springboks Bismarck du Plessis and Jean de Villiers scored a brace of tries each as the Barbarians spoiled Fiji’s Centenary celebrations with a 43-19 smashing at Twickenham.

Missing several experienced internationals, with the game being played outside of the international window, it seemed inevitable Fiji would be on the receiving end of a Barbarians mauling, and so it proved.

To mark their Centenary, the Fijian supporting cast produced a brave defensive display — particularly in the opening 30 minutes — under intense territorial pressure from the Baa Baas as they more than competed with the eight Springboks and host of All Blacks supporting cast.

But the experience and dominance upfront of the Barbarians — Du Plessis devastating in the 50 minutes he played — eventually told as the Fijians collapsed after the break.

With effectively their only venture into the Barbarians’ 22 in the opening 40 minutes, it was the Fijians who were first on the scoreboard on seven minutes after a majestic piece of play from full-back Nikola Matawalu.

The No.15 made a break from deep, stepped six players and then offloaded to Asaeli Tikoirotuma, who scored the type of try the Fijians have made famous in both the 15 and sevens arena — Seremaia Bai added the extras.

For the next 30 minutes it was a siege on the Fijian line, as the South Sea Islanders dug deep to repel a dominant Barbarians forward pack –both in the loose and the set piece.

On 14 minutes Schalk Burger failed to hold a pass out wide as the try-line beckoned, while 60 seconds later the TMO (television match official) disallowed a Du Plessis close range effort as the South African fell short of the line.

It seemed inevitable the Barbarians would score and next up No.9 TJ Perenara saw a score chalked off for putting his arm on the line as he attempted to ground the ball.

A 15-minute siege in the Fijian 22 was eventually rewarded as Du Plessis this time managed to burrow his way over from close range.

The Fijian task seemed to get harder as flanker Mala Ravulo was yellow carded on 21 minutes for tackling a ball carrier out in the air from the restart — the incident seeming to spark Barbarians’ dominance, particularly upfront.

Duane Vermeulen was the next Barbarian to go over on 36 minutes as Fiji somehow managed to lose possession from a quick tap penalty in their-own 22.

The No.8 kept playing while Fiji stopped for a knock-on, allowing Vermeulen to run in unopposed for a score, Pat Lambie adding the extras.

And with the final play of the half the Barbarians stretched their lead to 17-7 at the break as Du Plessis burrowed over for his second score following a line-out, Lambie this time missing his kick at goal.

The Barbarians’ momentum showed little sign of slowing after the break as the TMO was again called into action four minutes after the restart –wing Sam Speight adjudged to have got back to touch down the ball under severe pressure from Vermeulen.

In the space of five minutes Charles Piutau and Jean de Villiers both went over for the Barbarians at the start of the second-half as Fiji seemed to run out of steam, Lambie converting both.

Burger and De Villiers combined for the Barbarians’ sixth score on 64 minutes, offloading to Tom Taylor to score in the corner but Fiji refused to lie down and responded with a score of their own seven minutes from time through Henry Seniloli.

South African captain De Villiers rounded off the Barbarians’ dominance in the final couple of minutes, collecting a chip over the Fijian defence to score under the posts.

But it was fitting that Fiji had the last laugh as Alex Rokobaro scored with the final play of the game to leave the score at 43-19.

Final Score Barbarians 43 (17) Fiji 19 (7)


Tries – Du Plessis (21, 40), Vermeulen (36), Piutau (52), De Villie

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