Barbarians hang on in Lismore thriller

by Sam Phillips

The Barbarians have warmed up for their showdown with the Wallabies by handing a valiant Classic Wallabies outfit a 27-24 defeat in Lismore.

Thousands turned out at Crozier Field to watch a team chock full of Australian rugby greats square off with some of the code's brightest young stars and they were not disappointed, as both sides ran the ball from all parts of the field.

Barbarians coach Alan Jones promised high octane rugby and that's what his side delivered, halves Michael Ruru and Sam Greene keeping the pace of play high.

That led to a few Classics players blowing early on and it took just five minutes for rising Brumbies star Tom Banks to score the first points of the afternoon.Tom Banks scored the Barbarians' first try. Photo: WalmsleyThe Classics went deep into enemy territory soon after and a brilliant side stepping run from Drew Mitchell created the space for a Lote Tuqiri try.

The Barbarians looked to return serve and threatened to cross before Alex Gibbon, fresh off a hat trick for the NSW Country Eagles on Sunday, picked off a cutout pass and ran 70 metres to score and give the Classics their first lead of the afternoon, with 16 minutes gone.

The Barbarians took control for the remainder of the first term, with Richard Arnold and Sam Greene crossing to give their side a half time lead.

The first 15 minutes of the second term was a tight tussle as both sides struggled to maintain attacking fluidity and it took several phases for Greene to find the space to split the line and go over for his second of the afternoon.

At 27-12 with 20 to play the game looked as though it could be all over but the Classics had other ideas, scoring two tries in two minutes to set up a grandstand finish.The Lismore locals were treated to a thriller. Photo: WalmsleyPat Phibbs set up the first of those two tries with some brilliant hands, popping a ball to James Verity-Amm, who scooted away before throwing the final pass to a willing Jock Armstrong, the backup prop diving over the line with 68 minutes on the clock.

Where Armstrong's try was very much created by some smart team play, Byron Hutchinson set up the finish everyone at Lismore wanted when he picked up a ball 10 metres out from his own line and took off down the right hand sideline, showing too much toe for the Barbarians and dotting down after a length of the field effort.

Nick Jooste added the extras and the score sat at 27-24 with 10 to play.

The Classics made one final raid on the Barbarians line but Verity-Amm couldn't clean up a well weighted grubber from Jooste to put his side in front, Banks grounding the ball in goal to seal the result for the Barbarians.


Barbarians 27

Tries: Banks 2, Arnold Greene 2

Cons: Greene


Classic Wallabies 24

Tries: Tuqiri, Gibbon, Armstrong, Hutchinson

Cons: Jooste 2