Honours shared in Cardiff as Aussies help Barbarians see out the year in style

by AAP & Staff Writer

Wayne Pivac celebrated his first game as coach of Wales with a 43-33 win over the Barbarians as Warren Gatland's return to Cardiff ended in defeat on Saturday.

Wales scored six tries but had to withstand a second-half fightback by the legendary invitational side, who trailed 33-7.

In the opening game, however, the Barbarians' women were too strong for the Wales women and ran away for a 29-15 victory.

Australia was well represented in both games, with West Aussie Wallaroos Bec Clough and Ariana Hira-Herangi playing for the Barbarians and in Pete Samu, Luke Jones, Billy Meakes and Angus Cottrell also wearing the famous black-and-white hoops against Wales.

Gatland was given a hero's welcome after a 12-year reign - the longest by any Wales coach - in which he led the team from the doldrums to No. 1 in the world rankings and a second Rugby World Cup semifinal last month.

But his fellow New Zealander Pivac's determination to put his stamp on Wales produced some interesting selections: Flyhalf Jarrod Evans, who missed out on Rugby World Cup selection, made his second appearance for Wales, and uncapped New Zealand-born wing Johnny McNicholl played after qualifying on residency.

Wales were sparked into into life after the break and scrumhalf Tomos Williams' quick tap penalty five minutes before halftime freed Evans to send McNicholl over.

Barbarians flanker Marco Van Staden was sent to the sinbin for killing the ball, and Wales took advantage as hooker Ken Owens profited from an overthrown lineout for a 19-7 interval lead.

Van Staden was still off the field when Owens claimed his second try to earn a hug from his opposite number Rory Best, the former Ireland captain who was playing his final game of professional rugby.

The floodgates opened. Adams scored his second try, and Gareth Davies notched Wales' sixth.

The Barbarians came back with tries by Shaun Stevenson, Craig Millar and Brumbies flanker Peter Samu to add to the opener by Josh Strauss to get within seven of Wales.

But a late Leigh Halfpenny penalty, taking his tally to 13 points, ensured Wales won.

In the women's game, first-half scores from Charmaine McMenamin, Dyddgu Hywel, Lauren Harris, Jenny Murphy and Anna Caplice put the Baa-Baas out of reach in the first meeting between the two sides in the women's game.

Wales mounted a fightback in the second half but it wasn't enough to haul in the impressive Barbarians side.