The Barbarians romped to a 39-29 victory over England at Twickenham on Sunday as the star-studded Baa-Baas put an inexperienced English side to the sword.
It was England that started the match stronger, though, with the Barbarians seemingly unable to handle their free-flowing attacking rugby going forward.
Such was the brilliance of their play, it didn’t take long for the hosts to register on the scoreboard, with Dave Ewers crossing the line after 11 minutes.
Henry Slade added the conversion to give England a 7-0 lead, but their opening score only resulted in waking the Barbarians from their slumber and they responded with a try of their own just six minutes later.
Benson Stanley was the man that dotted down, before a Juan Martin Hernandez score with a pair of conversions by Brock James meant that the Barbarians went into the interval with 14 points.
However, it was England that had the half-time lead by 18-14, with Charlie Sharples’ try and two penalties from Elliot Daly and Slade putting them out in front.
Exeter Chiefs star Slade looked comfortable and assured from the very first minute at Twickenham, earning considerable praise throughout the match.
However, even his performance couldn’t stop the invitational side from seizing the initiative in the second half, as the visitors took the lead on 45 minutes.
Mamuka Gorgodze sprung into life from the back of the scrum to charge through for a try, from which James’ conversion put the Baa-Baas into a lead that they’d never surrender.
Though England ran them close with some brilliance from Slade with a try and two penalties, Hosea Gear’s two late tries sealed the victory in front of over 50,000 spectators.
TRY BaaBaas. Hosea Gear again finds space & powers through the tackle to score. No conv. 29-39 to Barbarians with 2mins left #ENGvBAA— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) June 1, 2014
England can take lots of positivity from Sunday’s match, though, with several youthful stars showing what the future holds for the Red Rose.
Head of international player development for the RFU, Joe Lydon, said that the Barbarians' experience was always going to give the visitors the edge, as Yahoo! reported:
"Maths has never been my strong point, but when it took me a good 10 minutes to add up all their caps as against ours, I always knew it was going to be a tough game. They are experienced and have quality."
With England’s tour of New Zealand starting on June 7, head coach Stuart Lancaster has named a separate 30-man squad for the tour Down Under with Saracens and Northampton Saints players now available following the Aviva Premiership final.
Giving the youngsters a run out will be important to England with World Cup 2015 on the horizon, and if they can prove their worth in New Zealand against the best of the best, then the English can look forward to a fruitful year.