An inexperienced Qantas Wallabies side has fought back from a nine-point half-time deficit to down the Barbarians 31-28 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney this afternoon.
Trailing 21-12 at the break, the youthful Australian side ran in three second half tries to take home the spoils after the Barbarians turned on an entertaining opening forty minutes to score three tries of their own prior to the break.
The invitational side, playing in Sydney for the first time since 2009, lost Captain Quade Cooper and winger Taqele Naiyaravoro to yellow cards inside the final ten minutes after taking a 28-24 lead on a Naiyaravoro try which was set up by a Cooper cross-field kick in the 67th minute.
After Cooper was binned for a high tackle on Israel Folau, the Wallabies capitalised on their two-man advantage when Stephen Moore barged over from a rolling maul to score what would be the match-winner with seven minutes left to play.
Queensland Reds centre Duncan Paia’aua made a good fist of his opportunity in the gold number 10 jersey, crossing for a try in each half and finishing with a personal haul of 16 points.
The Alan Jones-coached Barbarians threw in some trickery midway through the first half when prop Taniela Topou burst through on a rehearsed play and cross the line with the ball tucked under his jersey.
The try was rightfully not awarded, but that crowd-pleasing moment was the only thing light-hearted about the Barbarians performance. Several stinging hits in defence, including a bone-rattler from Wycliff Palu on young hooker Jordan Uelese in the second half, proved that the men in the black and white hooped jerseys meant business.
The Wallabies produced a more measured second half performance, and when the combinations began to take hold, the Australians finished the stronger in a close battle.
In a double blow for the Wallabies, rookie flanker Jack Dempsey and lock Lukhan Tui both exited the field in the second half with hamstring injuries.
NOTE: The Qantas Wallabies v Barbarians match does not carry Test status, so Test caps are not awarded to players who played in the match.
Qantas Wallabies 31 (Duncan Paia’aua 2, Henry Speight, Jack Demspey, Stephen Moore tries; Duncan Paia’aua 3 cons) defeated Barbarians 28 (Taqele Naiyaravoro 2, Andrew Ready, Tom Banks tries; Quade Cooper 4 cons)