6 Dec 2009

Barbarians post second win over NZ, 36 years later

6:33 pm on 6 December 2009

It wasn't a Test but the All Blacks' average season has ended on a losing note with the Barbarians defeating the New Zealand side for just the second time in 10 matches with a 25-18 win at Twickenham.

The Barbarians' only other victory over the All Blacks was the 1973 success in Wales, highlighted by the most famous try in rugby scored by Gareth Edwards.

The latest match in front of 65,000 fans could not match that brilliance but after much of the dull fare served up in many of the November internationals it was played with a refreshing commitment to attack.

The last win at Cardiff Arms Park was one of rugby's greatest matches while Sunday morning's victory in the year's final international came on the back of a hat-trick to Springboks superstar wing Bryan Habana.

The second string All Black side contained the free-running Baabaas for most of the match but Habana and the Wallabies first five Matt Giteau proved the difference between the sides.

Giteau controlled the game with class and the festival match lived up to its billing of attacking rugby.

The South African's scorching pace kept the All Blacks on edge all game but Habana credited his team-mates for his three tries.

A smart break by Wallabies wing Drew Mitchell set up Habana's first score.

He then pinched a 70-metre interception before capping a memorable afternoon with a sharp finish and then departing the field to a standing ovation after 70 minutes.

Hugely impressive first five Giteau converted two of the tries and scored a penalty, with South Africa's Morne Steyn sealing the win with a second penalty late in the game.

The All Blacks, who had not conceded a try in their four Test wins over Wales, Italy, England and France, scored tries through Ben Smith and Anthony Boric, but their shadow side were unable to hold off their experienced opponents.

New Zealand had rested most of their first-choice players against the strong Barbarians side but captain Richie McCaw was unable to hide his disappointment to have ended their previously victorious European tour with a defeat.

However their unbeaten Test record over two European tours remains, along with their uncrossed tryline in those full internationals.