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Barbarians player ratings vs World XV | 2023 Killik Cup

By Liam Heagney
Nic Dolly congratulates the try-scoring Gareth Anscombe (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Barbarians)

Barbarians player ratings live from Twickenham: Who would have thought last December when Eddie Jones slunk out through the exit following his unceremonious sacking as England coach that he would be back at English Rugby HQ just five months later with the look of mischief creased across his face.

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The new Wallabies boss is just six weeks away from his first match in charge of Australia, the July 8 Rugby Championship match away to the Springboks in Pretoria, and his selection of double act Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi was perhaps a signpost to the firepower he will look to combine in a year that will culminate in the Rugby World Cup in France.

Kerevi sadly departed early with a hamstring injury, but Cooper unleashed a fair share of tricks that won’t be lost on Jones’ imagination when he gets down to Test squad business.

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The Barbarians experience is second to none | Being Barbarians

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The Barbarians experience is second to none | Being Barbarians

A sideshow was the inclusion of Israel Folau in Steve Hansen’s World XV, a selection that resulted in the RFU flying the pride flag on the Twickenham roof four years after the now-Tongan international was sacked by Rugby Australia for publishing a series of anti-gay posts on social media. There were boos, but he also showed that he still has an attacking threat, scoring a diving beauty on 24 minutes.

Jones hasn’t had the best of luck with the Barbarians in recent times. A French-flavoured selection coached last June by Fabian Galthie smashed his England XV 11 months ago, while his criticism of the game-cancelling shenanigans in October 2020 stuck the boot in on the brand.

Here, they appeared as if they were going to be on the end of a shellacking trailing 5-21 and 12-28 during the opening period. However, in an exhibition where tackling seemed optional at times, the Baa-Baas hit back to lead 31-28 at the break after an enthralling nine-try half.

The 22-degree heat had to take its toll and it did, just the five tries materialising in a less eventful second half where the 33,000-plus crowd were happy during the lull to get a Mexican wave going and drink in the rest of their afternoon.

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That said, it still got very interesting, Alun Wyn Jones getting two attempts off the kicking tee to end his international rugby career with kicked points. Sadly, he didn’t succeed, leaving his team winners by ‘only’ 48 points to 42. Here are the Barbarians player ratings:

15. Gareth Anscombe – 7.5
These were important minutes under his belt following his latest injury layoff. Showed first-half rust in how slow he was to turn when Folau scored off a Gavin Hastings chip in behind, but he scored a sweetie when cutting a brilliant line on halfway to take a Seta Tamanivalu offload. A tackle early in the second half to stop Semi Radradra was further evidence of how he improved as the game went on.

14. Adam Radwan – 7
Curious pick given how seldom he was chosen by Jones at Test level. Even more curious was how he scored, dotting down off the back of a 13th-minute maul. Showed his wheels when igniting the move for a 30th-minute try, and it was his nudge that prevented the acrobatic Sbu Nkosi from scoring on the blow of half-time.

13. Seta Tamanivalu – 9
Fresh from a year in Japan as well as recent 7s action with Fiji, he was a monster in attack after Kerevi exited. Swatted aside Hastings from close range to score on 27, and then gave Anscombe a fabulous offload for the lead-taking try. Keep it going in the second period, giving sub Francois Hougaard a gimme, and then adding the result-clinching try.

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12. Samu Kerevi 5 – (Sam Johnson – 7)
Another with a Japanese season just over (well, two games anyway), Kerevi is set to be the fulcrum of Jones’ World Cup midfield – but this outing was a setback in his cautious comeback from last year’s ACL injury. There were glimpses of dancing feet early on, but he exited on 19 minutes with a tweak. Sub Sam Johnson was quickly on it, sniffing the intercept off Nick Phipps that gave the disheartened Baa-Baas their second wind. The sub with no number on his jersey then scored himself on 70 minutes, showing a good reaction off a loose lineout ball.

11. Tevita Li – 8
A player from the Sungoliath club that Jones consults at, he provided the first indication of Baa-Baas firepower with an early break to halfway. Scored in the corner off a Cooper kick on 21 minutes. Created another great break in the lead-up to the Hougaard score. An excellent talent.

10. Quade Cooper – 7.5
The magician could very well be the Wallabies World Cup out-half and this audition will add to that feeling as he was all tricks on the attack. Dancing feet were evident in the ignition of Anscombe’s score, while his kick for Li’s try was sweet. An out-the-back pass on his 22 on 53 was also a worldie. Left on 50 allow Aaron Cruden to finish the job.

9. Jack Maunder – 7 (Francois Hougaard – 6.5)
Needed a confidence booster having slipped down the pecking order at Exeter and he got it after an initially slow start with the Baa-Baas pack off the pack. Made one excellent break near the half-hour and quickly followed it with a hand in the ravishing Stephan Lewies try. Played 50 minutes and his week in this environment will help him on end.

1. Alex Waller – 7 (Tom West – 6)
His selection underpinned what the Baa-Baas are all about, the best of the world stars mixed with consummate club professionals. He trucked well before giving way to West on 54.

2. Nic Dolly – 7 (Harry Thacker – 6)
Slowly getting it together after his horrible injury with Leicester, he appeared to love the lung-bursting intensity of the first half. Didn’t return for the second, the role becoming Thacker’s to see out.

3. Enrique Pieretto – 6.5 (Carlu Sadie – 6)
Shoulder and chest injuries wrote off his Glasgow season, so these minutes were valuable for the Argentine. Lasted 52 before the beefy Sadie on 52 got his shot.

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4. Alun Wyn Jones – 8
The legend added to his magnificent story by joining in the fun and games Baa-Baas tradition when catching a late first-half cross-kick on the edge of his 22, taking a tackle from Folau and throwing a one-handed pass blind over his shoulder to Steven Luatua. Before that, there was a world-class offload from the floor when tackled by Oli Kebble to give the assist to the try-scoring Lawies. It would have been brilliant if he landed one of his two conversions attempts but it wasn’t to be. Hilariously, the match programme gave his date of birth as 11/06/1999!

5. Stephan Lewies – 7.5 (Rob Simmons – 6)
Brought the grunt that eventually shook the Barbarians awake and the team try he finished off on 30 minutes will be played over and over on a loop. Exited on 47 for Simmons.

6. Aaron Wainwright – 6.5 (Sione Vailanu – 6)
One of the least noticeable players given the style of rugby player but his athleticism meant he still managed to have his moments when the Baa-Baas fought their way back in the first half. Played for 61.

7. Kai Yamamoto – 6
Another pick from Jones’ Suntory stable, it was difficult for him to get heavily involved and feature among his team’s highlights.

8. Steven Luatua – 7.5
Had the stadium in raptures when he dumped Wyn Jones on his backside in the first half, a perfect example that the Baa-Baas wasn’t all about showboating and throwing the ball about.

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2 Comments
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James 389 days ago

Gavin Hastings, was playing was he? 🤔

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Shaylen 8 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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