In a true Barbarians-style of open running rugby it was England who completed a 57-31 victory over the SA BaaBaas in Potchefstroom on Tuesday.
The midweek clash was a great opportunity for the English players to put their hands up for a spot in the matchday 22 for Saturday's Test.
The match was thoroughly entertaining affair in an open game of attacking rugby, although there was some rather wobbly defence at times from both teams.
As you would expect from a Barbarians match things opened up early on as both sides looked to run the ball. The BaaBaas were first to cross the whitewash following some good work in midfield by JW Jonker. The strong centre held off a tackler and released Nicky Steyn into space, and he was able to draw the last defender and put speedster Joubert Engelbrecht into space down the touchline for the try.
England woke up to the danger quickly having fallen behind, and some neat work in the backs allowed Christian Wade to break through a half gap and put Nick Abendanon in for the try. Shortly afterwards it was No.8 Ben Morgan who crashed over the line for a well taken try by the powerful ball carrier, bashing tacklers out of the way to score.
England's fullback Abendanon added his second try thanks to a great decision to cut back on the angle in the midfield, and he stepped past a host of tacklers to score under the posts.
Just before half-time Abendanon was in for his hat-trick. A loose pass from Engelbrecht was picked up by Jonny May, and he booted the ball ahead, with Abendanon the man to get the ball over the line after a frantic chase.
England took a 31-10 lead into the break.
The Barbarians came out fired up after the break and made picked up a try after a sneaky show & go from scrumhalf Shaun Venter completely foxed the England defence.
England found themselves in some trouble after they were reduced to 14 men following a late tackle on Deon Scholtz by flank Jamie Gibson.
The BaaBaas made their numerical advantage count almost immediately with a second try from Venter, which brought them back into the match tailing 31-24 after 60 minutes. However, England sensed the danger and some great running down the touchline by May earned the speedster a try.
England took firm control of the match again with offloads in the tackle by Abendanon and then George Robson gave a second try to May.
More tries rained in at the end of the match as both defences began to fail with a lot of tired bodies on the park. A break by England scrumhalf Lee Dickson setup a try for Anthony Allen. From the re-start Hoffman Maritz sliced the English defence to ribbons and got the ball away to Scholtz for a try under the sticks.
The match ended with a penalty try to England after a five-metre scrum was purposely collapsed by Barbarians prop BG Uys.
Man of the match: For the BaaBaas loose forwards MB Lusaseni and Jaco Bouwer had strong outings, while England's Christian Wade and Anthony Allen were creative in attacking among the backs. However, the star was England fullback Nick Abendanon, who scored a hat-trick of tries and then turned provider creating two more for his team.
For the Barbarians:
Tries: Engelbrecht, Venter 2, Scholtz
Cons: Roos 4
Tries: Abendanon 3, Morgan, May 2, Allen, penalty try
Cons: Hodgson 7
Yellow card: Jamie Gibson (Late tackle - 55th minute)
SA Barbarians (North): 15 JC Roos, 14 Danwel Demas, 13 JW Jonker (captain), 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Deon Scholtz, 10 Coenie van Wyk ,9 Shaun Venter, 8 Nicky Steyn, 7 MB Lusaseni, 6 Jaco Bouwer, 5 Rudi Mathee, 4 Eduan van der Walt, 3 Ashley Buys ,2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 BG Uys.
Replacements: 16 Pellow van der Westhuizen, 17 Zane Kilian, 18 Boela Serfontein, 19 Martin Sithole, 20 Andries Mahoney, 21 Hoffman Maritz, 22 Tertius Maarman.
England: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Anthony Allen, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 George Robson (captain), 4 Graham Kitchener, 3 Paul Doran Jones, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Rupert Harden, 18 Mouritz Botha, 19 James Haskell, 20 Karl Dickson, 21 David Strettle, 22 Jonny May.
Referee: Mark Lawrence