Barbarians win in the Rain
MATCH REPORT: The Barbarians beat the weather and Fiji to win 40-7 on a cold, wet Friday night in Belfast.
The rain belted down and a strong wind blew. The result was more scrums than usual and an error-riddled [performance by the Islanders who found handling so difficult. They struggled to get possession and then lost it too quickly.
It seemed that the result would go with the wind. The Barbarians played with it in the first half, dominated the half and led 28-0 at the break. The Fijians had a much better start to the second half and got to 28-7 but they rather petered out after that and the Barbarians got on top again.
The players stood in the rain for the Fijian anthem and The World in Union. Then the Fijians did their challenging cibi, and then the Barbarians scored.
They kicked a penalty out for a line-out seven metres from the Fijian line, mauled and rushed the maul over the line for a try credited to Akker van der Merwe. Form touch Rob du Preez converted.
The Barbarians were back on the attack and when flyhalf Albert Vulivuli kicked, Luke Whitelock charged it down and got possession. The Barbarians went wide right where Du Preez gave to Matt Faddes, who scored far out. On this windy night the ball fell off the tee but Du Preez picked it up and dropkicked the conversion. 14-o after 5 minutes.
A penalty gave Fiji a five-metre line-out. They, too tried a maul, but the Barbarians easily repelled it.
The Barbarians attacked down the left but massive Taqele Naiyaravoro knocked on. From the scrum Fiji's No.8 Akapusi Qera and scrumhalf Serupepeli Vularika ran the ball upfield but a knock-on gave the ball back to the Barbarians who passed to Naiyaravoro who thumped three defenders aside before passing inside to Andy Ellis who passed further inside to Van der Merwe who juggled, caught and scored. 21-0 after 18 minutes.
Back on the attack, the Barbarians won a scrum and Whitelock gave to Ellis and the Barbarians were attacking. From a tackle Brad Shields drove closer and then from the tackle on Shields Ellis dummied, stepped and scored. 28-0 after 26 minutes.
A massive score looked on the cards but it was 50 minutes before the Barbarians scored again, though they were close when Shields grubbered and Richard Biuckman flicked the ball back from near the cornerflag but Naiyaravoro knocked on.
With the wind in the second half it seemed that Fiji would make a game of it. They attacked first when Api Ratuniyawara tapped a penalty inside the Barbarians' 22 and hooker Jale Sassen seemed about to score till Sam Carter's intervention took the ball from Sassen's grasp.
When the Barbarians knocked on in their own territory the Fijians attacked and got the ball to Qera going right. He had two team-mated outside of him but opted to dummy. He was tackled, the ball came loose and Waisea Nayacalevu scored. Big Nemani Nadolo converted. 28-7 after 56 minutes.
The Barbarians were attacking when they lost the ball and Benito Masilevu kicked downfield and Fiji were on the attack. They went left but with a four-man overlap flank Nabuli Daan was tackled and the chance expired.
The Barbarians won a Fijian line-out in the Barbarians' half and the ball went out to Luke Morahan on the left wing. He beat one and then footed downfield where Tommy Bowe and Nayacalevu dived for the ball. But as they slid across the line Bowe's hand knocked the ball forward.
Fiji were well inside their 22 when Masilevu broke and gave to Metuisela Talebula who raced downfield from his own 22 to just short of the Barbarians 22 but his meander had deprived him of support.
On the attack, Whitelock broke strongly and the Barbarians were bashing at the line. Ruan Pienaar did a juggle and patted the ball back to Richard Mo'unga who beat two at close quarters and scored. 35-7 with five minutes to play.
The Barbarians had a penalty. Morahan grubbered, the ball was heeled over the line and Morahan beat Masilevu to the touchdown.
Time was up and the conversion was entrusted to big Martin Muller, playing his last professional match before retiring to the world of finance. Wearing his school's socks he kicked the conversion with his left foot but the ball failed to reach the goal-line as it swung across the posts.
Man of the Match; Robert du Preez, who did nothing wrong but a whole lot right. His decision-making, the direction he gave his side and his disregard of the weather were exceptional.
Moment of the Match: Akker van der Merwe's second try.
Villain of the Match: There were no candidates in a match in which players helped opponents up.
For the Barbarians:
Tries: Van der Merwe 2, Faddes, Ellis, Mo'unga, Morahan
Cons: Du Preez 5
Barbarians: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Tommy Bowe, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Andy Ellis (captain), 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Jordan Taufua, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Reggie Goodes
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Martin Muller, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Richard Mo'unga, 23 Luke Morahan
Fiji: 15 Benito Masilevu, 14 Waisea Nayacalevu, 13 Asaeli Tikorotuma, 12 Albert Vulivuli, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Serupepeli Vularika, 8 Akapusi Qera (captain), 7 Mosese Voka, 6 Naulia Dawani, 5 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 4 Api Ratuniyawara, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Jale Sassen, 1 Campese Ma'afu
Replacements: 16 Sunia Koto, 17 Joeli Veitayaki, 18 Leeroy Atalifo, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Eremasi Radrodro, 21 Nemia Kenatale, 22 Metuisela Talebula, 23 Vatemo Ravouvou.
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Television match official: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assessor: John Sheehan (Ireland)