x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Australians lead Barbarians to win over Springboks

Drew Mitchell, who went over twice, and James O'Connor scored their tries in a scintillating 21-minute opening spell by the famous invitational side in the Springboks' European tour finale.

Barbarians 26 // Springboks 20

LONDON // Drew Mitchell, the Australia winger, capped an impressive individual autumn with two early tries as a strong Barbarians side beat a much-changed South Africa 26-20 at Twickenham today.

The invitational team, who also beat South Africa at Twickenham three years ago, were well-worth their win over a Springbok side who looked a touch weary at the end of a tour that brought wins over Ireland, Wales and England but a defeat by Scotland.

Mitchell, who scored a hat-trick of tries in Australia's demolition of France last week, collected a lovely behind-the-back pass from Will Genia to score the first try after five minutes.

Fellow Wallaby James O'Connor added the second after a Springbok lineout - missing key lock Victor Matfield - went badly wrong.

Mitchell added his second after 20 minutes, running on to a chip from fellow Australian Adam Ashley-Cooper as the Barbarians deservedly led 19-3 at halftime.

South Africa, with 12 changes from the team who beat England on the same ground a week ago, were all over the place in the first half and it was they, rather than the invitational side, who looked as if they had got together for the first time this week.

They were better organised after the break and quickly got their first try with a 60 metre interception by the winger Odwa Ndungane.

However, the Barbarians remained the more dangerous team and got their fourth try after an hour when the South Africa-born Italy lock Quintin Geldenhuys barged over.

Bakkies Botha, one of the few first-choice Springboks in action, pulled another back after powerful running by impressive flanker Willem Alberts but replacement hooker Bandise Maku's last-minute try in the corner came too late to prevent the defeat.

"It was pretty interesting playing against my own country but I'm just humbled to be a part of such a great team," the Barbarians' uncapped South African lock Anton van Zyl told Sky Sports.