TWO tries from Welsh winger Alex Cuthbert helped the Barbarians secure an exciting 22-21 victory over an Ireland XV in their international fixture played at Thomond Park on Thursday night.
The Robbie Deans-coached Baa-Baas side scored three tries in all to record their second win in five years over an Irish side at the Limerick venue,
Ireland’s XV for the uncapped international, played out before an official attendance of 16,110, was made up solely of Leinster and Ulster players.
The Barbarians, 3/1 outsdiers with the bookies before kick-off, led 7-5 at half-time. After Welsh star Cuthbert had helped the Baa-Baas into an early 5-0 lead after scoring a fine try, The Ireland XV drew level when Ulster’s Craig Gilroy dotted down. Ian Madigan added the conversion to help Joe Schmidt’s side into a narrow 7-5 interval lead.
The Baa-Baas were in front four minutes after the re-start when Leinster’s Zane Kirchner scored a terrific solo try, while Gopperth’s conversion had the invitational side 12-7 to the good.
Jimmy Gopperth’s 54th minute penalty helped the visitors increase their advantage to a two-score lead.
Ireland were right back in the contest at the start of the final quarter when Chris Henry touched down after a well-executed maul. Madigan’s conversion reduced the Baa-Baas lead to a single point, 15-14.
However, the see-saw nature of the scoring continued when winger Cuthbert burrowed over for his second try of the evening on 74 minutes. Gopperth again converted to help Robbie Deans’ side into a crucial eight-point lead at 22-14.
The drama wasn’t done yet with a 79th minute try from replacement Paddy Jackson, superbly converted by Madigan from the touchline, set up a grandstand finish. However, the Shane Jennings-led Barbarians side held on for an narrow win.
SCORERS: Ireland XV: Craig Gilroy, Chris Henry, Paddy Jackson try each, Ian Madigan three cons. Barbarians: Alex Cuthbert two tries, Zane Kirchner try, Jimmy Gopperth pen, two cons.
IRELAND XV: Rob Kearney (Leinster); Dave Kearney (Leinster), Colm O’Shea (Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Craig Gilroy (Ulster); Ian Madigan (Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster); Jack McGrath (Leinster), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster), Robbie Diack (Ulster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster) (capt). Replacements: Rob Herring (Ulster), Michael Bent (Leinster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Ben Marshall (Connacht), Jordi Murphy (Leinster), Luke McGrath (Leinster), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Cian Kelleher (Leinster).
BARBARIANS: Zane Kirchner (Leinster/South Africa); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Joe Rokocoko (Bayonne/New Zealand), Wynand Olivier (Montpellier/South Africa), David Smith (Toulon); Jimmy Gopperth (Leinster), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster/South Africa); Roberto Tejerizo (Tucuman/Argentina), Deon Fourie (Lyon), Adam Jones (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Rodrigo Capo Ortega (Castres Olympique/Uruguay), Konstantin Mikautadze (Toulon/Georgia), Shane Jennings (Leinster/Ireland) (capt), Gerhard Vosloo (Toulon), Ryu Koliniasi Holani (Panasonic Wild Knights/Japan). Replacements: David Ward (Harlequins), Saimone Taumoepeau (Castres Olympique/New Zealand), Matias Diaz (Pampas/Argentina), Nathan Hines (Sale Sharks/Scotland), George Smith (Lyon/Australia), Tomas Cubelli (Belgrano Ath/Argentina), Tusi Pisi (Suntory Sungoliath/Samoa), Gio Aplon (Grenoble/South Africa).
REFEREE: Greg Garner (England)