Brave Scots take heart as Skinstad leads Barbarians to victory

Scotland XV 33 Barbarians 40
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The Independent Online

When he is not looking for an English club to run, Bob Skinstad still plays a mean game of rugby. And so he should, at the age of 27, but the former Springbok captain has packed a lot into a short career.

"I chase relatively big dreams, I always have," said Skinstad, referring to his part in a South African plan to buy in to the domestic game, not to mention a possible recall to the green jersey or perhaps playing on in the Zurich Premiership next season. It seemed the only thing not on Skinstad's agenda as he tours with the Barbarians is to revitalise the Scotland team. He is content to leave that onerous task to Matt Williams.

For his part, Williams jetted off to his native Australia yesterday for Scotland's summer tour, comprising three state matches, two Tests against the Wallabies and a one-off international with Samoa in New Zealand. Williams eyed this unusual itinerary with guarded optimism after his side scored five tries while sustaining their seventh straight defeat, albeit a non-cap one.

"We made nine scoring opportunities, and that's a big plus," he said. "What was disappointing was that our line-out and scrum were immaculate until we got within 20 metres of the try-line and turned over possession five times."

If that sounded true to type for Scotland, who trailed 28-7 at half-time on Saturday, then the Barbarians were also in character, attacking with verve and sloppiness in equal measure, and not defending to Test standard. "We were surprised by Scotland running the ball back," Skinstad said, but he added an important rider: "We didn't knock a couple of inside passes from them into a ruck as we should have done."

Skinstad said his London Tribe consortium would "probably struggle" to finalise their takeover of a club in one of the top three English divisions before the next RFU Council meeting on 11 June. "We've got a couple of front-runners," he said. "The surprising thing is how many people actually want to sell.

Rotherham are one of the clubs we've approached, but they might be in the Premiership or National One next season and that's got to be sorted out first. There's a lot up in the air." Some of it hot, perhaps.

Skinstad, by the way, was born in Zimbabwe, as was Scott Gray, the 26-year-old who made his Scotland debut but was comfortably outshone by Allister Hogg. "It was a step in the right direction," said Hogg, whose two tries from No 8 were supplemented by one each for Dan Parks, Chris Paterson and Allan Jacobsen. "It'd be just like running against a brick wall each week if you kept getting thumped. We're getting used to Matt's systems, and you've got to try to enjoy it."

"We'll have a completely new front row and back row against Wales on Wednesday," said the Barbarians' coach, Bob Dwyer. Next stop on Scotland's search for a first win under Williams is Ballymore in Brisbane on Saturday, against the Queensland Reds.

* The Scotland winger Simon Danielli is fit to travel with the squad on their tour, after withdrawing from Saturday's match with a back injury. Danielli had a scan but was cleared by an orthopaedics specialist.

Scotland XV: Tries Parks, Hogg 2, Paterson, Jacobsen; Conversions Parks; Barbarians: Tries Delasau, Robinson, Horgan 2, Cullen, Randell; Conversions Humphreys 5

SCOTLAND XV: C Paterson (Edinburgh); S Cranston (Borders), T Philip (Edinburgh), A Henderson (Glasgow), S Webster (Edinburgh); D Parks (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Borders); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), G Bulloch (Glasgow), B Douglas (Borders), S Murray (Edinburgh, capt), I Fullarton (Sale Sharks), C Mather (Glasgow), A Hogg (Edinburgh), S Gray (Bath) Replacements: G Morton (Borders) for Paterson, 67; G Beveridge (Glasgow) for Cusiter, 76; S MacLeod (Borders) for Fullarton, 58.

BARBARIANS: C Cullen (New Zealand); S Horgan (Ireland), T Castaignède (France), B O'Driscoll (Ireland), V Delasau (Fiji); D Humphreys (Ireland), M Robinson (New Zealand); G Feek (New Zealand), A Oliver (New Zealand), C Visagie (South Africa), M Andrews (South Africa), M O'Kelly (Ireland), T Randell (New Zealand, capt), B Skinstad (South Africa), A Persico (Italy) Replacements: S Terblanche (South Africa) for Delasau, 40; M Burke (Australia) for Terblanche, 79; N de Kock (South Africa) for Robinson, 64; B Mika (New Zealand) for Andrews, 52; E Miller (Ireland) for Skinstad, 48-58.

Referee: J Jutge (France)