England's shoddy second-half efforts leave alarm bells ringing as they head Down Under

England 35 Barbarians 26

England see a good deal of value in these annual "hit-outs" against the world's most celebrated invitation team, coming as they do before testing end-of-season visits to the southern hemisphere. Unfortunately for this Australia-bound party, the latest Barbarian combination were all "out" and no "hit" for much of the proceedings at Twickenham yesterday evening. Not only did they miss tackles the average rugby-playing infant might have expected to make, they also showed a distinct lack of interest in trying to make them in the first place.

Between them, the uncapped South African lock Ross Skeate and the similarly undecorated Australian full-back Paul Warwick did everything in their power to present Martin Johnson's side with cheap points, as did two colleagues who know what it is to play Test rugby and should therefore have made a better fist of it: the French centre Florian Fritz (18 international appearances) and the World Cup-winning Leicester second-rower Ben Kay (62 of the things.) By the time they had floundered around like four fillets of wet halibut, the soon-to-be tourists were 20 points up and out of sight.

Yet even against a Barbarians side as below-par as this one, England's performance level dropped like a stone after the interval, to the extent that Olly Barkley found himself aiming for the sticks with the last kick of the match, amid a cacophony of discontent from all corners of the stadium. The paying public expected to see a victory for the "serious" team, and see it they did. What they did not expect to witness was the national team running down the clock in desperation.

The early tries that fell to James Haskell and Shontayne Hape could both be laid at the door of an embarrassingly off-colour Fritz, who looked approximately a thousandth of the player he had appeared while helping Toulouse to a record-breaking fourth Heineken Cup victory in Paris eight days previously. The follow-up score awarded to Ben Foden was down to one of Fritz's countrymen, the referee Jérôme Garces. At this stage, England were in no obvious need of a leg-up from anyone, but Garces somehow missed Steve Thompson's impersonation of a gridiron quarterback as the hooker threw the most forward of forward passes in the build-up.

With Mark Cueto, among the most dependable of the current red-rose generation, and the freshly selected Gloucester lock Dave Attwood catching the eye, a 50-point canter was very much on the cards.

But they faded, along with everyone else. Amid half-hearted Mexican waves and desultory choruses of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", England proceeded to construct a sow's ear from a silk purse, conceding possession, territory and tries in the most alarming of manners. David Smith, an unusually strong wing from New Zealand, and Census Johnston, a ridiculously strong prop from Samoa, both crossed, transforming a 32-7 deficit into something much more intriguing.

When Sackey took advantage of some high-class work from Cedric Heymans to bag his second try late on, England found themselves praying for close of play. They were a sorry sight: disorganised, lumpen and depressingly short of ideas, they looked increasingly helpless against a ragbag a collection of demob-happy bar-room carousers. The final whistle saved them, which just about said it all.

England: Tries Haskell, Hape, Foden, Tindall; Conversions Hodgson 2, Barkley; Penalties Hodgson 2, Barkley. Barbarians: Tries Sackey, D Smith, Johnston, Sackey; Conversions Elissalde 3.

England: B Foden (Northampton); M Cueto (Sale), M Tindall (Gloucester), S Hape (Bath), D Strettle (Harlequins); C Hodgson (Sale), D Care (Harlequins); J

Golding (Newcastle), S Thompson (Brive), P Doran-Jones (Gloucester), D Attwood (Gloucester), T Palmer

(Stade Francais), J Haskell (Stade Francais), S Armitage (London Irish), N Easter (Harlequins, capt).

Replacements: O Barkley (Bath) for Hodgson 35; T Payne (Wasps) for Golding 45; D Ward-Smith (Wasps) for Attwood 52; L Mears (Bath) for Thompson 56; M Tait (Sale) for Hape 62; J Worsley (Wasps) for Armitage 71; J Simpson (Wasps) for Strettle 78.

Barbarians: P Warwick (Munster); P Sackey (Wasps), C Laulala (Cardiff Blues), F Fritz (Toulouse), C Heymans (Toulouse); J-B Elissalde (Toulouse), B Kelleher (Toulouse); R Roncero (Stade Francais), B August (Biarritz), J White (Leicester), R Skeate (Toulon), B Kay (Leicester), R So'oialo (Wellington), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), X Rush (Cardiff Blues, capt).

Replacements: J Thion (Biarritz) for Skeate 42; C Johnston (Toulouse) for White 49; G Smith (unattached) for Kay 49; D Smith (Wellington) for Warwick 52; F Estebanez (Brive) for Fritz 52; P Mignoni (Toulon) for Kelleher 65; K Owens (Scarlets) for August 76.

Referee J Garces (France).

Newcastle players celebrate, Mario Balotelli scores, Alan Pardew and Brendan Rodgers
footballNewcastle vs Liverpool , Arsenal vs Burnley, Chelsea vs QPR and Everton vs Swansea
i100Amazing Amazon review bomb
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
Moss and Grimshaw arrive at the party
peopleKate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and Nick Grimshaw at Jonathan Ross's Halloween party
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
travelPurrrfect jet comes to Europe
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch attends the London premiere of his new film The Imitation Game
people He's not as smart as his characters
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities