Ireland 39 Barbarians 14: O'Driscoll's absence casts shadow over Irish victory

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The Independent Online

Ireland overcame the absence of their captain Brian O'Driscoll to record an emphatic warm-up victory ahead of their tour of New Zealand and Australia. O'Driscoll returned to Dublin from Gloucester following the death of a close friend and it is not known at this stage whether he will travel with his colleagues when they fly out of Heathrow later this week. Asked if he knew when O'Driscoll might rejoin the squad, Ireland coach Michael Bradley said: "No, not at the moment. It is a private matter."

There is no suggestion that O'Driscoll will miss the tour, although it could be that he flies out after the squad's departure. The Ireland squad head for Wellington on Friday night before facing the All Blacks on 7 June and Australia in Melbourne seven days later.

The stand-in captain Shane Horgan led by example here at Kingsholm, scoring two tries during an early onslaught. Horgan's fellow wing Tommy Bowe also touched down during the initial bombardment. The No 8 Jamie Heaslip added Ireland's fourth and fifth tries, while fly-half Paddy Wallace kicked 14 points as the Barbarians were restricted to converted scores by their flanker Craig Newby and No 8 Pedrie Wannenburg.

Ireland, fielding 12 of their New Zealand-bound squad, sliced open the Barbarians' defence inside five minutes. Bowe was the beneficiary, sprinting over on an angled run. Wallace added a 10th-minute penalty to his earlier conversion, and a Barbarians side including players of the calibre of Stephen Larkham, Lesley Vainikolo and Michael Claassens found themselves under sustained early pressure.

There was no let-up from Ireland as two more converted tries in four minutes effectively ended the contest. Horgan completed a slick move for the first, then struck again after Claassens' pass was intercepted by the Ireland full-back Rob Kearney, rounding off an 80-metre move.

Wallace kicked both conversions and even when the Barbarians claimed a consolation score just before the interval, it came at a cost. Newby scored a fine try that Peter Hewat converted but Newby was injured in the process and had to be carried off.

Another Wallace penalty soon after half-time extended the lead before lock Malcolm O'Kelly's running set up Heaslip to score. Wannenburg galloped over in the closing stages to complete an emphatic win.

Ireland: Tries Bowe, Horgan 2, Heaslip 2; Conversions Kearney, Wallace 3; Penalties Wallace 2. Barbarians: Tries Newby, Wannenburg; Conversions Hewat 2.

Ireland: Kearney; Horgan, Duffy, Fitzgerald, Bowe; Wallace, Boss; Heaslip, Jennings, Ferris, O'Kelly (Caldwell, 57), Casey, Ross, R Best, Young.

Barbarians: Hewat (Smith, 73); Anesi, Turinui, Pretorius, Vainikolo; Larkham (Jackson, 44), Claassens; Wannenburg, Croft, Newby (Chapman, 39), Skeate, Chesney, Visagie, Bruno, Le Roux (Collazo, 52).

Referee: A Small (RFU).

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