Not so much an exhibition match as a game in which the players at times, made exhibitions of themselves, spilling ball in contact, turning over possession at will. But there was joy for the Barbarians, who completed a "Grand Slam" of victories over home union sides. There were some great moments and fine tries, but there were also too many poor episodes.
Wales leaked eight tries, and only a late surge which culminated in a hat-trick of tries for Tom Shanklin staved off humiliation. Coach Steve Hansen is going to have his work cut out as he prepares his squad for the World Cup.
The invitation side arrived here on the back of victories over England and Scotland to be greeted by a tidal wave of emotion. This was Neil Jenkins' final appearance for his country. The Ginger Monster, who began his 100th match for Wales on the bench, was given the honour of being first out of the tunnel. He appeared hand-in-hand with his tearful four-year-old daughter, Georgia, and was met with a rapturous, standing ovation. He received another at half-time when he was presented with a commemorative crystal bowl.
Adrian Garvey, also playing his final rugby match andalso on the replacements' bench, was first out for the invitation side. Garvey had not had a Welsh Premiership match the evening before, whereas Jenkins played all 80 minutes for Pontypridd against his former club, Cardiff, because Ponty's other fly-half, Ceri Sweeney, was in the Wales starting line-up yesterday.
Once the tears had been mopped up it was down to the day's business, entertaining a 20,000 crowd and, in the Barbarians' case, looking for that third win. Bruce Reihana opened the scoring with his first try in the 10th minute, but it was another 20 minutes before the Baa-Baas got their act together with the best handling move of the match. It started with a powerful burst through the middle by Fijian Aisea Tuilevu and was rounded off by the French flanker Olivier Magne.
That the Baa-Baas were playing to win was clear. Prop Franck Tournaire was cautioned for overenthusiastic use of the boot, and although the ensuing penalty was missed by Stephen Jones, the fly-half made amends a minute later with a lovely break that saw Iestyn Harris send in Mark Taylor for Wales's first try. Jones converted that. Then came something utterly magical. Newport and former Springbok full-back Percy Montgomery gathered a Harris kick ahead, thumped up a garryowen, plucked that from under the noses of the Welsh defence and unleashed Reihana, whose brilliant offload sent in All Black blindside Sam Harding; Felipe Contepomi managed the conversion.
Harris lifted Wales two minutes into the second half, selling a dummy and then jinking around Montgomery, but that was soon countered by Tuilevu, who swooped on a loose ball on the Baa-Baas' 10-metre line and ran in unopposed.
Mick Galwey, the old Ireland warhorse who had trotted on for the injured A J Venter, then lumbered through for the Baa-Baas, but Harris ghosted down the left wing and showed the ball before slipping it inside to Tom Shanklin. Further tries from Garvey, Reihana and scrum-half Mark Robinson looked like turning it into a rout, until Shanklin completed his hat-trick. His third try was converted by Jenkins, to the delight of the crowd, but despite the cheers Wales had still lost, and head for Australia and New Zealand with precious little form behind them.
Tries: Shanklin 3, Taylor, Harris
Cons: S Jones 4, Jenkins
Tries: Reihana 2, Garvey, Tuilevu, Robinson, Harding, Magne, Galwey
Cons: Contepomi 4
Half-time: 7-17 Attendance: 23,721
Wales: G Evans (Llanelli); R Williams (Cardiff), M Taylor (Swansea), I Harris (Swansea), M Jones; S Jones, D Peel; I Thomas, R McBryde (all Llanelli), A Jones (Neath), V Cooper (Llanelli), G Llewellyn (Neath), C Charvis (Swansea), A Popham (Leeds), M Williams (Cardiff, capt). Replacements: M Davies (Pontypridd) for McBryde, 71; B Evans (Cardiff) for A Jones, 47; C Wyatt (Llanelli) for G Llewellyn, 47; G Delve (Bath) for M Williams, 54; M Phillips (Llanelli) for Peel, 60; N Jenkins (Pontypridd) for Harris, 66; T Shanklin (Saracens) for M Jones, 47.
Barbarians: P Montgomery (South Africa); A Tuilevu (Fiji), C Stoica (Italy), D Gibson (New Zealand), B Reihana (New Zealand); F Contepomi (Argentina), M Robinson (New Zealand); O le Roux (South Africa), M Sexton (Ulster), F Tournaire (France), M Connors (Australia, capt), R Strudwick (London Irish), S Harding (New Zealand), AJ Venter (South Africa), O Magne (France). Replacements: R Ibanez (France) for Sexton, 68; A Garvey (South Africa) for Tournaire, 54; M Galwey (Ireland) for Venter, 54-66; M Perry (England) for Montgomery, 56; S Staniforth (Australia) for Reihana, 71.
Referee: D Pearson (England).Reuse content