Robinson shows Scots the way to play

Scotland XV 33 Barbarians 40
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They were playing cricket on the fields adjoining Murrayfield, and at the end of this match the players were applauded politely like a century-maker going back to the pavilion. The Barbarians scored six tries to their hosts' five, but it was an afternoon which left the neutral wondering when summer was going to start.

"When we had quick ball, we went well," said the Barbarians coach, Bob Dwyer, with a smile. "Then we tried having no ball at all, and that didn't go quite as well." There is something distinctly out of kilter about these end-of-season jaunts, which the Baa-Baas have been engaging in against the home unions for more than a dozen years now. Quite correctly, such matches are no longer accorded the kudos of caps. The invitational side pocket a few bob and play in a manner for which laissez faire is too serious a description. The likes of Thomas Castaignède and Brian O'Driscoll are apt to embarrass the opposition in any corner of the pitch and drop simple passes in equal measure.

Then you have Scotland, earnestly going through a playbook as thin as a cigarette paper as they tune up for the serious business of an arduous tour Down Under.

It is what is popularly known as a no-win situation, all the more so for the Scots, who had lost their last six Tests, starting with the quarter-finals of the World Cup and continuing throughout this year's Six Nations' Championship. Their coach, Matt Williams, sets off to his native Australia today for a trip which includes Tests against the Wallabies in Melbourne and Sydney, preceded by a scarcely more tempting joust with Samoa in Wellington, New Zealand.

Only the hardest of hearts could fail to raise a smile as Mark Robinson, of the Barbarians via Northampton, gave Chris Cusiter a master class in all facets of scrum-half play. Robinson was helped in Scotland's selection in an unfamiliar openside role of Scott Gray, a peripheral figure in Bath's rise to the top of the English Premiership. To the best of anyone's knowledge, this was the first time Gray had played a match in Scotland, and the 26-year-old, born in Zimbabwe, looked uncomfortable in his surroundings in every sense.

Gray and his club-mate Simon Danielli have been released from next Saturday's Premiership final to go on the tour, although the big wing dropped out of yesterday's match with a lower-back injury, and a scan will determine whether he will be fit to travel south.

Scotland, predictably, tried to keep it tight, driving hard through Cammy Mather and Allister Hogg - who scored two good tries from No 8 - and kicking long and often through Dan Parks at fly-half. Parks, another Aussie convert to the cause, was also the goal-kicker and recovered from a couple of early misses to post 13 points from a try and four conversions.

Robinson, one of five former All Blacks in the Barbarian XV, made the opening try with a flip over his head for Vili Delasau, and seemed to find space whenever and wherever he wanted. He scored one try himself and was involved in two more by Shane Horgan as the Baa-Baas turned round 28-7 to the good.

Hogg led a mini-rally at the start of the second half and manfully bore the brunt of Scotland's lack of back-row resources, with Jason White and Jon Petrie among an advance party already in Brisbane and Simon Taylor and Andrew Mower out injured.

Christian Cullen and Taine Randell rattled over for two more tries made in the land of the Kiwi, either side of Scottish scores for Chris Paterson and an almost red-faced Allan Jacobsen - the prop dotted down when it seemed his backs might have made a mess of things, before Tom Philip plucked a stray pass out of the air. Once in each half the Scottish pack were just as guilty of slackness, butchering excellent positions in the Barbarian 22 with overthrows at the line-out.

Hogg got the final try after 75 minutes and, in added time, the 6ft 5in replacement full-back, Gareth Morton, had a run round Cullen which got the Murrayfield crowd's juices flowing.

The No 15 jersey has passed like a hot coal between Ben Hinshelwood, Derrick Lee and Paterson since Glenn Metcalfe called it a day at the World Cup, and Morton, born in Perth but raised in Widnes to play rugby league, may fancy making it his own. Come to think of it, that applies to a fair few positions in this Scotland side.

Scotland XV 33 Barbarians 40
Tries: Parks, Hogg 2, Paterson, Jacobsen; Tries: Delasau, Robinson, Horgan 2, Cullen, Randell
Cons: Parks 4; Cons: Humphreys 5

Half-time: 7-28 Attendance: 24,431

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).

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