Australia beats Barbarians 40-36 at Twickenham
LONDON (AP) — Australia began its end-of-season tour of Europe with an unconvincing 40-36 victory over the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday in Michael Cheika’s first game as coach.
Australia had an 18-point lead at one point in the second half, but the Barbarians managed to cut the deficit to just four in an enthralling ending.
Frank Halai put the Barbarians ahead with a try in the 14th minute, and Adam Thomson, Francis Saili, Nick Cummins and Marnitz Boshoff also scored.
But Australia crossed the line six times to edge the contest, with Sam Carter, Benn Robinson, Tevita Kuridrani, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley and Sean McMahon making sure Cheika’s first match ended successfully, but not authoritatively.
Cheika’s side fought back from Halai’s try to lead 14-12 at half time and Australia started the second half strongly as Kuridrani broke past two challenges on the way to his try.
But Saili responded for the Barbarians by outpacing McMahon and beating him over the line before Colin Slade’s penalty then edged it ahead of Australia.
Cheika’s side rallied, as Horne, Foley and McMahon quickly scored tries three, four and five but the Barbarians refused to be deterred, as two tries in four minutes from Cummins and Boshoff suddenly propelled it into a position to win the match.
The Barbarians continued to increase the pressure with three minutes remaining but Australia held on for a win in a frenetic finish.
Next Saturday, Cheika’s team plays Wales.