Wednesday, December 07, 2011
With all the focus on Shane Williams' retirement and the nice exit he had scoring with his final touch of the ball, the result of the game between Wales and the Wallabies was overlooked slightly. For the 24-18 victors though, the tour was a success.
The Wallabies won two from two on their UK tour as they thumped a star-studded Barbarians side then comfortably beat Wales, who after their showing at the Rugby World Cup would have expected to put up a better fight. At 24-6 up with about 15 minutes left in the game, the contest was effectively over, even though Wales did produce a mini fightback.
Robbie Deans' experiment of using young James O'Connor at number ten was a huge success. He had the guidance of Berrick Barnes on his inside, and together they showed a lot of stability, something that was at times missed during the RWC campaign.
In Quade Cooper's absence due to injury Barnes was probably expected to be the obvious replacement, but he is happy to play at inside center, and most importantly, just to get out on the park. One forgets that earlier this year he retired from rugby due to repeated dizzy spells.
"I've enjoyed playing it, and at the end of the day I'll take a Test start wherever I can get it, and especially after the year I've had," Barnes upon landing in Sydney.
"I feel like I'm getting back to my best sort of footy in the last couple of games," Barnes added.
He was integral in a turning point in the game as the Wallabies almost scored a try but for a early tackle and yellow card to Wales' Leigh Halfpenny. His pickup of an inside pass from Lachie Turner was sensational.
At fulltime the Wallabies left happy, as did Williams and the 60 000 fans on hand at the Millennium Stadium to witness his final ever game for his country, and a typically well taken try to finish a great Test career. Below are highlights from the game if you missed it.