By Liam Napier at Twickenham

Seemingly down and out, somehow the rag-tag Barbarians snatched victory from the Pumas at Twickenham to send All Blacks prop Wyatt Crockett out a match-winner in his final international game.

What appeared a jolly for much of the 80 minutes suddenly turned serious when replacement playmaker Elton Jantjies slipped back in the pocket and knocked over a wobbly dropped goal at the death to steal an unlikely 38-35 win.

The Baabaas were down 28-7 in the first half and 28-14 at half time but with bellies still full of this week's bonding they rallied to create a late try for lock Lood de Jager and then Jantjies stepped up.


In the controlled, confined world of professional rugby, it says plenty for the ability of team spirit to inspire.

The 31,018 who packed the lower tier at Twickenham certainly left entertained.

On the face of it, this fixture was a bit ho-hum compared with recent Baabaas outings against England and the All Blacks in the past two years.

But whenever the invitational team takes the field, you never quite know what to expect.

Anything goes, on and off the field.

Eleven tries speaks to the classical openness this fixture provides – and this time it came with a fairytale finish for Crockett.

Signalling the end of international rugby for the year, and the start of the festive season, fittingly the loudest cheer of the day was initially reserved for a topless male pitch-invader swinging his shirt around his head while one security attendant struggled to reel him in.

Barbarians's Damian de Allende gestures at Argentina's Sebastian Cancelliere, after he scored a try but objected to the way Cancelliere attempted to intercept him on the line. Photo / AP
Barbarians's Damian de Allende gestures at Argentina's Sebastian Cancelliere, after he scored a try but objected to the way Cancelliere attempted to intercept him on the line. Photo / AP

That was, of course, before Jantjies slotted the match-winner to allow Crockett to savour his final international game.

For the Pumas at least, this match had more serious overtones and there will be disappointment in the result which capped a terrible month.

Defeat to the Baabaas follows a frustrating northern tour which also featured losses to Ireland, France and Scotland.

Pumas coach Mario Ledesma, still coming to grips with the position he assumed four months ago, made 10 changes for this match with a firm view to blooding fringe prospects ahead of next year's World Cup.

Second five-eighth Bautista Ezcurra, in his sixth international, was among those to grab his chance with sharp feet and distribution. Midfield partner Matias Orlando was strong, too, and first-five Joaquin Diaz Bonilla looked handy, particularly off the tee.

Experienced finisher Ramiro Moyano, on the left wing, made the most of space created on the edge by the Pumas' offloading and slick link play; likewise fellow wing Sebastian Cancelliere.

But with France and England in their World Cup pool, Ledesma has much work to do if the Pumas are to reach the knockout stages.

From a New Zealand perspective, Crockett bowed out of this stage with 44 solid minutes.

Crusaders blindside Jordan Taufua, hopeful of cracking the World Cup squad, made one notable carry in his comeback from a broken arm after being injected off the bench for the second half. Auckland and Tongan halfback Leon Fukofuka also kicked well from the base.

In a strong Springboks contingent, World Rugby breakthrough player of the year Aphiwe Dyantyi enjoyed some nice touches and veteran hooker Schalk Brits popped up all over the show but classy second-five Damian de Allende was the pick of the bunch.

Two 15-man pushover tries proved highlights for the Baabaas who, otherwise, battled to string any real phases together.

Some players were clearly still feeling the effects on a heavy week but, in the closing stages, they turned it on when it mattered most.

It didn't take long for Baabaas to break into song and crack open the champagne.

Both are sure to continue long into the night.


Barbarians: Juan Manuel Leguizamon, penalty try, Handre Pollard, Damian de Allende, Lood de Jager tries, Pollard con 2, Elton Jantjies con 2, dropped goal

Pumas: Matias Orlando, Ramiro Moyano, Pablo Matera, Sebastian Cancelliere, Julian Montoya tries, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla con 5

HT: 14-28