Wales 43-33 Barbarians

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Wayne Pivac got his reign as head coach off to a winning start with Wales as the Barbarians were beaten in an uncapped game at the Principality Stadium.

The game drew criticism beforehand as it was scheduled outside the international window, meaning the Welsh regions were denied access to 25 star players with a round of the Guinness Pro14 ongoing, but 60,000 supporters flocked to Cardiff to see a new era commence as well as bid farewell to the the old one.

Warren Gatland coached the Barbarians as he said goodbye to the Principality Stadium crowd, while Rory Best and Schalk Brits both played their final games of distinguished careers in the famous black and white jerseys.

On the other hand Pivac ushered in a new era sticking with his ‘evolution not revolution’ mantra. Only Jarrod Evans and Johnny McNicholl started having not played at the Rugby World Cup, while there were recalls for the likes of Leon Brown, Rob Evans, Seb Davies and Sam Davies on the bench.

And it was a mix of old and new that got the scoring underway as Tomos Williams drew defenders before finding club mate and half-back partner Jarrod Evans in a yard of space. He did what he does best and jinked clear before soon-to-be club mate Josh Adams popped up on his shoulder to go over for the try.

There was almost another Wales try when Justin Tipuric went over but Aaron Wainwright was offside in the build up, before the Barbarians struck when Josh Strauss took a quick tap penalty and pushed over from close range.

The game got bogged down a touch on a pitch hosting it’s second game of the day after the Women’s international, but eventually it was a quick tap penalty for the hosts that got the scoreline moving again when Tomos and Jarrod teamed up to release the other winger, Johnny McNicholl, on this occasion.

Johnny McNicholl Barbarians.jpg

Then just before the break Ken Owens took advantage of some poor Barbarians lineout work to bag himself a try and extend the lead to 19-7 at half-time.

In the build up to that Owens try there had been a yellow card for South African flanker Marco van Staden, and that was taken advantage of when some lovely hands from McNicholl allowed Leigh Halfpenny and Adam Beard the opportunity to work the hooker free on the overlap and score a second try of the game.

Being a man down was further punished when Wales swept over for a fifth try of the game, as Tomos Williams’ break led to a Josh Adams second score, and at 33-7 the encounter seemed sewn up.

Tries from South African Curwin Bosch and Shaun Stevenson of New Zealand threatened to get the Barbarians back into the game at 33-19, but a Gareth Davies score and the boot of Leigh Halfpenny made the match safe for the home side.

There was just time for the try of the game though as a Stevenson kick through was batted back in field brilliantly by Schalk Brits for Pete Samu to go under the posts. Final score 43-33.

Wayne Pivac will no doubt be pleased with some of the attacking shape and incision shown by his players with the Six Nations around the corner, but defensively questions will be asked about 33 points being conceded in the first game post-Shaun Edwards.

February and March will be very interesting indeed.

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