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Dublin: 11°C Monday 19 April 2021
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Baa-Baas pip Ireland in Kingsholm

The sides shared eight tries but in the end, the game was won by a late penalty from a very familiar face.

The Barbarians' Paul Sackey clatters Ireland's Simon Zebo.
The Barbarians' Paul Sackey clatters Ireland's Simon Zebo.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

A FAMILIAR FACE ensured that Ireland got their summer tour off to a disappointing start as Felipe Contepomi kicked a late penalty to give the Barbarians a 29-28 victory in Kingsholm.

Second-half tries from Simon Zebo and Craig Gilroy looked to have given Declan Kidney’s experimental line-up the edge in a tight encounter before the former Leinster legend stepped up at the death to snatch it away.

Captained by Munster and Ireland veteran Mick O’Driscoll on what looks likely to be his final appearance before retirement, the Baa-Baas started stronger and took the lead in the 11th minute when Paul Sackey sent Iain Balshaw over in the corner.

Contepomi kicked the first of his three conversions to open up a 7-0 lead but Ireland responded instantly through Gilroy, sweeping turnover ball out to the Ulster winger to finish before skipper Ronan O’Gara added the extras.

It took just three minutes to South African lock Anton van Zyl to reestablish the Baa-Baas’ lead when he crashed over the line following some excellent pressure, but Ireland kept the ball in hand and were rewarded when Keith Earls — playing in an unfamiliar full-back role — crossed to score in the 25th minute.

O’Gara’s conversion gave Ireland a 14-12 lead but the defence was caught napping five minutes later when a quick tap penalty allowed Sackey to skip free and touch down under the posts, Contepomi converting to send the Baa-Baas in 19-14 ahead at the break.

Excellent set-play from a lineout was rewarded early in the second half when Zebo scored a converted try to put Ireland two points back in front, but it wasn’t long before the pendulum of a back-and-forth tryfest swung back towards the Barbarians as former England skipper Mike Tindall scored to leave the game poised at 26-21 entering the final quarter.

Gilroy’s second try of the evening  in the 64th minute and another O’Gara conversion looked to have given Ireland a confidence-boosting win before they head out for their three summer tests against the All-Blacks.

But with just two minutes remaining, referee Jerome Garces pinged the Irish for an infraction. Most of the 11, 654 in attendance expected the Baa-Baas to follow their tradition of not kicking penalties at goal but Contepomi had other ideas, signalling for the posts to nail a late winner.

Barbarians: Heymans; Sackey, Tindall, Traille, Balshaw; Contepomi, Lawson; Jones, August, Afoa; O’Driscoll (c), van Zyl; Gorgodze, Louw, Lakafia. Replacements: de Malmanche, Tialata, Taele-Pavihi, Qera, Rees, Donald, Nacewa.

Ireland: Earls; Gilroy, Cave, Wallace, Zebo; O’Gara, Murray; Wilkinson, Sherry, Fitzpatrick; Tuohy, Ryan; Muldoon, Henry, O’Mahony. Replacements: Best, Loughney, O’Callaghan, Coughlan, Marshall, Spence, Trimble.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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