Wales denied by Baa Baas
Nine tries in an entertaining match
Last Updated: 04/06/11 5:06pm
Parisse: Powers over for the Barbarians
Wales were left bitterly disappointed as their World Cup preparations began with a last-gasp 31-28 defeat against the Barbarians.
Warren Gatland's new-look team were aiming for a morale-boosting victory at the Millennium Stadium and they looked set to achieve it with a 28-19 lead heading into the final seven minutes.
Tries from George North, Morgan Stoddart, Mike Phillips and Aled Brew put Wales in pole position and fly half Stephen Jones, celebrating becoming only the second Welshman to reach 100 international caps, capped a memorable afternoon by converting each of the scores.
But they failed to close the game out in the manner which they would have liked as the Barbarians snatched victory with two late tries.
However, it was still an entertaining afternoon for the Welsh crowd with the sides sharing nine tries and at times playing some scintillating rugby.
The Barbarians dominated the first half, largely thanks to their superiority in the set pieces, and deservedly lead 19-14 at the break.
Wales drew first blood when the returning Gavin Henson's clear forward pass found North who showed devastating finishing power to cross the Baa Baa's line from wide out.
They shot themselves in the foot by cheaply allowing their opponents to reduce the deficit to 7-5 when Phillips' loose pass was seized upon by Brock James, who sprinted clear before letting Samoan lock Iosefa Tekori touch down.
James slammed his conversion effort against the post but more than made up for the miss by brilliantly setting up the away team's second try on 22 minutes.
He dummied his way through Wales' midfield from a scrum before playing a searching ball out to the right wing where full back Isa Nacewa scored.
This time James made no mistake with his first of four conversions to put the visitors 12-7 ahead.
With both sides looking to entertain, there was plenty of loose play and another gift, when Baa Baas second rower Paul Tito tried one pass too many in a tight spot, and was seized by the jet-heeled Stoddart who raced from inside his own half to score.
But Wales slipped behind again on 35 minutes when imposing Italian number eight Sergio Parisse powered through the home defence to reach out for the line.
Both sides were reduced to 14 men shortly after the restart and Wales coped better as they plugged away at the Barbarians line.
And the pressure finally told when big scrum half Phillips powered over from close range.
Each team made a flurry of changes around the hour mark with the Wales replacements adding vital impetus to their side.
The fresh legs turned the game in Wales' favour with one of the newcomers Tavis Knoyle slipping in Brew from close range.
However, their inexperience told as Mathieu Bastareaud touched down to reduce the deficit to 28-24 in the 73rd minute.
And two great offloads from Parisse and substitute Willie Mason, a recent convert from rugby league, allowed Nacewa to race almost the full length of the field to snatch victory in the last move of the match.