A youthful England side held off a second-half comeback from the Barbarians in a 13-try thriller at Twickenham Stadium yesterday afternoon.
Jim Mallinder's squad avenged last year's defeat with a 51-43 victory, with Harlequins' Marcus Smith scoring 26 of the points.
Bath Rugby’s Francois Louw crossed the whitewash in the first period for Pat Lam’s Barbarians side, before the hosts opened up a healthy lead going into the interval. Louw's Club teammates Elliott Stooke and Tom Dunn also featured from the start for England.
Tom Ellis and Beno Obano came on during the second-half to reinforce England’s hard work and close out a hard-fought victory at HQ.
England opened up the scoring, as Josh Bassett crossed following some good work from Johnny Williams. Marcus Smith opened up his account to add the extras. [7-0]
Pat Lam’s side were looking for an immediate reaction and they got just that. Good footwork and running lines from Viliame Mata and Malakai Fekitoa allowed Colin Slade to deliver a beautifully timed cross-field kick with James Horwill going over in the corner. [7-5]
Smith continued his form from the boot as he opted for points rather than a trial and error to the corner early on. He converted with ease to extend England’s early lead. [10-5]
Louw reduced the deficit off the back of a line-out ball. Joe Marler led a decoy run to go just short of the line, but the Springbok powered his way over after reacting quickest at the breakdown. Slade converted to give the Barbarians the lead. [10-12]
England needed to convert on their early opportunities and got their reward through Simon Hammersley. Joe Marchant saw off three defenders and Smith put the full-back over the whitewash. [17-12]
The hosts added their third score of the half, with Smith integral to England's momentum going forward. The young fly-half added a try of his own as he threw a dummy to dive over from close range. Smith converted his own score. [24-12]
Alex Dombrandt gave England a healthy lead going into the half-time break, with the Harlequins back rower continuing his Club form on to the international scene.
Half-time - England 31-12 Barbarians
Johnny Williams got England in on the action immediately after the break as Dombrandt swooped up a loose pass. The Harlequins man stuck his head down and unselfishly found Williams in support to score. [38-12]
However, the game turned in the favour of the Barbarians as the historic club side scored a quick brace of tries. Mark Atkinson went over after some delicate hands from prop John Afoa, with Slade converting. Rhodri Williams added the second after Filipo Nakosi found the short side and the Dragon went over to shorten the deficit to just 12 points. [38-26]
In a rather explosive second-half, Marcus Smith added a penalty in front of the sticks to make it more than a two-score game. Lam’s side continued to show their fight as Atkinson made it a double following good work from the jinking Charles Piutau. [41-31]
The Barbarians were back to their brilliant best as Heffernan this time powered his way over after a well-worked drive from the line-out. Slade's conversion made it a three-point game going into the final stages. [41-38]
With seven minutes to play, England went over for the decisive score, with Dombrandt scoring his second. A big hit from Ben Curry on Piutau gave Smith the chance to put his Club teammate over the line. [51-38]
Marcus Smith made it nine from nine from the boot as he extended England’s lead to nine points, but the Barbarians were not finished there.
They had the final say as Saints’ Taqele Naiyaravoro barged his way into the corner after a devastating run down the wing. James Horwill looked to add the extras with his final act in professional rugby, but it wasn't to be for the Australian. [51-43]
15. Simon Hammersley (Newcastle Falcons), 14. Piers O’Conor (Bristol Bears), 13. Joe Marchant (Harlequins), 12. Johnny Williams (Newcastle Falcons), 11. Josh Bassett (Wasps), 10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins), 9. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints), 1. Ross Harrison (Sale Sharks), 2. Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby), 3. Ehren Painter (Northampton Saints), 4. Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby), 5. Josh Beaumont (Sale Sharks)(C), 6. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins), 7. Ben Curry (Sale Sharks), 8.Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints).
Replacements: 16. Tommy Taylor (Wasps), 17. Beno Obano (Bath Rugby), 18. Paul Hill (Northampton Saints), 19. Will Spencer (Leicester Tigers), 20. Tom Ellis (Bath Rugby), 21. Ben White (Leicester Tigers), 22. Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears), 23. Ben Loader (London Irish).
15. Charles Piutau, 14. Niyi Adeolokun, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10. Colin Slade, 9. Rhys Webb; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Richard Hibbard, 3. John Afoa, 4. James Horwill, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steven Luatua, 7. Francois Louw, 8. Viliame Mata.
Replacements: 16. David Heffernan, 17. Pierre Schoeman, 18. Finlay Bealham, 19. Facundo Isa, 20. Liam Messam, 21. Rhodri Williams, 22. Brock James, 23. Filipo Nakosi.