England XV 29 Barbarians 39
HOSEA GEAR struck twice in the second half as the Barbarians clinched a memorable win over a young England side at Twickenham.
The result hinged on the class of the invitation side’s back line with New Zealand’s Rene Ranger a major threat throughout the game.
Benson Stanley and Juan Martin Hernandez struck in the first half with Mamuka Gorgodze powering to the line immediately after the interval.
Dave Ewers, Charlie Sharples and Henry Slade all scored tries for England before Gear’s two sublime long-range efforts earned the Barbarians their first win in this fixture since 2011 to level the series between the sides at seven wins apiece.
While the back line talents of the likes of Gear and centre Rene Ranger were highlighted, Head Coach Dean Ryan paid tribute to the forwards who enabled them to function so effectively.
“This group’s been fantastic,” said Ryan. “We knew we had the quality, the question was ‘could we blend it all together?’ and the answer was yes, we could.
“We always knew we had a back three that could cause people problems and then a maverick like Rene Ranger to move around but there were other things like the way we defended our five metre line so well and that sometimes tells you more about a side than the other things.
“You need the hard work of guys like Juandre Kruger, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Davit Kubriashvili and the did that work to set it all up.”
Zimbabwe-born Ewers started proceedings by pounding through the Baa-Baas’ fringe defence for the game’s first try.
But Stanley crossed after a smart pass exchange with outside centre Ranger, Brock James converting to level the scores.
An Elliot Daly penalty edged England 10-7 up and Ollie Devoto’s smart kick put Sharples in for the second try.
But James’s superb crosskick to Gear ended in Hernandez cantering over and the Barbarians trailed by just four points at the interval at 18-14 down.
Gorgodze – nicknamed Gorgodzilla by Top 14 fans in France – powered his way over with the score confirmed by the TMO at the start of the second half, James converting and adding penalty for a 24-18 lead.
Back came England down the right with Slade wriggling over but the Exeter Chiefs fly half was unable to convert and Francois Trinh-Duc then traded penalties with him going into the final quarter.
The Baa-Baas punished England immediately, Gear outstripping Daly to romp home, with Trinh-Duc converting for a 34-26 advantage.
Slade cut the Barbarians’ lead to five points with his third penalty of the afternoon but, as England searched for a route back into the contest, the visitors struck again, Gear stealing his second stylish try.
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