With photographer, match reporter and first aider Stephen Brown otherwise engaged it was al change for our Barbarians on Saturday. Some players making their debuts and the squad rotation in the first phase continuing gave us the 5th different starting xv in 5 games.
With the players knowing a loss by less than 3 tries was still enough to clinch the poule, perhaps the focus was not as evident in recent weeks. Esam debuting in the front row with Dinc and Jamie L were tested all day by an efficient Waspus scrum. Syme being penalised by the ref multiple times for being a little over-enthusiastic chasing the opposition, scrum half already warned us that the ref was watching like a hawk. At the breakdown Renzo, Daan, Gabriel and Hugo were protecting the ball in the earlier stages giving Matt the opportunity to cross the line after 5 and 10 minutes with Krijn knocking over the conversions to establish a 14-0 lead after 10 minutes. In the backs Andre, Krijn and Salma were trying to ship the ball wide to Tigo and Iason but the wet conditions and some over-elaboration meant the game was a bit stop start. After 19 minutes Matt picked up the ball at half way and went on another storming run knocking smaller opponents out the way like a bowling ball and with Iason in support left the defence with a decision to make. They made the wrong one and Matt touched down between the posts and Krijn knocked over the after for a 21-0 lead. All looking good so far.
This brought Waspus alive suddenly and their speedy winger decided to test Tigo again and showed an impressive burst of pace to go over in the corner to reduce the deficit. The kick was missed. As half time neared, Waspus had what looked like a certain try, until a trademark Diego tackle saved the day and thankfully Diego managed to get up and continue. A great example off perfect technique. However, a minute later Waspus again shipped it wide and again their winger was too fast for the defence. Again the kick was missed. 21-10 at half time. The coaches gathered the players and Mark highlighted the lack of discipline leading to too many penalties. The ref had already expressed concern about the scrum being a bit uneven at times but this was due to our front row being quite a bit taller than the opponents.
As the 2nd half began a flurry of changes were made with Lukas, Plamen, Daniel, Yoshue, Rik, Yann and Kick coming on. As with the first half , discipline was a problem and after the ref warned Barbarians that they were constantly infringing. He made an example of Kick by yellow carding him, much like Stuart Hogg later in the day, a victim of his team-mates indiscipline. Waspus took advantage of the extra many almost immediately scoring a converted try under the posts. Matt took it upon himself to respond and after some excellent backs play he crossed the line. Unfortunately the kick was missed, 26-17 to the Barbarians. With 10 minutes left Waspus were needing 4 tries to overtake the Barbarians and the intensity levels increased. Matt was fortunate to only see yellow for a dodgy tackle and with only 7 forwards Lukas had to join the scrums as flanker and even number 8. This left a gap in defence which Waspus exploited twice in 2 minutes to take the lead 31-26. Matt came back on for the last 2 minutes and in the last minute from a Barbarians attack one last effort was made 10 metres out but the slippy wet ball led to knock on with the tryline in sight and the referee blew up.
After the match Coach Mark in his comments to the team and the assembled international correspondents highlighted the lack of discipline costing Barbarians over 100 meters of penalties and 2 yellow cards. Plenty to work on for the weeks ahead. There is always good with bad though and Julien and Stephane praised the team for winning their poule and how well the team had gelled with a different 15 , if not 22 every game.
Afterwards both sets of players were treated to some home made Chilli made by the Voorburg parents and the players were excused washing up duties despite the defeat.
Onwards to the next phase!