By: Paul Hopkins
The All Whites celebrated 150 years of Swansea RFC in a 15 try thriller against the Barbarians at St Helen’s in front of a bumper crowd of 6,238.
In a match that will be etched into the memory bank, two stand out moments saw Welsh international Bradley Davies mark his retirement from professional rugby – complete with a successful conversion – and the return of Alun Wyn Jones in an All White journey – even if for 20 minutes, before he returned to the ranks of the Barbarians.
Swansea enjoyed the best of the opening spell with centre Osian Knott making a neat break before he was turned over. But the Barbarians had the first real chance when scrum half Lewis Jones chipped through for fly half Steven Shingler to chase, but the ball trickled into touch.
A cheek quick lineout was taken by number eight Sione Vailonu, who charged towards the line but he was turned over and instead the home side secured a turnover with James Davies making a spritely break, though the fly half was brought down before he could create any danger.
The All Whites continued to use their backs to good effect but were unable to capitalise and the Baa Baas were able to counter attack, with centre Rey Lee Lo making a break and handing a scoring pass to flanker Olly Robinson. Shingler converted.
Disaster struck for Swansea when hooker Owen Thomas made a break from inside his own 22, but lost possession with Shingler picking up the ball and cantering over for a try under the posts. Shingler converted.
Alun Wyn Jones took a lineout and Lewis Jones tried to make a break, but was brought down , although at the next phase, winger Taichi Takahashi held off a loose tackle to race clear for a try. Shingler converted.
The All Whites hit back with a magical effort, reminiscent of Barbarian rugby in fact, as winger Brandon Wood made a break down the wing, with slick passing between centre Joe Thomas and Davies, resulting in a try for the former. Davies converted.
The Barbarians added a fourth try with more deft handling – this time winger Tom Howe found himself on the end of a scintillating move to score. Billy Searle converted.
The home side were next on the scoresheet through centre Hanno Dirksen after a superb move involving the backs inside the 22. Davies converted.
Winger Alex Wootton came close to adding a fifth try, but he lost possession forward. Davies tried to counterattack and found Brandon Wood on the wing, but a mistake brought an end to the move.
A superb move by the Barbarians almost saw Harri Morgan add another try, but he lost the ball forward as he stretched to place it over the line. It mattered little though, as Howe worked his way over to score in the corner. Searle converted.
Half-time:- Swansea 14-35 Barbarians
The one way traffic continued after the interval when Lloyd Williams made a break in midfield and was superbly tackled by Brandon Wood, who showed commitment to track back. Unfortunately for the home side, the ball popped out to full back Damien Hoyland, who scored under the posts. Shingler converted.
Hoyland made another break but was caught in two minds, although the home side were penalised for offside at the ruck. A few phases, later, Shingler glided through a tackle to touch down. He also converted.
A superb break by Shingler set up the next Baa Baas try, as he drew in a tackle and fired a scoring pass to Lee Lo. In keeping with Barbarians’ tradition, Bradley Davies converted.
Another try came soon after when a patient build up by the Baa Baas saw hooker Kirby Myhill squeeze over at the corner. Bradley Davies tried to convert from the touchline, but his effort fell way short.
Knott made almost broke through the middle, but was tackled, although Chris Morgans superbly kept the ball in play, which resulted in a try for Brandon Wood in the corner. Davies converted.
And a fourth Whites try followed when Brandon Wood sprinted down the wing and left Hoyland for dead, before unselfishly throwing a pass to Matthew Aubrey, who scored. He also converted.
And the comeback began to look like a reality as a superbly weighted chip through was taken by Willis Wood, who dashed through for a try. He also superbly drop kicked the conversion.
It was soon back to business for the visitors though who camped on the Swansea line before Myhill strolled over for a late try. Replacement hooker Elvis Taione summed up a super game by kicking a difficult conversion from out wide!
Happy 150th anniversary Swansea RFC!
Full-time:- Swansea 33-68 Barbarians
Tries:- Joe Thomas (22), Hanno Dirksen (31), Brandon Wood (60), Matthew Aubrey (63), Willis Wood (69)
Cons:- James Davies (23, 32), Matthew Aubrey (64), Willis Wood (70)
Tries:- Olly Robinson (9), Steven Shingler (13, 50), Taichi Takahashi (15), Tom Howe (27, 40+1), Damien Hoyland (43), Rey Lee Lo (52), Kirby Myhill (57, 77)
Cons:- Steven Shingler (10, 14, 16, 44, 51), Billy Searle (28, 40+2), Bradley Davies (53), Elvis Taione (78)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Weather:- Sunny, 19C
Referee:- Ben Whitehouse
Man of the match:- Steven Shingler
15 Gareth O Rees
14 Brandon Wood
13 Joe Thomas
12 Osian Knott
11 Matthew Jenkins
10 James Davies
9 Gareth J Rees
1 Tom Sloane ©
2 Owen Thomas
3 Richard Murphy
4 Lloyd Ashley
5 Matt Dodd
6 Jay Williams
7 Callum Bowden ©
8 Joe Greaves
16 Garan Williams
17 Ed Thompson
18 Scott Jenkins
19 Chris Thompson
20 Sam Richards
21 Matthew Aubrey
22 Chris Morgans
23 Willis Wood
24 Hanno Dirksen
25 Tom Crockett
26 Kieran Charles
27 Alun Wyn Jones
15 Damien Hoyland
14 Taichi Takahashi
13 Rey Lee Lo
12 Billy Twelvetrees
11 Alex Wootton
10 Steven Shingler
9 Lewis Jones
1 Oli Kebble
2 Kirby Myhill
3 Enrique Pieretto
4 Bradley Davies
5 Alun Wyn Jones
6 Dan Lydiate
7 Olly Robinson
8 Sione Vailanu
16 Elvis Taione
17 D’Arcy Rae
18 Murray McCallum
19 Matthew Screech
20 Sam Cross
21 Harri Morgan
22 Lloyd Williams
23 Billy Searle
24 Tom Howe