South Africa were denied a morale-boosting victory at the start of their Autumn tour as a 10-try thriller at Wembley Stadium against the Barbarians ended 31-31 with the Killik Cup shared by the sides.
The Springboks came into the game on the back of a 57-15 defeat to New Zealand and looked to be heading for another defeat only for two tries in the closing minutes to salvage a draw in a clash that had the 46,646 fans at Wembley on their feet.
The Barbarians had beaten the Boks in 2007 and 2010, and this was another classic demonstration of fearless and skilful attacking play that is synonymous with the famous invitation club.
The Baa Baas took the game to the Springboks and opened the scoring after just five minutes when full-back Melani Nanai touched down.
The tourists levelled on 12minutes when Pieter-Steph Du Toit rose high at the lineout and as the cover defence dissipated, he had a free run to the line.
All Blacks World Cup winner Andy Ellis lit up Wembley with a length of the field try before the Boks levelled when Roelof Smit found himself with space at the front of a lineout.
On half time, the outstanding man of the match Taqele Naiyaravovo was on the end of some fantastic handling to power over in the corner to give the Barbarians a 17-12 lead at the break.
Sergeal Petersen picked up on a loose ball in midfield to race home to score and Pat Lambie’s conversion gave the Springboks the lead for the first time in the match just after the interval.
But that was short-lived when a flowing length of the field move ended with Luke Morahan touching down in the corner for a try that revived memories of Barbarians games of old. Morahan touched down again minutes later for his second of the match.
The conversion put the Barbarians 31-19 ahead but the Boks came fighting back. First Francois Venter crossed the line and when Rohan Van Rensburg went over in the corner, it levelled the scores with three minutes remaining to spare South Africa’s blushes.
Barbarians: Nanai, Faddes (Morahan 52), Tamanivalu, Buckman, Naiyaravoro, Du Preez (Mo’unga 52), Ellis (Stir; Goodes (Smith 52), A Van Der Merwe (Ready 77), Ryan (S Van Der Merwe 56), Muller (Carter 52), Fatialofa, Shields, Taufua, Whitelock.
South Africa: Kriel (Combrinck 41), Petersen, Venter, Van Rensburg, Ulengo, Lambie, Paige (Van Zyl 68), Mtawarira (Gqoboko 68), Marx (Mbonambi 52), Adriaanse (Nyakane 60), Snyman (Etzebeth 52), Du Toit, Smit, Mohoje (J Du Preez 52), Carr
Barbarians. Tries: Nanai, Ellis, Naiyaravoro, Morahan (2). Cons: Du Preez, Mo’Unga (2)
South Africa: Du Toit, Smit, Petersen, Venter, Van Rensburg. Cons: Lambie (3)
Killik and Co Man of the Match - Taqele Naiyaravoro
(Thanks to The Barbarians)