If there was any doubt about Australia being the second best international side in the world despite not making the RWC 2011 finals, this past weekend's match against the Barbarians in London should put it to rest once and for all.
The Wallabies, playing the invitation-only club (check back later this week for a full profile) for the 12th time since 1948, handed the Barbarians one of their worst losses ever - 60-11 - in front of a healthy Twickenham crowd. The victory marks the 8th straight for the Wallabies, who haven't lost to the Barbarians since 1976.
Despite the usual star-studded Barbarians side including Bryan Habana, Danny Cipriani, Simon Shaw, Victor Matfield, and Kevin Mealamu, among others, Wallaby flyhalf James O'Connor slotted the first 3 of his 20 points on a penalty kick just two minutes after the opening whistle. Australia scored 8 tries, including two each from Digby Iaone, Lachie Turner, and James Horwill. They face Wales next weekend in Cardiff.
The English tournament finished up round 9 last weekend, with Harlequins cementing their lead by beating Newcastle Falcons 39-8 at home. Harlequins stays undefeated at 9-0, while the Falcons fall to 1-1-7 and stay in last place. In fact, the top three clubs are all now London-area, with London Irish edging London Wasps 21-17 to move into third place with a 4-1-4 record and 24 points. Wasps drop to 8th place with a a record of 4-5 and 18 points. And even though Saracens lost badly 30-8 to Northampton Saints, they retained their hold on second place with a 7-2 record.
As for the swamp in the middle of the table, Exeter Chiefs beat Sale Sharks 30-23 at Edgeley Park, putting Exeter into 5th place at 4-5 with 21 points and Sale into 7th place with an identical record but only 20 points. Sale is tied with Gloucester, who lost at home to Leicester Tigers 19-14, making it only the third win of the tournament for the Tigers and putting them in 10th place at 3-1-5 and 18 points. Worcester won at home against Bath 16-7, cementing the Warriors' hold on 11th place with a record of 3-1-5 and 16 points and pushing Bath down to 9th with a record of 4-5 and 18 points.
RaboDirect PRO 12Round 9 of the Celtic tournament ended with a tie for first place and a razor-thin margin separating the third, fourth, and fifth place clubs. Ospreys beat Connacht in Galway 17-6 to top the table at 7-1-1 and 30 points, with Connacht falling to 3-6 and 15 points to put them in 9th place. Leinster beat Benetton Treviso in Italy 30-20, putting the Irish club in second place with a record of 7-2 and 30 points and dropping the Italian club to 7th place with a record of 4-5 and 19 points.
Munster beat Edinburgh at home 34-17 to solidify their hold on third place, with a record of 6-3 and 28 points, while the Scots stay in 10th place with a record of 3-6 and 14 points. Glasgow Warriors beat Ulster in Scotland, locking them in fourth place with a record of 6-3 and 26 points, while the Irish club drops to 8th place with a record of 4-5 and 17 points. Fifth place Cardiff Blues beat cellar dwellers Aironi 38-0 in Wales, giving the Blues a record of 5-3 and the Italians a record of 1-8. Scarlets took advantage of their countrymen Newport Gwent Dragons, beating 22-12 to move into 6th place with a record of 4-1-4 while the Dragons stay in 11th place with a record of 2-6.
Top 14 OrangeThe French tournament race got tighter in its 11th round, as table leader Toulouse drew with Brive 9-9, giving Toulouse a record of 8-1-2 and putting Brive solidly in 8th place with a record of 3-1-7. Clermont Auvergne did not take advantage though, dropping to second place with an away loss 29-23 to Montpellier, putting Clermont at 8-3 and putting Montpellier in 11th place with a record of 3-1-6. Castres stayed in third place with a 22-22 draw against Toulon, giving Castres a record of 7-1-3 and keeping Toulon solidly in fourth with a record of 6-2-2. Racing Metro beat Biarritz 28-9 to grab fifth place with a record of 6-5. Poor Biarritz (probably the first time those two words have ever been in direct proximity to each other) not only drops to 1-2-7 to stay in last place, but they also play again tonight against Bayonne.
Admittedly, this is also Bayonne's second match in four days, but they at least have the comfort of mediocrity, having beaten Lyon 15-9 at home to bring their record to 4-1-5 and putting them in 9th place. Lyon, meanwhile, drops to 2-1-6 with the loss, falling to 13th place. Agen beat Bordeaux-Begles at home 24-15 to stay in 6th place with a record of 6-1-3, with Bordeaux-Begles dropping to a record of 4-6 and 12th place. Stade Francais pounded Perpignan 35-16 to stay in 7th place with a record of 5-1-5, while Perpignan stays in 9th place with a record of 4-7.
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