LONDON, Dec 3 (Reuters) - A fine defensive display by an experimental Australian side helped them to end their European tour with a 18-11 victory over a strong Barbarians selection at a bitterly cold Wembley stadium on Wednesday.
Australia, who were without injured captain Stirling Mortlock (head) and flyhalf Matt Giteau (shoulder and ankle), started with just five of the 15 that began the 21-18 defeat to Wales in Cardiff on Saturday and were expected to struggle.
However winger Lote Tuqiri opened the scoring in the 13th minute for Australia, collecting a Ryan Cross kick following good defensive work by fullback James O’Connor to go over.
The impressive teenager O’Connor, making his first start for his country, added the conversion and two further penalties as wayward kicking from Francois Steyn and strong defensive work from the Wallabies kept the Barabarians at bay.
South African fullback Percy Montgomery slotted two penalties before halftime to trim the deficit to seven as the Barbarians enjoyed plenty of possession but struggled to break through the defensive rearguard.
The Baa-Baas increased the pressure in the second half and twice the video referee denied them a try with prop Rodney Blake going closest to hurting Australia who lost prop Matt Dunning to injury in the 47th minute.
World player of the year Shane Williams was one of several second-half replacements and his pop pass back inside allowed New Zealander Jerry Collins to crash over from short range to close the gap to two points with a quarter of the game left.
However Steyn’s kicking woes continued, missing the conversion that would have tied the scores and then an easier penalty chance with just seven minutes to go that would have put them ahead.
The Barabrains piled more pressure onto the Australian line, but a quick break from replacement Lachie Turner resulted in a try in the corner and made the game safe.
Editing by Padraic Halpin