Martin Corry and Josh Lewsey bade a victorious farewell to English rugby at Twickenham as the Barbarians held on for a 33-26 win despite a late England comeback.
Martin Johnson’s youthful England side shipped five tries - including two for the former red rose winger Iain Balshaw - as they were outclassed for much of the game by a Barbarians team boasting seven former All Blacks and a total of 632 international caps.
Although Johnson should have the likes of Mark Cueto and Ben Kay available for next Saturday’s first Test against Argentina, he will have major concerns over the state of England’s flimsy defence heading up to Old Trafford.
Corry and Lewsey were key figures as the Barbarians opened a 14-0 lead with tries from Balshaw and Chris Jack before Ben Foden - one of six players making his first senior England start - produced a strong finish to score in the corner.
The Barbarians surged clear after the interval with embarrasing ease as Rocky Elsom and Gordon D’Arcy touched down either side of Balshaw’s second try.
Jordan Turner-Hall, Tom May and Matt Banahan notched debut tries as the Barbarians wilted and England hit back in the closing stages to avoid a record defeat and regain some pride.
But England were too far behind and in the end they were mere consolation scores on a day reserved for the retiring World Cup-winning duo of Corry and Lewsey.
Both players head for Australia with the Barbarians tonight. For Corry it was a victorious end to his English career after missing out on Leicester’s Guinness Premiership triumph a fortnight ago.
And as Lewsey left the field to a standing ovation he would have been justified to feel as though a point had been proved to Johnson, who made it clear earlier this season that his England career was over.