Elton Jantjies slotted a late drop-goal as the Springbok-laden Barbarians came back from 7-28 down to post a 38-35 win over Argentina on Saturday.
The match provided early seasonal pantomime knockabout fare in typically crowd-pleasing Barbarians style.
Their last foray at RFU headquarters had added to England and Eddie Jones’s post Six Nations depression when a Chris Ashton hat-trick contributed to a 63-45 humbling.
The Barbarians’ invitational team has been playing national sides on a regular basis since 1948.
This time there was a pre-ponderance of South Africans in the line-up – which was coached by Springboks handler Rassie Erasmus – and for a while the Barbarians looked to be heading for heavy defeat.
Tries by Matias Orlando, Ramiro Moyano, captain Pablo Matera and Sebastian Cancelliere saw them open up a 28-7 lead – former Pumas great Juan Manuel Leguizamon touching down for the Baa-Baas.
A penalty try and a score from Springboks captain Siya Kolisi reduced the deficit to 28-21.
Julian Montoya scored for Argentina, but tries from South African duo Damian de Allende and Lodewyk de Jager and Jantjies’ late kick sealed a thrilling win.
“It’s a massive privilege representing this historic club,” said de Jager.
“The guys just went out there and put everything on the line and it’s good to get a win.
“One thing that’s always guaranteed from a Baa-Baas side is team spirit.”
For Matera and his players it was a disappointing way to end their Northern hemisphere tour which yielded little in the way of results – they lost to Six Nations champions Ireland, France and Scotland – but fatigue would have played a role coming off the Rugby Championship.
“This is not the way we wanted to end the tour,” said Matera, who head coach Mario Ledesma appointed skipper for the tour.
“The result is not what we expected but it was a good year for us if you see it in general [they recorded wins over Australia and South Africa in The Rugby Championship].
“We are growing a lot as a team and we are on a good path,” added the 25-year-old back row forward.
For the Barbarians:
Tries: Leguizamon, Penalty try, Kolisi, De Allende, De Jager
Cons: Pollard 4, penalty try does not require a conversion
Tries: Orlando, Moyano, Matera, Cancelliere, Montoya
Cons: Bonilla 5
Barbarians: 15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Tom English, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Leon Fukofuka, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Steven Kitshoff, 17 Malcolm Marx, 18 Anton Peikrishvili, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Frank Lomani, 22 Jesse Kriel, 23 Elton Jantjies.
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Juan Pablo Zeiss.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Tomas Lavanini, 20 Santiago Grondona, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 23 Santiago Carreras.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)