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Williams' end playing days as Wales sputter past Baa-baas

Associated Press

6/2/2012 1:05:08 PM

CARDIFF -- A second-string Wales side gave Martyn Williams a win to mark his 100th and last test cap as it sputtered past the Barbarians 30-21 in Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Another Wales great, winger Shane Williams, wound up his playing career in the Baa-baas. Shane Williams ended his 87-cap career for Wales in style last December, but a crowd of 57,000 turned up to give the pair of greats an emotional farewell to rugby.

Wales blasted off to 13-0, including an impressive try on debut for winger Harry Robinson, but the Baa-baas overhauled them by halftime to lead 14-13. The makeshift club side led 21-16 after a third converted try, but Wales scored two late tries to remain unbeaten this year. Center James Hook ended up with 20 points.

Baa-baas flyhalf Stephen Donald nearly matched him, with two tries and conversions of all three.

Wales sent most of its test regulars to Australia in an advance party of 16, and caretaker coach Rob Howley will finalize the other 18 on Sunday. Debuts were given to Robinson, prop Rhodri Jones and fullback Liam Williams, but there was little to gather from a disjointed performance a week before the start of the three-test series with the Wallabies.

"It wasn't pretty, there was a lot of turnover ball, but there's a lot we can work on in Australia," Howley said.

"We're looking forward to it, it will be a momentous occasion next Saturday and we'll be going out there with every effort."

Robinson made the biggest impression early when he used turnover ball to sprint 60 metres to score.

Hook's second penalty made it 13-0 and Wales was rolling.

But the Baa-baas' confidence surged when they ran in Donald. Then, while Wales prop Rhys Gill was sin-binned, sustained pressure finally told for the Barbarians with a try for scrumhalf Richie Rees just before the break.

Martyn Williams joined the fray six minutes into the new half to a standing ovation, becoming Wales' third centurion after Gareth Thomas and Stephen Jones. Hook's third penalty soon after regained the lead but Donald's second converted try put the Baa-baas back in front entering the final quarter.

Just when the Barbarians looked like beating Ireland and Wales in the space of five days, Hook set up and finished Wales' second try and converted it for 23-21 in the 72nd. Brew's late intercept try ensured victory.

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Wales 30 (Harry Robinson, James Hook, Aled Brew tries; Hook 3 conversions, 3 penalties), Barbarians 21 (Stephen Donald 2, Richie Rees tries; Donald 3 conversions). HT: 13-14.