Ian McGeechan's troops had been seeking a positive display and a morale-boosting win in the build-up to their back-to-back clashes with the Springboks.But, despite a second-half revival, they never looked like mastering the star-studded tourists in the latest end-of-term encounter. With just two minutes played, weak home defending on the right flank allowed Australian wing Scott Staniforth to cruise in for the opening try.
Argentinian stand-off Felipe Contepomi landed the conversion from an awkward angle. Scotland attempted to respond with an up-and-under by Chris Paterson aimed at wing James McLaren. But the ball was snaffled by the Barbarians, who set up a counter attack. From an offside penalty, they won their own lineout ball and drove towards the line.
The ball was expertly recycled for Darren Edwards to move around the narrow side for a simple touchdown. Contepomi narrowly missed the kick. Scotland began to shake off the cobwebs and burst back into the contest in the 21st minute when McLaren dashed over after flanker Jon Petrie had won loose ball. Paterson failed with the touchline conversion, but made amends by slotting a 40-metre penalty.
The Barbarians regained the initiative before the break with two more scores. First, Ollie Le Roux ploughed in following strong work by fellow Springbok AJ Venter. Then French wing Aurelien Rougerie darted over after leaving Glenn Metcalfe and Simon Webster for dead. Contepomi goaled the Le Roux effort. Scotland looked the more urgent outfit after the restart, but their finishing skills couldn't match their promising build-up work.
They remained camped on the Barbarians 22-metre line, but were patently lacking in penetration. Their persistence paid off in the 67th minute, however, when Metcalfe powered over under the crossbar in the wake of a quickly-taken Mike Blair penalty. Paterson bagged the extra points to close the gap to just nine, and although the Scots secured plenty of possession in the frantic finale, the well-drilled Baa-Baas defence held firm.
Scotland 15 Tries: G. Metcalfe, McLaren. Cons: Paterson. Pens: Paterson.
Scotland: G. Metcalfe, Webster, Laney, Townsend, McLaren, Paterson, Blair, G. Kerr, Bulloch, Douglas, Murray, Hines, Leslie, Taylor, Petrie. Not Used: D. Hall, McIlwham, White, Dall, Redpath, Henderson, R. Kerr. Barbarians: 24
Tries: Staniforth, Rougerie, Edwards, le Roux. Cons: Contepomi 2.
Barbarians: Jantjes, Staniforth, Barry, Gibson, Rougerie, Contepomi, Edwards, le Roux, Ibanez, Garvey, Galwey, Louw, Flavell, A. Venter, Phelan. Not Used: Sexton, Tournaire, Strudwick, Magne, Perry, C. Stoica, Pichot.