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Nic Ladds 29th May 2009 - 14:09

Barbarians to edge it at Twickenham

While the best Britain has to offer is busy battling away on South African shores, the rest England has to offer are at odds of 10/11 to conquer the Barbarians.

These matches are always ferociously contested and while the star-studded line-up of the Baa-Baa's used to entertain and attack non-stop, in recent years there has been more emphasis on defence and as a result they managed a spectacular victory over Australia in 2007.

Looking at the away team line-up the 10/11 on offer for a Barbarians win will appeal to many, largely due to the strength of their back-row.

Serge Betsen, Jerry Collins and Rocky Elsom have been or are now among the best in the world in their positions and Chris Robshaw, Lewis Moody and Nick Easter could be in for a hard afternoon.

While the Baa-Baa's rarely play together which obviously makes things harder, England have a very new look with people called up to the Lions squad and a host of uncapped or inexperienced players being given their chance to build on England's promising end to the Six Nations campaign.

Matt Banahan and Ben Foden make their debuts on each wing and with Mark Cueto likely to man one flank against Argentina, these two will be looking to impress and can be backed at odds of 10/1 and 10/1 respectively to score the first try.

The Barbarians are certainly not lacking in fire power all over the pitch with Munster and New Zealand winger Doug Howlett still one of the best in the world, and England's Iain Balshaw on the other wing who will be keen to make his mark and the pair are 10/1 and 11/1 respectively to go over first.

While many would usually expect these confrontations to be free-scoring affairs, this may not be the case with the Barbarians determined to win more than just entertain.

A winning margin of 1-5 at odds of 9/2 in favour of England could be worth an interest while the same winning margin in favour of the Barbarians can also be backed at 9/2 in what should be close game.

The closeness is demonstrated by the fact that the two can't be separated in the match betting.

Baa-Baa's coach
Dai Young would dearly love to win this and with a host of ageing players, not least captain Martin Corry reaching the end of their international careers, you can be sure this will be an almighty tussle which England's newbies might struggle to come to grips with as the game goes on.

There is always questions of how a team of stars who rarely play together will gel but you can be sure that the Barbarians will be as well prepared as they can be for this clash and with an electric atmosphere at Twickenham a certainty, entertainment should be guaranteed and the slight preference is for the away side to leave Martin Johnson and England going back to the drawing board.

Recommendation:
Barbarians to win - 10/11
Doug Howlett first try - 10/1

England v Barbarians betting

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