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Daddy of all days as Barnes delivers man-of-match display

FOR Berrick Barnes, it was probably the greatest day of his life. For Mike Harris, it was redemption.

Wallabies five-eighth Barnes has never had a more eventful 24 hours, having rushed back to Sydney on Friday night to attend the birth of his first child, son Archie, and then relying on a Melbourne cabbie to get him back in time to run out with his teammates. He then contributed 17 points with his boot to give the Wallabies the ascendancy, particularly during an extraordinary second half in which the lead changed hands eight times.

Eventually Barnes cramped up, allowing Harris to come on and kick the winning penalty after the final bell. No wonder Barnes and Harris were overwhelmed last night.

''It's a kicker's dream to win a Test match,'' Harris said. ''I was unsuccessful the last time against Scotland. It was nice to be able to put it over. Luckily there was a roof on the stadium, and it wasn't hurricane conditions.''

Harris was referring to the diabolical weather at Newcastle during the Wallabies-Scotland Test, where Harris had a chance late in the game to break a 6-6 deadlock. He missed and Scotland went on to win 9-6.

Barnes was just coming to grips with his extraordinary 24 hours. A child, a man-of-the-match honour and a Test triumph. Fair trifecta.


''Our baby was due in five or six weeks, but I got a call yesterday saying that I had to get back to Sydney,'' he said. ''Thank god it all happened last night. Wife and bub are well, and little Archie is breathing on his own now and feeding, which is great. This is all so exciting, and I am so proud. I am just grateful to all the boys and the coaches for giving me the opportunity to get back for the Test.

''And to my old mate the cab driver, I'm not sure where he was from because he didn't speak much English, but he got me here on time to get to the team meeting. So I'm very thankful.''

Barnes admitted he was concerned he would not get back to the Test venue in time.

''It was up in the air for a while,'' he said. ''I originally thought when I went to Sydney we'd be having the baby today. And if that was the case, it would have been unlikely I would have got back in time. But just being able to check they were well gave me the peace of mind to come down and play. I love playing for my country, it is a great honour.

''This is something I will never forget. I tell you what though, it's emotionally draining. I haven't been through anything like that before. But adrenalin gets you up.''