O'Connor was in scintillating form in Perth on Tuesday
England escaped with a draw in their first tour game after Wallaby wonderkid James O'Connor had threatened to guide the Australian Barbarians to victory.
The 19-year-old scored a superb hat-trick and kicked 10 points after two Olly Barkley penalties had given England an early 6-0 lead in Perth.
A Lee Mears try interrupted O'Connor's treble, before Dan Ward-Smith and Matt Banahan gave England a late 28-25 lead.
But Berrick Barnes kicked one penalty and missed another in a tense finish.
He could have handed England a dispiriting defeat, but his long-range penalty on the final whistle drifted wide.
It was a match that for long periods the tourists looked likely to lose as O'Connor showed the class which is set to light up the sport for a decade or more to come.
The only area England established authority was in the scrum, where they regularly had the Australian Barbarians in all sorts of trouble.
We gave them too many chances to come back at us
England manager Martin Johnson
But behind the pack they were outclassed and their laboured attacks do not bode well for the upcoming two-Test series against Australia.
And England manager Martin Johnson warned his side they must reduce their error count before Saturday's first Test in Perth.
"Every part of our game today was good in bits and inconsistent in bits. We did lots of good things but we also compounded a few errors," said the former World Cup winner.
"From our point of view it showed that if we do what we say we will, it will work for us.
"But if we relax and make mistakes, miss tackles, get tight defensively and compound errors then it won't.
"If you make mistakes at this level you get punished. We gave them too many chances to come back at us. Our defence got too narrow and we paid the price."
England led 6-0 after 20 minutes courtesy of two penalties from inside centre Barkley but the Australian Barbarians then took control as O'Connor ran riot.
The floodgates opened when he stepped inside the cover out wide before pirouetting out of a double tackle to score a fine try in the corner, when he had looked odds-on to be tackled into touch.
The Western Force starlet could not convert from out wide but soon added a penalty to put the free-running hosts in front before scoring a sublime second try.
He produced a classic outside break past front-rowers David Flatman and Lee Mears and rounded England full-back Delon Armitage to score in the corner.
This time he nailed the conversion from the touchline to make it 15-6 and after Barkley had missed with a penalty for the visitors, O'Connor bisected the sticks to give the hosts what appeared to be a decisive lead before half-time.
England managed to hit back as hooker Mears ploughed over from close range following a powerful multi-phase attack, with Barkley's conversion making it 18-13 at the break.
But the Barbarians extended their lead soon after the interval as O'Connor completed his hat-trick, with the teenager again converting from the touchline to make it 25-13.
The tourists were struggling to threaten the hosts' line and although Barkley managed a penalty, they were probably more cheered by the sight of the irrepressible O'Connor being taken off to be saved for the forthcoming Test series.
With both sides ringing the changes England finally managed to apply some pressure and, after Banahan had embarrassingly knocked on from a tap penalty five yards out, their powerful scrum created the platform to level the scores.
Referee Stuart Dickinson yellow-carded Barbarians tight-head Laurie Weeks and although he did not award England a penalty try, number eight Ward-Smith charged over from close range to cut the gap to four points.
England had brought on Shane Geraghty to bring some spark to their attacking game and he featured twice in the move that sent Banahan over in the corner, with Barkley's conversion edging England ahead for the first time since the opening stages.
However, England conceded a penalty immediately from the restart - much to manager's Martin Johnson's frustration - and Barnes duly levelled the scores.
The New South Wales Waratahs player could have won the game with the last kick of the match but his long-range effort dropped wide, much to England's relief.
- England lock Dave Attwood has been cited for two counts of alleged stamping in the draw at the Subiaco Oval, the Australian Rugby Union has announced.
Australian Barbarians: O'Connor; Cummins, Chambers, A Faingaa, Turner; Barnes, Valentine; Cowan, Edmonds, Weeks, Chapman, Chisholm, McCalman, Hodgson, Hoiles. Replacements: Fitzpatrick (for Edmonds, 60), Slipper (for Cowan, 41, Cowan for Hoiles, 74), Douglas (for Chapman, 54, Chapman for Chisholm, 65), McCutcheon (for Hodgson, 52), Hynes (for O'Connor, 48). Not used: Burgess, Beale.
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