It required two yellow cards in the final 10 minutes for Australia to edge the Barbarians in Sydney on Saturday.
In a match that was a mix of the sublime and the ridiculous, the Wallabies won 31-28.
However, the winning score only came in the 72nd minute, departing Wallaby hooker Stephen Moore scoring from a rolling maul with the BaaBaas already down to 14 men.
Wing Taqele Naiyaravoro, having scored a double, was yellow-carded for repeated off-side infringements.
He was joined in the sin bin a few minutes later by captain Quade Cooper, who executed a high tackle on Israel Folau.
The BaaBaas, chasing the game, could not find that space in the last five minutes - allowing the Wallabies to hang on for a somewhat fortuitous win.
The victory has also come at a potentially significant injury cost.
Australia may be without two of their rising stars on the year-end, though, with Jack Dempsey (leg) and Lukhan Tui both in doubt after injuries.
Tui was off in the 35th minute with a hamstring concern, while Dempsey had his leg twisted in a tackle in the 74th minute, unable to stand up on the sideline, forced to wait until the game finished to go into the rooms.
Both have been immense for the Wallabies in recent weeks, Dempsey especially.
Ben McCalman and Queensland teenager Liam Wright could find themselves in the mix for the tour with the duo's absence, after stints against the Barbarians on Saturday.
Camped in their attacking territory early, it was flyhalf Duncan Paia'aua who claimed the first score, dragging Barbarians flanker Matt Hodgson over the line with him in the ninth minute.
Barbarians no. 8 Wycliff Palu wasted little time in making his mark on the contest, in his first rugby match in close to 10 months, lining up young Wallabies hooker Jordan Uelese twice in the opening 10 minutes.
Tighthead Taniela Tupou tried to bring back some old school Barbarians tricks, crashing over with the ball up his jumper, but was ultimately denied the score, before three Barbarians tries in five minutes put the Wallabies in a 14-point hole half an hour in.
Andrew Ready opening the scores for the BaaBaas, with two-Test Wallaby Taqele Naiyaravoro proving the most damaging, finishing with two tries for the day.
Naiyaravoro streaked away in the 28th minute, finishing off a Tim Nanai-Williams no-look pass, before setting up wing Tom Banks two minutes later.
Wallabies wing Henry Speight made the most of his first real look at the ball, closing the gap just shy of half-time, with Australia's second.
For much of the game, the Wallabies looked like exactly like what they were - a side that had barely played together.
They reverted to a more familiar backline combination after half-time, Samu Kerevi coming off, replaced by wing Izaia Perese, with Karmichael Hunt into the centres and Israel Folau back to 15.
Australia were the first to score in the second half, with flanker Dempsey fending off a defender on the way to the try line to narrow the margin to four points.
It was only two minutes later that Billy Meakes was replaced in the centres by his Force teammate Curtis Rona, as the Wallabies looked to turn the scoreboard around.
Rona was instrumental in the Wallabies taking the lead for the first time in the 61st minute, with a 30-metre break falling just short of the line, before his offload landed perfectly in Paia'aua's hands.
They lost that lead in just five minutes, when a Quade Cooper cross-kick landed in Banks' hands and then in those of Naiyaravoro, who finished for his second and a four-point advantage.
Just as quickly the hulking back was in the sin bin, after what was deemed a deliberate knock down, giving Australia a one-man advantage for the remainder of the match.
Cooper had a rare perfect day off the kicking tee, booting four-from-four conversions for the day, but he too was sent in the 73rd minute, after a careless tackle on Israel Folau.
Moore's try sealed the game and saved the Wallabies from the potential embarrassment of losing a game they were widely expected to win.
The Wallabies head to Japan on Tuesday for a four-week year-end, against Japan, Wales, England and Scotland.
Tries: Paia'aua 2, Speight, Dempsey, Moore
Cons: Paia'aua 3
For the Barbarians:
Tries: Ready, Naiyaravoro 2, Banks
Cons: Cooper 4
Yellow cards: Taqele Naiyaravoro (Barbarians, 70 - repeated infringements, offside), Quade Cooper (Barbarians, 73 - foul play, high tackle)
Australia: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Israel Folau, 10 Duncan Paia'aua, 9 Nick Phipps (captain), 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Jack Dempsey, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Curtis Rona, 23 Izaia Perese.
Barbarians: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Tom Banks, 12 George Moala, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper (captain), 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 Isi Naisarani, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Salesi Manu, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Theo Strang, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Andrew Kellaway.
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)