What a weekend of rugby both in the Junior Rugby World Championship finals and the Super Rugby playoffs. Here is my review of all that action.
Junior Rugby World Championships
Argentina 38 – 21 Japan
Ireland 17 – 9 Scotland
Wales 23 – 28 Australia
Italy 20 – 19 Samoa
France 18 – 31 South Africa
New Zealand 21 – 16 England
4 from 6, not great as I went against the tide on one and got it wrong. Looks like I ended up 19th in my prediction league, check out the bottom if you’d like to join in future leagues.
Japan struck first but the Argentine forwards imposed themselves and two tries build up a lead heading into half time. Japan did manage to get a late first half try though and so it only a 3 point margin at the break. Again Japan struck first to take back the lead, however again Argentina imposed themselves and scored two more. This time a yellow card for Japan meant that Argentina would finish with a third try and the game. This was still the best Japan have down at this tournament and gives them something to build on.
Scotland did score the first points but as they were restricted to only points from the boot they were always going to struggle. But they were still within a point with 11 minutes to go but Ireland managed to close out the game for a score line that looks more comfortable than it was.
Australia dominated the first half but poor handling let them down and they only led 14-5 at the break. Wales were unable to break down the Australian defence for most of the second half. This allowed Australia to stretch the lead to 28-11 but this Welsh side is extremely fit and fought to the end but they just ran out of time.
Italy made the really running but had to be content with a couple penalties. Samoa then took control but poor kicking meant they only led 13-6, it could have been worse if an Italian try hadn’t been disallowed for a throw punch. Italy started the second half stronger but were held up of the line 3 times! However the Samoan infringements kept coming and with 2 players in the bin they conceded a penalty try. Samoa did get a penalty back but Italy soon applied more pressure and eventually got a second penalty try. At the end though Italy were having to defend as Samoa pushed hard, they even had a late kick to win the game but missed.
France started the game strongly and were rewarded with the first try. But after that the first half belonged to the South Africans as they scored 4 unanswered tries to lead 8-28 at the break. France again started well in the second half and scored two tries. After that though the South Africans were able to contain the French effort to win the game comfortably.
England started quickly with a lovely line cutting open the New Zealand defence to go over after only 3 minutes. After an exchange of kicks they led 10-3 but that’s as good as it got. Some strong running and a couple of poor tackles saw New Zealand get their first try of the game. A penalty meant that the Baby Blacks took a 1 point lead from an entertaining half where both sides were happy to offload the ball. Early in the second half New Zealand pressed towards the try line, eventually England ran out of defenders round the ruck. A couple of penalties with the help of New Zealand being reduced to 14 men brought England back into it. But a penalty to New Zealand and no points in the last twenty minutes meant the trophy returned to New Zealand after a three year break.
Final Standings: 1. NEW ZEALAND 2. ENGLAND 3. SOUTH AFRICA 4. FRANCE 5. AUSTRALIA 6. WALES 7. IRELAND 8. SCOTLAND 9. ARGENTINA 10. JAPAN 11. ITALY 12. SAMOA - RELEGATED TO THE WORLD RUGBY U20 TROPHY IN 2016
Highlanders 24 – 14 Chiefs
Stormers 19 – 39 Brumbies
1 from 2, I went with two home wins.
The Highlanders controlled the game early on, happy to spread the ball wide and were unlucky to have a try denied by the TMO for a foot in touch. Aaron Smith was majestic controlling the game and dangerous when ever there was a half gap. Off the back of a scrum Smith and Naholo combined to score a wonderful try. The Chiefs did come back with a more direct game plan and even took a 1 point lead into half time off the back of three penalties. Another try worked off the back of the scrum by Smith and Naholo gave the Landers the lead they would never give up. The Chiefs even put two men on that side but Smith worked it beautifully. The Chiefs had more of the possession and territory but a single try was their only reward. The boot of Sopoaga did the rest.
There was some poor officiating and it mainly seemed to go the Chiefs way. I’m only glad that it didn’t decide the game.
The Brumbies really put the Stormers to the sword, being very incisive with less of the ball or territory. In a turnaround none of their tries were from rolling mauls that has so characterised their play. Tommie grabbed three tries in the first half from a kick through the next as the Stormers ran out of defenders. Then from a retreating scrum as it wheeled so the defenders were on the wrong side. A fourth meant that it was 6-24 at half time. The Stormers struck first in the second half but it was an interception try and after an exchange of kicks the Brumbies sealed it with a power try. The Brumbies did lose two players late on to a red and then fellow card. However the Stormers just went on to concede another try even with the two man advantage.
Argentina 22 – 28 France Barbarians
This one slipped under the radar and so there was no prediction. I’m a bit surprised that the scratch side won but if you are going to concede 21 penalties to 11 you are going to struggle. The Argentines did do a lot of running with ball in hand and if they improve their discipline that’s a good sign.
We are going into a little lull in the amount of rugby being played but the Rugby Championship kicks off in July. Then in August the Currie Cup and ITM Cup will start. Click on any of the names to join in my prediction leagues and test your wits against me.