Wow what a weekend of rugby to end The Rugby Championship! Two upsets and that has kicked off all sorts of discussions with the Rugby World Cup coming up. Here is my review of the International action from the weekend.
The Rugby Championship
Australia 27 v 19 New Zealand
South Africa 25 v 37 Argentina
1 from 2, I don’t think anyone saw the Pumas result coming so I’m pleased with 1 from 2.
The game was scrappy early on but the All Blacks managed to get some possession and territory. A quickly taken tap penalty near the Wallabies line saw a Wallaby prop yellow carded for not retreating. The All Blacks weren’t able to take advantage of the extra man. The Wallabies were kicking the ball to the All Blacks who were fielding it all to easily. But the All Blacks are turning over the ball too much as Pocock and Hooper set to work. The Wallabies then took one from the All Blacks playbook with a clever line out play giving them field position for the equalising penalty. The All Blacks were to take the lead into halftime from a penalty given for side entry at the ruck, the ref had missed a few so it’s not surprising the players were trying it on. There was plenty of time for Phipps who had a poor game to butcher a good opportunity with a boot laces pass. That had been setup by Folau spotting a mismatch and charging through. The Wallabies did have an opportunity to kick at goal but having missed one already they went for the corner, two lost line outs later the threat was well and truly over.
The second half started badly for the All Blacks as Carter’s restart didn’t go 10 (for the second time) and just got worse from there. Aaron Smith got yellow carded for a high tackle. On a side note I was surprised Ashley-Cooper didn’t go off for a confusion test and the same for Pocock later on who stayed on but did go for one eventually. The Wallabies were able to take advantage and get a try even though their maul was illegally stopped. The All Blacks did get a penalty back which took Carter over 1500 test points. Phipps rounded off a poor game with a yellow card when again the All Blacks took a quick penalty and he tried to tackle the player twice in front of the ref. This time the All Blacks managed to take advantage when Carter made a mini break. It looked to have been snuffed out by AAC but Ben Smith wrestled the ball back and fed Milner-Scudder to go in the corner. Whilst they were still down to 14 men the Wallabies struck back with a clever kick through after many phases drew up the cover and AAC picked up the ball to take back the lead. That made AAC the most prolific try scorer against the All Blacks. A clever move off the back of a scrum gave the All Blacks the lead back as Milner-Scudder scored his second try but a second missed conversion meant it was a 1 point game. Nic White who had come on for the stuttering Phipps kicked a long range penalty to take the lead. He then slipped through from the back of a ruck to open up a big lead with a try he converted himself. Australia still have issues with their kicking, White only averaged 50% in Super Rugby. The All Blacks did have an opportunity late on but TJ knocked on at the back of a scrum and it was effectively over. There was still enough time for Skelton to put in an unnecessary cheap shot and raise concerns over his discipline.
One of the plus points for Argentina so far this year had been the willingness and ability of their backs in set attacking moves. That was exactly how the Pumas got their first try from a line out. Their kick chase was causing the Boks all sorts of problems and after a couple of kicks they decided to run rather rather than kick. Some good hard run supporting lines being run off the breaking player led the second try. Another move off set piece, this time a scrum, meant that the Pumas led 3-21 with just over half an hour gone. The Boks did manage to struck back before halftime with a strong drive off the back of a line out, but the Pumas just struck back with two penalties to lead 13-27 at halftime.
Argentina just started the second half as the finished the second with pressure on the Bok line. Then a moment of in attention as there had been medics on the pitch allowed the Pumas to take a tap penalty and walkover in the corner. The Boks did manage a quick response with some good support running when returning a kick. But that was as good as it got as Argentina defended strongly and knocked over a drop goal to stretch the lead. A late Habana try from a massive miss pass was a consolation and far too late to have any impact.
Wales 21 v 35 Ireland
0 from 1, I did say that this was a bit of a lottery.
Ireland struck early as Wales ran out of defenders and they stroked over untouched. Then some very poor defending at scrum time allowed Ireland to score a second as the inside centre cut back to run over. When Wales tried running a move off their scrum it was too easily read. Hitting man and ball caused the turnover that was easily run in as Ireland ran out to a 0-25 lead. A cleaver move off the line out did mean that Wales managed to pull one back before halftime.
Early in the second half Ireland stretched their lead after a line out maul didn’t quite make it they kept possession and again Wales ran out of defenders. As Ireland maintained the pressure another move wide with the ball again produced an easy try with another over lap to so that the lead was 7-35. Finally with ten minutes to go Wales got going, some lovely support lines and offloading/passes saw them counter attack from halfway for a try. Then with the last play of the game Wales managed to create their own overlap to walk in. It was all way too late and made the scoreline far more respectable than the game was.
Join in the predicting fun, I’m running leagues for the Currie Cup, ITM Cup and NRC. Also enjoy the excitement of the up coming Rugby World Cup by joining the August Internationals and Rugby World Cup leagues as well.