Wow what a packed weekend of rugby? It might have felt like a small lull after Rio and Super Rugby but we are fully back into it and here is my round-up of all the action.
The Rugby Championship
Australia 8 – 42 New Zealand
South Africa 30 – 23 Argentina
2 from 2, I might have got them both right but I didn’t see the Wallabies being blown out of the water so much.
For the first 10 minutes both sides had issues at the breakdown. Once the All Blacks settled down though it was one way traffic. As we saw in Super Rugby the All Blacks got their passing and offloading game going so avoiding the break down. But the Wallabies were also poor and their kicking let them down meaning that they had no exit strategy from their 22. Also the set piece wasn’t working and we have known that the line-out is a weakness in this game they lost key ones losing any momentum. This gave New Zealand territory and possession that they full capitalised on as Australia fell off far too many tackles. Injuries affected both sides but the All Blacks coped with the losses seamlessly where as the Wallabies losing Giteau and then his 2 replacements never got going. These injuries will mean changes for both sides when they meet this weekend again in Wellington.
Here is a replay of my YouTube Live chat with the Rugby Report Card guys straight after the game.
South Africa hosted Argentina in the other game that wasn’t decided until the final minute. Both sides started with expansive rugby and the Boks were the first to strike. The Pumas were playing the higher risk game with more offloading and when they were a man down due to a yellow card they used this play to score 10 unanswered points and take a lead into half-time. The Boks became more restricted in their play and reverted to using one out runners to bash the opposition. They also had the upper hand at scrum time and this along with upping their game in the last 10 minutes won the Boks a tough game. This could so easily have gone the other way and both coaches will want to improve on some poor tackling stats as both sides were under 80% successful in this area.
Bordeaux Begles 15 – 9 Racing Metro 92
Castres 28 – 11 Section Paloise
La Rochelle 30 – 30 Clermont Auvergne
Lyon 15 – 15 Brive
Stade Francais 54 – 20 Grenoble
Toulouse 20 – 12 Montpellier
Bayonne 28 – 23 Toulon
4 from 7, not bad considering there were 2 draws.
The opening round went to the home sides with the best that away sides could achieve were draws. This is typical of French rugby but has been eroded somewhat with foreign coaches and players in recent years. The Stade result in particular stood out as they went from Champions to bottom of the table last year and will be looking to bounce back.
Boland Cavaliers 20 – 41 Sharks
Western Province 25 – 32 Cheetahs
Blue Bulls 49 – 35 Eastern Province Kings
Griquas 30 – 24 Lions
2 from 4, disappointing as I was 100% up until this weekend.
The Sharks and Cheetahs have both had perfect starts to the season with 3 wins with the Bulls leading the chasers. The Pumas, Kings and Western Province are all still looking for their opening wins with 0-2 records so far.
North Harbour 20 – 17 Counties Manukau
Northland 27 – 34 Manawatu
Bay of Plenty 22 – 30 Taranaki
Hawke’s Bay 26 – 36 Wellington
Canterbury 43 – 3 Auckland
Southland 17 – 40 Otago
Tasman 24 – 19 Waikato
5 from 7, an OK start to the picking season as there weren’t any real upsets in terms of results.
This is the opening round so it’s really early days but Canterbury really laid down a marker in their coach’s last season before heading to the Crusaders. Also North Harbour got a good early win in their much for promotion.
You can watch the highlights on the Mitre10 Cup website.
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