Weekend Rugby Review – 7 November

The All Blacks winning streak was brought to an end by Ireland in Chicago and Australia downed Wales as the November internationals kicked off. There was also domestic action in Europe, here is my round-up of all the rugby from around the globe.

International Rugby

USA 7 – 54 New Zealand Maori
Japan 20 – 54 Argentina
Wales 8 – 32 Australia
Barbarians 31 – 31 South Africa
Ireland 40 – 29 New Zealand

3 from 5, with a draw and the All Blacks losing that’s an ok return.

The Maori were in control of this 1 from very early on and when you consider that 4 of the starting 15 for the USA are amateurs that’s shouldn’t be a surprise. As this falls outside the  World Rugby international window they didn’t have access to all their European based players. In contracts the Maori drafted in players from the main All Blacks squad such as Damian McKenzie and Rieko Ioane. It’s no surprise then that they won 8 tries to 1 and we can see that there is a long way to go for the USA.

Unsurprisingly Argentina turned over an inexperienced Japan, they only had 2 capped forwards in their squad. The Pumas backs were given the platform to cut Japan to pieces as they dropped off too many tackles. The Brave Blossoms first try came in the 51st minute and by then it was already over. When you consider they also scored on the hooter the gap was possibly bigger than the scoreline suggests. But you can see rugby growing in Japan with a  big crowd that were there to the end cheering on their side. Check out Rich Freeman‘s report for more details, he is the top reporter on Japanese rugby.

The Welsh losing streak against Australia stretches on as the Wallabies racked up their 12th consecutive win. According to the EggChasers podcast the last time that Wales won their opening November test was 2002 against Romania! This game was really lost in the first half that Australia dominated. Wales did survive their yellow card well but still gave up 3 tries to trail 3-20 at halftime and when the Wallabies scored first in the second-half it was all over. Which stats do you pick? I’m going for clean breaks of 9 compared to 17 meaning the Wallabies got about twice as far every time they carried the ball.

I had given up on the Barbarians, whilst I love the concept I just think they are at such a disadvantage in the professional era. However they really pulled 1 out of the bag here playing exciting rugby and were up against the Boks. The Boks did just pull it back late on but it was a wonderful game to watch. It is worrying for South Africa though that they can’t beat a scratch side with few internationals.

Finally Ireland’s historic first win over New Zealand! Great tactics especially early on to hold onto the ball and starve the All Blacks of possession. The All Blacks didn’t read the ref and were giving up penalties. With their lineout not functioning this meant that Ireland could have field position even though they weren’t breaking the mainline at that point. The Naholo break for the All Blacks first try was ominous but the men in green didn’t make that defensive error again. Clearly the yellow card helped Ireland as they score 2 tries whilst New Zealand were reduced to 14 men but they really were controlling the game. In the second half Ireland kicked a bit more and played a more balanced game plan. When they got 4 scores ahead I thought it was all over. But credit to the All Blacks they came back with 3 tries and it looked like the normal last 20 push was going to win them the game. Ireland though had the belief that many teams have lacked and a great break down the left led to a 5m scrum and the winning try. There will be all sorts of favourite moments from this game but the figure of 8 response to the Haka will feature in many people’s memories.

Pro12

Newport Gwent Dragons 21 – 16 Connacht Rugby
Benetton Treviso 28 – 34 Cardiff Blues
Edinburgh 28 – 17 Ulster
Munster 33 – 0 Ospreys
Zebre 10 – 33 Leinster
Scarlets 27 – 3 Glasgow Warriors

3 from 6, I’m blaming the impact of the internationals.

Leinster top the table followed by Munster who had an exceptionally impressive victory managing to kill Ospreys. It is tight down to 7th now that Scarlets have climbed up from the bottom half. The Italian sides are still in the bottom 2 places with Dragons climbing over Connacht to get off the bottom of the non-Italian table.

Top14

Bordeaux Begles 37 – 19 Stade Francais
Brive 26 – 9 Bayonne
Clermont Auvergne 21 – 20 Grenoble
Toulouse 16 – 15 Castres
Racing Metro 92 21 – 9 Montpellier
La Rochelle 27 – 6 Pau
Lyon 27 – 13 Toulon

6 from 7, with 2 win by just 1 point it could have been so much worse.

Clermont remain top by 7 points, after Toulon and Montpellier lost La Rochelle are in second followed by Toulouse in third. Lyon’s win pulls them away from the relegation battle of Pau, Grenoble and Bayonne.

Anglo-Welsh Cup

Worcester Warriors 31 – 25 Bristol Rugby
Bath Rugby 20 – 21 Leicester Tigers
Sale Sharks 17 – 13 Wasps
Gloucester Rugby 36 – 32 Saracens
Harlequins 29 – 15 Exeter Chiefs
Newcastle Falcons 16 – 24 Northampton Saints

The Anglo-Welsh cup is the strangest of all as teams don’t play those in their own pool but teams from another. Also the Welsh sides were involved in Pro12 action this weekend and will join in next weekend. It’s hard to draw an conclusions on the standings after only 1 round. But here goes anyway.

Pool 1 sees Saints as the only victors with Saracens and Bath trailing, they will be joined by Dragons. As Saints didn’t pick up a bonus point but the others did there is a long way to go in this one.

In Pool 2 Warriors and Sharks both won. With Exeter not picking up a bonus point it will be a long way back for them. The Welsh side going this pool is Ospreys who have made a really good start to the season.

Pool 3 also has 1 victor in Quins. Bristol and Wasps picked up a bonus point each to stay in touch. Cardiff is the Welsh team joining this pool, they have started well but were challenged in Italy at the weekend so not the finished article by any stretch.

Finally pool 4 saw Gloucester and Tigers win and with Falcons failing to pick up a bonus point they will find it hard to qualify. Scarlets who have turned their season around are the Welsh side in this pool.

#RugbyChat

Join the #RugbyChat on twitter for an hour of discussion about the action this weekend. If you can’t make the hour then you can still give your view as the conversation keeps going over the following day.

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