We had a cracking test match between England and Australia plus a while host of domestic club action. Here’s my round-up of it all.
England 37 – 21 Australia
1 from 1, easy to get a clean sweep when there’s only 1 game.
England completed a clean sweep of 4 wins over Australia this year. In doing so they won all their games in a calendar year for the first time since 1992 when there were only 6 games rather than 13 this year. It also extended their winning run to 14 games and a grand slam next year would take them past the All Blacks tier 1 record of 18 winning games in a row.
Let’s get back to the game, having heard all those stats you might think that it was an easy game for England but it was far from it. This Wallabies side is much better than it was in June but still has a lot of improving to do. Foley missed early kicks and the Wallabies allowed themselves to be held up over the line twice early on. Taking 1 or more of those opportunities would have changed the scoreboard pressure immensely. Clever sides don’t try to bundle over the line with masses of bodies if they can help it. When they inevitably go to TMO there are too many bodies in the way for him to see anything so you are much better off recycling until you get a clearer opportunity. Phipps also showed a lack of composure, he really should have passed the ball into Vunipola who was offside and in the way. Instead he moved round him and the ball got turned over for JJ to score. England would have been ecstatic to go in at half-time only 13-16 down when they should have been trailing by closer to 20 points.
England came out and dominated the second half and especially the first 20 minutes where they scored 17 unanswered points. It meant that when they did score through a great break by their prop Kepu they were too tired to pull things back. The Wallabies bench never looked as strong as the English bench and they had to be leading going into the final quarter of the game. In reality they lost the game in the first 15 or so minutes when they where unable to take more advantage of their dominance.
Below is a list of England’s up coming games I did for #RugbyChat a couple of weeks ago. As you can see people are already talking about the game against Ireland. It could be the grand slam decider and also an opportunity to beat the All Blacks record.
Sale Sharks 3 – 21 Exeter Chiefs
Bath 14 – 11 Saracens
Gloucester Rugby 26 – 18 Bristol
Leicester Tigers 19 – 11 Northampton Saints
Newcastle Falcons 38 – 32 Harlequins
Worcester Warriors 12 – 26 Wasps
5 from 6, I picked 1 of the upsets but didn’t get both.
Saracens remain top of the table but Wasps have cut their lead to just 1 point. As Bath, Leicester and Exeter all won there is now a 7 point gap between fifth and sixth. It’s starting to look like the 4 playoff teams will come from the current top 5. The big movers are Newcastle who are up to seventh having won their last 2 games and again are looking up not down. At the bottom Bristol are still 6 points behind Worcester and need to pick up points along with their improved performances.
Unfortunately the main story from the weekend wasn’t about flowing rugby but about George North being allowed to play on after the suspicion of being knocked out. The Aviva Premiership have said there will be a review of the incident but if Saints have followed the HIA process there’s not much Aviva Premiership can do. To everybody looking on it looked like he was knocked out and so he should be removed, as there clearly was the suspicion of unconsciousness and that’s enough grounds to sit out.
Ospreys 31 – 22 Edinburgh
Glasgow Warriors 15 – 16 Munster
Zebre 24 – 31 Scarlets
Connacht Rugby 47 – 8 Benetton Treviso
Cardiff Blues 22 – 35 Ulster
Leinster 28 – 15 Newport Gwent Dragons
5 from 6, again as I failed to get the 50/50 call right.
Munster remain top of the table with Leinster on the same points in second. Ospreys are only 1 point behind in third making it very tight at the top. Scarlets maintain their amazing run of 7 wins after 3 opening round losses to sit in forth. Ulster do have a game in hand so could jump from fifth to forth. The 2 Italian sides are still in the bottom 2 places with Zebre having 2 games in hand now so in the unlikely event they were to win both of those could climb to tenth.
Pau 40 – 35 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 51 – 5 Bayonne
Grenoble 37 – 51 Montpellier
Lyon 19 – 23 Castres
La Rochelle 23 – 23 Racing Metro 92
Toulouse 30 – 12 Brive
Toulon 37 – 10 Bordeaux Begles
4 from 7, I had a bit of a shocker but the draw didn’t help.
Despite their loss Clermont remain top of the table with a 3 point lead over Montpellier. Toulon are 2 points behind in third as La Rochelle lose ground with that draw. Castres and Toulouse round out the top 6 a further point back. At the bottom Bayonne remain a point ahead of Grenoble but they are now 9 points adrift of Pau.
Men’s Sevens World Series
Gold – South Africa
Silver – Fiji
Bronze – England
South Africa and Fiji were miles ahead of the rest of the opposition and New Zealand were surprisingly knocked out in the quarter finals.
Women’s Sevens World Series
Gold – New Zealand
Silver – Australia
Bronze – Russia
New Zealand and Australia continued their good form from last season. The big surprise was Russia beating England in the 3rd place playoff.
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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