Saturday, June 21, 2014
New Zealand completed a 3-0 whitewash of England as they stormed to a 36-13 victory in Hamilton on Saturday. The damage was done in the first half as the All Blacks shot out to a 29-6 lead, but England held on to limit the damage in the second half.
Wing Julian Savea, who has now scored as many tries as he has played Test matches, picked up a stunning hat-trick, scoring two of his three tries in what can only be described as a first half hiding.
The All Blacks were in devastating mood as they exposed England's defensive patterns and scored tries without too much trouble. Both Savea and scrumhalf Aaron Smith scored two in the first half, before Savea completed his hat-trick with time up, as they chose not to kick the ball out.
England's tour complexion now looks a little worse than it did a week ago, when they still felt they were improving and had a lot to build on. Perhaps that is still the case but the ease in which they were torn apart in the first half would be worrying. They fronted up in the second period though, showing great heart and keeping the hosts scoreless right up until the final play of the game.
Marlan Yarde's second half try gave the visitors some hope and steadied the sinking ship, but the cool heads of the World Champions steered them to yet another victory at home. The last time they lost there was in 2009, to South Africa.
The All Blacks have now equalled the [top-tier] record for most consecutive wins in Test rugby, with 17 on the trot. They join the All Blacks of 1965-69 and the Springboks of 1997-98 who jointly hold the record. A win over the Wallabies in Sydney on 16 August will take them out in front.
Their dominance has been such in recent times that in their last 38 Tests, they've won 36, losing one and drawing one. Next for them is the Rugby Championship, where they will look to cement combinations and continue their momentum a year out from the Rugby World Cup.
Posted at 6:17 pm | 40 comments
Scotland's Duncan Weir slotted a late penalty in Cordoba to give them a 21-19 away win against Argentina and maintain new coach Vern Cotter's unbeaten run. They now head to South Africa where they will take on the Springboks in a one-off Test next weekend.
After scraping through against Canada last weekend, and beating the USA before that, this was Scotland's third successive win under Cotter. They were made to work hard for it though, trailing 19-10 with ten minutes left before replacement Henry Pyrgos scored in the 73rd minute.
Weir kicked a late penalty to seal the win, after having missed a chance shortly before that.
The Pumas had controlled the match after Stuart Hogg scored early on, and scored tries of their own through flanker Javier Ortega Desio and Joaquin Tuculet.
Argentina's side weren't full strength but have been impressive against both Scotland and Ireland, so will take heart ahead of the the upcoming Rugby Championship.
After the hooter Nicolas Sanchez had an attempt at a drop goal but failed to get it on target.
"It was a tough game and we had to find the resources at the end to come back and win," said coach Cotter, who now takes his side to South Africa for another lift in intensity and a meeting with the Springboks, who have just beaten Wales 2-0 in their latest series.
Posted at 4:53 pm | 4 comments
Thursday, June 19, 2014
England retained the Junior World Championship title they first won in 2013 as they beat South Africa's Junior Boks 21-20 in a thrilling final at Eden Park. Above are highlights from the match, with a video of the Best Tries included on page two of this post.
Hosts New Zealand, who lost twice to South Africa, came third with a playoff victory over Ireland, while Australia edged France for fifth place. Fiji, finished the tournament in 12th place, have been relegated to the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy for 2015.
Posted at 6:07 pm | 0 comments
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Last week we posted the Five Biggest Hits of the Aviva Premiership Season, and today we've got a quick compilation of five of the funniest, as put together by Premiership Rugby. Most of these have been featured on here before - see the Related Posts - but they're worth watching again.
In no particular order, it's Nick Easter tripping over the drinks cooler, Joe Marler getting cheeky with the referee, Schalk Brits colliding and coming off second best with Wayne Barnes, ref JP Doyle getting smacked in the side of the head and an inflatable ball taking out the crossbar.
Posted at 5:07 pm | 0 comments
A few months back we watched on in horror as Japan made an awful mess of a try at the Hong Kong Sevens. Against the USA at the weekend they did it again, this time with winger Kenki Fukuoka, who lost the ball in an attempt to get between the posts.
While we joke about things like this, Eddie Jones coached Japan are actually on an incredible run of form and they kept that up with a 37-29 victory over the USA Eagles in the Pacific Nations Cup.
Tries were scored by Ryu Koliniasi Holani (two), Fumiaki Tanaka and Akithito Yamada, while fullback Ayumu Goromaru converted all four and kicked three penalties for a 17 point haul. Cam Dolan crossed for the USA while a Blaine Scully hat-trick wasn't enough to beat the Brave Blossoms.
This year the Pacific Nations cup is split into two conferences for the first time ever, with Pool A featuring Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, while Pool B comprises of Japan, Canada and the United States.
In a moment reminiscent of George Gregan on Jeff Wilson, Fukuaka crossed for a try in the 15th minute but took too long to get the ball down as he attempted to get it beneath the posts, and had it slapped out of his hands as USA center Folau Niau made the tackle.
Despite the error early in the game, Japan went on to achieve their ninth straight win.
Posted at 12:43 pm | 24 comments
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
England picked up their first win on tour as they beat the Crusaders 38-7 this morning. The hosts scored their solitary try through replacement Matt Todd, while England scored six as they showed their strength in depth ahead of the third Test.
News of Owen Farrell's medial ligament knee strain this morning meant that a starting spot in the third Test against the All Blacks is up for grabs. Danny Cipriani made a claim for it with a solid 50 minutes against the former Super Rugby champions.
With the score at 26-7 at halftime, the game was pretty much over but the England XV added another two tries through Anthony Watson and Chris Pennell, adding to first half efforts from Joe Gray, Ben Foden, Brad Barritt and Alex Goode. Foden's in particular was very neatly taken.
Injured Farrell will remain with the squad for further treatment but coach Stuart Lancaster has said that he'll narrow down the squad over the 24 hours following the Crusaders game.
"The knee has been scanned and there is a strain there. It's disappointing for Owen as he was desperate to play in the final Test but such is his character that he is already working on his rehab and still contributing to the tour. Fortunately we have three other fly halves to call on."
While the Crusaders were missing some of their All Black stars, it was an impressive run out for an England squad that are testing new combinations and are looking well placed for the home Rugby World Cup next year. Farrell's injury may yet be a blessing in disguise.
Posted at 1:25 pm | 30 comments
South Africa were far too strong for Wales in Durban on Saturday, delivering a clinical performance to give them a 38-16 victory in the first of two Tests. A dominant forward pack and some excellent play out wide led to five tries being scored by the Springboks.
It was a rough build up for South Africa, as key back Frans Steyn pulled out of the squad and there were a few exclusions due to illness and injury, including captain Jean De Villiers. They regrouped well and on his first start, former Junior World Championship star Jan Serfontein was superb.
With the midfield worries patched up - wing JP Pietersen did the job at second center - the forwards bullied the Welsh, who had no answer for their lineout drive and speed at the breakdown.
In the first half they swept Wales aside with relative ease, and with the knockout blow delivered (28-9 at halftime), took the foot off the pedal and made a few errors in the second.
"We struggled to cope with that pace and intensity in the first half," said Warren Gatland.
"By half-time the game had gone away from us already and credit to South Africa for the way they played. I thought [Willie] Le Roux was a pest. He was outstanding and caused us a lot of trouble.
Fullback Le Roux, who made a huge amount of progress last season, had an excellent game.
"Willie is probably the best fullback in the world at the moment," said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. "He was world-class tonight. He didn't set a foot wrong, he was unbelievable under the high ball and those chips were just outstanding.
"He is playing with a lot of confidence and has a license to express himself. I am very happy about his progress since he started on the wing last season. I challenged him to improve his aerial skills and defence last season and he did that very well."
When asked how the Welsh can stop Le Roux in the second Test, backs coach Shaun Edwards joked in today's press conference: "I thought about locking him in the toilet before the game."
Bryan Habana finished well to score twice, while Duane Vermeulen, Le Roux and debutant wing Cornal Hendricks crossed the tryline. Alex Cuthbert scored a very well taken try for the visitors.
The second and final Test will be at the Mombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday.
Posted at 10:03 am | 22 comments