Sunday, August 24, 2014
Argentina came within two points of recording their first ever victory over South Africa, but couldn't quite close out a game that they dominated for the most part. It took some substitutions and renewed vigour for the Boks to claim a tense 33-31 victory in Salta.
Everything went right for the home side for about 60 minutes of the game, including a mammoth scrum perforance, before the visiting Springboks found some form and claimed the win, keeping them top of the Rugby Championship table after two rounds.
Going into the match Argentina were ranked a quite hard to believe 12th in the world. A win against the 2nd ranked Springboks would have helped to improve on that significantly.
"I've said it before, but I really think Argentina is a much better team than what their world-ranking shows, and they showed it again today," said captain Jean De Villiers after the match. "We're happy that we could pull it through, but it could've gone either way."
The Springboks led 16-13 at halftime thanks to a Bryan Habana opportunistic try, but it wasn't really a reflection of what went on in the first half. Later in the game, with 20 minutes to go, Argentina led 28-16 with history beckoning, before the visitors went up a gear thanks to a few replacements.
A late penalty from Morne Steyn, on for young Handre Pollard, gave them the lead and the win.
"All credit to Argentina – they've been together for a month and you could see that today as they played some great rugby," said Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, who praised his sides ability to get out of a tricky situation.
"We don't want to say every week that we've shown great character, but we've now won nine out of our last 10 away games and I think the guys have shown that they know how to win. At one stage, we were down and out and the team came back.
"We know there are a lot of areas we have to work on, but we’re still in this competition."
South Africa top the Rugby Championship on eight points from two games, while New Zealand are in second place with seven, following their big win over Australia. The next round of matches takes place in two week's time, with Australia hosting South Africa, and New Zealand hosting Argentina.
Better quality highlights will replace these when possible
Posted at 12:15 pm | 31 comments
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Richie McCaw bounced back from being yellow carded early on to score twice as the All Blacks thumped the Wallabies 51-20 at fortress Eden Park on Saturday. A week after their 12-12 draw the home side went up a notch, or ten, to score six tries.
Australia were in the match for the first quarter, which included a McCaw yellow card, but as he came back on the Wallabies lost Rob Simmons to the bin, and it all went downhill from there.
A penalty-try followed, and then a breakout Julian Savea score after great work from Aaron Cruden, and the Aussies couldn't hault the tide of a ferociously intense All Blacks outing.
"It was a special performance," coach Steve Hansen said of the Bledisloe Cup victory, and result that saw them achieve their highest ever score against the cross-Tasman rivals.
"I sensed that we were going to play a lot better than the week before, because we played so poor the week before and because we trained so very well. We managed to bring our A game tonight."
Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie said that they were outplayed, while skipper Michael Hooper, who scored an excellent try as part of a fightback, said that losing Simmons really cost them.
"We were chasing a lot in that first period before the yellow card which took a toll on us. Then to try and catch up and get back in the game was difficult. They stuffed our offloads and made good metres off us. That took it out of us," he said.
"They got over the advantage line quite easily and then that just means we're chasing our tail. We're running back and they've got class backs to pounce on that."
Flyhalf Cruden, in for injured Dan Carter, converted all the tries and landed three penalties.
Credit: NZAUTV. Better quality highlights will replace these when possible
Posted at 7:50 pm | 23 comments
Friday, August 22, 2014
Kiwis. They're officially mad about rugby. It's a religion over there, and they'll do anything they can to integrate the sport into everyday life. Even if that means sending a fearless skier through some carefully erected goal posts on the top of their ski slopes, wearing a rugby-ball-suit.
Yes, that happened, and the result is this very nicely made advert from Air New Zealand.
Posted at 2:24 pm | 5 comments
Thursday, August 21, 2014
The ITM Cup in New Zealand is only in week one and we've already seen some top quality tries, with this from the Otago another contender for Try of the Season. It's probably not far fetched to say that it could be the best set piece try you see all year.
Otago will take momentum into their Ranfurley Shield Challenge match against Counties Manukau after a solid 28-14 victory over North Harbour in round one. They held the Log 'O Wood for just one week last year, so will be in confident mood as they head to Pukekohe.
Young star Tevita Li scored the opening try of the game for North Harbour, but Otago came back with a dazzling effort themselves off the back of a well rehearsed move.
Some neat passing in the midfield freed up former New Zealand u20 Player Fa'asiu Fuatai, who stepped the last man beautifully before diving over. It was his first of two tries on the day.
Despite scoring what was arguably the try of the game, Tony Brown was critical of missed chances.
"We are always trying to score tries. It looked like we were going to score 10 tries and we only got three. We have to be a bit more clinical and take those try-scoring opportunities," the coach said.
Will we see a better set piece try this season? It's going to have to be helluva good to beat this.
Posted at 3:57 pm | 5 comments
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Yesterday it was confirmed that 39-year-old All Blacks World Cup winner Brad Thorn has signed for Leicester Tigers. The guy who has won just about everything now has an Aviva Premiership title in his sights. Below is a brilliant piece on the great man.
Brad Thorn's story, a lengthy tale, is as fascinating as is his ability to still play top flight, competitive rugby at the age of nearly 40. In fact he'll be that during the season at his new club, the Tigers.
"He will turn 40 during the season but if anyone questions his age or commitment, you wait until you meet him," said Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby, Richard Cockerill, who also described Thorn as 'one of the great all-time rugby players the world has ever seen'.
Thorn has famously won a Rugby World Cup, a Heineken Cup and a Super Rugby title, to name a few. He's also represented Australia at Rugby League, and been a star of the NRL.
"He is a very driven individual. He wants to play in the Premiership and he wants to win the Premiership. He is 39 years old but he wants to play for another season. We look forward to seeing him and bringing that experience into the squad," added Cockerill.
Thorn will be available for Leicester Tigers at the end of September, after having signed a one year deal. He is thought to be an ideal replacement for Steve Mafi, who is moving to the Western Force.
The video below was actually made as a promotion for the Bledisloe Cup, but it gives you some insight into what drives the man, and where he comes from. It's a must watch so please share with your rugby loving friends if you enjoy it.
MORE: Watch Brad Thorn's Building Blocks training videos to see exactly how he manages to stay in such incredible shape for a guy of his, or any age.
Posted at 12:53 pm | 4 comments
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The ITM Cup started with a bang this past weekend, particularly in Invercargill as Southland beat Bay of Plenty 34-23. It was a scrappy game but they saved the best for last, with this wonder try that included a big knock, and a sensational kick.
The first round Championship clash between the two sides didn't offer much to write home about, but it did include a successful first run out for Lima Sopoaga, who scored 19 points on debut.
Steamers flyhalf Dan Hollinshead kept the visitors in the game but it took until the 70th minute for fans to be treated to a rare moment of brilliance, and brute force.
Replacement Willis Halaholo made a barnstorming run, smashing through Teddy Stanaway before Cardiff Vaega pulled a wonder kick out of nowhere to find fullback Junior Ngaluafe.
Poor Stanaway was out before even hitting the turf, so he'll need to watch the highlights reel to see what happened after being poleaxed. For those on hand, it was one of the moments of the night, and is no doubt already a contender for Try of the Season in the ITM Cup.
Sopoaga converted from the touchline, and Stanaway was carried off the field on a stretcher.
Posted at 12:39 pm | 6 comments
Monday, August 18, 2014
South African flyhalf Johan Goosen made his Top 14 debut for Racing Metro against Montpellier in round one of the tournament this past weekend. Goosen came on as a replacement on the wing, but managed to get himself into a position to kick a long distance drop goal, with Jonny Sexton on hand.
Replays showed that the ball more than likely went under the crossbar, but the officials and TMO didn't feel that way, and awarded the three points. It was a pretty decent nudge anyway.
Racing won the game 19-16 after three Sexton penalties, and a converted Alexandre Dumoulin try.
Posted at 2:04 pm | 9 comments