Monday, November 18, 2013
The Wallabies picked up their first back-to-back wins of the year after a 32-15 victory over Ireland in Dublin on Saturday. Quade Cooper was excellent for the visitors, scoring 17 points in total, including one of Australia's four tries.
Having had a tough year that included a Lions series loss, poor Rugby Championship and an opening tour match defeat to England, the Wallabies have bounced back with a strong win over Italy, and now this convincing victory over Ireland, who would have fancied their chances.
Flanker Michael Hooper put in a Man of the Match performance, scoring two of his teams tries.
"They were my first Test tries so a good night for me," said Hooper post match.
"Back-to-back wins are terrific and something we have been working towards. Now we have to build further on it in next week's game against the Scots."
Ireland lost Lions flyhalf Jonny Sexton at halftime to a hamstring injury, perhaps changing the flow of things as the Wallabies dominated the second half and pulled away on the scoreboard.
"I felt we had fought our way back into the game at half-time," said Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. "Losing Sexton didn't help. Madigan fought really hard but unfortunately the result is what it is."
Things ended on a bit of a sour note as Tevita Kuridrani was sent off for a dangerous spear tackle in the closing minutes. Disciplinary matters were further compounded today with the news that six Wallabies have been handed a one match ban for drinking in the build up to the match.
Nine other players received warnings as more than half of the 32-man squad were out drinking in Dublin on Tuesday night, with festivities going well into Wednesday morning.
"We're setting up the right behaviours and setting the right standards to be competitive at the World Cup and obviously we need to be presenting the right image," said coach Ewen McKenzie.
Ireland host the All Blacks next weekend, while Australia have a meeting with Scotland.
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Wales put last weekend's loss to South Africa behind them as they beat Argentina 40-6 to win their first Autumn International in four years. They scored four tries as Argentina looked out of sorts and struggled to hold out the Six Nations champions.
Scrumhalf Mike Phillips got things underway with a long range intercept try, before he set up George North with an excellent inside ball that the fellow Lions back finished off well. Number eight Toby Faletau got on the end of a lovely move, while Ken Owens rumbled over from close range.
Leigh Halfpenny kicked eight out of nine attempts on a day that pleased coach Warren Gatland.
"There were a few things, like some opportunities we missed, and that is ten or 15 points, but you are always looking for the perfect performance," he said.
Leading 23-3 at the break, the win appeared to be in the bag and all Argentina could muster was another penalty to flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez.
"We got the buffer and the lead, but what was pleasing was that players saw the chance to play what was in front of them. Players moving the ball from their own 22 or goal line, that is what we are trying to develop.
"We created lots of chances, but a couple of times the final pass might have seen us score a couple of more points. I have to be satisfied, with the few injuries we have had, but we have adapted to that," Gatland added.
Debutant Cory Allen dislocated his shoulder and will be out for some time, while Scott Williams suffered toe ligament damage. Scarlets prop Rob Evans has joined the squad ahead of Wales' next game, against Tonga on Friday night. They then face the in form Wallabies.
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Sunday, November 17, 2013
France and Tonga each had a player red carded following a punch-up at the beginning of the second half of what was an ill-tempered game in Le Havre. France came out 38-18 victors, avenging the 19-14 defeat to Tonga in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
France scored four tries to two and had the boot of Morgan Parra to slot two conversions and four penalties. Despite the comfortable win, France will need to go up a notch next weekend when they face the Springboks. Captain Thierry Dusautoir was satisfied with the result however.
"It's pleasing. We've erased what happened at the World Cup and we can move on to something else," he said. "We're very happy but the black mark was losing Yoann (Maestri red card)."
Shortly before halftime Taniela Moa was yellow carded for elbowing hooker Dimitri Szarzewski, and France scored from the resultant scrum. They went into the break with a 21-6 lead.
Yoann Maestri and Sona Taumalolo then got in a tangle from the second half restart as a bit of contact led to punches being thrown, and a number of players joining in.
Referee Glen Jackson, upon referral with his touch judges and the TMO's TV replay, felt that two red cards was the fairest way of dealing with it. Maestri was clearly dejected, and probably felt pretty hard done by as he appeared to take the first punch on the chin before retaliating.
We'll get highlights from the match, and the other big ones this weekend, archived soon too.
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England weren't able to repeat the heroics of a year ago but they did put up a good fight as New Zealand won yet another away match in 2013. The 30-22 victory extended the All Blacks' undefeated run on the occasion of flyhalf Dan Carter's 100th Test cap.
Julian Savea scored twice and Kieran Read once as the AB's outscored the hosts three tries to one. England lost at home for the first time in seven games, but will take heart from the effort, and what they have achived in their last three matches.
"We are deeply disappointed having put ourselves in position at 22-20 but I'm proud of the effort," England head coach Stuart Lancaster said post match.
"We had a lot of young players, some new combinations, a lot of experienced players missing, and we didn't get off to the best of starts. Being 17-3 down to the All Blacks is not where you want to be but we kept our composure, we kept building our score.
"But you know against New Zealand one error can present them an opportunity that they might take and that's what happened. We've had two wins over southern hemisphere teams and pushed another, who have won every game this year, very close.
"We are building a squad, building depth, which is what we want - but that doesn't mean we don't have a desperately disappointed dressing room," he added.
Carter limped off in the first quarter of his 100th Test match but Aaron Cruden came on to steer the ship and in the end they managed to edge ahead and hang on fairly comfortably.
"It was a hell of a Test match, you had two committed teams going at it. We're very happy to come away with the win," said All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.
Read and Ma'a Nonu both provided outstanding offloads for Savea's two tries, while Israel Dagg set Read up beautifully for his. Owen Farrell kicked 17 points for England, who will be pleased with their overall Autumn International results after having beaten Australia and Argentina previously.
New Zealand head to Dublin next weekend to take on Ireland, who lost to the Wallabies yesterday.
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Friday, November 15, 2013
Last weekend Bath beat Sale Sharks 27-20 in the opening round of the LV= Cup after a dramatic late try by Dave Atwood, sparking scenes of celebration amongst players and fans. Unfortunately one player, Dominic Day, found it all too much for his tired legs.
They take on Exeter Chiefs this weekend in the same tournament, but during the week the squad took time out to have another look at Day's antics.
The lock was in support as the try was scored, so decided to go for the old knee slide, only to find that he was struck down with cramp and had to keel over while everyone celebrated around him.
A few clips of it hit social media this week, and as you can see above, it was also shared by squad member Chris Cook on Instagram (hence the huge video).
Hooker Ross Batty told the Bath Chronicle that Welshman Day has taken a fair bit of abuse for it.
"I've seen the video and it’s absolutely priceless. He’s come in for some savage stick, which has been fantastic. You can’t do that sort of thing and not get hammered about it," said Batty.
"It got played over the team meeting on Wednesday and it’s interesting to see a man of that size go down in slow-mo. It was very enjoyable.
"The boys decided to leave him there in his misery, which was perfect. If I’d been on the pitch I’d have definitely left him where he was too – in his own mess on the floor at everyone’s feet.
"It was comedy genius. I think he will have learnt from his behaviour after that," he added.
*Technical Note: The video is from instagram. If you are viewing on a mobile or older browser and it doesn't work, try viewing Chris Cook's account directly, or changing/updating your browser.
Posted at 3:17 pm | 4 comments
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Georgia upset Canada in Tbilisi last weekend, winning 19-15 but all everyone has been speaking about since was this wild fight. You may have seen some of it already, but here's a slightly better version and of course, it is now archived in Big Hits & Dirty Play.
Over 15000 fans were on hand at the National Stadium to witness Georgia beating Canada for the second time ever, tying up their record of having each won twice against one another.
The Lelos haven't lost at their National Stadium fortress in ten years. Their last defeat at the intimidating ground was against Romania in 2003, and before that to the same team in 2000.
Shortly before halftime chaos erupted as flanker Viktor Kolelishvili high-tackled flyhalf Liam Underwood, which Canada's Tyler Ardron took exception to, and the fists started flying.
Mamuke Gorgodze, known as one of the hardest men in world rugby, could be seen apologising to referee Lourens van der Merwe for the tackle but as soon as he saw what was going on, he set off.
Everyone joined in, and when it was all over, both Kolelishvili and Ardron were red carded.
"We won the match but I am not completely satisfied. We made a lot of mistakes in the first half. We could have played better," said Milton Haig, Georgian national team head coach.
"As for the incident in the first half, I know, Georgians are fighters but rugby lovers would not like it. It does not happen at international level. We must learn how to be patient and if Viktor had been patient, perhaps, he would have (only) been sin-binned."
Canada dropped a place in the world rankings from 14th to 15th, while Georgia gained 1.2 points but are still in 16th position. They'll earn 0.30 points if they beat the USA this coming weekend.
Posted at 12:00 pm | 57 comments
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
England face their toughest Test of the year this coming weekend as New Zealand are back in town and looking to avenge last years' defeat. This week's O2 Inside Line previews the game and gives you another behind the scenes look in the England camp.
Following victory over Argentina, England have been preparing for the big clash with unbeaten New Zealand. The home side won a year ago, but doing the same again will be a mammoth task.
"We have to compete with these teams every time we step out on the field," said Owen Farrell.
"They are No.1 in the world and that is where we want to get to. They have been setting the standard for a long time. We have to make sure, if we want to be up there, that we do the same.
"Last year is irrelevant. We have to make sure we are a team getting better," he added.
In this week's O2 Inside Line Alex Payne returns as host and Joe Launchbury and David Wilson give some technical analysis on where they can improve, while Danny Care and Joe Marler go through a banter-filled session of Team Mates. We also learn a bit about S&C coach Dave 'Tweety' Silvester.
Mike Brown; Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins, Billy Twelvetrees, Ben Foden; Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw (c), Billy Vunipola. Replacements: Tom Youngs, Matt Mullan, David Wilson, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Alex Goode.
Israel Dagg; Charles Piutau, Ben Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Dan Carter, Aaron Smith; Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Richie McCaw (c), Kieran Read. Replacements: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Luke Romano, Steven Luatua, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Ryan Crotty.
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