Monday, November 25, 2013
Wales picked up a 17-7 win against Tonga in Cardiff on Friday night, but more was expected of them ahead of a meeting with the Wallabies. All the points were scored in the first half, with Owen Williams and Ashley Beck scoring for the hosts.
The tries that Wales did score were nicely taken but the home crowd expected a big second half, but the Tongan's frustrated them and kept them scoreless after their 25th minute conversion.
"It was pretty ugly out there. We knew going into the match how good a side Tonga were and we were not clinical enough, said Man of the Match, lock Luke Charteris.
"A team dogged like this will keep putting us under pressure but we won the game. I should have had two tries but didn't manage to get them," he added.
Charteris will be unavailable for the upcoming Test against Australia as he will be on club duty with Perpignan in France. Team mate James Hook and Bath prop Paul James will also be unable to play.
Coach Warren Gatland said that as far as he knows everyone else will be available. Referring to the match, his 100th Test as a coach, he said that Tonga frustrated Wales.
"I think there was 11 minutes ball in play in first half, which for me was probably the lowest I've ever seen in an international game in a first half.
"And that was kind of the way it was played; re-set after re-set and slowing the game down and stopping. And that made it difficult for us to get some momentum."
"It's an ugly win, but we'll take it. It's frustrating, but there was the ambition there to go and play and put ourselves under pressure to play. We need to be better and more clinical next week."
Posted at 10:06 am | 7 comments
Friday, November 22, 2013
Springbok winger JP Pietersen marked his 50th Test by finishing off a fantastic try and making a thumping hit on Scotland number eight Dave Denton. Pietersen then got a bit overzealous and rubbed Denton's face in the dirt, quite literally.
Some fans and pundits weren’t amused by what he did, saying it was unsportsmanlike and a bit dirty. Others viewed it as simply a bit of gamesmanship, questioning why some are so sensitive in a sport that fundimentally involves getting the better of your opponents physically.
The tackle itself was perfect. It was a rare chance for Scotland but Pietersen ushered Denton towards the touchline then went in and smashed him. It wasn’t the first knock the South African schooled Scotland number eight took, as Fourie Du Preez also levelled him earlier in the game.
To Denton’s credit, in both cases he wasn’t entirely balanced and was there for the taking, and in terms of getting his face shoved into the ground, his non-reaction showed class.
If anything Pietersen let himself down a bit by doing that, a bit like Delon Armitage and George North did when they wagged their fingers at hapless defenders. It's not ideal and crosses the line a little, but the players themelves are aware that the excitement of the moment got the better of them.
The Springboks will be looking for more dominant tackles and performances when they take on France in Paris on Saturday night. They haven't beaten the French in away since 1997, when they won 52-10. The last time the two sides met, in Cape Town in 2010, South Africa won 42-17.
The home side are coming off a solid performance against the All Blacks, where they impressed by nearly sneaking a draw, so will probably fancy their chances of springing an upset.
What was your reaction to the tackle and 'afters' from JP Pietersen?
Posted at 4:46 pm | 78 comments
Thursday, November 21, 2013
While the Wallabies are winning matches again, discipline is costing them as they not only internally banned some of their players, but now centre Tevita Kuridrani has been suspended for five matches for the tip-tackle he made against Ireland at the weekend.
The Wallabies were convincing winners in Dublin but in the last ten minutes Kuridrani was red carded for what could be described as a silly, innocuous lifting tackle. These days the law states that it's a red card, which didn't affect the match, but he will also sit out the rest of the tour.
Kuridrani was charged under Law 10.4(j) which states 'Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst the player's feet are still off the ground such that the player's head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.'
The tackle was deemed to be a mid-range offence (8 weeks). An extra week was added as a deterrent, but it was then reduced by four due to the player's previous good record, and no doubt the fact that he wasn't the only player involved in the tackle.
Barring a successful appeal, he will miss their upcoming matches against Scotland and Wales.
"We put a lot of effort into that, because we thought we had a pretty good case," said coach Ewen McKenzie after the disciplinary hearing, stating that they will probably appeal if they have can.
"We went through it frame by frame for some time. It didn't look great in real time, but when you go through all the elements, there were other people involved in the tackle, we presented a good case I thought but didn't get the outcome we wanted.
"He's available for Super Rugby, that's the upside, but at the same token he's got that sitting on his record, so if there was a next time your starting point is way down the track. I'm fully aware of other situations of guys who've had multiple situations and got lesser outcomes.
"I feel for him at the moment. You look at like for like, that was part of our case, some of the other judgements that have been passed down," he added.
Wallaby team to face Scotland:
15 Israel Folau, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Christian Leali'ifano, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nic White, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Bernard Foley.
Do you think a five week ban is a fair ruling, or was the Red Card sufficient?
Posted at 10:28 am | 46 comments
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
RWC 2011 winning captain Richie McCaw handed over the Webb Ellis Cup to Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset during an official trophy handover ceremony in Dublin earlier this week. The trophy will be used for promotions ahead of the 2015 RWC.
McCaw held aloft the Cup just over two years ago at Eden Park after the All Blacks beat France 8-7 to end a 24-year wait for a second RWC success and in the two years since the trophy has toured New Zealand and allowed thousands of fans to get up close to it.
Last year the Great Rugby Road Trip took the Webb Ellis Cup to 41 towns and cities from the far north to the deep south of the country.
The Cup recently embarked on another epic journey with Rugby World Cup 2015 Official Logistics Partner DHL, leaving New Zealand and stopping off in the three other countries to have lifted to trophy before arriving in Ireland on Sunday.
"It is a funny old thing to hand it back, but I think every time I see the Cup I always get reminded of the amount of energy and what you have got to put in to winning the thing," McCaw said.
"Looking forward to 2015 it will take the same amount of that type of work and attitude and everything coming together and you have got to be prepared to do that if you want to win it again.
"Having to hand it back I think that has probably been a reminder to myself what happens in two years' time as a lot of work needs to go in again," he added.
Posted at 1:15 pm | 2 comments
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
South Africa scored four tries to nil as they beat Scotland 28-0 at a wet Murrayfield Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Fullback Willie Le Roux has a superb first half, scoring an intercept try then brilliantly setting up 50th Cap winger JP Pietersen.
The Springboks backed up their good win over Wales with a convincing display against Scotland as they mixed their game to dominate up front, then take their chances out wide.
They scored off the lineout drive twice, while fullback Willie Le Roux scored an intercept and showed that he can be lethal in space as he set up a try for experienced winger Pietersen, who finished well.
The pace slowed down in the second half and while Scotland only conceded one try, to replacment prop Coenie Oosthuizen, they had few chances and the Springboks were rarely threatened.
"We will take four tries to nil in a test match any day of the week and I thought we produced a good performance in this match," said coach Heyneke Meyer.
"We knew what to expect from Scotland. They are physical and hard, and we knew they would have worked at halting our driving, so I must give credit to our forwards' coach Johann van Graan for the way he changed our drive set-ups."
Francois Louw picked up an injury after Jim Hamilton cleared him out at a ruck, causing a lengthy delay, and then after what was probably Scotland's best chance, we had another long delay as the TMO struggled to adjudicate on Bryan Habana dotting the ball down over his own tryline.
"We played a quality side and we gave them three clear opportunities in the first half and they took every one of them," said Scotland coach Scott Johnson post match.
"You don't always get that in the game and they were pretty clinical."
Scotland host the Wallabies next, while South Africa travel to Paris to take on France.
Posted at 3:33 pm | 36 comments
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.
Posted at 4:16 pm | 25 comments
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.
Posted at 10:35 am | 14 comments