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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Maori All Blacks edge the USA Eagles in exciting clash in Philadelphia

The New Zealand Maori All Blacks held off an impressive United States Eagles side on a brilliant occasion for USA rugby in Philadelphia at the weekend. The Maori All Blacks made it two from two on their North American tour, winning this one 29-19.

The visitors started well as Jamison Gibson-Park scored within a few minutes and gave the impression that it would be a bit of a rout, but the USA side hung in there and mixed it up physically, and actually led 9-7 at halftime due to three penalties from the boot.

Captain Tim Bateman scored early in the second before the USA again clawed their way back and were within seven points with minutes remaining, before Bateman scored again and a late Luke Katene try sealed the win for the touring Maoris.

USA Number Eight Cam Dolan was a star for the homeside, scoring a try and coming close on another occasion, but the experience and guile of the visitors told.

"We started slowly, but we came together and we did what we'd talked about all week," Life University's Dolan said. "All week we'd been saying we'd come out here and hit them. Everyone says Americans are big hitters, with football and all, and I think we proved that. We kept the possession and played a great game."

Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper said the win honoured the proud legacy of past teams.

"They were very physical, very committed and we nearly let them in at the end, but the boys showed plenty of determination to nail the win, so I am really pleased with the overall performance.

"When a group of men unite like that in front of what was an electric crowd, it was really special and a huge highlight for me personally," he added.

The USA now head across eastern europe to take on Georgia, followed by Russia a week later.

Posted at 3:51 pm | 8 comments

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Shirtless Brian Lima leads Samoa in Siva Tau wardance vs Ireland

Brian Lima paid tribute to fellow Samoan legend Peter Fatialofa by leading the traditional Siva Tau challenge against Ireland on Saturday. It was an emotional tribute at the start to the game, following the sudden loss of Fatialofa earlier in the week.

Former team-mate Lima, now defence coach for Samoa, led the troops, barefoot and shirt off in front of a packed Aviva Stadium. Lima and Fatialofa played together in the team that famously upset Wales in Cardiff at the 1991 Rugby World Cup.

"They played together in World Cups. It was just fitting to let Brian lead the Siva Tau," said captain Kahn Fotuali'i, who perhaps should have had a word with the ill-informed commentators prematch.

Unfortunately Samoa weren't able to take it to the Irish, who won the game comfortably 40-9.

"When we found out about Peter’s passing, that brought a bit of fire but we left it on the training paddock," Fotuali'i said. "That was not the way we want to portray our team. Urgency was a key word. And it just wasn’t there.

"It is frustrating after such a special moment of Brian leading our Siva Tau and the passing of Peter." As a result Samoa, who could have jumped to fifth on the world rankings, dropped to eighth.

Following some of the discussions below, we've added the RTE commentary version here

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Posted at 3:14 pm | 53 comments

New Zealand hold off late charge by spirited France side

New Zealand held off a late France surge at the Stade de France, hanging on to maintain their unbeaten record and leave with a 26-19 victory over Les Blues. Winger Charles Piutau scored a try and set up Kieran Read with a brilliant piece of play.

Both Dan Carter and Morgan Parra kicked 14 points for their respective sides, but it was the two tries to one of New Zealand that edged them ahead, withstanding a spirited late French effort.

France had their tails up with a series of scrums in the final minutes, but they couldn't force their way over and snatch a draw. Manager Philippe Saint-Andre felt that it could have been different.

"The players are sad because we had all the ingredients for a victory but we lacked accuracy, especially in the first half when we should have been ahead," he said to reporters post match.

"We have courage and desire, but it's the little details that make the difference. We were good in the scrum, apart from the last one, when we're penalised.

"We have the character. At some point we were 14 points behind and we find the resources to come back in the game and we almost snatched the draw. It shows this team has courage," he added.

France meet Tonga next, while New Zealand have a big meeting with England at Twickenham.

Posted at 8:49 am | 27 comments

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Springboks outmuscle Wales at the Millennium Stadium

The Springboks scored three tries to nil as they beat Six Nations champions Wales 24-15 at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday. The Welsh were hoping to claim their first big Southern Hemisphere scalp in five years, but weren't able to threaten the tryline.

South Africa physically dominated the Welsh, who have beaten them just once in 27 matches.

The home side, who had 11 Lions in their starting lineup, lost players to injury as the Boks showed great patience in defence, and were clinical when the opportunities to score arose. South Africa also had to adjust, with flyhalf Morne Steyn going off with a niggling back spasm fairly early on.

Wales dominated territory and possession, and while the South Africans had to play ten minutes with 14 players due to a yellow card, the home side failed to create try-scoring opportunities.

Leigh Halfpenny kicked all of Wales points, while the Springboks scored tries through Jean De Villiers, Bismarck Du Plessis and Fourie Du Preez, who put in another Man of the Match performance. It was the first time Wales didn't score a try against them in five years, and South Africa's biggest win in Cardiff since 2007.

Referee Alain Rolland was a constant focus and seemed to disrupt the flow of the game, with the scrums at one stage going uncontested after he sent off a prop from each side. He and his assitants also failed to spot a player in front of the kicker for the third South African try.

“We made a huge step up in our defence and we used most of the chances we got our there," said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer post match.

"The experienced players did very well – Wales played great rugby at stages during the second half you but never got the sense there was panic in the side. I was also pleased that we gave opportunities to a couple of youngsters and they all made a difference.

"This team is growing, but we will keep our feet on the ground, remain humble and now start focusing on our next game," he added.

A battered and bruised Wales have had to bring in Scarlets props Samson Lee and Rhodri Jones, as well as Newport Gwent Dragons duo Hallam Amos and Tom Prydie. Eli Walker and Ryhs Patchell have returned to their regions for further treatment, while Jonathan Davies will be out for a while with a pectoral muscle injury that if surgery is required, could keep him out for up to five months.

Adam Jones has a calf strain while Liam Williams took a knock to the head and will be assessed.

"It was brutal from start to finish. South Africa were aggressive in both attack and defence," said hooker Richard Hibbard. "I think the boys stuck to it well and we went toe to toe, but they won in the end. It was frustrating. We went into the game sure we could win it."

South Africa play Scotland at Murrayfield next before heading to Paris to meet France, while Wales will need to lift themselves for what should be another physical encounter, against Argentina.

Posted at 11:05 am | 24 comments

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Wallabies hit back with seven-try win over Italy

The Wallabies bounced back from Twickenham disappointment with a 50-20 seven-try mauling of Italy at the Stadio Olympico. Wing Nick Cummins scored twice as the tourists found their feet to make sure that Italy remained winless against them.

Italy started well with a try to Luke Mclean, but the Wallabies came back strong and put in a good performance ahead of their meeting with Ireland in Dublin next weekend.

"It was a really good scoreboard for us, particularly being 10-0 down - the guys worked through that and even in the end there we showed some character," said Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie.

"We showed some potency in attack and worked hard through the game to score those points. So there was consistency there, and we had to work hard in defence at different times."

Cummins scored his first try just after half an hour, contributing to a 19-10 halftime lead.

In the end Italy scored a late consolation try via new cap, former Springbok and Scotland hooker John Allan's nephew, Tommy Allan, who made his debut for his country of birth.

"After the first half, or at least the first 30 minutes, I saw some quality play from Italy. But we gave away errors cheaply and at the end of the day our defence certainly wasn't up to the job," said Italy coach Jaques Brunel, who lamented the hosts' defensive effort.

Italy host Fiji next weekend, while the Wallabies head to Dublin to face Ireland.

Posted at 7:14 pm | 6 comments

England beat Argentina but frustrate fans ahead of next weekend

England beat Argentina comfortably with a 31-12 win at Twickenham on Saturday, a week out from the much anticipated clash with New Zealand. Fans weren't too happy with the second half showing however, after three tries were scored in the first.

Joe Launchbury, Billy Twelvetrees and Chris Ashton scored in the first half as England turned pressure into points, and Twelvetrees redeemed himself after a poor showing last week.

England led 24-6 at halftime but failed to pile on the points in the second. Ben Morgan gave the fans something to cheer about with a late try though, as Argentina slumped to their seventh loss this year, following a disappointing Rugby Championship.

New Zealand will offer a different challenge altogether, and England coach Stuart Lancaster is fully aware of the task ahead of them, realising that they need to lift their game if they are to compete.

"We know we have got to step up. To beat New Zealand you've got to hit that for 80 minutes," he said. "While I'll be working to improve, I'm not too disappointed with this performance. We know that in any day, in any game, there are momentum changes and momentum swings.

"We've got a lot to build on and there are a lot of positives. We've now won eight of our last nine games and we are moving in the right direction with a young team," he added.

Posted at 12:09 pm | 35 comments

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Through the Eyes of an All Black - November catch up with Nick Evans

This month the All Blacks embark on a three-match overseas tour, facing France, England and Ireland. It's been another demanding year so will they be able to maintain the winning streak? Former Test star Nick Evans shares his thoughts.

We sent Nick Heath along for our monthly catch up with namesake Evans, who kindly shared his views on how his fellow countrymen have done this year, and where they are going forward.

Having completed a gruelling Rugby Championship, and more recently a once off match against 2019 RWC hosts Japan, the European tour is now centre stage, with France in Paris up first.

The clash with England in a few week's time might be in the back of the All Blacks' minds though, as they look to avenge that shock defeat at Twickenham last year.

"There's a massive expectation on this game especially from the New Zealand public back at home," said Evans, who will be there when the two sides meet again. "That hurt 12 months ago. The English side had one of those days where everything they did turned to gold."

Harlequins flyhalf Evans goes on to discuss the ribbing he took for that game, his predictions for the rematch and what it's like for the All Blacks at this time of the season after a long, challenging year. He also talks about the Maori All Blacks tour of North America, and why it's so good for the game.

This feature is brought to you by official partners AIG. Keep an eye on our All Blacks channel, where Nick will join us again soon and all New Zealand related updates get posted.

Posted at 11:38 am | 0 comments

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