Sunday, November 10, 2013
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
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.
Posted at 11:38 am | 0 comments
Friday, November 08, 2013
Last week we saw the great try that Steve Thompson scored in the England Legends vs Australia Legends match. Defense wasn't at an all time high, and with scrumhalf Andy Gomarsall all mic'd up, we got to experience this classic moment up close.
The game at Twickenham Stoop last Thursady was played on the anniversary of England's 2003 Rugby World Cup win, with some of their key men coming out to take on a traveling Australian side.
The home team came out tops, and at the heart of the performance was Gomarsall, who played 35 times for his country and was a part of that World Cup winning effort ten years ago.
As part of Sky Sports' coverage he had a mic in his jersey, so after the game a little compilation was put together that gave the viewers a chance to see and hear what he got up to. It included his reaction to the Steve Thompson wonder-try, which you can see on that post.
In this clip we get to see him being his chirpy, scrumhalf self, and a great moment where he's confident he'll get to the runner to make the tackle, but fails miserably.
It's all in good spirits and as you can see afterwards, everyone was all smiles. We should also note that it was played for charity and other than Jason Robinsin and Thompson showing that they're probably borderline close to still playing professionally, the rest were just having a good time.
Posted at 4:09 pm | 3 comments
Thursday, November 07, 2013
France have a testing line-up this November, starting with the All Blacks on Saturday. It's set to be an action packed few weeks for Les Blues, with bruising rugby and plenty of action. Here is a short psych-up preview from the French Rugby Federation.
France will host two of the top three teams in the world, plus Tonga inbetween. The biggest thing on their minds right now though will be the first big challenge, a meeting with the All Blacks, the team they so famously knocked out of the Rugby World Cup in 2007, and met in the final in 2011.
The French have opted for the tried and tested in what could well be a tight contest. They've gone for Morgan Parra at scrumhalf, with form number nine Jonathan Pelissie not getting a shout. Remi Tales will partner Parra, while captain Thierry Dusautoir will provide the usual hard graft up front.
"I picked Morgan for his experience and his kicking skills," Philippe Saint-Andre said. "We will have to be intelligent and focused defensively. There is obviously some fear when you face New Zealand. We should build on that fear, it must not annihilate us. We will need to run and be creative."
The All Blacks have named their most experienced pack in history, with 538 collective caps amongst the forwards. Out wide Cory Jane returns, with Charles Piutau on the other wing. Up front the loose trio of Liam Messam, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read are sure to prove a handful.
"France are one of our great rugby foes and there is a rich history of matches between our two countries, so we are certainly looking forward to this weekend," said coach Steve Hansen.
"We know this weekend's Test won't be easy - the French will come at us with real physicality, passion and something new.
The All Blacks will be wearing their alternate white strip, with a red poppy embossed on the sleeve to mark Armistice Day (November 11), the anniversary of the end of hostilities of World War 1. The last Test between the two sides in Paris was in 2006.
Brice Dulin, Yoann Huget, Florian Fritz, Wesley Fofana, Maxime Médard, Remi Tales, Morgan Parra; Yannick Forestier, Benjamin Kayser, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Papé, Yoann Maestri, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Wenceslas Lauret, Damian Chouly Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Vincent Debaty, Rabah Slimani, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Antonie Claassen, Jean-Marc Doussain, Camille Lopez, Gael Fickou
New Zealand team:
Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Charles Piutau, Daniel Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (c), Liam Messam, Samuel Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock Replacements: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Steven Luatua, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Ryan Crotty
Posted at 3:56 pm | 20 comments
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
Following England's win over the Wallabies, this week's O2 Inside Line analysis the victory, takes you behind the scenes with a glimpse inside the gym and at training, and looks ahead to the Test with Argentina this coming weekend.
Sky Sports' Alex Payne steps up to host this episode of a new look O2 Inside Line, giving England fans an exclusive angle on life inside the camp.
Mike Brown and Owen Farrell do a bit of Player Analysis, while Gloucester and England teammates Ben Morgan and Freddie Burns have a chat about some of the off-field goings on, including gaming.
Chris Robshaw touches on life in the gym with Player Cam at Pennyhill Park, and then we learn more about British & Irish Lions and England Strength and Conditioning coach Paul 'Bobby' Stridgeon, who reveals that he competed for his country in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games.
While the teams haven't yet been announced, reports suggest that Christian Wade could come in on the wing, replacing either Marland Yarde or Chris Ashton.
15 Mike Brown, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Lee Dickson, 1 Joe Marler, 2 Dylan Hartley, 3 David Wilson, 4 Joe Launchbury, 5 Courtney Lawes, 6 Tom Wood, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 8 Billy Vunipola
Replacements 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Alex Goode
Posted at 5:37 pm | 4 comments
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Canada hosted the New Zealand Maori All Blacks on Sunday as part of the latter's tour of North America. Despite Canada scoring first, the visitors scored six tries to win 40-15 in front of over 20 000 fans in Toronto.
Halfback Jamison Gibson-Park scored twice after a late switch to the starting lineup after Piri Weepu was ruled out with a knee injury shortly before kickoff (but still led the Haka).
Weepu has since returned home, as has hooker Hika Elliot, who picked up a neck injury midway through the first half. Tasman hooker Quentin MacDonald will replace Elliot, while Wellington halfback Chris Smylie will come in for Weepu.
Canada were expected to play a tighter game but surprised the Maori side by spreading the ball at every opportunity, and managed to score early on. They couldn't maintain it though.
"When they got an opportunity, they converted it. When we got an opportunity, we didn't quite nail it,'' said Canada coach Kieran Crowley, whose team now heads to Europe to meet Georgia, Romania and Portugal. The Maori team will play the United States in Philadelphia next weekend.
The official highlights below cover the Haka, some of the chances and all the tries
Posted at 1:30 pm | 18 comments
Monday, November 04, 2013
New Zealand continued their unbeaten run this year with a comprehensive 54-6 victory over a competitive Japan side in Tokyo on Saturday. The visitors eased into the match and in typical All Blacks fashion, wore down their opponents then piled on the points.
Japan, who host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, looked an improved outfit as they competed well in the opening half hour. It took the All Blacks ten minutes to score their first try, through Charles Piutau.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen felt that his side weren't up to scratch, and demanded more.
"I'm disappointed with some of the players and I'll tell them. They had to get up for a game we were expected to win and some didn't manage to do that.
"We got caught occasionally trying to play Japan's game, which they play better than we do, a helter-skelter game. There were some lessons to be learned. But we scored eight tries so we can't grumble too much," Hansen added
The home crowd of 26 000 appeared pleased with the 28-6 halftime score. In 1995 when the two sides met the final score was 145-17, and in 2011 it was 83-7, so by the time the final whistle blew at 54-6, progress seemed to have been made.
That said, it was a changed, somewhat experimental New Zealand side ahead of their European tour. They play France this coming weekend in Paris, then England and Ireland on consecutive weekends.
"I don't think it's going to take too much to change the mindset for Paris. Next week is going to be a hell of a match so it won't take much to turn the screws," said skipper Richie McCaw.
Below are highlights from the match and following the Live Stream from Saturday, you can watch the full match replay here (geo-blocked in some territories).
Posted at 6:05 pm | 0 comments