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
Sunday, November 03, 2013
England came from behind to beat the Wallabies 20-13 in a scrappy game at Twickenham on Saturday. If the tourists had won the match they would have moved resumed their spot at number three on the world rankings. Instead it's another disappointing loss in 2013.
Mike Brown had a stellar game from fullback for England, claiming Man of the Match with an impressive performance that included some neat touches, runs and some great defence.
Opposite number Israel Folau was dangerous for Australia and although they had led 13-6 at the break, Chris Robshaw scored in the second half, then a fairly controversial Owen Farrell try gave England the win, pleasing coach Stuart Lancaster.
"This time last year the scoreline was the other way around. It is better to have won than lost, that's for sure," he said, also heaping praise on fullback Brown, who he described as outstanding.
"His ability to beat people with his feet and break tackles and the general fight he shows in his game, it's a real important quality we want in the team.
"And I thought Chris and Tom Wood were outstanding. They both led from the front. While they are still relatively new in terms of caps, I thought both of them led the pack very well. Chris scored a good try and was involved right the way through the game, as he always is," Lancaster added.
It was Australia's eighth defeat in eleven Tests this year. The Grand Slam, which was last achieved in 1984, will have to wait for another year. They face Italy next weekend.
"It's hugely disappointing," said Ben Mowen, who replaced James Horwill as captain for this fixture.
"Just after half-time was a real opportunity for us to skip ahead and put pressure on England but we missed a few opportunities and they were extremely urgent.
"When you have that urgency, married up with a few things going your way, they created that momentum and took those two tries, so you've got to give them that respect," he added.
To his credit, Mowen brushed off talk of the second try - where Dylan Hartley appeared to obstruct Stephen Moore and create a channel for Farrell to slip through - being a questionable call.
"It doesn't matter what you feel. The refs decision is the refs decision and we'll always back that."
Posted at 2:18 pm | 62 comments
The England and Australian Legends met for a fun run around at the Twickenhham Stoop on Thursday night in honour of the ten year anniversary of the 2003 Rugby World Cup final. Steve Thompson scored this wonder try, then had a pint or two to celebrate.
A few days between the meeting of the two sides at Twickenham, this game set the mood and as it turns out, the final result was the same, as it was back in Sydney in 2003.
The Aussie side missed a few of the genuine legends that obviously couldn't make the trip across, but it was good to see the likes of Andrew Walker on show. Unfortunately he was partly to blame for the moment of the night however, as Thompson rolled back the years to score this belter.
A former loose forward turned hooker, Thompsons sidestep, acceleration and dummy even impressed Jason Robinson, who was up there in support, and incidentally, had a great night himself. Stirling Morlock wasn't playing, but was sideline and loved every moment of it.
"It's great that the Australian legends came here tonight. A big part of rugby is being fierce competitors on the field and great mates off it," said the former Wallaby captain.
"Rugby is one of those sports where you can have a beer with your opponents afterwards and share a few war stories. This game has given me so many great friendships with people from all walks of life. Tonight was all about raising money for charity and reconnecting with guys who you haven’t seen in a long time.
"It was a fantastic match and the legends set a really high standard - many of them showed they’ve still got the X factor. It was also a pretty nice finish for the home crowd to see Steve Thompson run the length of the pitch, throw a couple of dummies and score in the corner," Mortlock added.
Proceeds from the match, which the England Legends won 17-12, will go to various charities.
Below is a look at the try as well as chats with Thompson, Robinson, Phil Vickery and Andy Gomarsall, who as part of the great coverage on the night, was mic'd up so we could hear him.
Posted at 8:41 am | 8 comments
Thursday, October 31, 2013
The biggest Test this weekend is the clash between old foes England and Australia. It's ten years since the two sides met in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, so with memories of that historic day in mind, it should be a fierce contest. Team news below, with O2 Inside Line.
Both teams were named earlier today, with a surprising change to the Wallabies as coach Ewen McKenzie has taken the captaincy away from James Horwill and has handed it to Ben Mowen.
"I just want James to concentrate on his football. I know what he's capable of and the team needs him at his best," McKenzie, who has named Quade Cooper as vice-captain, said.
For the home side, England coach Stuart Lancaster has selected Lee Dickson at scrumhalf ahead of Lions tourist Ben Youngs, while Joel Tomkins comes into the midfield for his Test debut.
Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury make an exciting second row partnership, while both captain Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood are on the flanks, and young Billy Vunipola gets his first Test start.
"We are looking forward to the challenge of playing Australia - they have made great strides under Ewen McKenzie and their new coaching team and they are formidable opponents," said Lancaster.
Mike Brown, Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins, Billy Twelvetrees, Marland Yarde, Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw (c), Billy Vunipola. Replacements: Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler, David Wilson, Dave Attwood, Ben Morgan, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Ben Foden
Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Sitaleki Timani, James Horwill, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen (c) Replacements: Saia Fainga'a, Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas, Ben McCAlman, Nic White, Christian Leali'ifano, Bernard Foley.
In this first episode of O2 Inside Line for the season, Toby Flood and Alex Goode analyse what happened the last time the two sides met, we get to see a bit of the training that takes place, and some of the players take part in a few quickfire questions.
Posted at 3:13 pm | 14 comments
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
This great moment comes from the Connacht Eagles game against Rotherham Titans at the Sportsground in Galway recently. We were hoping to get hold of longer footage, but have decided to post as is, as it's a wonderful piece of piece of play from a young player.
In Round 2 of the British & Irish Cup, Connacht Eagles trailed 6-12 at the break but thanks to two tries in the second half, scored by Darragh Leader and Eoin Masterson, they found themselves in with a chance of victory.
With 60 seconds left in the match they were behind 24-25, but were awarded a penalty for a scrum infrigement inside their own 10m line. A shot at goal was the only option, so Leader stepped up to place the ball, attempting to steal a few inches in the process.
Watch carefully as he quite comically tries to move the ball forward not once, but twice, as referee Andrew Jackson prevents him from doing so and makes sure it gets placed in the correct spot.
Once settled, 20-year-old Leader confidentaly nailed the monster penalty that cruised through the uprights with meters to spare, and the Eagles won the match 27-25.
The clip comes from the Connacht digital team, not TV, so there is no commentary and it cuts out shortly after the kick unfortunately. Still, what a fantastic match winning kick.
Posted at 4:40 pm | 7 comments
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Aaron Cruden has been through a lot in a very short time. In 2008 he was diagnosed with cancer, then just three years later was playing for the All Blacks in a Rugby World Cup Final. This video documents his story, and also gives you the chance to win lunch with him.
As we first featured four years ago, at just 19-years-old Cruden was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2008, throwing his world into turmoil. The promising flyhalf had to undergo surgery and intensive chemotherapy, putting a sudden halt on his burgeoning rugby career.
Through his positive attitude and the support of loved ones, he came out on top and actually captained the New Zealand under 20 side at their victorious 2009 Junior World Championship. He was later named IRB Junior Player of the Year, and since then his career has soared.
For a long time Dan Carter has been the driving force behind the All Blacks' backline play, and while it looked unlikely that he would ever be replaced, Cruden (and indeed Beauden Barrett) has stepped up to show that the World Champions lack nothing in attack - even when Carter is unavailable.
While many fans may not realise how Cruden got to where he is today, this new video from official partners AIG shows that not all journeys to the top are straight forward. It also serves to create awareness for testicular cancer and the importance of early detection.
AIG, Major Global Sponsor of the All Blacks, offers a Male Cancer Cover Plan that can provide financial help should you be diagnosed with a covered cancer. From as little as £1.99 per month, (£25,000 Standard cover for a man aged 18 to 49) you can be covered for 4 types of Male Cancers, including testicular and prostate cancer. To find out more click here
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Posted at 4:21 pm | 1 comments