Thursday, July 23, 2015
Powerfully built Fijian centre Levani Botia created this excellent try against Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup in Suva at the weekend. His barnstorming run, and subsequent quality play with Waisea Nayacalevu, led to a well taken try by Henry Seniloli.
Hale T-Pole and Taniela Moa, who made the kick that didn't find touch, were no match for his strong run, which played a part in Fiji's 30-22 victory in the opening round of the tournament.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Nick Cummins has been in the USA this week to promote the Wallabies fixture against the USA Eagles in Chicago on September 5th. This live TV interview didn't go all to plan, as the host introduced Cummins as the Honey Bear, rather than the fierce Honey Badger.
"Nick Cummins, aka the Honey Bear, one of the best nicknames in all of sports," he said.
Cummins and scrumhalf Nic White laughed it off and rather than correct the mistake, they waited until the reporter realised himself, a little later on in the interview. They were also asked to show off some moves, which they handled well despite being asked to 'do some Harlem Globetrotters for us'.
Cummins also took part in another chat a few days back, where he was up to his usual mischief, confusing hosts with his Auslingo, and bouncing around like a Kangaroo.
Cummins and White have been recalled to the Wallabies squad for the upcoming Test against Argentina, slotting in as injury replacements for Rob Horne and Will Genia.
You can view the full Honey Bear interview on page two
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Samoa edged the USA Eagles 21-16 in an entertaining Pacific Nations Cup match in San Jose, surviving a strong second half comeback. Alesana Tuilagi was his usual menacing self, while Vavae Tuilagi, the 6th Tuilagi brother, made his debut.
Samoa scored all 21 points in the first half, with winger Alesana Tuilagi crossing for a well taken try after some neat footwork from fullback Ahsee Tuala set him up. He then turned provider with an excellent crosskick for Tuala following a great break up field.
The hosts, buoyd in front of a crowd 10,000 strong, pushed hard for their first win against Samoa in four attempts, and came close thanks to a 74th minute try by Titi Lamositele.
The Tuilagi family will be proud to have fielded yet another brother in Test rugby, the 6th, as French ProD2 player Vavae made his debut. He played at number eight, following in the footsteps of Samoan legend Henry, who clearly taught him a thing or two about big carries.
Vavae was with Leicester Tigers, as well as Narbonne, but now plays for US Carcassonne.
He and Alesana were both part of what would have been a memorable try, were it not for a courageous chase and hit by USA Sevens star, Danny Barrett. While there were questions asked about the legality of the try, referee JP Doyle brushed it off saying there was no TMO.
The Pacific Nations Cup runs from 18 July to 3 August with teams drawn in two pools of three in a round-robin competition, played at venues in Fiji, USA and Canada.
View the Alesana Tuilagi and Ahsee Tuala tries (on page two)
The New Zealand Barbarians handed the Maori All Blacks their first home defeat in 12 years as they came up trumps 34-17 in Auckland. The weather conditions weren't conducive to a free-flowing match, but in the last ten minutes the Barbarians brought back an old classic.
The Maori All Blacks had an unbeaten record that spanned 19 matches and stretched back to 2003, but with just four days to prepare, the New Zealand Barbarians managed to end that run of form, and pull together some fancy moves in the process.
With the game in control and the victory theirs, they brought out 'The Wall' with just four minutes left in the match. Big Ben Tameifuna flew through the middle and came within millimeters of scoring a famous try, only to be denied as it was ruled that he was short.
So two minutes later when they got another penalty, a variation of The Wall came out, and it resulted in a fantastic try, thanks in part to a sensational offload from Richard Buckman.
The Barbarians scored five tries in total through Blake Gibson, Mitchell Drummond, Seta Tamanivalu, Patrick Osborne, Tom Taylor.
This old school move has been used many times in the past, not always with success and often a cause of controversy around the deception and the laws of the game.
In 2007 we posted a great clip of Sale Sharks having success with the Wall, when Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe scored the classic set piece try.
View 'The Wall' set pieces below, and you can view the full highlights on page two
Sunday, July 19, 2015
The Wallabies came from behind to win in Brisbane after the Springboks had tried to run the clock down with a lead and thirty seconds remaining. A penalty followed before Tevita Kuridrani scraped the turf to score a famous winning try and claim a 24-20 victory.
The visitors had led the game and looked comfortable and on track for a win around 60 minutes, but injuries and poor replacement management contributed to their demise at the hands of a determined Wallaby outfit, who claimed the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate.
The Springboks had the game in control following well taken tries by debutant Jessie Kriel and lock Eben Etzebeth, and after leading 20-10 with ten minutes left, a Michael Hooper try gave the Wallabies hope. At 20-17 with little time left and in control of possession, the Boks failed to run down the clock.
A penalty prompted a kick to the corner, before powerful centre Kuridrani scraped the ball on the tryline, despite the best efforts of Schalk Burger, who had a solid game at eighthman.
"We're often reminded that we're sixth in the world and South Africa was number two, so for us to get away with the win. I'm really proud of that," said Wallaby coach Michael Cheika.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer spoke of the pain of losing at the death again in Australia, but said they will take valuable lessons from what went wrong in Brisbane.
"It's heart-breaking to lose like that for a second year running in Australia, but we simply can’t dwell on it and have to take some harsh but valuable lessons to heart. Losing our captain early was tough and we finished the match with eight players who were playing in their 10th Test or fewer than that. It's not an excuse – we will all be better for it and we will have to look at ways to overcome this.
"We probably lacked some experience at the end when we needed to close the match, but we've said from the word go this season that we wanted to use our five matches in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup to get ready," explained Meyer.
Former Springbok and Italy coach Nick Mallett, now a pundit with Superport in South Africa, warned of the dangers of running down the clock late in the game.
"You have to be very careful to play out the clock by using your forwards in little pods off the loose scrums because northern hemisphere refs don't like it and they look to the side with the ball and their players for sealing off the ball, and that's exactly what happened," Mallett said.
"Schalk did his absolute best to get his hand under the ball, but there is a milli-second there where the ball touches the line. I think the TMO and the referee handled it as well as they possibly could. It was very difficult to see initially whether or not he got it down, but just the point of the ball goes down and just touches the ground."
Updated video: Below is a match recap, and Wallabies injuries update.
Saturday, July 18, 2015
The All Blacks touring squad to face South Africa next weekend has been selected following their convincing 39-18 victory over Argentina in the opening Rugby Championship 2015 match. It was New Zealand's 37th straight victory on home soil.
Argentina didn't let the game get away from them entirely after the home side looked control in the second half. Hooker, and skipper, Agustin Creevy scored two tries from lineout drives, but it wasn't enough to stop the composed organisation of the All Blacks.
On the occasion of the last ever home match for Dan Carter and Richie McCaw, the world champs scored five tries, with captain fantastic himself scoring the first.
There were positive signs as debutant Waisake Naholo had a strong showing, but then limped off injured. It's since been confirmed that he will be out contention for the World Cup.
"We are all a bit shocked about it because he was weight-bearing on it and pretty good," coach Steve Hansen said of the Highlanders flyer. "But he got back here last night and got really sore, so the doctor thought he better have it scanned. And in the scan there is a very fine crack in it [the bone].
"It just means three months out. There is no displacement which is good. If we get him right and we do need an outside back replacement, he will be fit and ready to go in the middle of October."
As a result, he was not chosen in the travelling squad heading to South Africa.
The travelling squad is as follows:
Hookers: Dane Coles, Keven Mealamu and Codie Taylor
Props: Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala and Tony Woodcock
Locks: James Broadhurst, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano and Samuel Whitelock
Loose forwards: Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Liam Messam, Kieran Read and Victor Vito
Halfbacks: Andy Ellis, TJ Perenara and Aaron Smith
First five–eighths: Beauden Barrett, Colin Slade and Lima Sopoaga
Midfielders: Ryan Crotty, Malakai Fekitoa, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith
Outside backs: Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea and Ben Smith
Friday, July 17, 2015
Australia host South Africa on Saturday as Matt Giteau returns for the Wallabies after a four-year absence. Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Tevita Kuridrani also return to the starting lineup. Here's a look at some facts between the two sides and an interview with Giteau himself.
Giteau will earn his 93rd Test cap at the Suncorp stadium while Genia and Cooper start together for the first time since 2013.
Australia will have it tough though as they have lost four out of the last five meetings against South Africa, with the Springboks winning by 18 points or more in all those four victories. They have won just one game in their last seven, against Wales in November.
Injuries have meant that South Africa have had to have a reshuffle. Schalk Burger starts at 8 in place of Duane Vermuelen, while Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel, making his Test debut, start at 12 and 13 respectively.
Handre Pollard, the African's top scorer in last year's Championship with 43, gets the nod at flyhalf, while top tackler Marcell Coetzee starts at openside and Willie le Roux, who made the most metres for his country with 455, starts at fullback despite a hit-and-miss season.
Kick off: Saturday 18 July, 20:05 local, 10:05 GMT, 11:05 BST.
15. Israel Folau, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Matt Giteau, 11. Rob Horne, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 8. Scott Higginbotham, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Rob Simmons, 4. Will Skelton, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. Stephen Moore (c), 1. James Slipper.
Replacements: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Greg Holmes, 19. James Horwill, 20. David Pocock, 21. Nick Phipps, 22. Matt Toomua, 23. Drew Mitchell.
South Africa team:
15. Willie le Roux, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Handre Pollard, 9. Ruan Pienaar vc, 8. Schalk Burger , 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5. Victor Matfield (c), 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck. du Plessis , 1. Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17. Heinke van der Merwe, 18. Frans Malherbe, 19. Lood de Jager, 20. Oupa Mohoje, 21. Cobus Reinach , 22. Pat Lambie, 23. Lwazi Mvovo.