Tuesday, August 18, 2015
The Springboks bounced back from their loss to Argentina a week earlier with a convincing 26-12 win away from home at a packed Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires on Saturday. The visitors scored two tries, both of which you can see here below if you missed the game.
Pat Lambie, who came in for a somewhat out of form Handre Pollard, ran the show from flyhalf, kicking two conversions, three penalties and a drop goal, while Bryan Habana and Lwazi Mvovo scored well taken tries (see them below).
Argentina were bullish in contact again, making some really good low tackles, but with changes in selection and clearly mindshift too, the Springboks looked in control throughout.
Except perhaps for the very first minute of the game, when hat-trick hero Juan Imhoff came within inches of scoring another try, but lock Eben Etzebeth galloped back to knock him out.
"This is a very harsh environment to play in and it's very tough every time you come here,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. "They (Argentina) were on a high after beating us last weekend and we were under pressure all week, but this is the type of game we can expect at the Rugby World Cup and I'm very proud of the players.
"I thought we played tactically very well. We came close against Australia and New Zealand, when we played more rugby, but we adapted tactically very well here.
"I'm also very proud that we didn't concede a try, away from home. A lot of players put up their hands and came through today. We know our performance last week was not good enough, but today I’m very relieved and very proud.
"We will put in a couple of weeks of very hard training now and then cut back before the Rugby World Cup. With a number of top players coming back, I’m very positive and I know we will be able to pick a very strong squad."
The victory didn't improve South Africa's ranking points, where they sit in the unfamiliar position of fifth following losses to Australia, New Zealand and last week, Argentina.
Argentina vs South Africa Highlights - Buenos Aires
SA's win over Argentina in Buenos AiresPosted by Great Rugby Videos on Monday, August 17, 2015
Monday, August 17, 2015
England scored three top quality tries as they beat France 19-14 in their Rugby World Cup warmup match at Twickenham on Saturday. Anthony Watson scored a brace, while Sam Burgess had an impressive debut, despite being yellow carded.
Henry Slade and former League star Burgess formed a midfield partnership, both making their debuts but contributing to some well worked tries, particularly the second for Watson.
The first was more of an individual effort, with the Bath flyer standing up his opposition number and rounding him for a brilliant wingers try.
By the time Jonny May scored in the second half, England had impressed in the warmup game that will give them some confidence going into their next meeting with France, who themselves will look to get combinations right and build on some of the positives from Twickenham.
England had two players sinbinned as first Burgess, then Calum Clark, were shown yellow.
Fulgence Ouedraogo powered over for a try for France, but it wasn't enough to take the win.
"We are disappointed because we came here to win. We had our chances and we had a lot of pressure on their line. But we did not finish them off as well as we should have," said Ouedraogo post match.
England Skipper Tom Wood said that the victory was satisfying while challenging.
"It's good to start the three warm-up games with a win, especially at Twickenham. We knew France would come looking to give us plenty of problems and it was as tough as I thought it would be."
The two sides meet again in Paris next weekend, where France will hope to build momentum going into a World Cup that sees them up against Ireland, Italy, Canada and Romania in Pool D.
Ireland secured their second World Cup warm-up victory in as many weeks after a hard-fought 28-22 victory over an experimental Scotland on Saturday. The hosts' out-scored their opponents by four tries to three as Luke Fitzgerald's late touchdown proved the only difference between the sides.
Ireland took the lead through a Chris Henry try after 14 minutes but Vern Cotter's men fought back on the half hour mark when flanker Blair Cowan finished a prolonged period of pressure in the Irish half. The score actually stayed at 7-7 until shortly after half-time.
Scrum-half and Captain Henry Pyrgos then darted over from short range to score the visitors' second try to take a surprise lead after 43 minutes. The game swung to-and-fro all day and Ireland re-took the lead with two tries in quick succession. First hooker Sean Cronin barged over after a pulverising rolling maul, leaving the Scottish defence hapless on their own line.
Then, an incisive inside ball from Iain Madigan put Simon Zebo into enough space to waltz through would-be Scottish tacklers and cruise under the posts for the home side's third try. Scotland would not be floored by the latest blow delivered by the 2nd-ranked team in the world and fought back through a well taken Peter Horne try.
Into the closing stages, neither side had done quite enough to seize hold of the match and it took another moment of Madigan genius to finally give Ireland the conduit. A sublimely weighted cross-field kick sat up beautifully for the on-coming Fitzgerald, who, taking the ball at pace, was no match for the covering Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.
Madigan converted and Ireland saw the match out till the end.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt praised the character of his side to dig out the victory, particularly having come from behind to do so. "It was a test match and we were tested all day. We fell behind behind a few times and had to show a bit of character when we slipped behind."
As for Cotter, the Kiwi appreciated that his team are making progress but that further improvements are needed before September's competition.
"I think there were some good things and of course some things we need to work on. The players intentions were good at times but we let Ireland score a few easy tries. We still haven't been to shift the ball as quickly from line outs. We are hoping to fix these things throughout the next few weeks."
Sunday, August 16, 2015
The All Blacks put last week's defeat at the hands of the Wallabies well and truly behind them as they turned things on in emphatic fashion at Eden Park in Auckland, winning 41-13 to hold on to the Bledisloe Cup for yet another year. They have held the trophy since 2003.
Australia came out the blocks looking like they had a realistic chance of a fortress Eden Park upset, but midway through the first half the game changed complexion, and it was one way traffic from there on.
Dane Coles scored a thrilling, length of the field effort that included some vintage Dan Carter running, and a highly impressive step, sprint and fend from the mobile hooker.
There were other moments of brilliance too, with Nehe Milner-Skudder showing his quick feet and brilliant offloading ability, as well as some of the tight forwards combining to set Ma'a Nonu away for one of his two tries on the night.
In the end it was five tries to one, scored by outstanding Israel Folau late in the game, as the All Blacks laid down a marker for anyone looking to challenge them at the Rugby World Cup.
Nonu and Conrad Smith, the long-serving midfield combo, showed that they should be Steve Hansen's first picks, despite the obvious temptation to select Sonny Bill Williams. Such is the depth of New Zealand rugby right now (always..), is that it's a problem he will welcome when planning for his World Cup meetings with Argentina, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia.
As for the Rugby Championship winning Wallabies, this was a lesson that Michael Cheika will need to learn from, as the changes made to the previous week's side simply didn't pay dividends. And Quade Cooper's Eden Park hoodoo continued.
Friday, August 14, 2015
The ITM Cup, New Zealand's two-tier domestic competition, kicked off in Invercargill with Southland and Auckland battling to a 23-23 draw. Above is a quite extraordinary moment from the game, one of the best try-saving tackles you're likely to see this year.
Both sides had chances to snatch the win at the death, but weren't able to make their kicks as first Ash Moeke struck the post a few minutes from time, then Auckland debutant Mitchell Hunt's fulltime kick sailed wide.
Expansive play earlier in the match led to Lolagi Visinia coming incredibly close to scoring a try, first being pulled down by his bootlaces, and then in the process of stretching to score, Southland replacement James Schrader came out of nowhere to scoop up the ball.
It was almost comical, and certainly effective, even if he did possibly ground it himself.
In this latest edition of the Wraparound, the final installment for the year, we see some great bits of play, Wallaby coach Michael Cheika up to no good, and Rod Kafer gets some live TV abuse from his own son. There is also a great big hit from the archives, featuring big Willie O.
View more Wraparound posts in the Plays of the Week section
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Pacific Warriors is a fascinating new documentary that explores the history of the tiny Pacific Island nations of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. It documents their remarkable journies every four years at the Rugby World Cup, when against all odds they take on the rugby giants and at times, not only produce a scare, but even come out on top.
As told by the pacific players themselves, and featuring the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Sir Clive Woodward, Bakkies Botha, Matt Giteau, David Haye and Jason Robinson, their tale is one of the greatest underdog stories in sport.
For the Pacific Islands the game of rugby has become the modern expression of their traditional warrior spirit. Their lighting fast, brutally physical, high risk style of rugby is legendary, making them fan favourites wherever they play.
The aim of the film is to raise the profile of Pacific rugby prior to the World Cup, and also to get all Tier 1 fans to give them a cheer as their second favourite teams. A significant percentage of profits will go towards Pacific Islands rugby development, and the filmmakers have already managed to fund a two-week training camp for Tonga in Surrey, from early pre-sales.
Having watched the full 2-hour feature, we can tell you that it is just as enjoyable, insightful and hilarious as the great trailer below. It will be available from iTunes in September 2015.