Wednesday, June 18, 2014
A few months back we watched on in horror as Japan made an awful mess of a try at the Hong Kong Sevens. Against the USA at the weekend they did it again, this time with winger Kenki Fukuoka, who lost the ball in an attempt to get between the posts.
While we joke about things like this, Eddie Jones coached Japan are actually on an incredible run of form and they kept that up with a 37-29 victory over the USA Eagles in the Pacific Nations Cup.
Tries were scored by Ryu Koliniasi Holani (two), Fumiaki Tanaka and Akithito Yamada, while fullback Ayumu Goromaru converted all four and kicked three penalties for a 17 point haul. Cam Dolan crossed for the USA while a Blaine Scully hat-trick wasn't enough to beat the Brave Blossoms.
This year the Pacific Nations cup is split into two conferences for the first time ever, with Pool A featuring Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, while Pool B comprises of Japan, Canada and the United States.
In a moment reminiscent of George Gregan on Jeff Wilson, Fukuaka crossed for a try in the 15th minute but took too long to get the ball down as he attempted to get it beneath the posts, and had it slapped out of his hands as USA center Folau Niau made the tackle.
Despite the error early in the game, Japan went on to achieve their ninth straight win.
Posted at 12:43 pm | 24 comments
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
England picked up their first win on tour as they beat the Crusaders 38-7 this morning. The hosts scored their solitary try through replacement Matt Todd, while England scored six as they showed their strength in depth ahead of the third Test.
News of Owen Farrell's medial ligament knee strain this morning meant that a starting spot in the third Test against the All Blacks is up for grabs. Danny Cipriani made a claim for it with a solid 50 minutes against the former Super Rugby champions.
With the score at 26-7 at halftime, the game was pretty much over but the England XV added another two tries through Anthony Watson and Chris Pennell, adding to first half efforts from Joe Gray, Ben Foden, Brad Barritt and Alex Goode. Foden's in particular was very neatly taken.
Injured Farrell will remain with the squad for further treatment but coach Stuart Lancaster has said that he'll narrow down the squad over the 24 hours following the Crusaders game.
"The knee has been scanned and there is a strain there. It's disappointing for Owen as he was desperate to play in the final Test but such is his character that he is already working on his rehab and still contributing to the tour. Fortunately we have three other fly halves to call on."
While the Crusaders were missing some of their All Black stars, it was an impressive run out for an England squad that are testing new combinations and are looking well placed for the home Rugby World Cup next year. Farrell's injury may yet be a blessing in disguise.
Posted at 1:25 pm | 30 comments
South Africa were far too strong for Wales in Durban on Saturday, delivering a clinical performance to give them a 38-16 victory in the first of two Tests. A dominant forward pack and some excellent play out wide led to five tries being scored by the Springboks.
It was a rough build up for South Africa, as key back Frans Steyn pulled out of the squad and there were a few exclusions due to illness and injury, including captain Jean De Villiers. They regrouped well and on his first start, former Junior World Championship star Jan Serfontein was superb.
With the midfield worries patched up - wing JP Pietersen did the job at second center - the forwards bullied the Welsh, who had no answer for their lineout drive and speed at the breakdown.
In the first half they swept Wales aside with relative ease, and with the knockout blow delivered (28-9 at halftime), took the foot off the pedal and made a few errors in the second.
"We struggled to cope with that pace and intensity in the first half," said Warren Gatland.
"By half-time the game had gone away from us already and credit to South Africa for the way they played. I thought [Willie] Le Roux was a pest. He was outstanding and caused us a lot of trouble.
Fullback Le Roux, who made a huge amount of progress last season, had an excellent game.
"Willie is probably the best fullback in the world at the moment," said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. "He was world-class tonight. He didn't set a foot wrong, he was unbelievable under the high ball and those chips were just outstanding.
"He is playing with a lot of confidence and has a license to express himself. I am very happy about his progress since he started on the wing last season. I challenged him to improve his aerial skills and defence last season and he did that very well."
When asked how the Welsh can stop Le Roux in the second Test, backs coach Shaun Edwards joked in today's press conference: "I thought about locking him in the toilet before the game."
Bryan Habana finished well to score twice, while Duane Vermeulen, Le Roux and debutant wing Cornal Hendricks crossed the tryline. Alex Cuthbert scored a very well taken try for the visitors.
The second and final Test will be at the Mombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday.
Posted at 10:03 am | 22 comments
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Canada came agonisingly close to a famous victory over Scotland on Saturday, but had a late penalty reversed due to a controversial sending off. Scotland will be relieved to have won the tour game 19-17 after the home side pushed them all the way.
Both sides scored a try apiece in Toronto, but the Six Nations side failed to take control of the clash as the Canadians stayed in the game right to the death. They could easily have snuck a win too if it weren't for the referee and TMO intervention.
London Irish loose forward Jebb Sinclair made a strong run through the midfield, taking out Ruaridh Jackson in the process, and while play continued and Canada were eventually awarded a kickable penalty, New Zealand referee Mike Fraser called on the TMO to have a look at the incident.
The 18 788 local fans watched on in horror as Fraser judged that Sinclair had led with the elbow, and deserved to be red carded for it. Canada were denied the shot at goal, and had to play the last few minutes with just 14 men.
"For me, it wasn't even a penalty against Sinclair and decisions like these set a dangerous precedent," said former Scotland international Mike Blair in his BBC column. He said that if referees are going to penalise and punish that type of thing, then they need to at least be consistent.
Canada captain Tyler Ardron, who could be heard saying to the referee something like 'It's happened the entire game. How many elbows have we had in the face? What do you have against us?' said post match that they shouldn't have left it that late in the game to go for the win.
"I'm sure that call is what's going to be talked about this week. I don’t think it should have come down to that, we should have closed it out before that, it shouldn't have made a difference."
What do you think of the red card for 'a deliberate elbow to the head'?
Posted at 6:54 pm | 115 comments
New Zealand wrapped up their with England by winning the second Test 28-27 in front of a capacity crowd at the Forsyth Barr stadium in Dunedin on Saturday. The All Blacks retain the Hilary Shield, with one match left to play in Hamilton next weekend.
England started well, scoring the first try of the game through Marland Yarde, but had to wait until the final ten minutes to cross again. New Zealand scored three tries of their own, through Ben Smith, Julian Savea and Ma'a Nonu.
In the first half a breakaway chance for Manu Tuilagi down the right wing could have extended England's early lead, but he wasn't able to break the cover defence, or find a supporting player.
With dominant possession and territory, the All Blacks took their chances and with the score at 28-13 at one stage, the game was out of reach. An injury time try to Chris Ashton - from an excellent Tuilagi offload - added gloss to the final score, but the win was already secured.
"We certainly played better than in the first Test but we needed to because England were a lot better, too," said New Zealand coach Steve Hansen. "It was a great Test match. The ball was thrown around and everyone would have left satisfied with what they saw.
Stuart Lancaster's England side are in a good position ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup, with a good squad system developing. "Scoring three tries in Dunedin is not a bad return so we are moving in the right direction but we didn't quite finish the deal."
Skipper Chris Robshaw said that they'll aim to finish the tour on a high, despite two losses.
"It's a result-based industry and unfortunately we've had two losses and lost the series. But we've got another match to come next week and we're going to come out fighting again."
England play the Crusaders on Tuesday before the final Test in Hamilton on Saturday.
Posted at 10:40 am | 46 comments
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Fiji got their 2014 Pacific Nations Cup defence under way with a convincing 45-17 win over Tonga at Churchill Park in Lautoka earlier today. The defending champions scored six tries and played some excellent rugby, with the backs in particular running riot.
Glasgow Warriors star Nikola Matawalu steered the ship and put the backs in space, allowing the likes of Nemani Nadolo, Watisoni Votu and veteran Sireli Bobo to do what they do best.
Winger Bobo, now 38 years of age believe it or not, scored twice including what was one of the tries of the match. Centre Nadolo, who was given the kicking duties, scored a try of his own and kicked 15 points, while Votu also picked up a brace. Captain Akapusi Qera crossed late in the game too.
With a 24-3 lead at the break Fiji always looked in control of things, and Tonga were only able to cross the whitewash with twenty minutes to go, following a yellow card for wing Votu.
"The Fijians are always dangerous from broken play and you can see today they punished us," said Tongan captain Nili Latu. "We just had no answer. We were here to win and to fight to the end and played well in the second half.
"Last week the Samoans were not as quick and there’s no system on defence that can stop them from broken play. That’s the danger from the Fiji team."
Fiji are joint first round winners after Japan's 34-25 win over Canada last weekend. Samoa, who drew 18-18 with Tonga, beat Italy 15-0 today after five Tusi Pisi penalties proved the difference in the Italian's tour match in Apia. The United States are hosting Japan later today.
Posted at 2:00 pm | 5 comments
Friday, June 13, 2014
It's a great time to be a rugby fan with an absolute overload of quality matches taking place in both recent and upcoming weeks. Attending live is great fun, but the big occasion can get the better of those in the stands. Here's a look at five such moments.
Two of the five clips here are positive in nature, featuring the great craic from the Ireland fans at the Rugby World Cup, and then a Bulls fan that is literally hard to miss. The other three moments of madness, two in particular, will hopefully never be repeated.
Those two were actually featured on RD many years back, so for more details, you can view those in the Related Posts below. There are also a few streaker and fan related moments in there that you may not have seen before, but will probably enjoy.
In fact we've rammed a whole lot in there (below the video), so once you've watched this highly amusing selection from down under, have a browse to see what you'll find.
Some of the crazier moments feature dad's fighting for their sons, a fan drinking a little too much so having to get rid of it the best way possible, and a man invading the pitch to chat to the referee.
Thanks again to Fox Sports and Rugby HQ for the entertaining compilation. You can view more excellent Top 5 videos in our archive for it, aptly named, Top 5 Compilations
Posted at 4:10 pm | 1 comments