The last big weekend of international rugby before the Rugby World Cup, here i.e. my review of the action.
Georgia 15 – 16 Canada
England 21 – 13 Ireland
Georgia 10 – 13 Japan
Wales 23 – 19 Italy
France 19 – 16 Scotland
USA 10 – 47 Australia
Canada 18 – 47 Fiji
Romania 16 – 21 Tonga – added after it was pointed out I missed it
8 from 8, a great finish to my Rugby World Cup picking warm up.
Georgia and Canada kicked things off, Georgia have the better players but were understandably more disjointed. Canada having had more games managed to pull off the much needed win after their poor run of results recently.
Jonny May grabbed an early try for England showing a power side of his game that we haven’t seen before, getting through 2 tackles. Soon afterwards Watson collected a cross field kick to go over for another. Sexton had slotted a penalty in between but it meant that England went into the break 12-3 up. Ireland’s tackling had been poor and England should have put more points away, a more ruthless streak will be needed at the world cup. Ireland came back earl yin the second half but England held them out and two penalties near the end sealed the game. The think that won it for England was their greater ability to break the Irish line, which is a surprise as Ireland’s defence has been strong over the last year or so. The other worrying thing was seeing Murray going off for a head knock. He stayed off but watched the game from the bench where as I think he should have been in a quiet room alloying hie brain to recover. There is still a long way to go on concussion management.
Georgia had their second game of the round against Japan. Japan drew first blood with a penalty but Georgia’s first foray into Japanese territory yielded a try. The ball got moved along the backs and with the winger up the ball was grubbered through. Georgia won the race to touch the ball down. Japan pulled thing snack to 7-6 at half time. In the second half Georgia dropped the ball and whilst Japan managed to scramble kick it they knocked it on over the line. Georgia stretched their lead with a penalty only for a driving maul 3 minutes from time to win it for Japan.
Wales made heavy work of beating Italy who led for much of the game after scoring an intercept try early on. They did respond with a big miss pass to North allowing him to walk over for an easy try. In the second half the boot of Halfpenny and then Bigger punched the Italians and when they did score a try with the last play of the game it wasn’t enough. The big talking points though were the injuries to Webb and Halfpenny who might find their World Cup is over before it’s even started. Two influential players for Wales and we can only hope they make a full and speedy recovery.
Scotland produced another creditable losing performance. They edged ahead in a first half kicking dual to lead 6-9. On the hour mark they retook the lead when a kick into space allowed Seymour to race through for a try. But with time running out France produces a move off the back of a scrum to snatch the win. So not convincing by France and the same old story for Scotland. Also 1st phase moves off the back of scrums are becoming much more common this season as we saw first in Super Rugby and now we are seeing on the international scene.
Australia were poor in the first half but they took advantage of a yellow card to score a try off a disrupted scrum. They then stretched it with an other try from a kick return before the USA were back to full strength. The USA did get a try of their own off a good backs move but there was some poor defending out wide. That left it 10-14 at the break but that’s as good as it got. In the second half the Wallabies ran riot with 5 tries to none. That included a rolling maul and bashing over the line before the backs got involved with a turnover leading to a try, another move off the back of a scrum and the winger going in as the USA tired at the end. The Wallabies will want to improve especially the first half performance for the Rugby World Cup.
Canada opened and closed the round, Fiji just had to much for Canada to contain. Matawalu in particular cut Canada to pieces and grabbed two tries in the first half. The first two tries came off mores from the back of the scrum. Canada did mange to strike back with one score in the first half but were already down 8-30 by half time. In the second half Fiji stretcher their lead before allowing a mini fight back by Canada but they never looked like threatening. The game became scrappy towards the end and an intercept try sealed the deal.
Rugby World Cup Warmups
Leicester Tigers 34 – 55 Argentina
Wasps 19 – 25 Samoa – Added after it was pointed I missed it
There’s a lot of rugby going on but I think that’s the only other warmup game. I didn’t get to see the game so can’t offer any comment.
US Oyonnax 24 – 41 Clermont
Grenoble 41- 15 Section Paloise
La Rochelle 21 – 18 Brive
Agen 30 – 18 Racing Metro 92
Toulouse 37 – 20 Castres
Bordeaux Begles 22 v 24 Montpellier
Stade Francais 13 v 20 Toulon
Clermont and Toulouse continue their unbeaten run to top the table. Toulon register their first win of the season and so every team has won a game.
Connacht Rugby 29 – 23 Newport Gwent Dragons
Edinburgh 16 – 9 Leinster
Ulster 28 – 6 Ospreys
Glasgow Warriors 10 – 16 Scarlets
Munster 18 – 13 Benetton Treviso
Cardiff Blues 61 – 13 Zebre
It’s only the first round and the Blues big win over Zebre puts them top of the table, they would probably like the season to end now.
Blue Bulls 24 – 17 Cheetahs
Sharks 27 – 26 Pumas
Western Province 33 – 15 Griquas
Lions 37 – 21 Eastern Province Kings
A very predictable round with the Lions and Bulls maintaining their unbeaten records and the Kings and Griquas still searching for that first win.
Taranaki 17 – 10 Counties Manukau
Manawatu 7 – 57 Canterbury
Otago 17 – 34 Tasman
Waikato 28 – 50 Auckland
Southland 3 – 53 Wellington
Hawke’s Bay 48 – 32 North Harbour
Northland 7 – 50 Taranaki
Counties Manukau 26 – 37 Bay of Plenty
Tasman top the premiership still just one point clear of Canterbury with both unbeaten. It’s a similar story in the championship with Hawks Bay one point clear of Wellington.
North Harbour Rays 40 – 45 Melbourne Rising
University of Canberra Vikings 58 – 26 Greater Sydney Rams
Sydney Stars 45 – 24 Perth Spirit
Queensland Country 24 – 44 Brisbane City
Brisbane City and Sydney Stars top the table with 3 bonus point wins each but the Vikings are also unbeaten with a game in hand. Perth Spirit are struggling with 3 losses and no losing bonus points.
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