The pools are taking shape and we are learning some of the teams that won’t be gracing the knockout stages. Here is my review of the weekend’s action.
First here is a link to my mid-week review.
Rugby World Cup
New Zealand 43 – 10 Georgia
Samoa 5 – 26 Japan
South Africa 34 – 16 Scotland
England 13 – 33 Australia
Argentina 45 – 16 Tonga
Ireland 16 – 9 Italy
5 from 6, maybe picking England was more heart than head but there are worse sins.
It all started as planned with an early try for the All Blacks. Soon afterwards Dan Carter’s stray boot at a ruck caused a turnover and Georgia were level. Three more tires for the All Blacks and the TBP was wrapped up by the 21st minute. Scoring at point a minute things were looking good but the wheels came off as the All Blacks kept dropping the ball under pressure from the Georgian defence. A try early in the second half calmed the nerves and a couple towards the end meant the scoreline was flattering. Georgia fought hard and earned more friends whilst the All Blacks got the result but need to be tighter.
Japan dominated Samoa with some inventive rugby and ran out to a 20-0 lead by half time. Samoan poor discipline didn’t help with a no hands shoulder charge tackle and to make things worse they got a second for taking the player out in the air. They only gave up one try during this time as Japan’s improved scrum earned a penalty try. In the second half Japan picked up a couple of penalties and to one Samoa consolation try.
South Africa’s resurgence continued with a dominating win over Scotland. In the first half they restricted Scotland to only 1 penalty as they powered themselves to 20 points. An early intercept try got Scotland back into the game. However a yellow card took away any chance they had and South Africa pulled away.
The Australian pack was more dynamic and physical. This led to England losing the breakdown battle and in the first half Australia capitalised with two tries from their supposed kicking fly half. In the second half England managed to apply some pressure and pulled back to within 7 points. But just as they looked like having a chance a kick out on the full was followed up by two tackles at the same time that both could have been yellow carded. Only one was but that was enough as Australia closed out the game with another 13 points.
Tonga scored a wonderful team try to take the lead early but that was as good as it got. The Pumas struck back with 20 points and even though Tonga got another try they trailed 20-13 at halftime. After trading penalties the Argentines kept Tonga out and kept picking up penalties to stretch ahead. A late flurry claimed the bonus point.
Ireland made heavy work of seeing off Italy. An try mid-way through the first half gave them a 10-6 lead at half time. An early second half penalty to Italy narrowed the gap to 1. Ireland though dominated territory and to a lesser extent possession through their kicking. They couldn’t break Italy down and had to make do with a couple of penalties to close the game out. A case of job done and improvements needed against France.
Edinburgh 20 – 9 Ospreys
Munster 23 – 21 Glasgow Warriors
Ulster 48 – 7 Benetton Treviso
Leinster 37 – 13 Newport Gwent Dragons
Connacht Rugby 36 – 31 Cardiff Blues
Zebre 8 – 20 Scarlets
Scarlets, Edinburgh and Munster are all still unbeaten at the top of the table. Already the two Italian sides are languishing at the bottom end along with Ospreys without a win.
Lions 62 – 32 Western Province
Blue Bulls 48 – 27 Eastern Province Kings
Pumas 37 – 37 Cheetahs
Griquas 20 – 45 Sharks
The Lions continue to dominate and are clear at the top of the table.
Wellington 22 – 22 Hawke’s Bay
North Harbour 32 – 39 Otago
Waikato 9 – 30 Counties Manukau
Tasman 25 – 41 Canterbury
Manawatu 10 – 44 Taranaki
Auckland 64 – 21 Northland
Southland 28 – 35 Hawke’s Bay
Bay of Plenty 13 – 31 Wellington
Canterbury are top of the Premiership with Auckland and Taranaki trailing. In the Championship Hawkes Bay are just clear of Wellington.
Greater Sydney Rams 23 – 21 North Harbour Rays
University of Canberra Vikings 42 – 16 Melbourne Rising
Sydney Stars 0 – 58 Brisbane City
Perth Spirit 29 – 32 NSW Country Eagles
Brisbane and Vikings top the table and meet in the next round.