The exciting pool stages are now complete and the quarter finals decided. Also the southern hemisphere domestic competitions are reaching the pointy end. Here’s my review of the weekend’s action.
First here is a link to my mid-week review.
Rugby World Cup
New Zealand 47 – 9 Tonga
Samoa 33 – 36 Scotland
Australia 15 – 6 Wales
England 60 – 3 Uruguay
Argentina 64 – 19 Namibia
Italy 32 – 22 Romania
France 9 – 24 Ireland
USA 18 – 28 Japan
8 from 8, a good way to finish the pool stage.
The All Blacks got the convincing score line that was expected. But it was far from the complete performance that was called for. There were moments of sublime skill but there were also 11 knockons. The All Blacks are through though and that’s what matters for them. This ended a disappointing tournament for Tonga who will have to qualify for the next Rugby World Cup after finishing 4th in their pool.
Finally we saw the Samoa that we all love. Samoa had a fabulous opening quarter with Scotland just keeping in touch. A try drew it level but Samoa managed to lead by 3 at halftime. In the second half Scotland managed to pull ahead and a late try for Samoa was too little to late. It’s a shame to hear comments on twitter saying that Samoa got blown off the park, I have only seen the highlights of this one and so can’t comment. Scotland go through and now face Australia.
Wales had the upper hand for the first quarter but only came away with a penalty. Australia came back and led 9-6 at halftime. They stretched that to a 6 point lead before they lost 2 players to the bin. Wales repeatedly turned down kicks and camped on the Australian try line but were unable to break through. The game is defined by that period but also should be by the start where Wales weren’t able to fully capitalise on having the upper hand. This one was won by Australia’s defence after last week’s win over England with their forwards and are becoming many people’s favourite to go all the way.
After going behind to an early penalty England racked up a comfortable victory. It was far from a complete performance with three tries by the 24th minute but then nothing more before halftime. Many are saying that we got to see England’s future back line but I think that there will need to be more bash and the problem is going to be fitting all these players in.
The Pumas cruised to an easy victory running for over 1000m with ball in hand. That’s more than most games have from both teams. It did look like it could be closer when Namibia drew back within 3 points with their first try. But it was from an interception and Argentina displayed to us their new exciting back play that has been added to their powerful forward pack.
Italy looked to be cruising through this game where even though they had less possession and territory they pulled out a 22-3 lead at halftime. It wasn’t until the last 15 minutes that Romania finally managed to make all that possession and territory count. It was too little too late though and they were left to rue their 21 missed tackles.
Ireland had got the results but have not been delivering dominating performances. France on the other hand were looking dangerous. Then the cliché kicked in and France just didn’t turn up to this game. Ireland dominated and should have led by more than 3 at halftime. In the second half they just dominated even more making France make an amazing 197 tackles! Two tries came but it was all at cost as both Sexton and O’Connell went off injured also man of the match O’Brien is looking at a ban for an unprovoked punch early in the game.
The final game was a dead rubber between the USA who had been disappointing and Japan the team of the tournament. Japan continued their exciting brand of rugby but the USA also turned up to play. Japan however opened up an early lead and were able to keep the USA at arms length. That’s three wins for Japan who are the first team to get knocked out at this stage with three wins. Eddie Jones’s target of the quarter finals was so close.
Western Province 45 – 14 Eastern Province Kings
Pumas 24 – 25 Blue Bulls
Cheetahs 34 – 34 Sharks
Lions 29 – 19 Griquas
The Lions finished the regular season undefeated and will host Cheetahs. The Bulls will host Western Province in the other semifinal.
Northland 36 – 54 Otago
Taranaki 17 – 35 Tasman
Hawke’s Bay 30 – 36 Waikato
Canterbury 39 – 20 Southland
Wellington 33 – 39 Manawatu
Counties Manukau 16 – 31 Auckland
North Harbour 36 – 12 Northland
Otago 43 – 30 Bay of Plenty
This was the final round of the normal season. In the premiership table topper’s Canterbury will host Taranaki whilst Auckland will host Tasman. In the championship Hawke’s Bay will host Bay of Plenty and Wellington will host Otago.
Melbourne Rising 23 – 16 NSW Country Eagles
University of Canberra Vikings 31 – 37 Brisbane City
North Harbour Rays 50 – 32 Queensland Country
Greater Sydney Rams 39 – 63 Perth Spirit
With a round to go Brisbane are still unbeaten and just clear of Vikings at the top of the table.
The Aviva Premiership starts next week and I’m running a prediction league again. Join here as I give you my predictions and reviews for every round.