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Aviva Stadium, Dublin - 27th August 2011
KO 2.30pm BST
TENSION was running high for both teams and their fans on Lansdowne Road in Dublin in Saturday afternoon as the sun shone down at the start of the game. Ireland had lost their last five matches both home and away; England lost to Wales at the Millennium Stadium a fortnight earlier, but were also facing their nemesis, a side who since 2000 had faced the visitors on twelve occasions so far, and had beaten them eight times.
Apart from winning, it was imperative that no more injuries were sustained with 13 days to go until the start of the Rugby World Cup 2011. But for England, No8 Nick Easter was replaced by Hendre Fourie at the 11th hour following a tight calf, and Ireland captain Brian Oâ€™Driscoll was rested with a stinger in this final pre-RWC encounter.
England began strongly and only 2 minutes in, arguably the best fly half in the world, Jonny Wilkinson, attempted a drop goal but it fell wide. Though Ireland forced play back to half way after persistent pressure from the visitors, recently-capped Manu Tuilagi side stepped all defence to charge across the try line, and Jonny duly converted to give England a 7-0 lead just 5 minutes from kick off.
However, England quickly gave away a penalty, and all in all they managed to rack up a total of 16 compared to Irelandâ€™s 8. The first penalty set up a 5m line out for the homeside, and a second from Courtney Lawes allowed talented fly half, Ronan Oâ€™Gara to put 3 points on the board.
Nearing the end of the first quarter, David Wallace had made a second excellent break and was heading towards the England 22 until Manu Tuilagi - who by now had firmly defended his inclusion in the RWC squad - hurtled him into touch. Ireland were handed a penalty which Oâ€™Gara converted into 3 points, but it was the end of Wallaceâ€™s match and RWC hope as he left the pitch and was taken straight to hospital for a scan to assess the level of damage to his knee.
Whilst Ireland were forced to replace the flanker with Denis Leamy, England sent on Delon Armitage for Mark Cueto who had a small niggle, and last minute starting replacement Fourie went off to allow Tom Palmer to come off the bench.
Welsh referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty for a Stephen Ferris high tackle giving England a 13-6 lead from Jonnyâ€™s boot. The next 10 minutes illustrated both sidesâ€™ frailties and indiscipline, though again Tuilagi made a spectacular break of 60m from his own 22 before Geordan Murphy brought him down.
Englandâ€™s most repeated penalty cause was not releasing the ball, and this time Oâ€™Gara narrowed the gap between the teams to 9-13 with just 4 minutes to half time, where the score remained. But this was the last time Ireland scored a point.
The referee ensured both teams understood the consequences of repeated infringement right at the start of the second half by sending Chris Ashton to the sin bin and handing Oâ€™Gara a further chance to change the score, which he blew.
Despite being a man down, England worked their way into the Irish 22 and a delicate kick through from captain, Mike Tindall afforded Armitage the opportunity to slam the ball over the try line, and Jonny added the extras. 45 minutes gone and England were 20-9 up, which is where the score remained for the rest of the game.
And then heavens opened, and the rain was torrential, changing the entire face of the game.
Though no more points were had, outside of the indiscipline, England illustrated how proficient the new centre pairing of Tindall and Tuilagi was as the two worked in an almost balletic fashion, and that the team as a whole was strong in defence and now ready to begin their campaign for the most coveted trophy in rugby with confidence if not absolute experience.
Unfortunately for Ireland, despite spending 15 minutes almost entirely on or in Englandâ€™s 22, they could not gain any advantage or break Englandâ€™s defence. Eventually the boys in white took play back to the midfield, and both sides all but emptied their replacement benches giving the squads a run out with the exception of as yet uncapped Joe Simpson.
â€Žâ€ŽFinally, England had broken the Irish hoodoo and secured a win in Dublin for the first time in 8 years, while Ireland only managed a sixth consecutive defeat.
As well as praising Hendre Fourie, England captain Mike Tindall commented,
"It's difficult because I'd trained with Manu but never played with him, and you never know how that's going to develop. You saw the raw power that Manu's got and the raw talent, and every time he takes the field in that shirt, I think he's going to grow and get better and better.â€
Ireland coach Declan Kidney insisted he had no regrets over agreeing such a strenuous build up to the tournament.
â€œIf you go to the World Cup you want to compete at the highest level.
"We wanted to challenge ourselves against England and France to know exactly where we are, and we know now.
â€œWeâ€™ve lost four in the series, which is extremely disappointing. Thatâ€™s not what we aimed for.
15 Geordan Murphy 14 Tommy Bowe 13 Keith Earls 12 Gordon Dâ€™Arcy 11 Andrew Trimble 10 Ronan O'Gara 9 Eoin Reddan 1 Cian Healy 2 Jerry Flannery 3 Mike Ross 4 Donncha O'Callaghan 5 Paul Oâ€™Connell (C) 6 Stephen Ferris 7 David Wallace 8 Jamie Heaslip BENCH:Â 16 Rory Best 17 Tom Court 18 Donnacha Ryan 19 Denis Leamy 20 Conor Murray 21 Jonathan Sexton 22 Fergus McFadden
SCORERS P: O'Gara (3)
15 Ben Foden 14 Chris Ashton 13 Manu Tuilagi 12 Mike Tindall (C) 11 Mark Cueto 10 Jonny Wilkinson 9 Richard Wigglesworth 1 Andrew Sheridan 2 Steve Thompson 3 Dan Cole 4 Louis Deacon 5 Courtney Lawes 6 Tom CroftÂ 7 Hendre Fourie 8 James Haskell BENCH: 16 Dylan Hartley 17 Matt Stevens 18 Simon Shaw 19 Tom Wood 20 Joe Simpson 21 Toby Flood 22 Delon Armitage
SCORERS T: Tuilagi, Armitage C: Wilkinson (2) P: Wilkinson (2) Chris Ashton
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane - Saturday 27th August 2011
KO: Aus 20:00 | SA 12:00 | NZ 22:00 | BST 11:00
Churchill Park, Lautoka - Friday 19th August 2011
KO: 4.30pm FJT | 5.30pm Tonga | 5.30am BST
FIJI lost the battle but won the war as reserve lock Leone Nakarawa scored with the final play of the game to swing the overall points differential back in Fijiâ€™s favour and help them claim the Punjas Series. In the end despite going down 32-20 the Flying Fijians claimed the Series by a greater differential of a mere three points over the two games.
It was an impressive performance by the visitors as they overwhelmed Fiji up front while out wide centre Alipate Fatafehi and winger Fetu'u Vainikolo proved difficult to contain. However, it took 20 minutes for the gameâ€™s first score and it came from the lethal boot of Tongan fly half Kurt Morath with a well struck penalty.
On the 22nd minute winger Vainikolo split open the Fiji defence in midfield and fed an unmarked Vungakoto Lilo, who had enough space to beat the despairing dive of Michael Tagicakibau to claim the first try. Uncharacteristically the conversion was missed by Morath.
Fiji cut the deficit to five when Luveniyali was successful with a penalty in the 28th minute. Then four minutes later Fiji were on level terms when the impressive Netani Talei gathered a poor 22 metre Tonga drop out and raced down the near sideline to feed Rupeni Nasiga who crashed over to score his second try in successive games for the Flying Fijians.
Luveniyaliâ€™s touchline conversion meant Fiji were ahead for the first and, what was to be, only time in the match. It was a lead that lasted less than five minutes as number right Sisa Koyamaibole was yellow carded and, from the ensuing penalty Morath made amends for the earlier missed conversion as he nailed the penalty to give Tonga the halftime lead 10-11.
The second half began as the first half had ended with a third Morath penalty followed by a fourth in the 44th minute to stretch Tongaâ€™s lead to seven points. Fiji reacted by attempting to get their backline in motion, however a promising move in midfield broke down when the ball was dropped and then kicked through by the Tongans. On hand to pounce on the loose ball as it bobbled over the try line was Vainikolo.
As the Tongan forwards began to exert their dominance in the game Fiji wilted and sustained pressure upon the Fiji goal line was rewarded with a Fatafehi try in the 65th minute as Tonga now led 29-13. To claim the Punjas Series the Tongans were required to win by 16 or more points and when Morath struck home his fifth penalty it looked as if Tonga were home and dusted.
However, deep into injury time Talei burst through the Tongan defence only to be pulled down short of the try line. From the ensuing play Fiji had the Tongans working overtime in defence and, with the last play of the match, Nakarawa finally crashed over to snatch back the Punjas Series for Fiji, even though the game was lost.
1 Campese Ma'afu 2 Sunia Koto 3 Waisea Daveta 4 Rupeni Nasiga 5 Wame Lewaravu 6 Netani Talei 7 Akapusi Qera (C) 8 Sisa Koyamaibole 9 Vitori Buatava 10 Waisea Luveniyali 11 Michael Tagicakibau 12 Ravai Fatiaki 13 Albert Vulivuli 14 Vereniki Goneva 15 Kini Murimurivalu Â BENCH: 16 Talemaitoga Tuapati 17 Setefano Somoca 18 Leone Nakarawa 19 Masi Matadigo 20 Nemia Kenatale 21 Nicky little 22 Iliesa Keresoni
SCORERS T: Rupeni Nasiga, Leone Nakarawa C: Waisea Luveniyali (2) P: Luveniyali (2)
1 Soane Tonga'uiha 2 Aleki Lutui 3 Tonga Lea'aetoa 4 Lisiate Fa'aoso 5 Joseph Tuineau 6 Sione Kalamafoni 7 Finau Maka (C) 8 Viliami Ma'afu 9 Taniela Moa 10 Kurt Morath 11 Vungakoto Lilo 12 Siale Piutau 13 Alipate Fatafehi 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo 15 Viliami Iongi BENCH: Ilaisia Maasi 17 Halani Aulika 18 Sione Timani 19 Samiu Vahafolau 20 Andrew Mailei 21 Thomas Palu 22 Sukanaivalu Hufanga
SCORERS T: Vungakoto Lilo, Fetu'u Vainikolo, Alipate Fatafehi C: Karl Morath P: Morath (5)
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff - Saturday 20th August 2011
KO 2.30pm BST | 10.30am ART
RUGBY WORLD CUP 2007 bronze medallists, Argentina, began their 2011 warm up campaign by running out in Cardiff under a closed roof on a grey and wet Saturday afternoon, much as one would expect in November when they are usually here. Thankfully in Wales at least, there were no more change kit shenanigans, and there was no doubt as to which country was facing which unlike previous weeks.
Once the rousing local anthem had reverberated with such verve around the stadium, Welsh fans began as they had every intention to go on, booing and jeering every time Pumas captain Felipe Contepomi prepared to kick a penalty through the posts; the first time was only 2 minutes into the game as Wales were caught offside, but Contepomi missed.
It was not long until it became clear that despite having not played as a team since May -though this was against teams far below their world class level so in earnest it was November 2010 when they last played a comparable side- Argentina were ready to take on the challenge facing them over the next nine weeks. The Pumas undisputedly dominated proceedings for the first 36 minutes.
The rust had not quite been kicked off Argentinean boots as after Contepomiâ€™s missed penalty, Marcelo Boschâ€™s drop goal attempt went awry. It was not until the 28th minute when the captain targeted the uprights again and the ball dutifully hit the right side and bounced through for 3 points.
Even when Wales got on the front foot and made territory, Argentina ran roughshod over them with turnover ball and quickly returned play to the midfield if not the Welsh 22.
Most interesting to watch was a new tactic employed by the mostly talented James Hook; he repeatedly went into a tackle then ripped his arm away quick enough round the ball for the referee not to notice what he had just done by forcing it to spill forward, and the ball carrier penalised each time could do nothing. Allegedly this is a method employed in rugby league and is extremely effective if the referee is oblivious, but is also entirely cynically.
After Contepomi missed another penalty amongst the now habitual taunting by supporters, 5 minutes from half time Tavis Knoyle offloaded to Alun Wyn Jones to Andy Powell who swept over the tryline. A conversion from Hook put Wales in front. And not a moment later George North fed AW Jones for a second try in almost in as many minutes. A second conversion from Hook and Wales were firmly on the scoreboard going into the break at 14-3.
On their return, a quick penalty allowed Hook to increase the home sideâ€™s score, soon followed by another Hook rip, again unnoticed by any referee. Despite Hookâ€™s new dirty trick, Hook was undoubtedly one of Walesâ€™ most precious assets, alongside Alun Wyn Jones and George North, all three being pivotal in all the nationâ€™s games so far. Again the rip...again a penalty against Argentina, and another 3 points on the board for Wales.
Soon after, the Pumas made changes from the replacements bench and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe tackled Alun Wyn Jones mid-air which earned him a sin binning. Wales rang in the changes too then promptly gave away another penalty allowing Contepomi to double Argentinaâ€™s score. This now stood at 20-6, but was not reflective of the game on show by any stretch of the imagination.
Another stand out player was prop Adam Jones who was relieved after an hour, but in the meantime transformed the face of the Welsh scrum.
The fatigue was showing by the final quarter - play became scrappy and frustrations spilled out. With 9 minutes left, young George North scored his 6th try on his 8th appearance for his country from the setpiece within the Argentinean 22.
The Pumas responded with their trademark bulldozer-style driving maul straight over the whitewash; referee Romain Poite deferred to TMO, Geoff Warren for confirmation and Martin Scelzo was awarded the try.
Following the conversion, the Welsh side finished with a final flourish in a Hook penalty as the clock ticked over full time, and Argentina was spent.
Wales definitely improved in the second half of the game, and ended their warm up run in credit on the scoreboard, but facing the pool from hell in the impending RWC possibly with the exception of Namibia, against Fiji, Samoa and South Africa, the dragon nation will have to pull more than a rabbit out of the hat.
Based on a first outing this year, the battle for first place in Pool B will be close fought between England and Argentina who both face Georgia, Romania and Scotland.
15 Lee Byrne 14 Leigh Halfpenny 13 Jonathan Davies 12 Jamie Roberts 11 George North 10 James Hook 9 Tavis Knoyle 1 Paul James 2 Richard Hibbard 3 Adam Jones 4 Bradley Davies 5 Alun-Wyn Jones 6 Dan Lydiate 7 Martyn Williams (C) 8 Andy Powell BENCH: 16 Huw Bennett 17 Ryan Bevington 18 Jonathan Thomas 19 Justin Tipuric 20 Lloyd Williams 21 Scott Williams 22 Aled Brew
SCORERS T: Powell, AW Jones, North C: Hook (2) P: Hook (3)
15 Martin Rodriguez 14 Horacio Agulla 13 Marcelo Bosch 12 Santiago Fernandez 11 Gonzalo Camacho 10 Felipe Contepomi (C) 9 Nicolas Vergallo 1 Rodrigo Roncero 2 Mario Ledesma Arocena 3 Juan Figallo 4 Manuel Carizza 5 Patricio Albacete 6 Julio Cabello 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe BENCH: 16 Agustin Creevy 17 Martin Scelzo 18 Mariano Galarza 19 Alejandro Campos 20 Alfredo Lalanne 21 Nicolas Sanchez 22 Juan Imhoff
SCORERS T: Scelzo C: Contepomi P: Contepomi (2) Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe
Aviva Stadium, Dublin - Saturday 20th August 2011
KO 2.30pm BST | 10.30am ART
IRELAND stepped out on home turf for the first time led by Brian Oâ€™Driscoll in the build up to the RWC this season against a slightly confusing French team dressed all in white. No doubt they were hoping to lay to rest recent ghosts with two consecutive losses to Scotland and France. For the visitors this was just their second outing, but as is coach Marc LiÃ¨vremontâ€™s style, only Dimitri Szarzewski and Alexis Palisson retained their positions from the previous weekâ€™s winning side.
Ireland began well with Jonny Sexton slicing over a 3 pointer, followed by an impressive first try from young prop Cian Healy in the 10th minute. A missed conversion by Sexton was the order of the first half as this was the last the home side of points until the final 10 minutes of the game.
Not for another quarter of an hour did France actually threaten Ireland with actual points which eventually came from the boot of Morgan Parra. This was swiftly followed a spectacular drop goal from Francois Trinh-Duc from half way, and then a unfettered try from Cedric Heymans which Parra converted; all of a sudden Ireland were not looking so cosy. The final proverbial (and actual) kick also came from Parra after Keith Earls tackled him errantly with no ball in sight. The ball floated beautifully through the uprights and Les Bleus went into the break 16-8 up.
France had no intention of resting on their laurels with just an 8 point lead and Parra neatly added a further 3 with another good penalty kick. Only 7 minutes into the second half and Trinh-Duc secured a second try, simple conversion and an 18 point lead for the visitors.
Both sides began to ring it the changes, and soon after the crowd at the Aviva Stadium sprang to life and roared their contentment at Ireland finally applying themselves playing an expansive game. The French defence hold strong until a cross kick almost put Earls over in the corner but Maxime Medard bundled him into touch.
The man in white held strong and steady despite Ireland camping out mostly in their 22. Into the final quarter Ireland tested the refereeâ€™s patience a fraction too much just 2m from the tryline and France were awarded a costly penalty.
More changes were made from both benches, and the crowd showed their approval as Ronan Oâ€™Gara ran on for Gordon Dâ€™Arcy. This shake up saw a shake up in the Ireland positions as Sexton moved to 12. Sadly effective fullback Felix Jones was stretchered off after an awkward fall to be replaced by Luke Fitzgerald, but Ireland picked up the pace and in the 74th minute, Jonny Sexton scored a second try and Oâ€™Gara added the extras.
The final moments saw Ireland again in possession and whilst the ball was still in play I the 81st minute, Sean Oâ€™Brien scored a dignity-saving try even thought the game was lost already. Oâ€™Gara converted and Ireland looked less forlorn than 10 minutes earlier as the match ended 22-26 to the visitors.
Two straight wins put France in a good position to take on the other countries in their RWC Pool A with the All Blacks being the only serious threat to stopping France from progressing to the quarter finals in first place. But France have form at the world cup for upsetting New Zealand; the last three world cups the two sides have met three times, and France upset the Kiwi party twice.
Ireland have one more chance to set the record straight next week in Dublin, and they are Englandâ€™s arch nemesis. Since 2000, the two nations have faced each other on twelve occasions; England have won only four times and in Dublin just once. No matter how badly Ireland are playing, they do always seem able to step up their game when facing England. If only they could replicate that passion in a world cup.
15 Felix Jones 14 Andrew Trimble 13 Brian Oâ€™Driscoll (C) 12 Gordon Dâ€™Arcy 11 Keith Earls 10 Jonathan Sexton 9 Tomas Oâ€™Leary 1 Cian Healy 2 Rory Best 3 Mike Ross 4 Donncha Oâ€™Callaghan 5 Paul Oâ€™Connell 6 Sean Oâ€™Brien 7 Shane Jennings 8 Jamie Heaslip BENCH: 16 Jerry Flannery 17 Tom Court 18 Mike McCarthy 19 Stephen Ferris 20 Eoin Reddan 21 Ronan Oâ€™Gara 22 Luke Fitzgerald
SCORERS Â T: Healy, Sexton, O'Brien C: O'Gara (2) P: Sexton (2)
15 Cedric Heymans 14 Maxime Medard 13 AurÃ©lien Rougerie 12 Fabrice Estebanez 11 Alexis Palisson 10 David Skrela 9 Morgan Parra 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux 2 Dimitri Szarzewski 3 Nicolas Mas 4 Pascal Pape 5 Lionel Nallet (C) 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo 7 Louis Picamoles 8 Julien Bonnaire BENCH: 16 Guilhem Guirado 17 Fabien Barcella 18 Julien Pierre 19 Raphael Lakafia 20 Dimitri Yachvili 21 Francois Trinh-Duc 22 Vincent Clerc
SCORERS T: Heymans, Trinh-Duc C: Parra (2) P: Parra (3) DG: Trinh-Duc
Referee:Â Craig Joubert (SARU) Asst Referees:Â Nigel Owens (WRU), Tim Hayes (WRU) TMO:Â Iain Ramage (SRU)
Murrayfield, Edinburgh - Saturday 20th August 2011
KO 5.00pm BST | 4.00pm CET
FULL MATCH REPORT TO FOLLOW...
15 Rory Lamont 14 Max Evans 13 Nick De Luca 12 Graeme Morrison 11 Simon Danielli 10 Dan Parks 9 Mike Blair 1 Alasdair Dickinson 2 Scott Lawson 3 Moray Low 4 Nathan Hines 5 Alastair Kellock (C) 6 Kelly Brown 7 John Barclay 8 Richie Vernon BENCH: 16 Dougie Hall 17 Euan Murray 18 Richie Gray 19 Ross Rennie 20 Chris Cusiter 21 Ruaridh Jackson 22 Nikki Walker
SCORERS T: Dickinson, Blair C: Parks (2) P: Parks (3)
15 Andrea Masi 14 Tommaso Benvenuti 13 Gonzalo Canale 12 Gonzalo Garcia 11 Mirco Bergamasco 10 Luciano Orquera 9 Fabio Semenzato 8 Sergio Parisse (C) 7 Robert Barbieri 6 Paul Derbyshire 5 Cornelius Van Zyl 4 Carlo Antonio Del Fava 3 Martin Castrogiovanni 2 Fabio Ongaro 1 Andrea Lo Cicero BENCH: 16 Tommaso Dâ€™Apice 17 Lorenzo Cittadini 18 Marco Bortolami 19 Joshua Furno 20 Edoardo Gori 21 Riccardo Bocchino 22 Alessandro Zanni
SCORERS T: Benvenuti, Semenzato C: Bergamasco
Man of the Match: Nick de Luca
Referee: Dave Pearson [RFU]
Nelson Mandela Stadium, PE - Saturday 20th August 2011
KO 5.05pm SAST | 3.00am 21/08 NZST | 4.05pm BST
Chichibunomiya Stadium, Tokyo - Sunday 21st August 2011
KO 7.00pm JST | 5.00am EDT | 2.00am PDT | 11.00am BST
JAPAN will leave for the 2011 Rugby World Cup on a winning note following a 20-14 win over the United States at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground on Sunday night.
Tries by Taihei Ueda, Takashi Kikutani and Takehisa Usuzuki and two conversions from Shaun Webb helped Japan to the win on a muggy wet evening in the nationâ€™s capital.
The Eaglesâ€™ points came from two tries by Kevin Swiryn and a pair of conversions by Nese Malifa.
Ueda opened the scoring in the seventh minute following a good break by Alisi Tupuailei. But the Eagles responded straight from the kick-off when Swiryn gathered the loose ball and sprinted over.
Ryan Nicholas slotted over a penalty in the 11th minute to restore Japanâ€™s lead but with a slippery ball Japan were unable to finish off some good build-ups.
Swirynâ€™s second try in the 39th minute was also the result of a Japan error as the Eagles went into the break leading 14-8.
The second half saw Japan raise the pace of the game and Kikutani finished off some good work by the forwards to go over for Japanâ€™s second try.
Usuzukiâ€™s try in the 67th minute followed another good break by Tupuailei, who was well supported by Koji Taira.
The Eagles tried to fight back and finished the game camped in the Japan 22 but good defense held them out and handed the hosts the win.
[Copy courtesy of JRFU]
15 Taihei Ueda 14 Takehisa Usuzuki 13 Alisi Tupuailai 12 Ryan Nicholas 11 Hirotoki Onozawa 10 Murray Williams 9 Tomoki Yoshida 1 Naoki Kawamata 2 Yusuke Aoki 3 Nozomu Fujita 4 Hitoshi Ono 5 Luke Thompson 6 Sione Vatuvei 7 Tadasuke Nishihara 8 Takashi Kikutani (C) BENCH: 16 Shota Horie 17 Kensuke Hatakeyama 18 Toshizumi Kitagawa 19 Itaru Taniguchi 20 Atsushi Hiwasa 21 Koji Taira 22 Shaun Webb
SCORERS T: Ueda, Kikutani, Usuzuki C: Webb P: Nicholas
15 Blaine Scully 14 Kevin Swiryn 13 Tai Enosa 12 Paul Emerick 11 James Paterson 10 Nese Malifa 9 Mike Petri (C) 1 Mike MacDonald 2 Phillip Thiel 3 Eric Fry 4 Scott LaValla 5 Hayden Smith 6 Patrick Danahy 7 Louis Stanfill 8 Jonathan 'JJ' Gagiano BENCH: 16 Chris Biller 17 Shawn Pittman 18 Nic Johnson 19 Ryan Chapman 20 Tim Usasz 21 Roland Suniula 22 Andrew Suniula
SCORERS T: Swiryn (2) C: Malifa (2)
Churchill Park, Lautoka - Saturday 13th August 2011
KO: 3.30pm FJT | 4.30pm Tonga | 4.30am BST
THREE first half tries and a powerful defensive effort from the Flying Fijians gave them a morale boosting 27-12 victory at Churchill Park this afternoon. It served as revenge of sorts after the 45-21 mauling Fiji received from their island neighbours during the Pacific Nations Cup last month.
Inspirational Nadi winger Vereniki Goneva opened the scoring in the third minute, and against the run of play, as a slippery ball was dropped by the Tongan backline in Fiji's 22m area. The loose ball was picked up and booted up field by fullback Kini Murimurivalu with Goneva on hand to gather the bouncing ball and claim a clear run under the Tongan posts.
Tonga took just seven minutes to respond through a well worked try to their find of the season, fullback Viliami Iongi, who finished off a slick backline move from an attacking Tongan line-out. Itâ€™s been a meteoric rise for the diminutive winger cum fullback who at the beginning of the season was struggling to make the Brumbies Development team but now is on the verge of making his Rugby World Cup debut.
To their credit Fiji kept their cool and discipline and led by a rampaging Sisa Koyamaibole, who steamrollered any Tongan who got in his way, were soon on the scoreboard again. This time it was Albert Vulivuli making the midfield bust before being dragged down short of the line. From the ensuing play Vitori Buatava found Rupeni Nasiga out wide who went over in the tackle of the Tongan defence.
Seremaia Bai converted from out wide to give Fiji a 14-5 lead.
It was a lead that was extended in the 35th minute when fullback Kini Murimurivalu ran through, and then around the Tongan defence., to score a good individual try. Baiâ€™s third conversion gave Fiji a 21-5 halftime lead.
The Tongans got the possible start to the second half when Iongi claimed his second in the first minute of the restart. Samisoni Fisilau nailed the sideline conversion to give Tonga real hope as Fiji held a now tenuous 21-12 lead. But despite enjoying the advantage in both territory and possession, throughout the second period, the Tongans were unable to add any further points and two penalties from Bai eventually gave Fiji the win 27-12.
Fijiâ€™s win means Tonga must now beat Fiji by 16 or more points to claim the Punjas Series.
1 Campese Ma'afu 2 Sunia Koto 3 Deacon Manu (C) 4 Rupeni Nasiga 5 Wame Lewaravu 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu 7 Malakai Ravulo 8 Sisa Koyamaibole 9 Vitori Buatava 10 Waisea Luveniyali 11 Adriu Delai 12 Seremaia Bai (v-capt) 13 Albert Vulivuli 14 Vereniki Goneva 15 Kini Murimurivalu BENCH: 16 Viliame Veikoso 17 Waisea Daveta 18 Jovilisi Domolailai 19 Masi Matadigo 20 Waisale Vatuvoka 21 Ravai Fatiaki 22 Iliesa Keresoni
SCORERS T: Vereniki Goneva, Rupeni Nasiga, Kini Murimurivalu C: Seremaia Bai (3) P: Seremaia Bai (2)
15 Viliame Iongi 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo 13 Suka Hufanga 12 Andrew Mailei 11 Viliami Helu 10 Samisoni Fisilau 9 Taniela Moa 1 Sona Taumalolo 2 Aleki Lutui (C) 3 Halani Aulika 4 Lua Lokotui 5 Kele Hehea 6 Sione Kalamafoni 7 Sione Vaiomounga 8 Vili Ma'afu BENCH: 16 Ephraim Taukafa 17 Tonga Lea'aetoa 18 Sione Timani 19 Samiu Vahafolau 20 Tomasi Palu 21 Siale Piutau 22 Vunga Lilo
SCORERS T: Viliami Iongi (2) C: Samisoni Fisilau
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff - Saturday 13th August 2011
KO 2.30pm BST
OFF the back of a loss at fortress Twickenham last week, Wales were massively fired up to take an England scalp at home, and also to break the hoodoo of winning only one of the last eight matches at the Millennium Stadium. So out came the homeside sporting Welsh red track tops for the anthems, but hiding underneath was the new Wales change kit, and following the England trend, they revealed the black.
Wales Coach Warren Gatland made only four changes to the side that lost to England, with Gavin Henson, Jonathan Davies, Lloyd Burns and Luke Charteris all starting, while England Coach, Martin Johnson rotated his squad almost entirely; only Alex Corbisiero and Mark Cueto retained their positions, and newly-wed Mike Tindall stepped up as captain following Lewis Moody's medial ligament strain.
At three minutes gone, it was all square at 3-3 with both sides conceding penalties from the kick off. But it was not long before England conceded another penalty, and Rhys Priestland could not have missed the kick through the uprights if he tried.
Twelve minutes in and England made their first venture into the Welsh 22 and over the line, but a knock on from Matt Banahan and the moment was lost. England quickly regained possession and opted for a 5m scrum rather than a 3 pointer; Wales repeatedly forced up the front row but referee Alain Rolland allowed it to go three times before the frustration was too much for England and Hape spilled the ball forward 2m from the try line. Despite all their hard work, Henson turned over the ball and England found themselves back in their own 22.
By the start of the second quarter, Toby Flood took the kicking option at goal to equalise at 6-6, while Gavin Henson was led off the field with an injury, later confirmed to be a dislocation at his wrist, ruling him out of the RWC starting squad, and unavailable for at least 6-8 weeks.
Most shocking for England was how a side that had 87% possession and spent most of that time in Welsh territory, at least four times at the try line., came away at half time with a 6-6 score. Players of note were Danny Care and Mike Tindall who made significant breaks, but the forwards just could not break that last line of defence. The Welsh defence coaches were no doubt thrilled at this point, though Warren Gatland could not have been pleased at Wales conceding twice as many penalties as England.
The visitors returned to the field and immediately took the lead with a penalty kick from Flood as a consequence of Jamie Roberts not releasing the ball despite previous warnings, so he was sent off for a ten minute rest in the sin bin. But this was the last time England had the upper hand. England so far had visited the Welsh 22 eight times but came away with nothing; Wales only went there twice but turned it into 3 points.
Nearing the end of the third quarter, as happened the previous week when Wales scored, England's defence was wide open, and with the homeside already in the 22, James Hook jigged through the lack of hindrance and scored an easy try, which he converted himself.
Tindall was forced off with a blood injury, and over the next ten minutes the entire England bench was brought on; though Tindall returned soon after, the impact was too little too late. And in the meantime, Hook turned another penalty into 3 points and Wales led 16-9 with just over ten minutes to go.
Fortunes had been reversed completely with Wales having 76% possession, their defence improving hugely from the previous week.
England had one final opportunity to equalise with Mike Philips yellow carded and Wales down to 14 men for the remainder of the game, and a break from Delon Armitage with good support could have saved English honour, but the ref pinged England at the breakdown for not releasing. James Hook took his time taking the penalty from the outset of his range, and with just a minute to go, he took Wales to a 19-9 deserved win at home.
James Hook made the most significant impact on the Welsh side, but surprisingly man of the match was awarded to Welsh captain, Sam Warburton.
15 James Hook 14 George North 13 Jamie Roberts 12 Gavin Henson 11 Shane Williams 10 Rhys Priestland 9 Mike Phillips 1 Paul James 2 Lloyd Burns 3 Craig Mitchell 4 Luke Charteris 5 Alun Wyn Jones 6 Dan Lydiate 7 Sam Warburton (C) 8 Toby Faletau BENCH: 16 H Bennett 17 R Bevington 18 J Turnbull 19 J Tipuric 20 T Knoyle 21 S Williams 22 A Brew
SCORERS T: Hook C: Hook P: Priestland (2), Hook (2) Jamie Roberts, Mike Philips
15 Ben Foden 14 Matt Banahan 13 Mike Tindall (C) 12 Shontayne Hape 11 Mark Cueto 10 Toby Flood 9 Richard Wigglesworth 1 Alex Corbisiero 2 Steve Thompson 3 Dan Cole 4 Louis Deacon 5 Courtney Lawes 6 Tom Wood 7 Hendrie Fourie 8 Nick Easter BENCH: 16 Lee Mears 17 Matt Stevens 18 Tom Palmer 19 James Haskell 20 Danny Care 21 Charlie Hodgson 22 Delon Armitage
SCORERS P: Flood (3)
ABSA Stadium, Durban - Saturday 13th August 2011
KO: SA 17:05 | AUS 01:05 [14/08] | NZ 03:05 [14/08] | UK 16:05
Stade de Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux - Saturday 13th August 2011
KO 20:45 CET | 19:45 BST
MARC LiÃ¨vremont put out his first experimental side against a dejected Ireland who lost their opening RWC warm up match to Scotland the previous week. From the off, it looked as Ireland had not yet recovered as Les Bleus ran roughshod over the visitors, and they dominated convincingly for the entire first half.
The French opened the scoring with a penalty kick from Dimitri Yachvili in the third minute, who throughout the match showed his prowess. France spent the first quarter camped out in the Irish 22, but the defence managed to prevent any further score until Damien Traille stepped back into the zone for a drop goal which just missed the upright. In the 17th minute, a sublime offload from Alexis Palisson put Vincent Clerc over the whitewash and Yachvili took the score to 10-0.
Following the loss of a third Irish line out, Les Bleus opted for a penalty goal kick from just outside the Irish 22, and Yachvili edged his team further forward just before the half hour mark. The Irish continued to struggle, not even coming close to the French 22 whilst the homeside increased their experience pool by replacing Maxime Mermoz with David Skrela.
With just three minutes left on the clock, Captain Thierry Dusautoir was responsible for France's first significant mistake by being offside midfield, and Ireland finally had the opportunity to put points on the board with a good kick from Ronan O'Gara. The teams went into the break 13-3.
France headed straight back into the Irish 22, but this time the defence held well, with Andrew Trimble appearing a stand-out performer; so far every positive tactic seemed to involve him. Ireland were awarded a penalty and O'Gara had no trouble reducing the deficit to 13-6.
Ireland brought in a slew of changes off the bench, and it seemed to make all the difference as France gifted another penalty which O'Gara kicked over to narrow the gap further to just 4 points. The Irish line outs and scrums may not have been working so well, but the fly half's boot was having no such problems. At 57 minutes, replacement Guilhem Guirado was pinged for not releasing, and O'Gara took the score to 13-12.
By the final quarter, both sides had brought on all the replacements available, and Yachvili began to cancel out O'Gara's gain with a third penalty kick.
Ireland did look significantly improved with just 12 minutes to go, were camped out in the French 22; Les Bleus' defence held up well, forcing play to the opposite 22. The cracks were showing from fatigue by now and as tempers flared, Ireland were pinged and Yachvili licked over the final points of the match.
Ireland regrouped and showed strength in Fergus McFadden who by the skin of his teeth prevented Maxime Medard from scoring in the corner. With just 6 minutes left, both sides worked frantically to change the score and possession flipped between the two, testing their defence to breaking point before the referee blew the final whistle.
For a first game of the season, France showed moments of brilliance and that they could hold their own, though no doubt LiÃ¨vremont's habit of chopping and changing the team will not break. But only four weeks to Ireland's first pool match of the Rugby World Cup and with two losses under their belt, coach Declan Kidney has some serious problems to address.
15 Damien Traille 14 Vincent Clerc 13 David Marty 12 Maxime Mermoz 11 Alexis Palisson 10 Francois Trinh Duc 9 Dimitri Yachvili 1 Sylvain Marconnet 2 Dimitri Szarzewski 3 Luc Ducalcon 4 Julien Pierre 5 Romain Millo Chluski 6 Thierry Dusautoir (C) 7 Imanol Harinordoquy 8 Raphael Lakafia BENCH: 16 Guilhem Guirado 17 Jean Baptiste Poux 18 Lionel Nallet 19 Julien Bonnaire 20 Morgan Parra 21 David Skrela 22 Maxime Medard 23 Fabien Barcella
SCORERS T: Clerc C: Yachvili P: Yachvili (4)
15 Rob Kearney 14 Andrew Trimble 13 Keith Earls 12 Paddy Wallace 11 Luke Fitzgerald 10 Ronan O'Gara 9 Eoin Reddan 1 Cian Healy 2 Rory Best 3 Mike Ross 4 Donncha O'Callaghan 5 Leo Cullen (C) 6 Donnacha Ryan 7 Sean O'Brien 8 Denis Leamy BENCH: 16 Jerry Flannery 17 Tony Buckley 18 Paul O'Connell 19 Jamie Heaslip 20 Conor Murray 21 Fergus McFadden 22 Felix Jones
SCORERS P: O'Gara (4)
Stadio Dino Manuzzi, CesenaÂ - Saturday 13th August 2011
KO: 20:45 CET | 03:45 JST [14/08] | 19:45 BST
ITALY made a promising start to their world cup preparation beating a determined Japan side 31-24 in front of a home crowd at Cesena, the first time the northern town had hosted an international rugby fixture. But it was not plain sailing as the Azzurri were down 14-17 at half time.
After just three minutes, Parisse et al. opened the scoring with Matteo Pratichetti. Italy continued to exploit possession and dominance of their pack and, twelve minutes in, Nippon scrum half Edoardo Gori crossed the try line again. Riccardo Bocchino had a good day at the office converting both tries and taking the lead to 14-0 in the first quarter.
But Japan fought back valiantly to score two tries in quick succession from Takeshisa Usuzuki and Koji Taira, and Kiwi-born James Arlidge smartly converted both, and added a penalty just before the break to give the visitors the lead.
Italy returned to the field with a renewed passion, and quickly the team conspired to put Leonardo Ghiraldini over the line from a rolling maul; Gori added the extras and the Azzurri were back in front. Coach John Kirwan then instigated wholesale changes off the bench, and the result was a fourth try from Andrea Lo Cicero Vaina, converted this time by Luciano Orquera, taking the Italians to 28-17.
Again Japan attempted to claw their way back, and with the Azzurri down to 14 men courtesy of Lo Cicero's yellow card, they took advantage in the attack and were eventually rewarded with a penalty try. Arlidge converted, and with 15 minutes still remaining on the clock, Japan were in contention to close the 28-24 gap further.
However Japan's loose head prop, Hisateru Hirashima pushed referee Romain Poite too far and reduced the pack to 14 for the visitors in the 73rd minute, and the resulting penalty was deftly kicked over by Orquera, giving the Azzurri a 7 point buffer for the remaining few minutes.
In what was a physical encounter, Italy held the Japanese side off and closed the game out at 31-24.
15 Luke McLean 14 Giulio Toniolatti 13 Alberto Sgarbi 12 Matteo Pratichetti 11 Tommaso Benvenuti 10 Riccardo Bocchino 9 Edoardo Gori 1 Andrea Lo Cicero Vaina 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini 3 Lorenzo Cittadini 4 Quintin Geldenhuys 5 Marco Bortolami 6 Alessandro Zanni 7 Mauro Bergamasco 8 Sergio Parisse (C) BENCH: 16 Tommaso d'Apice 17 Martin Castrogiovanni 18 Corniel van Zyl 19 Paul Derbyshire 20 Pablo Canavosio 21 Luciano Orquera 22 Gonzalo Canale
SCORERS T: Pratichetti, Gori, Ghiraldini, Lo Cicero Vaina C: Bocchino (3), Orquera P: Orquera Andrea Lo Cicero Vaina
15 Shaun Webb 14 Kosuke Endo 13 Koji Taira 12 Ryan Nicholas 11 Takeshisa Usuzuki 10 James Arlidge 9 Fumiaki Tanaka 1 Hisateru Hirashima 2 Shota Horie 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama 4 Justin Ives 5 Toshizumi Kitagawa 6 Takashi Kikutani (C) 7 Michael Leitch 8 Ryukoliniasi Holani BENCH: 16 Hiroki Yuhara 17 Nozomu Fujita 18 Luke Thompson 19 Tadasuke Nishihara 20 Atsushi Hiwasa 21 Alisi Tupuailei 22 Murray Williams
SCORERS T: Usuzuki, Taira, Penalty Try C: Arlidge (3) P: Arlidge Shota Horie
Glendale, Colorado - Saturday 13th August 2011
THE USA Eagles lost 27-7 against Canada in front of a sold out crowd at Infinity Park. Despite plenty of possession and territory, it was through USA errors that allowed Canada to run in three tries during the match.
The opening points of the match came from Canadian centre DTH van der Merwe who picked up a loose ball and raced 50m to score. Full back James Pritchard kicked the conversion, putting Canada 7-0 up after five minutes. The USA replied by putting some excellent phases together, getting over the advantage line with every carry. This pressure eventually resulted in two yellow cards, one for lock Jamie Cudmore and later flanker Chauncey O'Toole. Both players were penalized for not coming through the gate during a ruck.
Despite a lack of possession Pritchard added a penalty for Canada.
Down 10-0, the USA began another build-up using multiple attacking phases. This time Malifa put a deft kick through with full back Blaine Scully sliding over to score for the home side. The capacity crowd enjoyed Malifa's sideline conversion, leaving the half time score at 10-7.
Winger Taku Ngwenya sparked the second half into action with an amazing run, beating three defenders, sending Louis Stanfill over in the corner. The TMO adjudged that Stanfill was held up over the try line.
The Eagles then lost Chris Biller to a yellow card for not rolling away at the ruck, with the hooker being sent to the sin bin for ten minutes. From the resulting penalty Pritchard put Canada ahead 13-7.
Paul Emerick made his second massive break of the match, slicing through the Canadian midfield. But a turnover lead to Canada's van der Merwe setting up a try for Aaron Carpenter. The Eagles had their chances later in the match, but another long range try saw winger Phil Mackenzie dot down, sealing the match 27-7.
15 Blaine Scully 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya 13 Paul Emerick 12 Andrew Suniula 11 Colin Hawley 10 Nese Malifa 9 Tim Usasz 1 Mike MacDonald 2 Chris Biller 3 Shawn Pittman 4 John van der Giessen 5 Hayden Smith 6 Louis Stanfill 7 Todd Clever (C) 8 Nic Johnson BENCH: 16 Phillip Thiel 17 Eric Fry 18 Scott LaValla 19 Jonathan Gagiano 20 Mike Petri 21 Roland Suniula 22 Tai Enosa
SCORERS T: Scully C: Malifa Chris Biller
15 James Pritchard 14 Ciaran Hearn 13 DTH van der Merwe 12 Mike Scholz 11 Phil Mackenzie 10 Ander Monro 9 Sean White 1 Hubert Buydens 2 Pat Riordan (C) 3 Jason Marshall 4 Jebb Sinclair 5 Jamie Cudmore 6 Adam Kleeberger 7 Chauncey O'Toole 8 Aaron Carpenter BENCH: 16 Ryan Hamilton 17 Andrew Tiedemann 18 Brian Erichsen 19 Tyler Hotson 20 Jamie Mackenzie 21 Ryan Smith 22 Nathan Hirayama
SCORERS T: van der Merwe, Carpenter, Mackenzie C: Pritchard (3) P: Pritchard (2) Jamie Cudmore, Chauncey O'Toole
Twickenham Stadium - Saturday 6th August 2011
IN front of full house at Twickenham, England were the first of the home nations to reveal their much debated RWC 2011 change strip - 100% black. The atmosphere at the stadium was electric, and England came out looking magnificent.
Before kick off, a minute's silence was held for former FFR President Albert Ferrasse who passed away the previous week. And then it began...
Wales conceded the first penalty at the scrum five minutes in, and Jonny Wilkinson inflicted the first points on the visitors from just inside half way. And with his pin point accuracy in tactical as well as goal kicking, there was little doubt that he should be England's first choice fly half appearing in his fourth world cup.
England appeared far more relaxed than a frantic-looking Welsh side, holding the visitors back in defence as they ventured towards England's 22. Young Manu Tuilagi made a huge impact with his first tackle, but in the 16th minute, Wales moved the ball out wide where the homeside had no cover, and George North scored the first try. Rhys Priestland -a last minute replacement for Stephen Jones who tweaked his leg in the warm up- converted and the visitors took the lead.
Into the second quarter and Delon Armitage made a spectacular break from half way into the 22 before being forced into touch. Wales won the line out but promptly conceded a penalty which England opted to scrum for; off of a huge drive, James Haskell carried the ball over for England's first try, which Jonny easily converted for a 10-7 lead.
England looked particularly ferocious, and each player was proving his right to a seat on the plane to New Zealand at the end of the month. The ball flipped between the sides until it looked as if Riki Flutey scored under the posts with seven minutes to go until half time. Unfortunately for him, an earlier knock on gave the Welsh a 5m scrum.
Again England took play into the Welsh 22 and from the scrum, Jonny was well placed to quietly drop a goal. The boys in black went into half time with a 13-7 lead.
Soon after the start of the second half, Manu Tuilagi scored a spectacular debut try under the posts which Jonny quickly converted.
Wales retaliated by moving play into the England 22 but poor handling from both teams saw the ball change sides repeatedly, before Morgan Stoddart was buried under a pile of red shirts and play was stopped. He was stretchered off and it was later confirmed that he had suffered a broken leg, his world cup dreams were shattered.
Up until the 55th minute, England had a comfortable 20-7 lead. But Wales had no intention of taking it lying down, and eventually Shane Williams flew over the try line in the corner. With no conversion, Wales were still within a converted try of catching up, but Jonny casually dropped another goal taking the score to 23-12.
England also suffered her share of injuries as captain Lewis Moody was forced off the pitch limping with 20 minutes of the match remaining. It later transpired he had tweaked his medial ligament, and the prognosis was good.
Wales captain Sam Warburton was convinced he had scored a try but it was clear he was in touch before grounding the ball and the TMO concurred.
For the last 10 minutes, Wales had most of the possession, and got close to scoring on a few occasions but England managed to hold them off. Armitage made a superb tackle on Sam Warburton just 2m short of the try line. But then as was the case for the first try, Wales played the ball out wide where England had no defence, and North scored a second time, Priestland converted and there were only 4 minutes left.
The England bench was finally emptied with Charlie Hodgson replacing Jonny for the final 2 minutes, and they managed to hold out until the final whistle.
The home team had a number of players who had more to prove than others including Delon Armitage who suffered a run of indiscipline which kept him out of the Elite squad last season, and prop Matt Stevens who was banned from rugby for two years. Both players achieved their goal admirably.
15 Delon Armitage 14 Matt Banahan 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi 12 Riki Flutey 11 Mark Cueto 10 Jonny Wilkinson 9 Danny Care 1 Alex Corbisiero 2 Dylan Hartley 3 Matt Stevens 4 Simon Shaw 5 Tom Palmer 6 Tom Croft 7 Lewis Moody (C) 8 James Haskell BENCH: 16 Lee Mears 17 David Wilson 18 Mouritz Botha 19 Tom Wood 20 Richard Wigglesworth 21 Charlie Hodgson 22 Charlie Sharples
SCORERS T: Haskell, Tuilagi C: Wilkinson (2) P: Wilkinson DG: Wilkinson (2)
15 Morgan Stoddart 14 George North 13 Jonathan Davies 12 Jamie Roberts 11 Shane Williams 10 Rhys Priestland 9 Mike Phillips 1 Paul James 2 Huw Bennett 3 Craig Mitchell 4 Bradley Davies 5 Alun Wyn Jones 6 Dan Lydiate 7 Sam Warburton (C) 8 Toby Faletau BENCH: 16 Lloyd Burns 17 Ryan Bevington 18 Luke Charteris 19 Ryan Jones 20 Tavis Knoyle 21 Scott Williams 22 Lloyd Williams
SCORERS T: North (2), S Williams C: Priestland (2)
Man of the Match: Jonny Wilkinson (England)
Referee: Steve Walsh (ARU) Asst. Referees: George Clancy (IRFU), David Changleng (SRU) TMO: Jim Yuille (SRU)
SCOTLAND 10 - 6 IRELAND
Murrayfield - Saturday 6th August 2011
MURRAYFIELD came under siege as thousands of supporters descended to watch the Celtic nations go head to head. This caused scheduling issues as thousands of fans were still queuing to get into the stadium when the match should be kicking off, forcing a delay of 15 minutes. But eventually, the game started and both teams looked strong. It was not long, however, before Scotland began to dominate proceedings.
The Scots were awarded the first penalty and three minutes in started a charge. Ireland had sporadic moments of possession though relinquished it quickly. Soon, Scotland were within a metre of the try line and attacked with menace, but the Irish defence was strong and held them off.
Twenty minutes in and the Irish had a little flourish with a lovely chip ball but were unable to capitalise on it. Moments later, Scotland received an unfortunate blow to their ranks as Nikki Walker was lost to injury.Â
Even though Scotland continued to play a strong game, it was Ireland who claimed the first points just after the half hour mark with a penalty taken by Jonathan Sexton who made it 0-3.Â This was surprising as Scotland had been looking the more menacing, but sloppy discipline by Jack Hamilton who came off his feet at the ruck gave Ireland the opportunity they needed.
The penalty did not stop the Scots from attacking just as hard and they were straight back at Ireland piling on the pressure. But as was the tale for most of the game, the homeside were unable to finish their attack with the try they deserved, and were still desperately trying to score points by half time.
The second half began with Ireland being put under immediate pressure following a rare mistake by Sexton which left them struggling in their own 22. Referee Wayne Barnes also made a rare mistake when he decided Scotland had not produced what was a clear knock-on. However, since he had made a dubious call in the first half about a supposed forward pass by Sexton, perhaps he was not having a great match.
Finally, after 49 minutes of waiting, Scotland won a penalty and Chris Paterson put points on the board. Having evened out the score at 3-3, the Scots endeavoured to really start the scoreboard ticking. At this point, Ireland began to flood the pitch with substitutions, eventually emptying out their entire bench by the 61st minute. Scotland also made a few changes as the match entered the final quarter, but not nearly as many as the opposition.
Soon after this torrent of new players, Ireland received another penalty and, although it was a distance kick, Sexton thumped the ball between the posts with ease to give them the lead at 3-6. Scotland were obviously frustrated by the fact that they had been the dominant side in the mainÂ but the tries were always just out of reach. Paterson missed a crucial penalty 67 minutes in but, luckily for him, Sexton reciprocated a few minutes later and so the Irish remained just in front.
Scotland missed a few more opportunities but then suddenly produced that previously elusive moment of magic. Alastair Kellock elicited a fantastic piece of play allowing Joe Ansbro to run in the only try of the match. Ruaridh Jackson neatly converted in the 68th minute and Scotland made it -by the skin of their teeth- to a victory. It may not have been a high-scoring match but both teams fought valiantly to the end, and Scotland got a much deserved win.
15 Chris Paterson 14 Nikki Walker 13 Joe Ansbro 12 Graeme Morrison 11 Sean Lamont 10 Ruaridh Jackson 9 Rory Lawson 1 Allan Jacobsen 2 Ross Ford 3 Geoff Cross 4 Jim Hamilton 5 Richie Gray 6 Alasdair Strokosch 7 Ross Rennie 8 Johnnie Beattie BENCH: 16 Dougie Hall 17 Alasdair Dickinson 18 Alastair Kellock 19 David Denton 20 Greig Laidlaw 21 Nick de Luca 22 Jack Cuthbert
SCORERS T: Ansbro C: Jackson P: Paterson
15 Rob Kearney 14 Andrew Trimble 13 Fergus McFadden 12 Paddy Wallace 11 Luke Fitzgerald 10 Jonathan Sexton 9 Tomas O'Leary 1 Tom Court 2 Sean Cronin 3 Tony Buckley 4 Donnacha Ryan 5 Leo Cullen (C) 6 Mike McCarthy 7 Niall Ronan 8 Denis Leamy BENCH: 16 Jerry Flannery 17 Marcus Horan 18 John Hayes 19 Mick O'Driscoll 20 Kevin McLaughlin 21 Isaac Boss 22 Felix Jones
Eden Park, Auckland - Saturday 6th August 2011
CANADA 28 - 22 USA
BMO Field, Toronto - Saturday 6th August 2011
DESPITE a late comeback from the Eagles, Canada held on for a 28-22 win in front of a record crowd of more than 10,000 at BMO Field. In so doing Canada retain the Can/Am Trophy.
The USA produced some excellent passages of play, scoring three team tries in the process.
Canada scored in the opening few minutes through flanker Jebb Sinclair who capitalised on a stray, quick line-out. Wing James Pritchard converted from the touchline, giving Canada a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles came back through strong forward play, resulting in a successful penalty for fly half Nese Malifa. Shortly thereafter, the Eagles maintained phase possession, and stretched the Canadian defence. Biarritz winger Takudzwa Ngwenya stepped inside his defender, breaking free for the first USA try. After Malifa's conversion the Eagles lead 10-7 with 25 minutes played.
Canada had their chances in the first half, but was stopped by some excellent American defence. The next score came from broken play with hooker Phil Thiel superbly offloading in the tackle. The ball eventually found Kevin Swiryn who set free captain Todd Clever, diving over in the corner to score.
Canada kicked a late penalty to end the half with the Eagles leading 15-10.
The second period did not start well for the USA as Malifa fumbled a pass on his own try line, resulting in a five pointer for wing Phil Mackenzie. Pritchard converted, and Canada led 17-15. Soon afterwards, Canadian scrum half Ed Fairhurst broke through and slid his way over for another try.
The Eagles were certainly not done, and bounced back with Clever smashing through at close range, scoring his second of the match. Replacement Tai Enosa kicked the extra, and brought the scoreboard within three points.
The last few minutes kept the fans on the edge of their seats, but it wasn't to be for the visitors, as Canada kicked a final penalty to edge the USA 28-22.
15 Matt Evans 14 Phil Mackenzie 13 DTH van der Merwe 12 Mike Scholz 11 James Pritchard 10 Ander Monro 9 Ed Fairhurst 1 Hubert Buydens 2 Pat Riordan (C) 3 Jason Marshall 4 Brian Erichsen 5 Jamie Cudmore 6 Jebb Sinclair 7 Chauncey O'Toole 8 Aaron Carpenter BENCH: 16 Ryan Hamilton 17 Scott Franklin 18 Tyler Hotson 19 Adam Kleeberger 20 Sean White 21 Ryan Smith 22 Ciaran Hearn
SCORERS T: Sinclair, Mackenzie, Fairhurst C: Pritchard (2) P: Pritchard (3)
15 Blaine Scully 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya 13 Paul Emerick 12 Andrew Suniula 11 Kevin Swiryn 10 Nese Malifa 9 Mike Petri 1 Mate Moeakiola 2 Phillip Thiel 3 Shawn Pittman 4 John van der Giessen 5 Hayden Smith 6 Louis Stanfill 7 Todd Clever (C) 8 Nic Johnson BENCH: 16 Chris Biller 17 Eric Fry 18 Inaki Basauri 19 Jonathan Gagiano 20 Tim Usasz 21 Roland Suniula 22 Tai Enosa
SCORERS T: Ngwenya, Clever (2) C: Malifa, Enosa P: Malifa
Westpac Stadium, Wellington - Saturday 30th July 2011
KO: Aus 17:35 | SA 09:35 | NZ 19:35 | BST 08:35
ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park - Saturday 23 July 2011
HT: 15-6 Att: 52,788
CARISBROOK, DUNEDIN - Friday 22nd July 2011
KO: NZ 19:35 | Fiji 19:35 | BST 08:35
THE All Blacks opened the scoring in the third minute with a penalty from young Cantabrian fly half, Colin Slade making his first full test debut in the fundraising match in aid of the Christchurch earthquake relief effort.
In this year's opening bid for the Rugby World Cup title, New Zealand looked a little rusty to begin with but eventually s set the pace with conviction, showing the rugby world they are ready for the challenge to take the ultimate crown later this year in their own back yard.
Looking at the statistics, Fiji was not far behind with 46% possession, and matched the All Blacks in winning own scrums, line outs and tackles, but their penalty count was significantly higher and the home side showed their superiority in finishing well-practiced setpiece moves resulting in the 60-14 steamrollering of the Island side.
The first of four first half tries came from Fijian-born Sitiveni Sivivatu who flew over the whitewash in his inimitable manner. Slade missed only the one conversion before slotting another penalty followed by a neat kick and chase to score his first test try. Sivivatu engineered the next move to put hooker Andrew Hore over for the next try, and Adam Thomson secured the fourth from the setpiece 5m out just before half time.
The Fijians had to battle a 32-0 deficit at the start of the second half, but came out fighting holding onto the ball with territory; it took twelve minutes before Nemia Serelevu side stepped the All Black defence to score, and Seremaia Baikeinuku added the extras.
The slow third quarter was promptly followed by a clinical try from Conrad Smith and excellent teamwork for a sixth from replacement Piri Weepu. The All Black bench was emptied in its entirety and it was Carter who completed the conversion tally of 7 of 8 successful kicks.
A lapse in concentration for the All Blacks saw an impressive try from Vereniki Goneva with a kick, chase and touchdown. With Baikeinuku's conversion, Fiji matched the ABs point for point for half an hour before the referee, Stuart Dickinson awarded an inexplicable penalty try to New Zealand. No doubt they would have scored anyway but this decision was wrong.
A final flourish from the men in black came from Mils Muliaina who found the space to score the eighth try, converted by Carter as the final siren went off across Carisbrook.
1 Wyatt Crockett 2 Andrew Hore 3 Ben Franks 4 Jarrad Hoeata 5 Ali Williams 6 Adam Thomson 7 Richie McCaw [C] 8 Liam Messam 9 Jimmy Cowan 10 Colin Slade 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu 12 Ma'a Nonu 13 Conrad Smith 14 Zac Guildford 15 Mils Muliaina BENCH: 16 Corey Flynn 17 John Afoa 18 Samuel Whitelock 19 Jerome Kaino 20 Piri Weepu 21 Daniel Carter 22 Ben Smith
SCORERS T: Sivivatu, Slade, Hore, Thomson, C Smith, Weepu, PT, Muliaina C: Slade (4), Carter (3) P: Slade (2)
1 Campese Ma'afu 2 Sunia Koto 3 Deacon Manu [C] 4 Sekonaia Kalou 5 Rupeni Nasiga 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu 7 Akapusi Qera 8 Sakiusa Matadigo 9 Nemia Serelevu 10 Seremaia Baikeinuku 11 Napolioni Nalaga 12 Ravai Fatiaki 13 Albert Vulivuli 14 Timoci Nagusa 15 Iliesa Keresoni BENCH: 16 Viliame Veikoso 17 Setefano Somoca 18 Josefa Domolailai 19 Malakai Ravulo 20 Vitori Buatava 21 Taniela Rawaqa 22 Vereniki Goneva
SCORERS T: Serelevu, Goneva C: Baikeinuku (2)
ANZ STADIUM, SYDNEY - Sunday 17th July 2011
HT: 10-17 ATT: 29,808
SAMOA stunned a nation with a memorable and convincing win over Australia in Sydney, outscoring the home side 4 tries to 2, and issued a stern warning to their opponents ahead of the Rugby World Cup. The Qantas Wallabies fell 9 points short in their first outing for 2011 going down Manu Samoa 32-23 in front of 29,808 fans in slippery conditions at ANZ Stadium today.
Samoa led the Qantas Wallabies at half time 17-10 thanks to two converted tries from Leicester Tigers' Alesana Tuilagi, Sale Sharks' Paul Williams and a penalty goal from Suntory's Tusi Pisi in the first 30 minutes of play but Australia hit back in the final 10 minutes of the half when Digby Ioane crossed for a try and Matt Giteau slotted the conversion followed by a penalty goal right on half time.
The Australian's struck first in the second half thanks to another Matt Giteau penalty, however Samoa took time to regroup at halftime and were the first over the chalk after the break with a brilliant try to lock Kane Thompson in the 46th minute taking the visitors back out to a 22-13 lead, despite being a man short after Dan Leo was shown yellow in the 37th minute.
Beau Robinson made his Qantas Wallabies debut in the 51st minute when he replaced Matt Hodgson but it was the Samoans who were making all the running when Clermont Auvergne's George Pisi benefitted from a clever Tuilagi chip kick which the Wallabies fumbled near the visitor's try line just eight minutes later, with the star centre diving over to secure a 16-point following another successful conversion by Tusi Pisi lead which Australia never looked like being able to overturn.
The Qantas Wallabies reduced the margin to 13 after Giteau slotted another penalty goal in the 58th minute, however that was cancelled out when Tusi Pisi successfully converted a 66th minute penalty goal.
With just 9 minutes, a slice of individual brilliance from Wallabies replacement backrower Scott Higginbotham gave the Wallabies hope when the Super Rugby champion chipped and regathered the ball before throwing a miraculous offload to Giteau to send the fly half over in the corner, who converted his own try to reduce the difference to just 9 points, however the gap was too great and the Samoans ran out victors 32-23.
Maybe this result will go some way in proving to the detractors of northern hemisphere rugby that the north does play an excellent level of rugby as illustrated by the Samoans, the majority of whom play their club rugby north of the equator.
Following the Qantas Wallabies 32-23 loss to Manu Samoa Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said:
"We weren't good enough at what we did. They're a good combination, it was a globally selected side, it's a world cup squad, where we're at, we're just stating we knew that.
"Some of the Reds who didn't come back into the squad until Monday will come back into contention but in regards to the injured players not much will change there, we'll just have to wait and see, we've got six days until we face the Springboks."
Qantas Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom said:
"I'm not happy about it, I don't think anyone is. They put on good shots and they deserved to win but we weren't effective enough in attack.
"I think the island sides are better when they get their full complement back and I think they'd be happy to have all their players all the time."
The visitors were outstanding, regularly out muscling the Wallabies at the breakdown while their dangerous backline outshined the disjointed Australians.
Skipper Mahroni Schwalger was delighted with the win.
"This is something special, a win like this creates history for Samoa," Schwalger said.
"To beat Australia, we had to beat them at their own game and we knew we could beat them in contact."
Samoa assistant coach Aussie McLean said the nine-point victory gives his side great hope for the Rugby World Cup which is just over eight weeks away.
"Today was about respect, we wanted to get respect and today we did that," McLean said.
"Our goal at the Rugby World Cup is to make the quarter-finals, and out there today our players performed 15-20 per cent better in the blue jersey than what they would have done if they were playing for their clubs and that's what you want in a side," McLean said.
Australia 15 Mark Gerrard 14 James O'Connor 13 Adam Ashley Cooper 12 Pat McCabe 11 Digby Ioane 10 Matt Giteau 9 Nick Phipps 8 Ben McCalman 7 Matt Hodgson 6 ROCKY ELSOM (C) 5 Nathan Sharpe 4 Sitaleki Timani 3 Ben Alexander 2 Stephen Moore 1 Sekope Kepu BENCH: 16 James Hanson 17 Pekahou Cowan 18 Dan Vickerman 19 Scott Higginbotham 20 Beau Robinson 21 Will Genia 22 Kurtley Beale
SCORERS T: Digby Ioane, Matt Giteau C: Matt Giteau (2) P: Matt Giteau (3)
Samoa 15 Paul Williams 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau 13 George Pisi 12 Seilala Mapusua (VC) 11 Alesana Tuilagi 10 Tusi Pisi 9 Kahn Fotuali'i 8 George Stowers 7 Maurie Fa'asavalu 6 Taisina Tuifu'a 5 Daniel Leo 4 Kane Thompson 3 Anthony Perenise 2 MAHONRI SCHWALGER (C) 1 Sakaria Taulafo BENCH: 16 Ti'i Paulo 17 Census Johnston 18 Filipo Lavea Levi 19 Manaia Salavea 20 Brenton Helleur 21 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu 22 James So'oialo
SCORERS T: Alesana Tuilagi, Paul Williams, Kane Thompsen, George Pisi C: Tusi Pisi (3) P: Tusi Pisi (2) Dan Leo