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THE RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS 2012
FNB Stadium, Soweto - Saturday 6th October 2012
KO: 17:00 SAST HT: 16-12
HEAD TO HEAD
NEW ZEALAND rounded off their tournament with a win against South Africa, much to the disappointment of the very vocal Springbok home crowd. The All Blacks did not have a confident start though, with South Africa scooping early points thanks to a try from Bryan Habana. Johan Goosen converted, although he had been handed the chance to open scoring twice, missing two penalties in quick succession.
The visitors looked barely a shadow of their usual selves, with poor handling and sloppy mistakes. The situation worsened as Goosen slotted his only penalty of the match and increased the deficit to 10 points within 20 minutes of play.
However, this suddenly riled the All Blacks and soon they were thundering towards the defensive line with authority. It took all of 5 minutes for Sam Whitelock to force himself over for a touchdown with two Springboks clinging to his shirt.
Dan Carter was unable to find his mark with the conversion but at least the visitors were finally playing as expected. Swiftly the scores were tied as Aaron Smith darted through for a try, evading the clutches of a scrambling South African pack.
Carter converted and the Bokke took a heavy blow as Goosen had to leave the pitch with injury, causing Elton Jantjies to enter the fray in his place. The young replacement soon proved himself, hauling the homeside back in front to a roar from the crowd with a penalty.
The All Blacks had a tough time with restarts during the half, their kicking generally was poor in open play, and this led to the Springboks gaining another penalty. Jantjies slotted it and the Springboks headed in 16-12 up at the whistle.
The second half saw a reversal of roles, the Springboks suddenly jittery around the mighty force of the All Blacks. The restart was all Ma’a Nonu needed to seek out a gap and the whitewash, dragging the visitors back in front after a stunning display of open play.
Carter was on target with the conversion this time around and from this point on it was an All Black match. Jantjies had a chance to level the tallies but swerved the ball wide. New Zealand rampaged around the field and applied plenty of pressure, which eventually tolled.
Conrad Smith reaped the rewards of a solid All Black scrum, a rare thing in this match for both sides, to crash over and plant the ball. Carter added the extras and South Africa needed to respond quickly.
Although the Bokke were excellent at the lineout, strong in the breakdown and quick at passing, they simply could not break the All Black defence. Carter was even given enough room to manage a brilliant drop goal and increase the advantage further.
However, at points the Springboks did worry the visitors, at one point causing Israel Dagg to be sent to the sin bin as he halted an attack but infringed at the breakdown. Though down to only 14 men, the All Blacks were able to shut down any offensive moves the Springboks threw at them.
The All Blacks could taste victory and Carter sealed it with a penalty in the 71st minute before being replaced by Aaron Cruden. The flyhalf had a shot at goal in the 80th minute but it flew wide and the game was over; it was a bitter end from such a promising beginning for South Africa.
15 Zane Kirchner 14 Bryan Habana 13 Jaco Taute 12 JEAN DE VILLIERS (C) 11 Francois Hougaard 10 Johan Goosen 9 Ruan Pienaar 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Willem Alberts 6 Francois Louw 5 Andries Bekker 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Jannie du Plessis 2 Adriaan Strauss 1 Tendai Mtawarira BENCH: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg 17 Coenie Oosthuizen 18 Flip van der Merwe 19 Marcell Coetzee 20 Elton Jantjies 21 Juan de Jongh 22 Pat Lambie
SCORERS T: Habana C: Goosen P: Goosen, Jantjies (2)
15 Israel Dagg 14 Cory Jane 13 Conrad Smith 12 Ma'a Nonu 11 Hosea Gear 10 Daniel Carter 9 Aaron Smith 8 Kieran Read 7 RICHIE MCCAW (C) 6 Liam Messam 5 Sam Whitelock 4 Brodie Retallick 3 Owen Franks 2 Andrew Hore 1 Tony Woodcock BENCH: 16 Keven Mealamu 17 Ben Franks 18 Luke Romano 19 Adam Thomson 20 Piri Weepu 21 Aaron Cruden 22 Tamati Ellison
SCORERS T: Whitelock, A Smith, Nonu, C Smith C: Carter (3) P: Carter DG: Carter Dagg
Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU) Asst. Referees: Romain Poite (FFR) G. Garner (RFU) TMO: S. Veldsman (SARU)
Estadio Gigante de Arroyito, Rosario - Saturday 6th October 2012
KO: 20:10 ART HT: 9-15 Att: tba
HEAD TO HEAD
AUSTRALIA came out on top against Argentina in the last match of The Rugby Championship 2012 to claim the runners-up spot. The visitors were first to draw blood, with a straight forward penalty from Mike Harris. This was gained due to the Pumas infringing at the ruck, a problem that would occur throughout the match.
The ball slipped from everyone’s hands and although the Wallabies had plenty of opportunities to claim points, their handling let them down and left them wanting. Another 3-pointer from Harris extended the lead but this was swiftly cancelled out by Juan Martín Hernández slotting one of his own.
However, the Pumas indiscipline at the breakdown continued and allowed Harris another successful shot at goal. The Wallabies broke free and looked to have scored against the right upright but instead were given a penalty, which Harris duly slotted.
The referee, Craig Joubert, was overly keen on the whistle throughout the match and stopped any flow from building. His temper wore thin fairly rapidly with the homeside’s inability to enter a ruck correctly and Patricio Albacete was sent marching for his infringement.
Harris slotted the resultant penalty and Argentina replied with another from Hernández, who did well from the wide angle. The frustrations on both sides of not being able to keep possession began to show, with big, and often high, tackles being made.
Kurtley Beale decided to have a shot from beyond halfway but was unable to find his mark and Hernández fell afoul of inaccuracy soon after too. The Argentinian fly-half had one last chance before the break but it flew wide, leaving the score 9-15.
The restart saw much of the same, Australia dominating in terms of territory and possession but unable to finish key moves. Several scorching runs came to nothing as did a penalty from Harris, whilst the Pumas were beginning to prowl.
The homeside came within inches of the tryline through several phases of pick and drives but were not quite forceful enough to find the whitewash. They did pick up a further 3 points for their troubles from the boot of Marcelo Bosch though.
No sooner had the Australian’s averted danger were they racing off down the pitch and scoring, thanks to the expertise of Digby Ioane. Harris added the extras and the Wallabies could breathe a little.
The Pumas continued to test the visitors’ defence but their breakdown left much to be desired and allowed the Wallabies to shut down any decent attacks. Harris slotted another 3 points to keep the Wallabies’ scoreboard ticking but his side then took a blow as Brett Sheehan was shown a yellow for his indiscipline at the ruck.
Amidst a rally of pressure from the Pumas, Rodrigo Roncero left the field to be replaced by Eusebio Guiñazú to huge applause, hanging up his boots for the Pumas. After this moment of reflection had passed the Pumas produced some magic, finally breaking through the steely Australian defence to put Juan Imhoff over the tryline.
Bosch added the extras and the Pumas had a glimmer of hope. However, the visitors’ managed to grab a final penalty to run down the clock with, which Bosch missed by miles, and the Pumas had to accept to the cold reality of defeat.
15 Lucas González Amorosino 14 Gonzalo Camacho 13 Marcelo Bosch 12 Santiago Fernández 11 Horacio Agulla 10 Juan Martín Hernández 9 Martín Landajo 1 Rodrigo Roncero 2 Eusebio Guiñazú 3 Juan Figallo 4 Manuel Carizza 5 Patricio Albacete 6 Julio Farías Cabello 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón 8 JUAN MARTÍN FERNÁNDEZ LOBBE (C) BENCH: 16 Agustín Creevy 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi 18 Leonardo Senatore 19 Tomás Leonardi 20 Nicolás Vergallo 21 Nicolás Sánchez 22 Juan Imhoff
SCORERS T: Imhoff C: Bosch P: Hernández (3), Bosch Albacete
15 Mike Harris 14 Nick Cummins 13 Ben Tapuai 12 Pat McCabe 11 Digby Ioane 10 Kurtley Beale 9 Nick Phipps 1 James Slipper 2 Tatafu Polota Nau 3 Ben Alexander 4 Kane Douglas 5 NATHAN SHARPE (C) 6 Sitaleki Timani 7 Michael Hooper 8 Radike Samo BENCH: 16 Saia Fainga'a 17 Benn Robinson 18 Dave Dennis 19 Scott Higginbotham 20 Liam Gill 21 Brett Sheehan 22 Dom Shipperley
SCORERS T: Ioane C: Harris P: Harris (6) Sheehan
Referee: Craig Joubert (SARU) Asst Referees: Jaco Peyper (SARU), Pierre Gauzere (FFR) TMO: Santiago Borsani (UAR)
MANDELA CHALLENGE PLATE
Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria - Saturday 29th September 2012
KO: 17:00 SAST HT: 14-3 Att: 44,463
HEAD TO HEAD
SOUTH AFRICA dominated a lack-lustre Australian side who have struggled throughout the tournament, to win the Mandela Challenge Plate. A moment's silence was held for the passing of Malome Maimane, the Springbok Technical Adviser and pro Boxer Corrie Sanders, before the match got underway.
Both sides began with poor passing and silly mistakes; Berrick Barnes got a chance to capitalise on this but was horridly off target with his shot at the posts. The Springboks were no better with their accuracy, Johan Goosen -making his first start for the Bokke- missing two attempts, and so the scores remained unchanged in the early stages.
Neither side made forceful enough attacks to pierce the opposing defence in the opening minutes, both edging into the enemy 22 before giving away possession again. The Bokke started to pile on the pressure and, after battering the Australian lines, Zane Kirchner found enough space to squeeze through for a touchdown. Ruan Pienaar had taken on kicking duties after Goosen’s failed efforts and hit his mark immediately with the resulting conversion.
It looked as if the South Africans had added to their tally straight after the restart with Goosen throwing himself over. However, the TMO confirmed a double movement and the Wallabies were saved from their lapse in concentration. Pienaar had a chance to extend the lead but pulled the ball wide of the posts; the Bokke were soon up on the Aussies once more though and looked menacing.
The visitors had no answer to the homeside’s power and Bryan Habana swiftly found the whitewash to increase the margin. Pienaar converted and the Australians were lost, unable to halt the Springboks in their push forward. The South Africans could have claimed further points had Kirchner’s kick had more length but the Australians were let off from that misery. Eventually the Wallabies got their tally ticking over, Kurtley Beale slotting an easy penalty in the 34th minute. Pienaar had a chance to nullify this swiftly but hit the woodwork instead.
The Bokke were on the prowl for points before the whistle though, Kirchner going over in the corner but being called out by the TMO in the 38th minute. In the try-saving tackle Adam Ashley-Cooper was knocked out, leaving him unmoving and in need of a stretcher. The siren went and there was little light for the Wallabies to see at the end of the tunnel, being 14-3 down and with barely any promise shown.
The restart saw the Wallabies come back with a few hopeful moves, Beale creating a possible opportunity only to see the Bokke turn the ball over. The scrum left much to be desired from both sides, leaving referee Alain Rolland needing to have words with the packs.
The Wallabies could not find a way to break free from the Springbok defence and gave away possession far too readily, making it easy for the homeside. The situation worsened for the Aussies as James Slipper was caught killing the ball and sent marching to the sin bin. The resulting lineout was simple for the homeside and Francois Louw was sent crashing over the tryline.
The Wallabies continued, in vain, to try and find a gap in the Springbok defence but received nothing except a hammering, being propelled backwards and allowing Habana to cross for a second converted score. Both sides emptied their benches but it did not have the desired effect for the Australians, who still floundered against their opposition.
Finally the Wallabies’ persistence paid off as they spread the ball wide and managed to shoot through Harris into the corner for a touchdown. Players dropped like flies throughout this half and each side saw team members being carried off for attention. However, it was the Wallabies who ended up with serious problems, having used all their subs they could not replace an injured Tatafu Polota Nau, leaving the already limping side down to 14 men.
The scrum became uncontested because of this, and it was clear that the game was all but over for the Wallabies. Pienaar tried to rub salt in the wound but fell just short of the tryline. The same could not be said for Habana though, who bagged himself a hat-trick to call time on a game the Aussies will want to forget.
15 Zane Kirchner 14 Bryan Habana 13 JEAN DE VILLIERS (C) 12 Jaco Taute 11 Francois Hougaard 10 Johan Goosen 9 Ruan Pienaar 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Willem Alberts 6 Francois Louw 5 Andries Bekker 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Jannie du Plessis 2 Adriaan Strauss 1 Tendai Mtawarira BENCH: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg 17 Patrick Cillers 18 Flip van der Merwe 19 Marcell Coetzee 20 Elton Jantjies 21 Jaco Taute/Juan de Jongh 22 Pat Lambie
SCORERS T: Kirchner, Habana (3), Louw C: Pienaar (3)
15 Berrick Barnes 14 Dom Shipperley 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper 12 Pat McCabe 11 Digby Ioane 10 Kurtley Beale 9 Nick Phipps 1 Benn Robinson 2 Tatafu Polota Nau 3 Ben Alexander 4 Kane Douglas 5 NATHAN SHARPE (C) 6 Dave Dennis 7 Michael Hooper 8 Radike Samo BENCH: 16 Saia Fainga'a 17 James Slipper 18 Rob Simmons 19 Liam Gill 20 Brett Sheehan 21 Mike Harris 22 Anthony Fainga'a
SCORERS T: Harris P: Beale James Slipper
Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU) Asst. Referees: Romain Poite (FFR), Greg Garner (RFU) TMO: Shaun Veldsman (SARU)
Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata - Saturday 29th September 2012
KO: 20:10 ART HT: 8-32 Att: 30,000
HEAD TO HEAD
NEW ZEALAND left Argentina for dust as they showed off some stunning rugby in La Plata. Surprisingly it was the Pumas who were first to break ranks, Lucas González Amorosino dodging the defence and offloading to Martín Landajo for a touchdown. Silence fell on the stadium as Juan Martín Hernández teed up but it was not enough to steer the wayward kick through the uprights.
The homeside had a chance to extend their early lead but Marcelo Bosch was unable to find his target from afar. The All Blacks swiftly drew level though, thanks to some brilliant play from Ma’a Nonu who stormed upfield and passed to Aaron Smith to finish under the posts. Dan Carter converted with ease and it was the beginning of the end for the Pumas.
Carter’s accuracy held out as he slotted a penalty to increase the tally and it was not long until the All Blacks were accruing further points. With a precise and unforgiving lineout, the visitors sent the ball out and over the whitewash in the hands of Cory Jane.
Carter made the tricky touchline conversion but Hernandez also found the posts with a 3-pointer soon after, hitting his 100th point mark for the Pumas. This was soon nullified by the All Black kicker and the sky was the limit for the New Zealand scoreboard, as Julian Savea leapt on a loose ball to grab more points.
The Pumas were struggling now, and it took all of 6 minutes for the unstoppable Savea to seek out the tryline again. Carter added the extras and it was a depressing 8-32 gaping deficit for the Pumas as they traipsed into the changing room at half-time.
The restart saw the Pumas attack, and after numerous scrums the homeside were handed a penalty which they took quickly and reaped the rewards as Gonzalo Camacho forced his way over for a score. Hernandez converted and the Pumas showed a small glimmer of what they could produce if given the chance.
But, unfortunately, this moment of elation did not last long for the home crowd, who saw their side taken apart once more by the solid All Black lineout. Jane found the whitewash again as the defence were unable to capture the wriggling winger. The All Blacks truly showed their class in the set pieces, seeing Nonu through to score again with yet more perfectly practiced play. Aaron Cruden, on for Carter, slotted the extras and added a penalty to extend the gap even further.
The Pumas no longer opted for the posts, 3 points were worth nothing by this point, and had plenty of opportunity to put together a decent attack but were halted at every attempt. Patricio Albacete managed to stop the All Blacks from increasing their tally further but the tired Pumas could not hold them for long.
Continual substitutions flooded the field but even fresh legs could not save the Pumas from Jane, who sealed a hat-trick in the 78th minute. Cruden added the extras and the whistle blew on a match where the score was particularly unkind to the homeside.
Meanwhile, McCaw collected the inaugural The Rugby Championship trophy a week earlier than planned as the All Blacks closed down the tournament with time to spare.
15 Lucas González Amorosino 14 Gonzalo Camacho 13 Marcelo Bosch 12 Santiago Fernández 11 Horacio Agulla 10 Juan Martín Hernández 9 Martín Landajo 1 Rodrigo Roncero 2 Eusebio Guiñazú 3 Juan Figallo 4 Manuel Carizza 5 Patricio Albacete 6 Julio Farías Cabello 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón 8 JUAN MARTÍN FERNÁNDEZ LOBBE (C) BENCH: 16 Agustín Creevy 17 Marcos Ayerza 18 Tomás Vallejos 19 Tomás Leonardi 20 Nicolás Vergallo 21 Martín Rodríguez 22 Juan Imhoff
SCORERS T: Landajo, Camacho C: Hernandez P: Hernandez
15 Israel Dagg 14 Cory Jane 13 Conrad Smith 12 Ma'a Nonu 11 Julian Savea 10 Daniel Carter 9 Aaron Smith 8 Kieran Read 7 RICHIE MCCAW (C) 6 Liam Messam 5 Sam Whitelock 4 Luke Romano 3 Owen Franks 2 Andrew Hore 1 Tony Woodcock BENCH: 16 Keven Mealamu 17 Charlie Faumuina 18 Brodie Retallick 19 Sam Cane 20 Piri Weepu 21 Aaron Cruden 22 Ben Smith
SCORERS T: Aaron Smith, Jane (3), Savea (2), Nonu C: Carter (3), Cruden (2) P: Carter (2), Cruden
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU) Asst Referees: Craig Joubert (SARU), Pierre Gauzere (FFR) TMO: Francisco Pastrana (UAR)
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin - Saturday 15th September 2012
KO: 19:35 NZST HT: 5-3 Att: 29,014
HEAD TO HEAD
NEW ZEALAND were lucky that South Africa had an awful kicking game and could not capitalise on their opportunities, allowing the All Blacks to steal a victory that should not have been theirs. The All Blacks came up against some solid defence in the first quarter and the Bokke were pulling no punches as they threatened the homeside’s tryline.
Within 4 minutes the visitors were looking menacing and very nearly scored, had it not been for a fumble by Bryan Habana putting the ball into touch inches away from the whitewash. But this did not deter the Springboks, who swiftly closed down any All Black attack, and when the homeside refused to release, the Bokke won a shot at goal. Frans Steyn stepped up to the tee out wide almost from half way, but his effort went awry, leaving the Bokke unable to draw first blood.
The homeside continued to make errors, especially at the scrum, earning South Africa a free-kick before their driving maul was pulled down illegally to grab the visitors another penalty. This time Morné Steyn had a go at the posts and found the target without a problem after 17 minutes of play.
The All Blacks hit back in truly stunning style, passing gracefully to put Israel Dagg over for a try within 60 seconds of the restart. The conversion was missed but the All Blacks had woken up a little. However, the homeside could not refrain from infringing, giving away another 3-pointer, which fortunately for them was swerved wide by Morné Steyn from 50 metres. The visitors were soon teeing up again, for an optimistic attempt from 58 metres out, which just fell short. The All Blacks were extremely lucky that the Bokke did not have their kicking boots on, giving away yet another penalty from the breakdown.
The All Blacks were all over the place towards the end of the half, making mistakes that allowed South Africa to apply lasting pressure. As time ticked down, the visitors were offered one more chance to grab 3 points, but Morné Steyn once again was unable to direct the ball inbetween the woodwork, though it was from just outside the 22. The whistle blew and the Bokke should have been in a comfortable lead, not 5-3 down due to off-target kicking.
New Zealand tried to freshen up their attack with Aaron Smith on for Piri Weepu. However, the problems with set pieces continued and the Bokke collected from an All Black lineout to begin an attack that saw Habana cross for a long-missed touchdown. Morné Steyn could not make the conversion but finally the visitors were deservedly in front.
But some indiscipline by the Bokke soon allowed Aaron Cruden to equalise. On top of this the South Africans decided to begin kicking possession away instead of keeping the ball in hand; a strange tactic for a side whose boots had not been reliable so far.
Smith hauled the homeside back into the advantage, providing a bolt of speed to storm over the whitewash. This caused a surge from the Springbok bench whilst Cruden added the extras. The situation soured as Dean Greyling, who had just entered the fray was sent marching for punching Richie McCaw. This has earned Greyling a two week suspension after being cited by SANZAR.
Johan Goosen could not find the posts with his first shot but was swiftly teeing up again and slotted this effort to cut the deficit. Tempers were fraying and frustrations were causing play to be sloppy, meanwhile the referee was struggling to keep an eye on who was infringing where.
Cruden added a penalty of his own to increase the margin to 7 points again and the Bokke pushed up to apply pressure, but it was not enough. Cruden picked up a final 3 points in overtime and the score gave a poor impression of a game the Springboks should have won with ease.
15 Israel Dagg 14 Cory Jane 13 Conrad Smith 12 Ma'a Nonu 11 Julian Savea 10 Aaron Cruden 9 Piri Weepu 8 Kieran Read 7 RICHIE MCCAW (C) 6 Liam Messam 5 Sam Whitelock 4 Luke Romano 3 Owen Franks 2 Andrew Hore 1 Tony Woodcock BENCH: 16 Keven Mealamu 17 Charlie Faumuina 18 Brodie Retallick 19 Victor Vito 20 Aaron Smith 21 Beauden Barrett 22 Tamati Ellison
SCORERS T: Dagg, Aaron Smith C: Cruden P: Cruden (3)
15 Zane Kirchner 14 Bryan Habana 13 JEAN DE VILLIERS (C) 12 Frans Steyn 11 Francois Hougaard 10 Morne Steyn 9 Ruan Pienaar 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Willem Alberts 6 Francois Louw 5 Juandre Kruger 4 Flip van der Merwe 3 Jannie du Plessis 2 Adriaan Strauss 1 Tendai Mtawarira BENCH: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg 17 Dean Greyling 18 Andries Bekker 19 Marcell Coetzee 20 Johan Goosen 21 Juan de Jongh 22 Pat Lambie
SCORERS T: Habana P: Morne Steyn, Goosen Greyling
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU) Asst Referees: Romain Poite (FFR) James Leckie (ARU) TMO: Vinny Munro (NZRU)
Skilled Park Gold Coast - Saturday 15th September 2012
KO: 20:05 AEST HT: 3-6 Att: 22,278
HEAD TO HEAD
A fast paced game saw Australia severely tested by Argentina before eventually sealing the victory they were desperate for. The homeside began poorly, making unnecessary mistakes and allowing the Pumas to grab the first points. Juan Martín Hernández slotted the penalty, giving the visitors an early lead and added confidence.
The game was frenetic from the off, both sides making good movement into enemy territory before turning over possession. The Wallabies soon had a chance to level the score, but Berrick Barnes was only able to hit the woodwork. The Pumas’ attack was soon causing trouble, Gonzalo Camacho making a break only to be halted illegally by Pat McCabe, earning the Wallaby a spell in the sin bin. The ensuing 3-pointer was missed but the Argentinians were swiftly back in Australian territory.
The Wallabies gained possession and pushed up before Camacho handed over a penalty, which struck the upright again. Radike Samo broke free and looked to be in for a score but two Pumas were on his heels; his touchdown was confirmed to lack control by the TMO.
Eventually the homeside equalised, Berrick Barnes finally hitting his target instead of the upright. However, the Pumas were quickly back in front as Quade Cooper went offside to allow them another 3 points. Dom Shipperley had to be removed from play after having his finger dislocated and was replaced by Kurtley Beale.
Nathan Sharpe darted towards the tryline with 5 minutes of the half left, but the replay showed that Camacho’s brute strength had stopped him from turning to ground the ball. This was to be the last we would see of Camacho, who was injured soon after and forced to leave the pitch. The Pumas fended off the last attacks from the homeside to remain 3-6 up at the break.
At the restart the Australians kept the pace up whilst the Pumas tried some rather interesting tactics, Lucas González Amorosino producing an absolutely awful drop goal attempt. The Wallabies levelled the scores again thanks to Barnes, but a Puma charge down on Cooper saw Tomás Leonardi swoop in for the touchdown, taking a 11-6 lead.
It was all falling apart for the Australians as the kick off saw Julio Farías Cabello fly through the ranks to add further to the tally. Hernández could not make either of the conversions but it looked as if Pumas were going to pull away from the homeside. The points just kept coming as the Pumas collected another 3 points from a frantic Wallabies defence, making the score 6-19.
But the homeside fought back, McCabe making amends for his earlier indiscretions by crashing over for a score. Barnes added the extras to cut the deficit to just 6 points with 20 minutes to go. Digby Ioane was the next to find his way over the whitewash, bringing Australian fans to the edge of their seats as Barnes whacked the conversion through to put the Wallabies on the front foot for the first time of the match.
Barnes exited, replaced by Anthony Fainga'a, leaving Beale to tee up and slot a final penalty in the 78th minute. The Pumas had one final surge but could not crack the Australian defence, leaving them disappointed to have missed out on a win.
It was a tough game for the Wallabies and captain Sharpe recognised the Pumas as a force to worry about saying “They bide their time and they set themselves up, I mean we saw what happened in that two to three minute spell when they put it together and they are dangerous.” It seems the Pumas are on the path to causing an upset with their play just getting stronger with each match.
15 Berrick Barnes 14 Dom Shipperley 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper 12 Pat McCabe 11 Digby Ioane 10 Quade Cooper 9 Nick Phipps 8 Radike Samo 7 Michael Hooper 6 Dave Dennis 5 NATHAN SHARPE (C) 4 Kane Douglas 3 Ben Alexander 2 Tatafu Polota Nau 1 Benn Robinson BENCH: 16 Stephen Moore/Saia Fainga'a 17 James Slipper 18 Scott Higginbotham 19 Liam Gill 20 Brett Sheehan 21 Anthony Fainga'a 22 Kurtley Beale
SCORERS T: McCabe, Ioane C: Barnes (2) P: Barnes(2), Beale McCabe
15 Lucas González Amorosino 14 Gonzalo Camacho 13 Marcelo Bosch 12 Santiago Fernández 11 Horacio Agulla 10 Juan Martín Hernández 9 Martín Landajo 1 Rodrigo Roncero 2 Eusebio Guiñazú 3 Juan Figallo 4 Manuel Carizza 5 Patricio Albacete 6 Julio Farías Cabello 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón 8 JUAN MARTÍN FERNÁNDEZ LOBBE (C) BENCH: 16 Agustín Creevy 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi 18 Leonardo Senatore 19 Tomás Leonardi 20 Nicolás Vergallo 21 Martín Rodríguez 22 Juan Imhoff
SCORERS T: Leonardi, Cabello P: Hernandez (3)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU) Asst. Referees: Nigel Owens (WRU) Glen Jackson (NZRU) TMO: Matt Goddard (ARU)
Westpac Stadium, Wellington - Saturday 8th September 2012
KO: 19:35 NZST HT: 6-5 Att: 30,000
HEAD TO HEAD
A strong first half for Argentina was not enough to save them from the might of the New Zealand, seeing them slip away to seal victory.
The All Blacks began shakily, throwing balls to touch and missing penalties in windy Wellington. However, the Pumas made some mistakes early on and allowed the homeside to draw first blood with a penalty from Aaron Cruden. The tide soon turned though, with the All Blacks losing the ball in open play and being unable to stop Rodrigo Roncero from finding the tryline. This boosted the Pumas confidence and went from uncomfortable defensive play to flying runs and stunning covering lines.
New Zealand were flustered by their opponents, causing them to produce uncharacteristic errors. Meanwhile, any attack the homeside did put together was swiftly shut down by the cast iron Pumas. Both sides made ventures into enemy territory but neither were piercing enough to hone in on the whitewash again.
New Zealand did, however, haul themselves in front with another penalty from Cruden. Play was slowed by the Pumas, helped by the fact that the Rugby Championship is not trialling the new law on using the ball at the ruck. Eventually, this went against them though, allowing the All Blacks to force penalties and cause problems at the breakdown. Argentina began to fade towards the final minutes of the half, Marcelo Bosch having to make a try-saving tackle in the 39th to keep the score just 6-5 as they headed into the break.
The restart was delayed as the flood lights in the stadium faltered and need rebooting, but after a 15 minute delay, once the teams eventually returned to the pitch it was another undesirable start for New Zealand. The Pumas handed over a handy scrum but the All Blacks came in early, not for the first time in the match, to give the Argentinians a free-kick. The Pumas displayed skill in stealing the ball away but some sloppy handling left them with nothing to show for it.
New Zealand began to produce some bursts of speed but silly mistakes also saw them not reap the rewards. The homeside eventually built enough pressure to grab another penalty, and Cruden whacked it through the posts to increase the margin. The Pumas had a chance to reply but Martín Rodríguez was unable to hit the target. There was still fire in the Argentinians though, and they made plenty of attempts to elude the New Zealand defence. But, alas, it was not enough; the All Black attack came flooding forward and, after losing Julio Farías Cabello to the sin bin, it was clear that the visitors were on the back foot.
Cruden hit both uprights with his next shot at goal but the All Blacks had to wait only 7 more minutes before their tally increased. After pushing on the Argentinian line and building some flowing passing, Ma’a Nonu broke through and selflessly offloaded for Julian Savea to finish. Cruden’s conversion flew wide but this was the beginning of the end for the Pumas. Cory Jane soon followed suit, dancing over the tryline whilst the defence scrambled ineffectively. Many questioned the pass beforehand, which looked fairly forward but the score stood and Cruden added the extras.
One last surge from the Pumas gave a moment of hope that they would pick up some consolation points, but New Zealand held them until the end. The Pumas should still be proud of their performance; they certainly proved they deserve their place in this tournament.
15 Israel Dagg 14 Cory Jane 13 Conrad Smith 12 Ma'a Nonu 11 Julian Savea 10 Aaron Cruden 9 Aaron Smith 8 Kieran Read 7 RICHIE MCCAW (C) 6 Victor Vito 5 Brodie Retallick 4 Luke Romano 3 Owen Franks 2 Keven Mealamu 1 Tony Woodcock BENCH: 16 Andrew Hore 17 Charlie Faumuina 18 Sam Whitelock 19 Liam Messam 20 Piri Weepu 21 Beauden Barrett 22 Ben Smith
SCORERS T: Savea, Jane C: Cruden P: Cruden (3)
15 Martín Rodríguez 14 Gonzalo Camacho 13 Marcelo Bosch 12 Santiago Fernández 11 Horacio Agulla 10 Juan Martin Hernandez 9 Nicolás Vergallo 8 JUAN MARTIN FERNÁNDEZ LOBBE (C) 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon 6 Julio Farías Cabello 5 Patricio Albacete 4 Manuel Carizza 3 Juan Figallo 2 Eusebio Guiñazú 1 Rodrigo Roncero BENCH: 16 Agustín Creevy 17 Marcos Ayerza 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi 19 Leonardo Senatore 20 Tomás Leonardi 21 Martín Landajo 22 Lucas González Amorosino
SCORERS T: Roncero Farias
Referee: Romain Poite (FFR) Asst Referees: George Clancy (IRFU), James Leckie (ARU) TMO: Vinny Munro (NZRU)
Paterson Stadium, Perth - Saturday 8th September 2012
KO: 18:35 AEST HT: 6-13 Att: 34,377
HEAD TO HEAD
AFTER an uncomfortable first half that saw the Bokke surge ahead, Australia worked hard in the second half to grab their first points on the table, and retain the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate.
The Springboks were quick off the mark, showing their confidence as Morné Steyn tried for a drop goal after just 2 minutes of play. This attempt at the sticks failed but the fly-half was soon teeing up for a penalty and got South Africa on the scoreboard.
The Wallabies struggled in the scrum early on, not helped by Nigel Owens’ super slow scrum calls, and saw very little ball in hand. Both Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale had some shocking kicks, leaving Australia having to defend hard against a constant barrage from the Bokke. Berrick Barnes equalled the scores against the grain of play, but South Africa were quick to respond.
Bryan Habana forced his way through the defensive line and over the whitewash to put some space between the two sides. Morné Steyn slotted the conversion and Australia looked weak. Some big tackling caused the situation to become heated, Nathan Sharpe being head-butted but the referee choose to have words with him rather than his attacker. (Post match, Eben Etzebeth was cited over contravening Law 10.4 (a) and received a two week match ban for striking Sharpe.) Meanwhile, South Africa won a penalty and Frans Steyn neatly punted it through the posts to further the tally. Barnes soon replied with one of his own though to return the deficit to 7 points.
The Springboks went down to 14 men as The Beast, Tendai Mtawarira was sent marching for foul play but Australia failed to make the most of this. South Africa continued to cause trouble, whilst the Wallabies continued to kick away all possession and showed poor decision-making. The clock ticked down and time was called on what had been a dismal half for Australia; there was much to improve on in order to come back from the 6-13 shortfall.
During the interval strong words must have been had in the Aussie changing rooms about kicking the ball into Springbok hands, and the Wallabies returned to the pitch with a better strategy. They kept this a secret for the first few minutes, still kicking awfully, but after 6 minutes they began to play with purpose. The rewards were reaped quickly, Barnes adding another 3-pointer to cut the margin. Owens turned a blind eye to the Springboks taking a player in the air and, generally, play was more physical. Suddenly the Wallabies broke free and Scott Higginbotham swooped in for a score, pulling Australia into the lead by a point. Barnes added the extras and the game had taken a sharp change in direction.
Frans Steyn levelled the tallies with a penalty but Australia had awoken and were not going to lie back down. Barnes was granted another shot at goal, which he duly slotted to take the advantage once more. But Morné Steyn found his mark and evened the score as he showed off his kicking prowess.
By this point in the match, discipline was a problem for both teams and Owens pulled the captains to one side to warn them the next player not to tow the line would be off to the bin. The Wallabies took it all in their stride and turned up the heat another notch, Ben Alexander flying through for a converted try. This was the sealing moment of glory for Australia but was quickly followed by disaster as both captain Will Genia and kicker Barnes both left the field nursing injuries. The last thing the homeside need is long-term ailments to their key players. But, even with the Australians dropping like flies, the visitors could not turn on some last-minute magic.
Australia were jubilant to finally pick up some points and make their mark in the competition after two weeks of questioning by the media over their performance. There is still plenty for the homeside to iron out, but this certainly gives promise to their fans. However, the Wallabies have lost yet another captain in Genia after his injury of a ruptured ACL will see him on the sidelines for at least six months.
15 Kurtley Beale 14 Dominic Shipperley 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper 12 Berrick Barnes 11 Digby Ioane 10 Quade Cooper 9 WILL GENIA (C) 8 Radike Samo 7 Michael Hooper 6 Dave Dennis 5 Nathan Sharpe 4 Sitaleki Timani 3 Ben Alexander 2 Stephen Moore 1 Benn Robinson BENCH: 16 Tatafu Polota Nau 17 James Slipper 18 Scott Higginbotham 19 Liam Gill 20 Nick Phipps 21 Mike Harris 22 Anthony Fainga'a
SCORERS T: Higginbotham, Alexander C: Barnes (2) P: Barnes (4)
15 Zane Kirchner 14 Bryan Habana 13 JEAN DE VILLIERS (C) 12 Frans Steyn 11 Francois Hougaard 10 Morné Steyn 9 Ruan Pienaar 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Willem Alberts 6 Marcell Coetzee 5 Juandré Kruger 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Jannie du Plessis 2 Adriaan Strauss 1 Beast Mtawarira BENCH: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg 17 Pat Cilliers 18 Flip van der Merwe 19 Francois Louw 20 Johan Goosen 21 Pat Lambie 22 Lwazi Mvovo
SCORERS T: Habana C: Steyn P: Steyn (4) Mtawarira
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU) Asst. Referees: Wayne Barnes (RFU), Glen Jackson (NZRU) TMO: Matt Goddard (ARU)
Eden Park, New Zealand - Saturday 25th August 2012
KO: 19:35 HT: 9-0 Att: 48,000
HEAD TO HEAD
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED MINUTE BY MINUTE...
NZ v Australia Hey There peeps! Anthems done...almost ready for KO after the haka... TheRugbyChampionship rugby
NZ v Australia Oh most excellent - Nigel Owens is reffing - we'll actually gets some rugby & no one posing for camera!
NZ 0-0 Australia 1min We have KO & immediately a knock on from Richie McCaw. Wallabies scrum...
NZ 0-0 Australia 2mins ABs follow up k/o with a penalty for visitors & Stephen Moore has L/O outside ABs 22
NZ 0-0 Australia 3mins Kieran Read nicks the ball but another k/o & ball back to Aussies just outside 22 for scrum
NZ 0-0 Australia 4mins Wallabies pile on the pressure at breakdown but player off feet & Dan Carter clears them out
NZ 0-0 Australia 6mins ABs play it well & win a penalty just outside Aussie 10m line & Carter tees up for goal...
NZ 0-0 Australia 7mins Carter's ball right off; Berrick Barnes takes 22 drop out but a k/o gives ABs 22 scrum
NZ 0-0 Australia 9mins Excellent hands from ABs but magnificent tackle leaves them inches short of the try into touch
NZ 0-0 Australia 10mins Well this week's game is about 100% better & more interesting than last week's borefest!
NZ 0-0 Australia 11mins Aussies haven't got far from own 22 tho; win L/O but struggling at the breakdown
NZ 0-0 Australia 13mins Play finally back to H/W & ABs in possession but penalty to Wallabies but kick doesn't find touch
NZ 0-0 Australia 14mins Wallabies make it over 10m but massive hit from Read knocks them backwards to behind own 10m
NZ 0-0 Australia 15mins ABs k/o has penalty coming for Aussies which is eventually given after a bit of a messy period
NZ 0-0 Australia 16mins Aussie scrum just inside ABs' 10m; visitors had 76% possession so far but ABs defence good
NZ 0-0 Australia 17mins An excellent tackle from Ma'a Nonu allows Sonny Bill Williams to snaffle ball & kick downfield
NZ 0-0 Australia 17mins Carter kicks to touch; ABs inches from T/L & Liam Messam over but Sitaleki Timani rips it away
NZ 0-0 Australia 20mins ABs scrum on Aussie 10m is good but penalty to visitors for infringing at breakdown
NZ 0-0 Australia 21mins Aussie L/O as ABs hold them back in own territory before Will Genia high kicks it to 22
NZ 0-0 Australia 23min Aerial football ensues resulting in ABs L/O on own 10m but not working too well but just retain
NZ 0-0 Australia 25mins Once secured, Cory Jane charges to 22, recycled repeatedly incl. huge hit on SBW til win penalty
NZ 3-0 Australia 25mins Carter tees up from just wide of posts around 10m line & this time successful
NZ 3-0 Australia 27mins Genia kicks ball into 22 but no one there to collect & ABs clear back to H/W for Aussie L/O
NZ 3-0 Australia 29mins ABs now have had 70%; k/o ball ignored & Genia binned for slapping ball down - not good call
NZ 6-0 Australia 30mins No scrum half for Aussies for remaining 10; Berrick Barnes has to step in while Carter adds 3
NZ 6-0 Australia 33mins ABs run back into Aussie territory from restart after Wallabies keep kicking away possession
NZ 6-0 Australia 34mins Kurtley Beale replaces injured Drew Mitchell & ABs have scrum on Aussie 22
NZ 6-0 Australia 35mins But Luke Romano fwd passes giving ball back to visitors while skipper Genia can only watch
NZ 6-0 Australia 37mins Wallaby scrum on own 22 but ABs steal it & just 7m out from whitewash...
NZ 6-0 Australia 38mins Ben Alexander & Michael Hooper both offside at breakdown so Carter tees up again inside 22 now
NZ 9-0 Australia 39mins Looks like James Slipper will replace Benn Robinson in front row while Carter kicks 3 more
NZ 9-0 Australia 40mins ABs back in Aussie territory & as Genia returns to field of play, Barnes kicks ball into touch
NZ 9-0 Australia HT P: Carter (3) | YC: Genia
NZ12-0 Australia 41mins Bad start for Wallabies as give Carter opportunity to kick for goal from 51m which he slots perfectly
NZ12-0 Australia 42mins Anthony Fainga'a has replaced Rob Horne in centre...
NZ 17-0 Australia 44mins Awesome offload from SBW to Carter > Read > SBW > Aaron Smith > Israel Dagg > T/L > score
NZ 19-0 Australia 45mins Carter converts as Wallabies flounder in disbelief; Radike Samo on for Scott Higginbotham
NZ 19-0 Australia 47mins Andrew Hore & Brodie Retallick on for Luke Romano & Keven Mealamu
NZ 19-0 Australia 48mins Nathan Sharpe pinged for offside & Owens warns Aussies cards on way if don't stop it...
NZ 22-0 Australia 48mins Meanwhile, Carter adds yet another 3-pointer from resulting penalty
NZ 22-0 Australia 52mins Aussies finally get it together & opt for a try attempt rather than 3pts from fwd pass...
NZ 22-0 Australia 53mins Good work from Wallabies as inch closer to T/L but Read steals it dubiously & moment lost
NZ 22-0 Australia 54mins Aussies attack again but Genia takes his eye off the ball & ABs nick it
NZ 22-0 Australia 56mins ABs clear Wallabies out of own territory & Smith breaks well but penalty Aussies in own 22
NZ 22-0 Australia 57mins Wallabies win L/O but ABs get hands on ball & high kick which Genia saves but doesn't go far
NZ 22-0 Australia 58mins Nathan Sharpe pinged again for blocking & ABs have scrum outside Aussie 22
NZ 22-0 Australia 60mins Liam Gill is on for Dave Dennis; Bens Franks & Smith on for Crockett & Nonu
NZ 22-0 Australia 61mins ABs attack T/L proficiently again but ball pours fwd so no try confirmed by TMO; Cooper warned
NZ 22-0 Australia 64mins ABs L/O on own 22 and defend well; Aussies attack back from H/W but t/o at breakdown
NZ 22-0 Australia 65mins ABs scrum just outside own 10m line but mess it up & Aussie have the penalty
NZ 22-0 Australia 66mins Wallabies set up favourable L/O but Moore ends up isolated in ABs 22 & pinged
NZ 22-0 Australia 68mins ABs clear & shift play back to the mid field; Wallabies in possession & battle back to H/W
NZ 22-0 Australia 69mins But ABs grab possession & suddenly they are on top of the T/L...
NZ 22-0 Australia 69mins Pile of bodies on whitewash & excellent work from Genia & Ashley-Cooper as McCaw spills it
NZ 22-0 Australia 70mins Wallaby 5m scrum is won but Beale kicks it away AGAIN>Smith outside 22 charges before tackled
NZ 22-0 Australia 72mins Aussies manage to t/o ball & clear to midfield but can't score a pts without possession!
NZ 22-0 Australia 74mins Yet again Wallaby ball kicked away & ABs collect & get into Aussie 22 but Cooper saves it
NZ 22-0 Australia 76mins ABs have it again & Weepu plays it back; played on ground & ABs scrum outside Aussie 22
NZ 22-0 Australia 76mins Victor Vito, Piri Weepu & Aaron Cruden have come on for Messam, Aaron Smith & Dagg
NZ 22-0 Australia 78mins Carter runs ball over T/L but passes back & out to no one...
NZ 22-0 Australia 79mins ABs attack again tho only have to run the clock down...
NZ 22-0 Australia 80mins Crowd counts down the clock & it's all over with ABs retaining Bledisloe Cup...again
NZ 22-0 Australia FT ABs not held Wallabies to a nil win for 50 years. Not looking good for Aussies...
15 Israel Dagg 14 Cory Jane 13 Ma'a Nonu 12 Sonny Bill Williams 11 Hosea Gear 10 Daniel Carter 9 Aaron Smith 8 Kieran Read 7 RICHIE MCCAW (C) 6 Liam Messam 5 Samuel Whitelock 4 Luke Romano 3 Owen Franks 2 Keven Mealamu 1 Wyatt Crockett BENCH: 16 Andrew Hore 17 Ben Franks 18 Brodie Retallick 19 Victor Vito 20 Piri Weepu 21 Aaron Cruden 22 Ben Smith
SCORERS T: Dagg C: Carter P: Carter (5)
15 Adam Ashley-Cooper 14 Drew Mitchell 13 Rob Horne 12 Berrick Barnes 11 Digby Ioane 10 Quade Cooper 9 WILL GENIA (C) 8 Scott Higginbotham 7 Michael Hooper 6 Dave Dennis 5 Nathan Sharpe 4 Sitaleki Timani 3 Ben Alexander 2 Stephen Moore 1 Benn Robinson BENCH: 16 Saia Fainga’a 17 James Slipper 18 Radike Samo 19 Liam Gill 20 Nick Phipps 21 Anthony Fainga'a 22 Kurtley Beale
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU) Asst. Referees: Alain Rolland (IRFU), Lourens van der Merwe (SARU) TMO: Ben Skeen (NZRU)
Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza - Saturday 25th August 2012
KO: 16:10 ART HT: 13-3 Att: tbc
HEAD TO HEAD
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED MINUTE BY MINUTE...
Pumas v South Africa Well the atmosphere appears to be electric in Mendoza as Argentina welcomes the rugby
Argentina v South Africa The anthems do sound like cats being strangled on both sides! Oops! rugby
Argentina v South Africa Sell out crowd at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas...& they have standing terraces at either end
Argentina v South Africa & oh look...there's the vainest chap in rugby, Mr Steve Walsh himself in charge.
Argentina v South Africa Just waiting for the band to get off the slightly narrower & shorter pitch to KO...
Argentina v South Africa 1min Boks directly into Pumas 22 but moved too quickly & pen goes to Pumas
Argentina 0-0 South Africa 2mins But Pumas hand over a quick pen which Frans Steyn lines up at posts but misses
Argentina 0-0 Springboks 4mins Pumas have 1st scrum & win kickable pen after Boks try to knock over Rodrigo Roncero
Argentina 0-0 Springboks 5mins Martín Rodríguez' kick falls just under the crossbar. Crowd is riotously loud :o)
Argentina 0-0 Springboks 7mins Pumas 5m L/O but Eusebio Guiñazú throw in is a bit rubbish so Francois Hougaard clears
Argentina 0-0 Springboks 9mins Next L/O is much better for Pumas as is 3rd as they drive fwd just outside Bok 10m
Argentina 3-0 Springboks 10mins Another pen to Pumas thanks to Andries Bekker & Rodríguez this time finds mark to open score
Argentina 3-0 Springboks 13mins Bokke have a good lineout outside Pumas' 22 & try to dive fwd but excellent defence
Argentina 3-0 Springboks 14mins Boks lose ground & Pumas t/o ball at the breakdown. The crowd is awesome.
Argentina 3-0 Springboks 15mins Pumas lose ball at scrum & Boks attack but Bekker loses it fwd & Pumas charge over H/W
Argentina 8-0 Springboks 16mins Impressive pressure from Pumas as Bokke struggle while Santiago Fernández saunters over T/L
Argentina 10-0 Springboks 17mins The conversion is good & Pumas are exploiting their home advantage well so in control
Argentina 10-0 Springboks 20mins Another good L/O for the Pumas as they play to get out of their own half successfully
Argentina 10-0 Springboks 22mins A spot of kicking back & forth ends with Bokke going backwards in own half in possession
Argentina 10-0 Springboks 23mins Bok ball handling skills leave much to be desired today; scrappy play & pen to Pumas
Argentina 10-0 Springboks 24mins Pen within Rodríguez' range so he tees up from just inside H/W but flies way wide
Argentina 10-0 Springboks 25mins Time out before Bok scrum...
Argentina 10-0 Springboks 27mins Scrum not working too well for Boks either; just in Pumas' 1/2 but homeside causing headaches
Argentina 10-0 Springboks 28mins Finally some momentum going fwd but still not over 10m yet...
Argentina 10-0 Springboks 29mins HUGE tackles coming in from both sides before pen goes to Bokke; Morné Steyn tees up...
Argentina 10-0 Springboks 30mins Morné Steyn doesn't start well as ball goes wide so all Pumas way after half hour gone
Argentina 10-0 Springboks 31mins Bok tempers are flaring as Walsh pings Pumas for obstruction tho high ball caught well
Argentina 10-3 Springboks 32mins Morné's kick at posts this time is good from 22 & finally Bokke have some points on the board
Argentina 10-3 Springboks 34mins Another good L/O for Pumas over Boks 10m & Walsh plays advantage before awarding pen
Argentina 13-3 Springboks 35mins Rodríguez kicks bang thru uprights while Tomás Leonardi on for Álvaro Galindo
Argentina 13-3 Springboks 38mins Adriaan Strauss effects a t/o & Pumas pinged for not releasing at breakdown...Boks over H/W
Argentina 13-3 Springboks 39mins Boks make it over Pumas' 22 with some verve finally but Marcell Coetzee spills it fwd
Argentina 13-3 Springboks 40mins Final L/O goes to Bokke as hooter for HT goes & ball lost fwd by both sides
Argentina 13-3 Springboks HT T: Fernández C: Rodríguez P: Rodríguez (2) | P: Morné Steyn rugby
Argentina 13-3 Springboks HT Boks all scatterbrained with no plan working while Pumas exploit them & some impressive defence
Argentina 13-3 Springboks 41mins We're back & the Bokke really need to up their game to beat Pumas who've never lost here
Argentina 13-3 Springboks 42mins Another good L/O for Pumas but fwd pass pinged so scrum Boks outside own 22 & reset
Argentina 13-3 Springboks 44mins Another pen to Bokke & Frans Steyn tees up from his side of H/W...
Argentina 13-3 Springboks 45mins Excellent distance but accuracy slightly off again so score remains
Argentina 13-3 Springboks 46mins Bokke now finally deep in Pumas 22 but a timeout as Nicolás Sánchez gets treatment
Argentina 13-3 Springboks 47mins L/O might be in their own 22 but Pumas deftly clear Bokke out of the danger zone
Argentina 13-6 Springboks 48mins But Roncero hands over a pen for Morne Steyn to kick bang between uprights
Argentina 13-6 Springboks 49mins Excellent restart for Pumas into Bokke 22; Flip van der Merwe on for Bekker
Argentina 13-6 Springboks 50mins van der Merwe immediately wraps his arm round Capt. Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe's neck...
Argentina 16-6 Springboks 51mins Walsh just gives warning & pen even tho been happening thru'out. Rodríguez adds another 3pts
Argentina 16-9 Springboks 53mins As quickly as Pumas gain 3, they hand over a pen by slowing ball down for Frans to cancel out
Argentina 16-9 Springboks 55mins Lucas González Amorosino replaces Sánchez; Bokke pick up speed & on attack on Pumas 22
Argentina 16-9 Springboks 57mins But Patricio Albacete upsets momentum; Bokke come back but Willem Alberts loses it fwd
Argentina 16-9 Springboks 57mins Marcos Ayerza on for Roncero & positions juggled for Boks as Ruan Pienaar on for Bryan Habana
Argentina 16-9 Springboks 60mins Scrum Pumas as they head over Bok 10m & over 22 as Martín Landajo on for Nick Vergallo breaks
Argentina 16-9 Springboks 62mins Landajo just goes down short; Bok clear but Pumas L/O is good as attack in composed fashion
Argentina 16-9 Springboks 64mins Pumas just 10m out from T/L testing Bok defence massively; Fernández drop goal just wide
Argentina 16-14 Springboks 64mins Bok clear & Pumas fluff the ball which Frans Steyn kicks ahead to score
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 65mins As Morne converts to bring scores level, Keegan Daniel is on for Coetzee
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 66mins That was an impressive charge down that led to Frans scoring
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 69mins Pat Cilliers on for Jannie du Plessis; Pumas scrum on H/W
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 70mins This is utterly ridiculous as scrum being set for last 2 minutes yet sod all happening.
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 71mins Pumas looking a little tired; Boks slowing play right down & Walsh just lets it happen...
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 72mins Most knackered is Walsh tho who is so breathless can hardly speak; should bother to get fit
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 73mins Pumas pinged at breakdown & Morne tees up from out wide to deafening catcalls & misses
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 75mins Pumas retaliate heading into Boks territory; Daniel collapses maul & Bokke scrum on 10m
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 77mins Gonzalo Camacho steals possession; ball cleared & Frans kicks it deep but Amorosino returns
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 78mins Tiaan Liebenberg on for Strauss & Leonardo Senatore for Julio Farías Cabello. Bok H/W scrum
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 79mins More time wasted on scrum setting in appalling fashion; Walsh really hasn't a clue
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 80mins Siren's gone & Bokke in possession on attack into Pumas 22 but lost fwd
Argentina 16-16 Springboks 80mins Puma boot kicks ball beyond dead zone & it's a draw in Mendoza
Argentina 16-16 Springboks FT Pumas were unlucky not to get the win & Bokke were unimpressive
15 Martín Rodríguez 14 Gonzalo Camacho 13 Marcelo Bosch 12 Santiago Fernández 11 Horacio Agulla 10 Nicolás Sánchez 9 Nicolás Vergallo 8 JUAN MARTÍN FERNÁNDEZ LOBBE (C) 7 Álvaro Galindo 6 Julio Farías Cabello 5 Patricio Albacete 4 Manuel Carizza 3 Juan Figallo 2 Eusebio Guiñazú 1 Rodrigo Roncero BENCH: 16 Bruno Postiglioni 17 Marcos Ayerza 18 Leonardo Senatore 19 Tomás Leonardi 20 Martín Landajo 21 Lucas González Amorosino 22 Juan Imhoff
SCORERS T: Fernández C: Rodríguez P: Rodríguez (3)
15 Zane Kirchner 14 Bryan Habana 13 JEAN DE VILLIERS (C) 12 Frans Steyn 11 Lwazi Mvovo 10 Morné Steyn 9 Francois Hougaard 8 Willem Alberts 7 Jacques Potgieter 6 Marcell Coetzee 5 Andries Bekker 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Jannie du Plessis 2 Adriaan Strauss 1 Tendai Mtawarira BENCH: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg 17 Pat Cilliers 18 Flip van der Merwe 19 Keegan Daniel 20 Ruan Pienaar 21 Pat Lambie 22 JJ Engelbrecht
SCORERS T: Frans Steyn C: Morné Steyn P: Morné Steyn (3)
Referee: Steve Walsh (ARU) Asst. Referees: Jérôme Garce (FFR), John Lacey (IRFU) TMO: Francisco Pastrana (UAR)
ANZ Stadium, Sydney - Saturday 18th August 2012
KO: 20:05 AEST HT: 10-18 Att: 76,877
HEAD TO HEAD
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED MINUTE BY MINUTE...
Australia v NZ Teams lined up for anthems...are you ready for this?!
Australia v NZ Oh dear. The Kiwi anthem sounds like it's being sung by a child in a tin can.
Australia v NZ Finally all the faffing is over..oh hang on..let's stop for a chat & drink shall we?!?!
Australia v NZ Ref is Alain Rolland - hope he has one of his good days today!
Australia 0-0 NZ 1min Wallabies KO & All Blacks fwd pass! Gold scrum & pen to homeside in ABs 22 already
Australia 2-0 NZ 2mins Berrick Barnes tees up for an easy kick & opens the scoring for the Green & Golds
Australia 3-0 NZ 3mins ABs have possession from ruck on H/W but Wallabies hurtle them into touch; Aussie L/O
Australia 2-0 NZ 4mins Tatafu Polota-Nau throws in & not bad for Wallabies but eventually ABs bring it back
Australia 3-0 NZ 5mins ABs finally enter Wallaby territory but mess it up by coming in from side & pen Aus
Australia 3-0 NZ 7mins Aussies move over H/W but a k/o & ABs have the scrum inside own 10m. Pen ABs & clear to Aus 10m
Australia 3-0 NZ 8mins Good ABs L/O & break from Ma'a Nonu offload to Liam Messam who passes it into touch
Australia 3-0 NZ 10mins L/O is with ABs & Wallabies infringe to give Dan Carter penalty kick at goal...
Australia 3-3 NZ 10mins From just outside 22 out wide Carter is bang on target despite unsporting crowd jeers
Australia 3-3 NZ 12mins ABs scrum just over H/W in Wallaby territory...
Australia 3-8 NZ 12mins Excellent setpiece work from ABs off scrum with Carter offloading to Israel Dagg who scores
Australia 3-8 NZ 12mins Brilliant dummy running from Sonny Bill Williams to distract Aussies for Dagg to charge thru
Australia 3-10 NZ 13mins Carter converts try from same place as before & job done for starters...
Australia 3-10 NZ 15mins Restart puts ABs inside Aussie 22 but homeside secure possession & ABs hand over pen
Australia 3-10 NZ 17mins A second pen for coming in over the top & Rolland pings ABs again; Wallaby L/O inside own 22
Australia 3-10 NZ 17mins Jeez Polota-Nau's sideburns put Wiggo's to shame!
Australia 3-13 NZ 19mins Aussies all flustered & hand over easy pen to Carter from in front of posts to add another 3
Australia 3-13 NZ 21mins Aussies head up to ABs 22 but it's visitors with the scrum...
Australia 3-13 NZ 22mins Finally a ref who actually SEES ABs off feet at the ruck EVERY time! Pen to Aussies
Australia 3-13 NZ 23mins Will Genia charges over the 22 & brought down but just 3m out as ball recycled...
Australia 3-13 NZ 24mins But as ball comes out & Wallabies head back towards T/L, ABs turn them over at breakdown
Australia 3-13 NZ 26mins Aussies concede yet another pen & Carter finds touch for 10m L/O on Wallaby side
Australia 3-13 NZ 30mins Nothing seems to working well for the Wallabies as ABs had right back into Aussie 22
Australia 3-18 NZ 33mins Again from awesome setpiece, great decoys & good offloading for Dagg > Cory Jane > try
Australia 3-18 NZ 34mins Carter misses the conversion but ABs have not too much to worry about so far...
Australia 3-18 NZ 35mins Nathan Sharpe pinged for holding on at breakdown from restart & ABs have it again
Australia 3-18 NZ 37mins A fightback from Wallabies & have L/O on ABs 22...but not gained any ground yet...
Australia 3-18 NZ 38mins Finally Wallabies find a gap & Digby Ioane charges to T/L but pulled down half metre short...
Australia 8-18 NZ 39mins Quick recycle & Sharpe charges & pops ball over the whitewash to score!
Australia 10-18 NZ 39mins Barnes converts nicely & the Wallabies are back in the game...
Australia 10-18 NZ 40mins Siren's gone & ABs in possession as head deep into Wallaby territory but into touch.
Australia 10-18 NZ HT T: Dagg, Jane C: Carter P: Carter (2) | T: Sharpe C: Barnes P: Barnes
Australia 10-18 NZ HT Oh. Wallabies 60% possession in 1st half yet 8pts behind. Refocus time!
Australia 10-18 NZ HT SBW been awesome. Will be interesting to see impact of him leaving ABs after next week's match.
Australia 10-18 NZ 40mins Wallabies knock on from restart & ABs have 1st scrum of 2nd half
Australia 10-18 NZ 41min Wallabies regain possession & head over H/W to ABs territory; ABs L/O but not clever handling
Australia 13-18 NZ 44mins Barnes pops ball between posts & it's looking better for the Wallabies just 5pts short
Australia 13-21 NZ 47mins But Wallabies soon cancel out gain by handing over a pen which Carter whacks over
Australia 16-21 NZ 49mins Oh hang on - ABs reciprocate with pen & Barnes adds another 3 to bring Wallabies back
Australia 16-21 NZ 51mins Hosea Gear charges into Wallaby territory but ball finds touch
Australia 16-21 NZ 52mins ABs in possession but good fightback from Wallabies & play back on H/W
Australia 16-21 NZ 53mins Capt David Pocock pinged for holding on & Carter attempts pen kick from over H/W...2 hopes!
Australia 16-21 NZ 56mins Carter fluffs it; Keven Mealamu turns over ball at breakdown again but Wallabies scrum
Australia 16-21 NZ 59mins Abs L/O on own 10m line; many changes afoot...
Australia 16-21 NZ 60mins Brodie Retallick on for Luke Romano & Stephen Moore on for Polota-Nau
Australia 16-24 NZ 62mins Meanwhile, Wallabies hand over awful pen in front of posts & Carter widen gap to 8
Australia 16-24 NZ 64mins Wallabies retaliate by heading to ABs 22 & Dave Dennis is replaced by Radike Samo
Australia 16-24 NZ 66mins Time off as Sitaleki Timani is off to check for concussion (new trial rule)- Rob Simmons on
Australia 16-24 NZ 67mins Aussie momentum lost & ABs charge other way...Messam heads for corner & offloads to Gear
Australia 16-24 NZ 67mins Gear bundled into touch short of corner tho oddly ref goes to TMO :S
Australia 16-24 NZ 68mins ABs no more than 6m out & edge towards Wallaby T/L...
Australia 16-24 NZ 69mins SBW offloads beautifully but Cory Jane looks like he couldn't catch a cold as ball flies fwd
Australia 16-24 NZ 71mins Under new rule, concussed Timani checked out, cleared & back on so Simmons back to bench
Australia 16-24 NZ 74mins Wallaby scrum on own 10m but charge over H/W > 10m > ABs 22 > looking good...
Australia 19-24 NZ 75mins Ben Franks replaced Tony Woodcock earlier; pinged in own 22 & Barnes adds 3 from good kick
Australia 19-24 NZ 76mins From ABs restart, walloping kick from Barnes gives Wallabies L/O in ABs territory...
Australia 19-24 NZ 78mins Wallabies in possession but only on H/W... ABs defence is impressive
Australia 19-24 NZ 79mins Andrew Hore rips ball away & is thumped into 22 chased by Dagg but saved by Ashley-Cooper
Australia 19-24 NZ 80mins ABs ball in Wallaby 22 & final pen goes to ABs; Carter tees up as blood pours from Beale
Australia 19-27 NZ 80+1mins Carter adds final 3 nails in Aussie coffin & win match 1 of 3 in Bledisloe Cup
15 Kurtley Beale 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper 13 Rob Horne 12 Anthony Fainga'a 11 Digby Ioane 10 Berrick Barnes 9 Will Genia 8 Scott Higginbotham 7 DAVID POCOCK (C) 6 Dave Dennis 5 Nathan Sharpe 4 Sitaleki Timani 3 Sekope Kepu 2 Tatafu Polota Nau 1 Benn Robinson BENCH: 16 Stephen Moore 17 James Slipper 18 Rob Simmons 19 Radike Samo 20 Michael Hooper 21 Nick Phipps 22 Drew Mitchell
SCORERS T: Sharpe C: Barnes P: Barnes (4)
15 Israel Dagg 14 Cory Jane 13 Ma'a Nonu 12 Sonny Bill Williams 11 Hosea Gear 10 Daniel Carter 9 Aaron Smith 8 Kieran Read 7 RICHIE MCCAW (C) 6 Liam Messam 5 Samuel Whitelock 4 Luke Romano 3 Owen Franks 2 Keven Mealamu 1 Tony Woodcock BENCH: 16 Andrew Hore 17 Ben Franks 18 Brodie Retallick 19 Victor Vito 20 Piri Weepu 21 Aaron Cruden 22 Ben Smith
SCORERS T: Dagg, Jane C: Carter P: Carter (5)
Man of the Match: Israel Dagg (New Zealand)
Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU) Asst. Referees: Nigel Owens (WRU), Lourens van der Merwe (SARU) TMO: Matt Goddard (ARU)
Newlands, Cape Town - Saturday 18th August 2012
KO: 17:00 SAST HT: 20-6
HEAD TO HEAD
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED MINUTE BY MINUTE...
SA v Argentina Now THAT is a serious amount of passion from Springboks singing their anthem!
SA 0-0 Argentina 2mins This will be SO full on. Good to see the Pumas in a proper competition
SA 0-0 Argentina 3mins Not a good start as Bismarck du Plessis writhes on the ground in pain & Morne Steyn tees up
SA 0-0 Argentina 3mins Pumas infringed at the breakdown while Bokke were deep in their territory to concede 1st pen
SA 3-0 Argentina 4mins Morne Steyn whacks over 1st points without batting an eyelid
SA 3-0 Argentina 5mins Meanwhile sadly Bismarck is transported off field replaced by Adriaan Strauss
SA 3-0 Argentina 7mins Newlands looks glorious with teams playing to a packed house
SA 3-0 Argentina 8mins Hugely physical encounter from outset with Pumas in Bok territory & chip fwd for Bok 5m L/O
SA 3-0 Argentina 10mins Zane Kirchner forced to clear as Pumas camped out on Bok 22...
SA 3-0 Argentina 13mins Pumas put in solid performance & Bokke finally concede kickable pen
SA 3-3 Argentina 14mins Juan Martín Hernández equalises in the 1st quarter & it's all square at Newlands
SA 8-3 Argentina 15mins But Bokke immediately with Kirchner who slams ball down thanks to great hands
SA 10-3 Argentina 16mins Awesome charge from Willem Alberts made that happen; Morne pops over conversion
SA 10-3 Argentina 18mins Oh forgot to mention - my favourite ref Steve Walsh is overseeing proceedings *yawn*
SA 10-3 Argentina 21mins Pumas definitely taking game to the Bokke but homeside chuck them out of their territory
SA 13-3 Argentina 23mins Bokke head in right direction & Eusebio Guiñazú offside hands Morne another pen & 3pts
SA 13-3 Argentina 25mins Walsh lectures Pumas captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe on players at breakdown
SA 18-3 Argentina 27mins Meanwhile Boks just get on with job in hand & Marcell Coetzee hurls himself over in corner>try
SA 18-3 Argentina 28mins Walsh continues to lecture Lobbe-would've binned Julio Farías Cabello if Boks hadn't scored
SA 20-3 Argentina 28mins In the meantime, Morne adds the conversion...
SA 20-3 Argentina 30mins Incidentally this is the newly-married other Steyn's 50th cap - congrats Frans
SA 20-3 Argentina 32mins Both du Plessis' forced off now as Jannie replaced with Pat Cilliers on debut
SA 20-3 Argentina 35mins Ah that's better - Jannie's back on so Cilliers returns to bench; Bok ball in Pumas' 22
SA 20-3 Argentina 36mins Pumas' defence is improving & Patricio Albacete t/o ball just 10m short of T/L
SA 20-3 Argentina 38mins Good scrum & Pumas force play way back. Play returns to midfield...
SA 20-6 Argentina 40mins Scrums galore as the siren for HT sounds for this full on match - that went fast!
SA 20-6 Argentina HT T: Kirchner, Coetzee C: Morne Steyn (2) P: Morne Steyn (2) | P: Hernandez
SA 20-6 Argentina HT Ah bugger. Hernandez penalty post didn't post! Well he knocked over another at 30mins.
SA 20-6 Argentina HT Such a bloody bore as Walsh continues to crouch touch *1 1000 2 1000* pause engage. Get on with it! rugby
SA 20-6 Argentina 42mins We're back...& Pumas have one hell of a drive as Keegan Daniel gets pinged in maul
SA 20-6 Argentina 43mins Hernandez tees up for penalty kick but ball goes left passes the uprights...
SA 20-6 Argentina 45min Hernandez having waking nightmare after Boks pinged for pulling down maul & he misses again!
SA 20-6 Argentina 47mins Pumas on attack again but Boks snatch ball & clear them way out...
SA 20-6 Argentina 48mins Ball thumped into Puma territory & Hernandez struggles to get ball away; finds touch
SA 20-6 Argentina 50mins Pumas scrum & Nicolás Vergallo eventually clears to touch; Bokke hit back in 22
SA 20-6 Argentina 51mins Pumas steal ball away & force play back to H/W before Gonzalo Camacho is offside...
SA 20-6 Argentina 53mins Morne sets up 5m L/O for Bokke but goes awry & Hernandez clears; now Bokke L/O on 22
SA 20-6 Argentina 54mins Next one works tad better & have 5m scrum from Pumas T/L; Pumas collapse & pen Boks
SA 20-6 Argentina 55mins Another 5m L/O for Boks...need to make something of it now by going out wide
SA 25-6 Argentina 56mins They must be paying attention - Morne kicks to far corner & Bryan Habana collects & scores!
SA 27-6 Argentina 58mins Balletic work from Morne Steyn there to set that up; he then proceeds to convert
SA 27-6 Argentina 59mins So busy with play forgot about replacements...as Andries Bekker replaced by Flip van der Merwe rugby
SA 27-6 Argentina 60mins earlier...Jacques Potgieter on for Daniel & Tomás Leonardi on for Álvaro Galindo rugby
SA 27-6 Argentina 62mins Timeout after Pumas drive into Bokke 22 with a vengeance...
SA 27-6 Argentina 64mins Pumas L/O outside Bokke 22 but can't seem to take advantage of favourable positions
SA 27-6 Argentina 65mins Bokke manage to steal ball & force play back into Pumas territory but Habana brought down
SA 27-6 Argentina 66mins Habana spills ball fwd & Pumas return it to other end; Puma L/O outside 22
SA 27-6 Argentina 66mins Ruan Pienaar has replaced Lwazi Mvovo & Cilliers back on for Jannie du Plessis
SA 27-6 Argentina 67mins Martín Landajo, Juan Orlandi & Marcos Ayerza on for Vergallo, Figallo & Rodrigo Roncero
SA 27-6 Argentina 68mins After searing Habana break which almost puts Strauss over, JJ Engelbrecht debuts for him
SA 27-6 Argentina 71mins Pumas defence holding v strong as Bokke hammer the T/L; Pumas t/o ball back on 22
SA 27-6 Argentina 74mins Pumas take play way back into Bokke territory attack well til Boks have L/O on their 22
SA 27-6 Argentina 75mins Ball clears to touch & Pumas have L/O next but far nearer to H/W
SA 27-6 Argentina 77mins Finally Boks scrabble ball back & head towards Pumas 22 in attempt to secure vital bonus pt
SA 27-6 Argentina 78mins Coach Heyneke Meyer screeching instructions into walkie talkie; not side that beat England!
SA 27-6 Argentina 79mins Pumas scrum in own 22; Walsh doesn't call scrum properly so teams go anyway...
SA 27-6 Argentina 80mins Boks almost have possession but Walsh calls back for earlier pen as FT siren goes
15 Zane Kirchner 11 Bryan Habana 13 JEAN DE VILLIERS (C) 12 Frans Steyn 11 Lwazi Mvovo 10 Morné Steyn 9 Francois Hougaard 1 Tendai Mtawarira 2 Bismarck du Plessis 3 Jannie du Plessis 4 Eben Etzebeth 5 Andries Bekker 6 Marcell Coetzee 7 Willem Alberts 8 Keegan Daniel BENCH: 16 Adriaan Strauss 17 Pat Cilliers* 18 Flip van der Merwe 19 Jacques Potgieter 20 Ruan Pienaar 21 Pat Lambie 22 JJ Engelbrecht*
SCORERS T: Kirchner, Coetzee, Habana C: Morné Steyn (3) P: Morné Steyn (2)
15 Lucas González Amorosino 14 Gonzalo Camacho 13 Marcelo Bosch 12 Santiago Fernández 11 Horacio Agulla 10 Juan Martín Hernández 9 Nicolás Vergallo 1 Rodrigo Roncero 2 Eusebio Guiñazú 3 Juan Figallo 4 Manuel Carizza 5 Patricio Albacete 6 Julio Farías Cabello 7 Álvaro Galindo 8 JUAN MARTÍN FERNÁNDEZ LOBBE (C) BENCH: 16 Bruno Postiglioni 17 Marcos Ayerza 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi 19 Tomás Leonardi 20 Leonardo Senatore 21 Martín Landajo 22 Martín Rodríguez
SCORERS P: Hernandez (2)
Man of the Match: Morné Steyn (South Africa)
Referee: Steve Walsh (ARU) Asst. Referees: Jérôme Garce (FFR), John Lacey (IRFU) TMO: Johan Meuwsen (SARU)
by Emily Ruscoe
17th August 2012
WITH the addition of Argentina into the mix, the much-loved Tri Nations tournament has been most originally(!) rebranded as The Rugby Championship. The tournament has always been tough with stunning play and ferocious rivalry, but the newcomers will bring further spice to proceedings. This is the dawning of an interesting era for Southern Hemisphere battles.
Although Argentina will face fierce competition against the top three globally-ranked rugby nations - New Zealand, Australia and South Africa - they have earned their place due to outstanding progress and amazing performances in the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups. The Pumas may be considered the underdogs by many as they enter the fray for the first time, but it is likely they will prove to be a bit of a handful Southern Hemisphere heavy-weights to say the least.
The incumbent Tri Nations Champions are Australia, who will be extremely keen to keep hold of the title. However, they have had a hectic schedule this summer, including a long Super Rugby season and a bout of international tests that have left them a little wounded. Will the Wallabies be too tired? This is the question on everyone’s lips as we await their first match against the formidable All Blacks.
Aussie Head Coach, Robbie Deans, has named a diverse team, seeing the return of the mighty and a flash of fresh faces amongst the ranks. Drew Mitchell and Radike Samo both make return appearances after recovering from injuries that ensured they missed out on the June Internationals, Mitchell having had particularly frustrating problems that halted his career for all too long. Meanwhile, there are few surprises in the majority of the pack; Berrick Barnes, Quade Cooper, Will Genia and Kurtley Beale are all named along with all the usual suspects who we have grown accustomed to. David Pocock takes the reins once more to steer this versatile team through what is going to be a thrilling campaign. If anyone can reach deep and pull off another Australian title, it’s Pocock.
But that is not to say there are not a few young additions, with two former Australia Under-20s captains finding themselves called up. Liam Gill and Jake Schatz have both had excellent Super Rugby seasons and shone for their country’s youth side, thus deserving the excitement around their placement in the squad. Kane Douglas and Nic White are also duly selected for their first flurry into the hysteria of the Senior Australian Squad. Douglas will bring strength and stability to the Australian scrum in his position as lock, and is another player who has shown his talent during the recent Super Rugby season.
There are still several players who were unavailable for selection due to injury, but it is expected that those beset with health issues will join their comrades once they are deemed fit. Australia have battled with injury setbacks throughout the summer but are finally getting back to their feet and are definitely looking capable of causing damage to their opponents. Only time will tell if their health will hold up when extreme pressure is applied.
The All Blacks are destined to meet the Wallabies in Sydney for the first round of fixtures, on the 18th August and this will certainly test the Australian’s fitness. The World Cup Winners are in no mood to show a drop in form, with the ever-present whispers of the dreaded World Cup Hangover constantly irritating them.
New Zealand have always given a solid performance in this competition and will enter it with passion and confidence, which may well leave the other teams rattled. There have been some worries about squad selection including Conrad Smith’s eye injury which has left him unable to play the initial two matches. Meanwhile, Smith’s replacement Sonny Bill Williams was only recently confirmed due to his Japanese club finally agreeing to release him to play. But apart from the stress of international club relations, the New Zealand team are looking as strong as always.
Richie McCaw heads up a side that has seen a few changes since the dizzying heights of World Cup glory. Notably with Sam Cane and Aaron Smith are making an appearance as a couple of talented young players amongst the sea of experience within the All Blacks. There is also a debutant in the form of Charlie Faumuina, who narrowly missed selection in the summer due to a calf injury.
Another who has made a recovery is Cory Jane, allowing him to be integrated back into the squad after a problem ankle, which will build on an already impressive line-up of backs available to the All Blacks. All in all we can expect great things from this team and, at the very least, they will provide some electrifying matches.
The major change for the World Champions is head coach, Steve Hansen, who was promoted after Graham Henry’s contract expired in 2011. This is Hansen’s first real test since Ireland presented little formidable opposition in June’s three test series.
In contrast, the Springboks -also under the leadership of a new coach since the RWC in Heyneke Meyer- are looking a little shaky, with five new caps called up and other experienced players such as Schalk Burger and Pierre Spies missing out due to injury. The Bokke see the return of rugby’s Mr Tall, Andries Bekker, who bolsters the forwards with his experience as well as his size. However, it must be said that there are plenty of household names to be mentioned, including captain Jean de Villiers, and the newcomers have been chosen from a competitive pool of extremely able players, making them a definite threat to any who are foolish enough underestimate them.
The South Africans had a confidence-boosting summer, showing the newer members of the England team how the Southern Hemisphere plays. This generally stacks in the Springboks’ favour and will mean they hit this tournament with belief in their abilities in front of a home crowd for the first test against Argentina. However, they may get a shock when their aggressive play is met in equal measure and could find themselves a little under-prepared for dealing with the Wallabies and the All Blacks.
It has to be said though that most speculation has been reserved for Argentina. Head coach Santiago Phelan has ensured the Pumas are able to be at their most competitive, naming a powerful squad for the inauguration of The Rugby Championship, with the nucleus of the squad coming from European clubs. The Northern Hemisphere players are joined by those from domestic side Los Pampas XV, with many having made standout performances both at club and international level. The biggest exclusion is that of Felipe Contepomi, who was originally expected to captain the side, but ruled himself out of contention due to commitment to Stade Français.
The former captain’s boots are to be filled by Toulon’s charismatic forward, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe. Meanwhile, veteran Rodrigo Roncero has found his way into the ranks, bringing menace to the Argentinian scrum. Juan Martin Hernandez also takes up his place in the squad since recovering from the knee injury that halted his participation in the 2011 World Cup.
The Argentinians are certainly a wild card; they have the potential to cause damage and make a truly spectacular entrance into the competition if they pinpoint their opponents’ weaknesses. Fernández Lobbe will either lead his team to glory or to quiet disappointment, but the spirited Pumas will certainly come out claws at the ready.
The Tri Nations has expanded to envelope some South American passion, making it even more entertaining than before. The Pumas have earned their way into the fray, now it is time for them to sink or swim.As focus shifts from the greatest show on earth - the 30th Olympiad - to the Southern Hemisphere’s battle of the giants, as was said at an opening ceremony just three weeks ago, “Let the games begin...”