The Fourth Round of The Rugby Championship

in #steemsports7 years ago


SteemSports Presenter: @sportsdesk


SteemSports Editor/Writer: @writingamigo


New Zealand vs. South Africa


The All Blacks, except for the first test against the Lions and 40 minutes against Australia, had struggled to reach the heights they set in 2016. Meanwhile, a rejuvenated Springboks side was rediscovering its mojo after a lackluster 2016.

Played in front of 30,000 at Albany, Auckland, by the end of 80 minutes one section of the crowd was ecstatic, the other in a state of shock. But both were stunned and possibly a bit numb by what they had just witnessed.

The Springboks dominated most aspects of the first 15 minutes, but it was the All Blacks who scored first through a penalty goal by Barrett. The remainder of the first half followed a similar pattern with the Springboks dominating in almost all aspects but the scoreboard. They had the best of the possession, territory and their scrum was strong, winning a couple of early penalties. Their lineout was put under pressure and was a bit wobbly. However, it was the scoreboard where they suffered the most pressure, and by the end of the half, the All Blacks had run in four tries and raced to a 31-0 lead.



It was hard to see how the Springboks were so far behind even though, aside from their lineout, they hadn’t played badly. They simply hadn’t been able to match the All Blacks' pace. After all, the All Blacks had created four opportunities and converted them all.

It started when Aaron Smith took a quick penalty tap 45m out, chipped a kick over the defense into space for the pacy Ioane to run onto and score. Minutes later, the All Blacks turned defense into an attack - Milner-Skudder picked off an intercept, ran 50m down the field, passed to Barrett who gave a no-look back pass to Milner-Skudder. All that Milner-Skudder had to do was run 20 meters and collect some easy points.



In the 34th minute, a cross kick from Barrett to the right wing was competed for by Coles, Milner-Skudder was on hand to scoop the ball to S Barrett in support who then ran around the cover defense to score. The final try of the half resulted from a strip in the tackle by Barrett All Blackout 60m out. From the turnover, the ball was quickly spun wide to Ioane who stepped through three tackles, passed to Coles who then made the final transfer to Retallick to score under the posts.

Into the second half, the All Blacks held off any Springbok comeback, and in the 52 minute, from a ruck under the Springbok posts, B Barrett flung the ball wide to Milner-Skudder to score in the corner. Ten minutes later the All Blacks were once again camped on the Springbok line - this time Tu’ungafasi barged over from close range. Ten more minutes later, Leinart-Brown powered through the Springbok defense from 40m out, was tackled close to the line but got the ball away to Sopoaga to score by the posts. The final try in the 81st minute was all forward power, from a lineout 10m out the All Blacks set up a driving maul and weren’t going to be denied as Taylor scored. Barrett kicked 8 from 9. Final score 57-0.



One had to feel sorry for the Springboks, coming up against an All Black side, which put on a fantastic show for the full 80 minutes. The bench came on early in the second half and managed to increase the intensity and pace. In the end, the All Blacks were simply too fast, too accurate, too inventive, and too clinical. They also nullified any Springbok attack, whether it be a lineout steal, forcing a turnover or pressure creating handling mistakes. This was his last game for the All Black defense maestro, Wayne Smith, so it was definitely a fitting tribute for him to go out with a clean score sheet. For the Springboks, it’s difficult to tell where they go from here. They’ll lick their wounds and get back up, and in a couple of week’s time, they’ll get the opportunity for revenge in Cape Town.


Australia vs Argentina



The Wallabies and Pumas lined up against each other in chilly Canberra for this one. Both teams were looking for their first win of the 2017 championship.

Coming off the back of a draw with the Springboks last week, where they were beaten up at the set piece and the breakdown, the Wallabies were slow to get into the game. The Pumas scored the first try of the game in the 23rd minute by halfback Landajo. The Wallabies appeared to possess more firepower but were unable to utilize it, while the Pumas took advantage of their opportunities. The Pumas finished the halftime ahead. 13-10.

The urgency that deserted the Wallabies in the first half returned in the second as they picked up the pace and improved their set piece. In the end, they were too strong for the Pumas, running in six tries to two. Captain Hooper and fullback Folau were two of the local standouts. The Wallabies took advantage of a yellow card, running in three tries in the final 10 minutes. Final score 45-20.



The final score probably flattered the Wallabies given their first-half performance, but we have to admit that they deserved to win. Their lackluster first half was more than made up for in a dominant second-half performance, with a much improved set piece. The Pumas, buoyed by a halftime lead, ran out of puff as the Wallabies piled on the pressure in the second forty. They gave it everything but once again were beaten by a more skillful side. They now have two home games against the Wallabies and All Blacks to salvage something from their season. A betting man may be inclined to put his money on the visitors.




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