The Rugby Championship, Round Two

in #steemsports7 years ago (edited)

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New Zealand vs Australia

Round two of the Rugby Championship got underway under the roof at Forsyth Barr stadium in Dunedin. Understandably conditions were dry, with the track hard and fast. From the kick-off the All Blacks were straight onto the attack sweeping into the Wall 22. Swinging the ball wide, they looked likely for an early score until a cut-out pass from McKenzie was gratefully intercepted by Folau who ran the length of the field to dot down after 25 seconds. Sensational start for the Wallabies. Foley missed the conversion. 0-5. Australia totally dominated the early phases, and looked extremely dangerous with ball in hand. From a line-out close to the AB line, poor defense allowed the Wallabies to go over again. This time Hooper scores, Foley converts. 0-12.
At the next scrum, the Australian pack was Pumashed back at a rate of knots but some magic from Genia at the back of the scrum. He found a gap in the defence and skirted away into open space, had good support and Foley dotted down over the chalk. It was raining tries at this point – yellow ones. 0-17. After 22 minutes the All Blacks got their first score from a drive close to the Wallabies line, an inside pass to Ioane allowed him to go over. Barrett converted. 7-17.

On the stroke of halftime, the All Blacks go close with B Smith losing control of the ball over the line. However from another dominant ab scrum, the All Blacks other Smith, A Smith, throws a dummy from the back of the scrum and goes over almost untouched. Barrett converted. 14-17.
It was a scintillating half of rugby. The Wallabies came out full of intent, prepared to throw caution to the wind playing a high tempo, sometimes high risk game and it paid off for them creating multiple opportunities. They scored three unanswered tries before the All Blacks returned fire with two of their own. The Wallabies looked slick on attack and only good scrambling All Black defense prevented more tries. The All Blacks defense was however found wanting on several occasions though they did take some control of the game in the last ten minutes which allowed them to close the gap. It wasn’t a half for the purists with a lot of errors from both sides but from an entertainment point of view it was pure gold.
The Wallabies started the second half hot on attack and almost scored in the right hand corner in the 45th minute. Then the All Blacks turned on the heat for the next 10 minutes, with quick recycling and accurate inter-passing, asking questions of the Wallaby defense. From a line-out the All Blacks went over and appeared to have scored through Retallick only for it then to be overturned. The All Blacks continued to turn the screw and eventually the pressure rewarded. From a scrum close to the Wallaby line, the ball went down the short side, Barrett ran a nice line to score. Barrett converted. 21-17.

Then the game entered a phase where the lead changed hands several times. The Wallabies hit back almost immediately with a try to Genia as he again found space round the ruck and sprinted 20m to score, despite a possible knock on and missed forward pass in the build-up. Foley hit the posts again. 21-22.
Then it was the All Blacks turn to return fire. After 22 phases traveling the length of the field, B Smith went over unopposed in the 71st minute. Fantastic try. Barrett converted. 28-22. The Wallabies pressed forward and from a line-out 10m out, they worked their way under the All Blacks posts. From the ruck a simple pass from Genia to Beale put him in under the posts. Too easy. Foley converted. Wallabies ahead with three minutes to go. 28-29.

From the kick-off, the All Blacks won the restart through captain Read, worked their way to the Wallabies 22m, and then some wonderful inter-passing saw B Barrett go in under the posts. From the breakdown, slick hands from S Barrett to Read running a beautiful line cut the defense, a lovely inside ball to Perenara who immediately transferred to a charging B Barrett and it was game over. Barrett converted. 35-29.
Wow, what a test match. In the end, neither side deserved to lose. The Wallabies showed tremendous courage to keep coming back in the second half, and have to be admired for just showing up following their humiliation of the previous week. This was a trans-Tasman clash of old, going toe for toe, showcasing sublime running skills and great attacking football. The All Blacks have a few work-ons, particularly defense, but it was their belief in their systems that once again got them over the line in a close one. It was a fitting tribute to the recently passed great Sir Colin Meads who was renowned not just for his uncompromising combative edge but his tremendous running skills, often seen tearing sides apart by running through them with the ball in one hand. RIP Pinetree.

Pumas vs Springboks

The return fixture for these teams was played in Salta, Argentina. Played in fine conditions, the Springboks will feel at home in higher altitude of 1150m. A solid start from both sides with the Pumas being first to score with a long range penalty by Boffelli from 60m after 3 minutes. 3-0.
In the next several minutes Jantjies missed two penalty opportunities before Lavanini was shown a yellow for a dangerous tackle. Not for the first time has he had a rest on the sideline. Against only 14 men, the Springboks used the numerical advantage to press forward. In the 10th minute they worked the ball to the short side, looked all odds to score until an intercept by Moyano took play to within 20m of the Springboks line. Scrambling in defense, the Springboks were saved by a cross kick from Hernandez that went straight to touch.
The Springboks dominated possession but handling errors prevented them employing the scorers. Finally in the 20th minute a chip kick from Jantjies, regathered by Kriel, sent Kolisi under the sticks. Jantjies converted. 3-7.

The Springboks continued to dominate territory, happy to play a varied kicking game. Their scrum was killing the Pumas, and a scrum penalty allowed the Springboks to extend their lead to 3-10. However, from the kick off nobody calls for the ball, and Moyano gratefully accepted the bouncing ball to cruise in for the Pumas first try. Hernandez converted. 10-10. The Pumas were conceding a number of penalties and from a lineout in the 38th minute the referee had had enough and Leguizamon is shown yellow. The Springboks take advantage of the extra man as Jantjies goes over on the stroke of halftime. Jantjies converted. 10-17.
The Springboks dominated the Pumas at every set piece, and scored two tries to the host’s one opportunist effort. The Pumas also had two players sent to the bin and there indiscipline was really hurting them. The Springboks enjoyed more possession and territory and had control of most of the half but the Pumas squandered a couple of excellent scoring opportunities which they may rue.
The Pumas dominated the first 10 minutes after the break, despite having only 14 men for most of it. They made their way up field through multiple phases, and when the Springboks conceded a penalty 5m from their own line, Hernandez kicked the goal. 13-17.
The Pumas continued to attack but just several metres from the Springboks line they knocked on. The Springboks swung onto the counter attack and eventually some nice interplay from Kriel and Kolisi saw the latter go over for his second. Jantjies converted. 13-24.
The Springboks forwards then got back into their work with some powerful scrummaging and mauling. They looked certain to score but for the big mitt of Lavanini deliberately knocking the ball down. He was shown red for his second yellow card offense, and the Springboks were awarded a penalty try. 13-31.
The Pumas weren’t done yet though and they immediately hit back with a try to Moroni in the 60th minute. Bok fullback Coetzee was shown yellow for a late hit on Moroni after he’d scored so the Pumas restarted with a penalty of halfway. Boffelli stepped up and slotted the goal. 23-31.

Going into the last quarter it was still anyone’s game. However it was the Springboks that were determined to finally win a game away from home – the last was against Argentina in August 2015. They applied the pressure in the last 20 but it wasn’t until the 71st minute that Jantjies kicked a penalty goal, and then with three minutes to play du Preez dotted down. Jantjies converted. 23-41.
The Springboks will be extremely happy with this effort away from home. They dominated and out-muscled the Pumas pack, and showed great enterprise and speed with ball in hand. It has been a number of years since the Springboks regularly scored a lot of points and they will hope to carry this into the tougher tests against Australia and New Zealand. They do however have a habit of keeping the opposition in the game through unforced errors and will need to eliminate these. For the Pumas, they will rue their indiscipline and impatience. They certainly created opportunities, especially up the middle and they will take heart from that. They just need to tidy up the negative aspects of their game. The Rugby Championship takes a break next week and will recommence on Sep 9 when New Zealand host Argentina in New Plymouth and Australia host South Africa in Perth.

Round Two Results

All Blacks vs Wallabies 35-29

Pumas vs Springboks 23-41


New Zealand and Australia were, are and will be the champion teams of all time.

That's an outstanding write up. Well done.

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