The Third Round of The Rugby Championship

in #steemsports7 years ago (edited)


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Round Three Results

All Blacks vs Pumas 39-22

Wallabies vs Springboks 23-23

New Zealand vs Argentina

The abs took the international game to the provinces for this clash against the pus. The game was played in the Taranaki provincial center of New Plymouth at Yarrow Stadium.

With light rain falling at the start, the pus were doing all the attacking in the opening minutes. However, it was the abs through Milner-Skudder who scored first in the 8th minute, following a break from McKenzie. 5-0.

The pus reduced the lead five minutes later with a penalty goal to Sanchez. 5-3. Straight back on the attack, the abs went down the short side from a scrum where Barrett put through a grubber for Leinart-Brown to run onto & dot down. 10-3.

After 24 minutes, Boffelli kicked a huge one from 54m to reduce the lead to 10-6. Then Sanchez snapped a drop-goal from 30m to reduce the lead even further. 10-9. Accurate kicking and a warning to the abs not to infringe within 60m were keeping the pus in the game. The abs were mixing up their game with some pop kicks, some storming runs through the middle, especially from Fifita on run-on debut, and throwing it wide when the defense was scrambling.

For a lot of the half, it felt like the abs were the dominant attacking team with the pus living on scraps. The statistics indicated otherwise, but after 35 minutes the ab pressure paid the dividends when Dagg crossed for the third try of the night. 15-9.

The pus weren’t done for the half, however. From a defensive lineout, the abs failed to secure the ball as pus' skipper Creevy gathered, following with several Sanchez crosses. 15-16.

Abs had more of the first half but tried to play too much rugby, particularly kicked either over or through the rapidly advancing defensive line.

The pus made the most of their opportunities & deservedly went into halftime ahead. Their rush defense was upsetting the abs pattern and forcing them to take riskier options. On the positive side, the abs defense held strong.

The pus started the second half with a clear plan, kicking frequently with the aim to play in the abs half. It quickly paid off as the abs infringed near halfway, and Boffelli kicked another thunderbolt from 51m to take the pus further into the lead. 15-19. The alarm bells started to ring as the abs incurred another scrum infringement from a kickable distance. Unfortunately for the pus, the usually accurate Sanchez put it wide. The pus continued to attack & the continued pressure on the ab line led to a yellow card for Barrett. Sanchez kicked an easy penalty to push the pus further ahead. 15-22.

Playing with 14 men, the abs brought on Sopoaga to cover the vacant 1st five positions. Immediately the abs attack had more shape, and following a charge down on a pus kick, the ball was quickly transferred wide to Fifita who stood up the pus winger ans outsprinted the cover defense and ran 40m to score. Boy, he was quick. Sopoaga converted. 22-22.

Following sustained pressure & some dominating scrums from the abs, McKenzie crossed in the left corner in the 63rd minute. Sopoaga converted. 29-22. Three minutes later, the abs shifted it wide inside their own half, Fifita went on another storming run only for the final transfer to McKenzie. In the 70th minute, Sopoaga slotted a penalty goal to take the lead out beyond the seven point margin. 32-22. With two minutes remaining, the abs worked another try from a loop around to Barrett. Sopoaga converted. 39-22.

In the end, the scoreline probably flattered the abs. They did score six tries to one but were pushed for 60 minutes. Their defense was very good, shutting down numerous pus attacks, but they really only got their game going in the last 25 minutes. The pus players were very courageous, given no chance before the match, but they had the abs under a lot of pressure for three-quarters of the game. Their territory and kicking game worked well but like they were against the SpringSpringboks, their scrum was pushed around, particularly at tighthead. When under pressure, they tended to infringe a lot which didn’t help their cause.

Australia vs South Africa

The other game of the round was played at nib Stadium, Perth. Ironically, the game’s future in the western province is at the crossroads, following the axing of the Western Force from Super Rugby, and as a protest, there was a noticeable lack of yellow jerseys in the stadium.

Light rain was falling at the start which created some handling difficulties. The Springboks got rewarded with an early penalty goal, kicked by Jantjies. The Wallabies replied the kind several minutes later to square the score at 3-3.

The Springboks forwards were all over their Wallaby counterparts, but the Wallabies threatened with some clever interplay amongst their backs. It was the Springboks who crossed the chalk first with some great work from their forwards at the breakdown. Jantjies converted. 3-10.

Not to be outdone, the Wallabies hit straight back. Great work by Folau as he contested the kickoff, and then Beale weaved through a resetting Springboks defense to score. Foley converted. 10-10. The Wallabies continued to press for the rest of the half and were eventually rewarded with a penalty goal to Foley seconds before heading to the locker. 13-10.

The Wallabies dominated the attack in the first half, frequently getting over the gain line, but for the most part, the Springboks defense held firm. The Wallabies run meters were 427m vs 98m. The Springboks were aggressive in the breakdown area and dominated the set piece. Playing two vastly different styles there was little between the sides going into the second half.

Wallabies went on the attack immediately after ref announced the beginning of the second half. They went 20 phases only for superb Springboks defense to hold them out. However, from a lineout close to the Springboks line, a rolling maul allowed Polota-Na over for the try. Foley converted. 20-10.

The Springboks then decided to up the ante and went close for a try-saving tackle by Hooper. Moments later they got rewarded with a penalty which was converted by Jantjies. 20-13. The Springboks continued to apply the blowtorch, especially at the breakdown. They won a scrum penalty, kicked for touch, and drove over for a try. Jantjies converted. 20-20.

Entering the final quarter, it was cut and thrust from both sides. The Springboks went close in the 66th minute after more good work at the breakdown. Eventually, they earned a scrum penalty which Jantjies kicked. 20-23. The Wallabies immediately hit back with a penalty of their own to Foley. 23-23.

Both teams appeared a bit anxious entering the last 10 minutes. Into the 80th minute, the Springboks had a lineout in Wallaby territory. They set up for a dropped goal attempt but it was charged down. The Springboks retrieved the ball but it came to naught. Game over. 23-23.

It was a test to play under the slippery conditions but both teams had enough courage to take on it. The Wallabies were exposed at the breakdown and set piece, which they will want to work on before the match against Argentina. They did, however, have almost twice as many run meters as the Springboks as they consistently broke the gain line. Their undoing was failing to capitalize on achieved domination.

The Springbok forwards were outstanding, particularly around the breakdown. Their set piece was very solid also. They didn’t play an expansive style, but it was dictated by the terrible conditions. It feels that they will need to bring more next week if they are to topple the All Blacks. Meanwhile, the Wallabies will decamp to Canberra where they will face the Pumas.

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