With the second round of matches in The Rugby Championship completed, the standings have not changed. South Africa and New Zealand collected wins, however Australia gained a losing bonus point. That could prove important, when it comes to to the final round.
Important as much in the points accumulated, but also in how the win/loss record finishes. With pre-championship predictions assuming that certain teams would hold onto form from Super Rugby results, the evidence is that those were true.
So at this stage of The Rugby Championship after home and away fixtures, South Africa and New Zealand hold their positions–with the Springboks improving their points differential [13 points]. Again, important small differences this round, could be vital by Round Six.
New Zealand 35 – Tries: Ioane, A. Smith, B. Barrett (2), B. Smith; Conversions: B. Barrett (5)
Australia 29 – Tries: Folau, Hooper, Foley, Genia, Beale; Cons: Foley (2)
The commentators called it a ‘great test match’. The fans will have walked away enthralled with the suspense and drama. The players too, will recall how exciting the game was, but it will be the coaches who will say that it was ‘a hard game to judge’.
Result Goes Way of Hosts, Yet Plenty of Questions Raised
Those questions start with how did the lighting fail just before kick-off? Facilities must be at 100% efficiency, so organizers must look back at what caused that. In no way should it have affected the players, but having to put your mind into idle mode for 20 minutes isn’t an everyday practice for high performing athletes.
“We were fortunate to come out on the right side of it.”
That was the plain assessment by Steve Hansen. His assistant Ian Foster commented that “I think once we settled down, and we started to trust ourselves and trust our systems we looked a lot better. It took a while,” and in fact the side had to rely on the final play of the game for that.
Scott Barrett's transfer, Kieran Read's angle and TJ Perenara's support line. All superb. Took something special to beat Australia. pic.twitter.com/Y5dbf0anNk
Last nights match report explained how captain Kieran Read pulled in the kick restart expertly. That along with a line break by the skipper, finally saw some wonderful interchange of passing to allow Beauden Barrett to seal the result.
All Blacks Prevail Due to Trusting Their Systems
When Michael Cheika was asked how he thought his side had improved from one week to the next [even when losing] “I’m always pleased with the team, even last week when it harder to be pleased. I see how hard they are working off the field.
“It’s all good but the gallant loser thing is not on. We should have won that game.”
“We should got a hold of that ball for the last three minutes, and held it at all costs”. That shows how frustrated the coach is at putting out a good performance for 77 minutes, to just lose the match in the final throws of action.
The Wallabies did plenty right. Starting off with intensity, they were open to opportunity. And while fortunate at times, fortune favours the brave. They held trust that their enthusiasm would get them through, but for a poor night for place kicking. Only two of five conversions, and the six points would have given them a draw.
Michael Hooper will believe they are close, and that men like Kurtley Beale and Will Genia are returning to form. Cheika might have found fault with referee decisions–and Retallick must find himself lucky to have finished the game. For the Wallabies though, their next game in two weeks could be a much more positive outcome.
For New Zealand, they showed bad errors. Handling errors, and inconsistency in the delivery of ball was an issue for the All Blacks. Plus, how poorly they control the later stages of the game are critical learnings. Beale scored his try, and the Wallabies came within three minutes of beating the World Champions.
Is this a sign of frailty? or simply an inconsistency that can be repaired?
Argentina 23 – Tries: Moyano, Moroni ; Conversions: Hernandez, Sanchez; Penalties: Boffelli (2), Hernandez
South Africa 41 – Tries: Penalty Try, Kilosi (2), Jantjies, J du Preez; Cons: Elton Jantjies (4); Pen: Jantjies (2)
The result went the way of the visiting Springboks, who appeared unrecognizable in Salta. Dressed in a celebratory alternate strip that matched colours of the national flag to commemorate 25 years of unity, it brought with it a different performance from the Springboks. They opened quickly, and took advantage of personnel advantages afforded them by the hosts.
Over a total of 44 minutes, Los Pumas played with only 14 men. That was due to continued indiscipline–a continual fault of the hot-blooded South Americans. Why, you can only think because they do take their rugby to heart…. but how long the side can continue playing heart over head, needs to be addressed. The 26th loss in 29 Championship matches.
Tomas Lavanini first went low, and then at the end of the third quarter, he reached out for a ball. That was deemed a deliberate knock-down. His actions then applied more pressure onto his team mates, and it is something that is very hard to remove.
Siya Kilosi and Elton Jantjies Show Their Class in Springbok Win
Kilosi, the Stormers Super Rugby captain is now establishing himself in the national side. A classy blindside flanker, and worked in tandem with Jaco Kriel to great affect. That partnership will threaten most International sides, so fans of the Bok team should expect more when the side travel downunder.
A terrific result for Jantjies too. Many have questions over the Lions flyhalf. Has he got the maturity and control required? An answer came in Argentina, with an all round performance. The nice touch in his try scoring movement was both attacking, and very precise in it’s finish.
Is he confirmed as the best first-five in Africa…no. He will need to play four more times, and play well, to convince many – including some staff at LWOR.
But the overall impression from Argentina is that they only need to manage their emotions, and a performance will come. At times, men like Joaquin Tuculet and Pablo Matera possess world class skill. If they can work with leader Augustin Creevy, and they can bring all the elements together for 80 minutes, they can challenge Australia [next opponent] and New Zealand.
The third round of The Rugby Championship is September 9. Matches in Perth, Australia and New Plymouth, New Zealand scheduled.
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