Wallabies finish French series with a flourish
Australia buried the sleep-inducing memories of its 6-0 defeat of France in the second Test with a sizzling attacking performance in the third, sealing a 3-0 series whitewash courtesy of a 39-13 victory in Sydney.
Giant lock Will Skelton produced one of the great Wallabies debuts, stretching out to score a memorable first-half try and setting up one of Israel Folau’s two five-pointers with a superb pass, while also excelling in the more customary aspects of tight forward play.
Skipper Michael Hooper finished an outstanding second half try with a huge swan dive, while replacement halfback Nick Phipps crossed for the Wallabies’ other try and flyhalf Bernard Foley added 14 points with the boot.
Skelton, Hooper, Folau and Sekope Kepu were particularly impressive, but No.8 Wycliff Palu, who missed the second Test through injury, was a standout man-of-the-match. Palu was busy and damaging with the ball, defended relentlessly and dominated in the rucks. Australia looks to be belatedly moulding a tough, dynamic forward pack capable of competing against the might of New Zealand and South Africa. The Wallabies’ backline – Folau aside – was less impressive, but it was a confidence-boosting team performance overall ahead of the Rugby Championship.
All Blacks complete whitewash of England
After being pushed desperately close in the first two Tests, New Zealand carved out an ultimately comfortable 36-13 victory to complete a 3-0 series clean sweep of England. The All Blacks enthralled the packed house in Hamilton with a blistering first-half performance: halfback Aaron Smith and brilliant winger Julian Savea each posted two tries in the opening 40 minutes to help set up a 29-6 lead.
But the tourists displayed the spirit and grit that marked their earlier performances after the break, crossing for their only try – a superb movement finished off by winger Marland Yarde. That converted try looked certain to be the only score of the second half, until Savea scored his third try in the final passage of the game. Savea’s hat-trick was the main talking point after the game, taking the Hurricanes flyer’s record to 23 tries in 22 Tests.
Springboks scrape home over gallant Wales
Improving dramatically from last week’s 37-16 drubbing at the hands of the Springboks, Wales went heartbreakingly close to securing its first-ever away Test win over South Africa in the second encounter. The tourists stormed out to a 17-0 lead and were ahead by 13 points with just seven minutes remaining, but were unable to hang on. A late penalty try – awarded for Liam Williams’ shoulder charge on tryline-bound South African winger Cornal Hendricks – allowed the home side to edge in front. Wales’ desperate drop goal attempts in the dying stages were off-target, thwarting a history-making result in the Republic.
Scotland and Japan continue winning ways
Fresh from hard-fought wins over the USA and Canada, Scotland prevailed in the first leg of its South American tour, overturning a nine-point deficit to down Argentina 21-19. A try by Henry Pyrgos and two penalties from Duncan Weir – the second a 78-minute match-winner – in the final quarter saw the Scots come from 19-10 behind to snatch victory.
Meanwhile, Japan – undefeated after two matches of the Pacific Nations Cup – outlasted Italy 26-23 in Tokyo after the scores were locked 13-all at halftime. It was Italy’s third successive loss on tour after earlier going down to Fiji and Samoa.
Thrillers in Pacific Cup
The USA opened its IRB Pacific Nations Cup account with a heart-stopping 38-35 defeat of archrivals Canada in Sacramento. The Americans trailed 28-18 at halftime, but Blaine Scully’s second try and a five-pointer to fellow winger Brett Thompson completed a remarkable turnaround. USA fullback Chris Wyle tallied 28 points from a try, three conversions and four penalties.
In the other Pacific Cup clash over the weekend, former Hurricanes flyhalf Tusi Pisi booted six penalties to give Samoa an 18-13 victory over fierce rivals Fiji in Suva. The hosts scored the only two tries of the match, it was Pisi’s six-from-seven from the tee sealed the result. Both sides have one win apiece after two matches in the six-team tournament.
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