Monday’s Rugby News saw the Wallabies come back from the dead, the All Blacks pull their own comeback off, an exciting round of the NRC and a wrap up of rugby across the country
Wallabies rise from the dead
The Wallabies must’ve watched the Rumble in the Jungle on the flight over to Argentina as they did their best impression of Muhammad Ali throughout this match. The side employed the rugby equivalent of rope-a-dope to wear the Pumas down to win 45-34.
At least that’s the only reasoning I can come to after watching this crazy match in a match that embodied the phrase “a game of two halves”.
The Wallabies came out like they were still on Australian time, conceding 2 tries in the first 5 minutes to trail 14-0 before most of the country had woken up. Despite an inspired effort from Michael Hooper off a very slick lineout move, the Pumas made the Wallabies look like an under 18 side against men, blowing them out to lead 31-3 at halftime.
This obviously did not sit well with coach Michael Cheika, who shredded the Wallabies worse than a piece of Banksy artwork (Credit fellow news writer Andrew for the one-liner), before dragging the whole front row off as Raelene Castle began to type up the Linkedin ad for his replacement, if she hadn’t already had it saved as a draft already.
The Wallabies all of a sudden decided to play rugby in the second half, dominating the second half, scoring 5 unanswered tries to run away with the match 45-34. This was probably the best half that the Wallabies had put up this year, holding onto the ball and opening the Argentinian side up, and it came at the perfect time for Cheika and his men to ensure they did not finish last for the first time in Rugby Championship history.
It was an immense effort off the bench from Tolu Latu today, probably the best game I’ve seen him play in gold despite receiving a yellow card and it only lasting 35 minutes. Pocock again was incredible in attack and defence, but then again it’s becoming as natural as the sky is blue that he has great games for the Wallabies.
This was probably one of the weirder matches that I’ve ever seen played as I don’t think there has ever been such a reverse in form and momentum between two halves by both sides. It’s hard to assess that performance as you can’t ignore that fact we gave up 31 points in the first half. But hopefully, the Wallabies can build confidence off that excellent second half and get back on track.
All Blacks break Boks
In the other Rugby Championship match, the All Blacks pulled off their own version of Mission Impossible with the men in black scoring in the last minute to defeat South Africa 32-30 at Loftus Versfeld.
The match was a real arm wrestle in the first half, with the sides locked at 6-6 going into the break trading penalty kicks. But it was South Africa that exploded out of the gates in the second half, scoring twice in the 10 minutes after half time to extend their lead out to 23-6.
The All Blacks fired straight back, with halfback Aaron Smith bursting away like he had just seen a disabled toilet at an airport to bring the margin back to 10 points. However, South Africa looked like they would back up their shock win a month ago, pushing their lead out to 17 points.
But this is the All Blacks we’re talking out here, and they fired back immediately through Rieko Ioane before stealing victory in the last 5 minutes with two tries to Scott Barrett and Ardie Savea.
Kieran Reid after the match was full of praise for the South Africans stating “We just snuck across the line there. They are a side that is very capable when they turn up…They’re a side that always has a great forward pack, But they’ve also got some smart men”
Coach Steve Hansen said the All Blacks ability to maintain their intensity to the end was crucial in the side’s stunning comeback.
“I’m proud of the character they showed,” Hansen told reporters. “A couple of weeks ago we didn’t manage the game very well and I think Kieran (Read) and his leadership group can take a lot of satisfaction over how they managed tonight’s game.
“It could have easily been one we let go and allowed them to win, but they dug in deep and refused to give up. Sometimes if you keep knocking on the door someone will open it and you can come in.”
These two sides have had two cracking clashes, with the ledger even in terms of wins and points scored after these encounters. This leads very nicely to the World Cup next year in which both sides have been drawn together in which should be the match of the group stages.
NRC throws up cracking encounters
The sixth round of the NRC was filled with thrilling encounters as the competition starts to prepare itself for finals time.
The first clash saw the top of the table clash with the Vikings heading over to the South Pacific to take on the red-hot Fijian Drua. Despite an inspired comeback, the Drua were too strong in the end, holding off the fast-finishing Vikings 40-35 to continue their dominance at home. Check out Andrew’s match report on this thrilling clash for a detailed breakdown of the twists and turns that this match threw up.
The next contest was, unfortunately, the most lopsided match of the round, with finals bound Queensland Country taking on the struggling Sydney Rays. Despite holding tough for the first half, the Rays were blown out by the impressive Country outfit, recording a 64-24 win. Make sure you check out our resident Queenslander Sucker for Red’s report for an in depth analysis of the contest.
Sunday’s rugby seemed to take inspiration from the Wallabies contest with two thrilling encounters. The first match saw the Western Force snatch victory in the dying minutes of the game against a Melbourne Rising side who put their best performance of the tournament together to nearly cause the boil over. The Force scored in the dying minutes to record a 31-28 win to maintain second place, with Melbourne rugby nut Scott detailing the close encounter.
The final match saw the red hot Brisbane City hosting a NSW Country side which have made a habit of coming close but no cigar. This match continued the trend with Brisbane City coming back from 27-14 down to steal victory 28-27 to maintain their hopes of a finals beth. Check out Nick’s recount of the match which details the incredible comeback along with the struggles of being a NRC supporter in NSW.
These results set up some cracking final round fixtures, highlighted by the Force hosting the Drua and a finals eliminator between Canberra and Brisbane City which should wet the rugby appitite as The Rugby Championship comes to an end.
Around the Grounds
Along with the Wallabies and the NRC, there was quite a large amount of rugby played across the country over the weekend.
Firstly, Griffith continued their dominance in the Aon Uni 7’s, securing back to back titles on the Gold Coast. In the final, they were able to overcome Sydney Uni 31-0 off the back of a double for Kirby Sefo to secure the side the gold medal for the second time in two weeks.
In the Bronze medal clash, Macquarie beat UQ to shoot up to second on the competition ladder, while UQ now sits in third, setting up a thrilling final round in Adelaide.
In a weekend of Queensland dominance, Brisbane City were clinical in the inaugrial final of the Under 19’s NRC, winning 40-7 in the all Queensland final against Queensland Country.
City dominated off the back of an excellent showing from Isaac Lucas who scored 15 points to secure the win and player of the tournament.
This result was backed up by the junior Queensland rep sides, who took out the double at the national finals at Ballymore. Queensland Red beat NSW Gen Blue I 17-5 in the Junior Gold Cup decider after a 12-5 lead at half-time and Queensland I cruised to a 41-12 win over NSW I in the U16 Junior Rugby Championship decider.
Finally, the Australian Schoolboys sides have had mixed success in their clashes, with the Australian Schoolboys side narrowly going down to New Zealand after the Barbarians side dominated Tonga earlier in the day 64-5.
The Australian side were outplayed in a tight contest which saw the New Zealand side run out winners 24-12.
Despite the loss there were bright spots for the young Aussies, with Spencer Jean and Carter Gordon impressive in the wet conditions, although it would be brighter if the Roosters hadn’t already signed Luca Moretti as having seen him play first hand for a couple of years he will be a name that rugby fans will regret losing for years to come.