Monday’s Rugby News wraps up yesterday’s Bledisloe, club results from around the country and the withdrawal of the Springboks from The Rugby Championship.
The Wallabies were smacked back to reality by the All Blacks, who bounced back from last week’s draw with a convincing 27-7 victory.
The ghosts of Eden Park continue to haunt the Wallabies as the Kiwis put the game to rest with three second-half tries.
They scored three times in 11 minutes as Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea and captain Sam Cane dived over for tries.
Wallabies captain Micahel Hooper was left lambasting a sloppy showing from his side, who would record a 40/20 of their own: 40 missed tackles, 20 turnovers.
“I thought the All Blacks were very good in turnover,” Hooper said after the match.
“They capitalised on our mistakes.
“We pressured really well in the first half. We were down their end and had a lot of possession and probably a lot of territory.
“As New Zealand do they make us pay on turnovers and we weren’t able to scramble and get out of that.”
They looked out of place when centre Matt Toomua was forced from the field after 34 minutes, succumbing to a nagging groin injury.
With the Wallabies needing to sweep the All Blacks for the Australian leg of the Bledisloe Cup/Tri-Nations, Hooper believes that they are still building during the infancy of Dave Rennie’s tenure as coach.
“We threatened a lot in the first half. Those two scores in the second would have been nice,” lamented Hooper.
“We’ll go back home now, get a few days off and regroup. We’re building. A bit of a hit to the confidence there today but we’ll go again.”
It has reached boiling point at club level, with the remaining competitions in the grips of finals fever.
The headline game was in Canberra for the John I Dent Cup where Royals were hoping to go back-to-back against Gungahlin.
They would get out to the perfect start, racing to a 29-7 lead thanks to an inspiring performance by flyhalf Bailey Kuenzie.
Whilst the Matt Giteau-led Eagles would hit back, the Royals would hang on to win 32-22.
Meanwhile, in Tasmania, it was a major upset as Tarooma blanked the previously undefeated Devonport 36-0.
Heading to Adelaide for the semi-finals, Old Collegians booked their place in the final with a demolition 42-17 victory over Burnside to face Brighton.
In the minor semi-final, Woodville dominated Port Adeliade 55-12 to earn themselves a clash against Southern Suburbs.
Across to Sydney for the Shute Shield, Gordon would survive a major scare against Randwick, kicking a late penalty to secure the 15-14 win.
Meanwhile, Eastwood upset Easts 29-20, with Waratahs winger Mark Nawaqanitawase running riot in the wet conditions.
This win would seal the fate of reigning premiers Sydney Uni after they were defeated by Norths 24-22, eliminating the students despite them leading for 74 mins of the match.
Finally in Brisbane, Uni of Queensland would send a major message to the rest of the competition, defeating minor premiers Easts 37-19.
However, they will likely miss Reds forward Angus Blyth for the final after he went down with a medial ligament strain.
In the other semi-final, Bond Uni would continue their incredible run of form as they held off a valiant GPS outfit 32-27.
Four into three
The Springboks have officially withdrawn from the 2020 Rugby Championship, reverting the competition to a tri-series between Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.
The world champions have played little rugby since the lockdown period, with South Africa still dealing with the effects of the COVID outbreak.
With them out, the six-match Tri-Nations will see each team play each other twice, with matches to be played in Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle.
“COVID is just a gift that keeps on giving,” SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos joked in the official statement.
“Naturally, it is extremely disappointing that the Springboks, due to the continued complexities of operating in and around this COVID environment, cannot fully compete in the previously planned six-round Rugby Championship.
“That said this now presents us with a unique opportunity, in this our 25th year, to close off 2020 with a SANZAR Tri Nations Competition.
“SANZAR recognises the challenges and adversity that the national unions have had to face this year due to the pandemic. It is a tribute to the Unions in how they have been able to adapt and, dependent on COVID restrictions, run domestic competitions with the exception of Argentina who has been impacted the hardest through their lockdown.
“These short domestic tournaments, and in Argentina’s case no domestic competition, are not the normal lead into an international window, and while it has been a far from ideal preparation we look forward to an exciting and vibrant Tri-Nations tournament.”
South African Rugby CEO, Jurie Roux, conceded that they were unable to produce an environment that would ensure that their players could adequately deal with the intensity of international rugby.
“SANZAAR and Rugby Australia have bent over backwards to make the tournament happen and it would have been unfair on them and their partners and state government to delay a decision any longer,” he said.
“This is a hugely disappointing outcome for supporters and commercial partners but the on-going impacts of the pandemic in multiple dispensations mean we are unable to deliver a Springbok team without seriously compromising player welfare, apart from other logistical challenges.”
This was the message reinforced by Wallabies coach Dave Rennie after their disappointing loss to the All Blacks.
The Australians missed a staggering 40 tackles in the contest, double that of last week’s tally.
With the side looking to create history at the spiritual home of NZ rugby, Rennie believes that they gave themselves no chance of winning after their lacklustre effort.
“You just can’t gift the All Blacks that much ball, they’ve got too many athletes that can hurt you,” Rennie said post-game.
“Last week we tackled really well and made minimal mistakes, we always knew that as important against the All Blacks, but today we turned the ball over a lot and then missed too many tackles.
“Our individual tackling was poor and we got put under the heat from it.”
Rennie hinted that there may be more changes ahead of the third Bledisloe test match, despite admitting that he was pleased with their effort across the 80 minutes.
“Selection can sometimes fix that,” Rennie said.
“We found at half time we’d fallen off a lot of tackles and gifted a bit of ball but we were down 10-7, so we were right in it and the time we scored was when we had reasonable continuity so we put them under pressure but I thought they scrambled really well.
“We’ve got to be better. There was a lot of errors today but they were certainly sharper than us.”
Rennie also confirmed why Reds number eight Harry Wilson was mysteriously absent from their final training session, revealing that he spent 36 hours in hospital this week with an “infection.”
This was later cleared up by Ned Hanigan, who suggests that it was a “foot infection” that prevented the youngster from getting a full week on the training paddock.