Autumn Internationals Review: Week 2

Whilst England fans shake their heads in dismay, Tom Walker brings us a round up of the other key games this weekend, where there was better fortune for some of the Northern Hemisphere teams.

Ireland 20 Australia 20

Ireland’s talisman Brian O’Driscoll marked his 100th Test cap with a last-minute try to help salvage a draw against Australia at Croke Park.

Trailing by seven points, Ireland went for the jugular and Ronan O’Gara converted his captain’s score to maintain the home side’s unbeaten record in 2009.

Afterwards BOD heaped praise on his side for sticking at it when things weren’t going well. Playing catch up against a team of Australia’s quality is the mark of a team full of confidence and belief.

The draw ends Australia’s bid for a Grand Slam tour of the home nations but Ireland, should they see off Fiji and South Africa, will end the year unbeaten – not bad for a team from the northern hemisphere.

Scotland 23 Fiji 10

A new era for Scotland got off to the perfect start with an encouraging victory over Fiji at Murrayfield.

In Andy Robinson’s first game in charge the Scots, with 10 changes to the team that started their final six nations match, made a slow start before number eight Johnnie Beattie scored midway through the first half.

Graeme Morrison later crossed to cancel out Vereniki Goneva’s score and Scotland’s win ensures they leapfrog their opponents into ninth in the IRB world rankings.

One piece of bad news for Scotland fans was the sight of joint captain Mike Blair, who was on for Chris Cusiter, was carried off with a nasty looking shoulder injury.

Whilst there is room for improvement, can Scotland take this promising form into next weekend and give Australia a run for their money?

Wales 17 Samoa 13

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has suggested that his experienced players are in line for recalls after his young guns narrowly saw off a dogged Samoa on Friday night.

With the next world cup in 2011 on the horizon, Gatland gave the likes of Dan Biggar, Tom James and Sam Warburton the chance to shine.

And Biggar, who prior to kick-off outlined his long-term plans to replace Stephen Jones, got off to a flyer – his pinpoint cross-field kick setting up Leigh Halfpenny for an early try.

But the exuberance of youth can be overly ambitious and this was typified when Seilala Mapusua intercepted a Biggar pass for an 80m run-in.

And had Samoa not blown great chances late on they could now be celebrating a famous win.

With a physical Argentina side next up, should Gatland ring the changes?

France 20 South Africa 13

It’s not very often South Africa get out-muscled but France beat the Boks at their own game in Toulouse on Friday night to extend their 12-year unbeaten home run against the world champions.

The visitors looked on course to end that record, heading into the break leading 13-11 thanks to a John Smit try and eight points from the boot of Morne Steyn.

But yellow cards for Steyn and Ryan Kankowski proved pivotal in the second half as France forced the Springboks into uncharacteristic errors at the breakdown.

Captain Thierry Dusautoir epitomised everything the French did well and although they couldn’t add a second try, the replacement scrum-half sealed the victory with a late penalty.

Les Bleus have now beaten New Zealand away and South Africa at home to put to bed any debate who the best team outside of the southern hemisphere might be.