Best of the Weekend at the RWC: New Zealand a class apart

As the knock out stages begin to take shape, we round up the best action from the last weekend at the Rugby World Cup.

New Zealand looking ominously good

Pre-tournament favourites the All Blacks kept the New Zealand public believing on Saturday after a convincing win over France. As expected, France struggled defensively down the number 10 channel, but the way they were outplayed around the fringes of the rucks came as a shock. It was no surprise to see Dan Carter or those running off him surging through into space. Whilst the All Blacks were second best at the breakdown against Australia and South Africa in the latter stages in the Tri-Nations, against France it was New Zealand who dominated, their physicality but also effectiveness at stealing the ball practically winning them the game.

With control of the ball at the rucks, and France having to commit more bodies than they would have wanted into the contact area to compete for or retain possession, the spaces where always going to be there for Carter and co to exploit. Winning the breakdown is one thing, but unless the resulting space is attacked powerfully and quickly then it is wasted dominance. This is something we have become used to seeing with England. For the All Blacks, the chances are never left untouched.

Scotland left on the ropes heading into encounter with England

This was always going to be tough, but after beating Argentina in their own backyard last year not just once, but twice, Scotland might have gone into this match a tad confident. Confident, but never ignorant though of the challenge Los Pumas offered. Andy Robinson has commented on how 30 seconds of madness cost his side the match when Lucas Amorosino raced over with minutes in single digits left on the clock, but the reality is Scotland had their chances to win this game.

The dying seconds saw Dan Parks fluff a drop goal attempt, and promptly scream at the referee for offside against Felipe Contepomi. The whole preparation for the attempt was hurried under the pressure of the ticking clock, and Scotland would have been better off to have played one more phase and insured that the pass was safe.

Furthermore, if you’re 5 metres in front of the posts and a fly-half, you should really hit the target. Scotland must now beat England to progress. Points difference does not matter. If the teams are tied on points, then it will come down to the result between the two of them. To finish above them outright, Scotland will have to score four tries or aim for the more simpler of adjective of beating England by 8 points. It is one hell of a challenge.

England, Ireland and Australia cruise to victory

Scoring 30 tries between them, the three top 10 ranked teams convincingly racked up wins against Romania, Russia and the USA to make their destinations in the quarter-finals all the more clear. England’s triumph over a weak Romania team brought them the confidence boost they needed after their uninspiring performances against Argentina and Georgia. Their backs received some much needed finishing practice, with both Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto scoring hat-tricks, whilst Manu Tuilagi confirmed his status as England’s best attacking option with another good performance in the centre, grabbing his fourth Test try in five matches. An easier test, but one England passed.

Meanwhile Ireland managed to rest several of their key players and still convincingly dispatch Russia without any serious injury worries. They should not be too concerned about the tries that they conceded in the second half, lapses in concentration are bound to occur when a game is too easy to win. They were able to rest Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe and still grab a comfortable bonus point. Elsewhere Australia, their bruised and despondent victims from the week before, bounced back perfectly against the USA, inspired by the return of Berrick Barnes and running in an impressive 11 tries, including at hat-trick from Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Samoa win the battle of the Pacific Nations

Through a controlled set-piece and solid defence, Samoa defeated their Pacific Island foes Fiji rather convincingly in a sell out at Eden Park. Tries from George Stowers and Kahn Fotuali’i, along with the effective boot of Tusi Pisi at number 10 meant the Samoa were too good. In a way, it is a shame that neither of these sides will progress to the knock out stages, such as was the case in 2007 when Fiji conquered Wales.

Try of the Weekend goes to Adam Thomson. New Zealand’s first try against France may end up being try of the tournament. Starting with a sublime break from Ma’a Nonu through the middle, his hips causing chaos, the centre burst up the 5 metre line. Then superb hands from Dan Carter and Israel Dagg sent the ball left to Thomson near the touchline, who finished with ease. Brilliant.

Lucas González Amorosino is the weekend’s Hero, for his match-winning try. In the dampest of conditions, Amorosino swivelled his way infield past three Scottish tacklers to touch down. It was then left to Felipe Contepomi to add the conversion, and Argentina were ahead.

Lastly, this weekend’s Villain is Dan Parks for his crucial drop goal miss. Rather than rushing the phase, it should have been Parks call for more composure and security ahead of the pass. A couple more phases may have put him more central, or even caught Argentina offside.

by Ben Coles

25 thoughts on “Best of the Weekend at the RWC: New Zealand a class apart

  1. Parks was incredibly quick to shout at the referee for offside. Watch it again. The offside is marginal at best, as the ball is out as soon as the scrum half’s hands are on the ball.

    Parks for me often shows this though. He has a good boot and can play at ten well, but i don’t think he is composed enough for international rugby.

  2. I love watching the french play rugby.

    After 10 minutes, they decided the couldnt win and that was it.

    They know they can only beat the Kiwis once in this RWC, well see a different side in the quarters

    1. Agreed Jimmy.

      Liked what I saw of the French for the first 15 minutes.

      80 Like that will see the All Blacks undone.

      Really enjoying the Competition though. New Zealand should be proud of putting on such a Great Competition.

      1. This French side cant play like that for 80 minutes and even if they could the All Blacks will still beat them.
        They played well for the first 15 minutes and still couldnt break the line.

          1. Yep correct but they couldnt cross the try line and that is the difference between the 2 teams.
            I notice its always the Stephen Jones and the like from the Northern hemisphere that always dig into the All Blacks, is this because most of the national teams from that side of the globe have never beaten the AB’s in a test match.The Poms supporters are always jumping on the bandwagon because they have only managed it 6 times in their histroy with 4 of those wins being in their backyard.
            I would never eat any grapes coming out of the Northern Hemisphere as they would all be too sour.

    2. I thought the French looked pretty handy as well, but they didn’t really want to win that game. England, Ireland or Wales is a much easier route through to the final for them!

      People generally think England have a hold over the French in RWCs, but on the evidence so far, I think the French are most likely to make the semis. A NZ v France final would be very amusing…imagine the nerves in Auckland!

      1. Hutch, “on the evidence so far you think the French will make the Semi’s”??????? Now don’t get me wrong the French could quite easily pull themselves together and beat Eng but so far they have been pretty dire! They only just beat Japan and got crucified by NZ how is that evidence they will beat us? (providing of course we beat Scot on sat which is by no means certain).

  3. The kiwis are looking class. But they only have to lose once!

    Loving Berrick Barnes return. He should be the Wallabies starting 12. He’ll steady Quadey, is great in defence and is a pretty handy kicker.

    The fat lady is warming up for Scotland.

    1. I thought Barnes was outstanding when he came on, and he looks to me like a much better bet as a World Cup fly-half. Quade is phenomenal, but he’s also a weakness…

  4. What has 15 Members and likes to watch the Rugby World Cup Final on TV?

    The All Blacks

    The Boys need to realise that every team will play their “A Game” against the All Blacks. Tournament Rugby with games in Quick Succesion is a whole different Ballgame to regular Internationals. Tactics and Player choices also playing an important role. I wish them well and pray England meet them in the Final. All Whites V All Blacks……Cool!!

    1. England wont make the final they will be lucky to beat the French in the semis the way they have been playing.
      I would like to see a more deserving side like Ireland who have played good rugby againts a quality side make the final againts the All Blacks or South Africa.
      The Poms cant beat the All Blacks even when the abs are playing badly, they only manage a win once a decade and it hasnt been 10 years yet.

        1. I think you ll find they beat them once, in Wellington, in 2003. That s all. The Ab’s beat them once also – it was 1 all.

        2. You obviously dont know your rugby that well Ben.
          It took the poms 31 years to register the first win after the 2 nations meet for the first time in 1905.
          It then took them another 36 years to get there 2nd and from then it was once a decade 73,83,93,2003.
          They did one 1 game in 2002 but the measly total of 6 wins is hardly a regular basis over 106 years is it.
          The Poms average winning margin is 4 points in those wins and 4 of those wins are when they played at home, so they have only managed to beat the AB’s twice outside of Twickers.
          This is hardly doing anything on a regular basis in fact the only thing the Pommy supporetes do on a regular basis is sing annoying american gospel songs to bouy up their spirits as the rugby is generally to boring to watch.
          Dont forget that England is also the biggest rugby playing nation by far with the most money to spend so its even more dire when they continully get whipped by the Southern hemisphere sides with smaller player bases less cash.
          Money cant buy talent or heart though I suppose.

  5. Comme Ci, Comme Ça – As many great/not so great men have said – “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.” – “Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion.” – “I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.” – “France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country.” They throw a match in order to win the final – you have to love their audacity. Mad as sticks – Vive la difference!

      1. Thought you were waiting for the Guinness and blue lobster!? Oh yee of little faith. We going all the way.
        Have to go – the jet has been refulled – no wifi on the jet.
        Your friend Ding Dong

        1. Guiness and Lobster it is. although if you do go all the way, youll be happy enough to chuck in some cigars well!

    1. Yeah, or maybe the AB’s were just much better. I would expect a better performance frov Fra if they meet the AB’s again, but I see them being beaten even more heavily by NZ then, unless Rishie McCaw gets injured – God of a player.
      Interestingly, Wales might well end up playing Aus in the QF’s as from what I’ve seen, Ireland have been shown to be lacking in the attacking department for big games. Bowe was unable to carry out a simple hand off to Sexton who was perfectly shadowing the 2 backs that chased him down, and his hand off when it did come, was too late, after the tackle of O’Connor – a try thrown away but he gets off as he made the intercept in the first place. Italy got the bonus point against the US, whereas Ireland didn’t. Anyone could put 50-60 on Russia. Ireland only narrowly beat Italy in the last 6 nations. Also, if Ireland don’t beat Italy convincingly, as they should do if they have any bottle, they will be looking bad for the game against Wales, and whoever they face after that.

      1. Also, Ireland are the only top 10 team with only 1 bonus point at this stage. I’m Irish and I’m worried. Our backs coach may be inept – I hope not.

        1. “To be born italian and male is to win the lotto of life” They will never be a great rugby nation – too many pretty girls, good food, great art, great cars, great design and Venice. Please Italians leave something for the rest of us.
          Parisse can talk the talk but is the only Italian who can walk the walk. The penalty count on Castrogiovanni will negate any positive contributions he makes (will probably get yellow carded). It’s la dolce vita per gli irlandesi. Il conto per favore – Devo prenotare i biglietti per l’Irlanda v Galles. Grazie!

  6. Oh dear. You find so many southern hemisphere supporters who add value with their comments, but then you get spouting eejits like Sam who ruin it all

    Lets add some more cliches shall we? Let’s see – the Aussie forwards are all rubbish, the saffers are all thugs and the ABs are only so good because they steal all their players from the pacific islands.

    All rubbish of course, just like Sam’s comment

    England faber played boring rugby and England have played sublime rugby

  7. Sorry about that, silly phone cut me off.

    Anyway, arguments about who plays what kind of rugby aside, the simple fact is that the ABs will always be judged on their RWC record

  8. Agreed Paolo. Here in NZ at the start of the tournament the hosts were all being pretty quiet and nervous about the whole thing, now they are becoming slightly nauseating. They believe completely they are going to win which is fair enough but they are also already trotting out excuses in case they don’t. If they lose don’t expect them to be remotely gracious about it. They will have been cheated or everyone else will have played rugby in the wrong way so it’s null and void.

    I also have not met a single Kiwi who has watched the Heineken Cup so their opinion on Northern Hemisphere rugby can be discounted completely.

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