In arguably their best performance of this decade, South Africa put on a display that mirrored the finest Springbok teams with great power in the pack lead by Malcom Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Franco Mostert and captain Siya Kolisi whilst the exquisite attack of Willie le Roux and Aphiwe Dyantyi proved too much for New Zealand.
The hosts will rue the inaccuracy of Beauden Barrett’s goal-kicking and the decision not to go for the drop goal in the last play of the game. Despite a mixed Rugby Championship so far, this will really boost South Africa and it will also give Ireland and England hope going into the Autumn Internationals that the All Blacks are indeed beatable.
Australia’s woes continue as Argentina beat them on home turf
The Wallabies form pre-World Cup is worrying, and to be beaten by the Pumas on home soil raises significant doubts, not to go against Argentina of course who have been excellent in the Championship thus far. However, the game was overshadowed by an incident after the whistle in which flanker Lukhan Tui was involved in a scuffle with an Australian fan after the latter was attributed to have pushed over Tui’s sister. In a week in which Tui’s stepfather unfortunately passed away, it was a disgusting act by a supposed supporter who should be given a lengthy stadium ban at the least.
Meanwhile in the Gallagher Premiership…
Bristol Bears again showed a deep team ethic, willingness to play, resilience and a well drilled-defence to really rattle Gloucester on Friday night, and they were ahead by halftime. However their willingness to play the ball was their downfall in the end, Gloucester eventually succeeded in trapping them in their own 22 and they were just choked in the end by Gloucester’s own well-drilled defence and the dominance of the forward pack, led chiefly by Captain Ed Slater, Franco Marais and man of the match Jake Polledri. Bristol showed enough spirit and their away support was impressive, I’m sure they can get a few wins at Ashton Gate to stay up.
Bath shock inconsistent Harlequins
The kings of inconsistency battled it out at the Stoop on Saturday where you would expect the home side to win but the excellent work of battle-scarred Henry Thomas, Elliott Stooke and Bath’s back row of Zach Mercer, Sam Underhill and Tom Ellis proved too much for Quins. The directness of Jamie Roberts and the brute power and fantastic finishing of England hopeful Joe Cokanasiga meant that the West Country side got a bonus point win over Quins whose performance was rife with handling errors and a poor lineout but still managed to grab two vital bonus points in the last few minutes and they could’ve have even won but Bath’s defence held out.
Promising signs from Northampton as they are unlucky to lose out to Saracens
Northampton shipped over 200 points to their fierce rivals in both Europe and the Prem last season and were hoping to build on their win against Harlequins last week at the Gardens. They were ahead for the majority of the game thanks to tries from England internationals Piers Francis and (a refreshed) Dylan Hartley as well as Ben Franks but two late scores from David Strettle meant that the hosts left with 5 points on the table despite a lot of ill-discipline.
Falcons get 1st win of the season and Exeter beat resilient Sale
Newcastle finally achieved their 1st win of the 2018-19 season, as tries from Sinoti Sinoti and Sonatane Takulua put them in good stead and they managed to hold off the Warriors who at least got a losing bonus point. Meanwhile, Exeter’s power and class were too much for Sale who had started brightly with a sensational finish from Marland Yarde but the Chiefs went rampant with sublime tries from Santiago Cordero and Henry Slade.
Red card controversy as Wasps just pip Tigers in another entertaining Ricoh Arena affair
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps have given us some matches during their glory years but their derbies in recent seasons since the latter’s relocation to Coventry has increased the rivalry no doubt. The game of course was turned on its head when the referee sent off Will Spencer, a decision that caused outcry amongst all rugby fans even amongst those wearing gold-tinted spectacles.
To Leicester’s credit, they hung on and were even ahead for a chunk of time in the second half, but three penalties from Lima Sopoaga meant that Wasps secured a bonus point victory. Tigers will still be happy with how they performed with 14 men and they leave with 2 bonus points, but they again struggled with a wobbly lineout.
Premiership Team of the Week
1. Sami Mavinga (Newcastle)
2. Franco Marais (Gloucester)
3. Henry Thomas (Bath)
4. Elliott Stooke (Bath)
5. Jonny Hill (Exeter)
6. Zach Mercer (Bath)
7. Jake Polledri (Gloucester)
8. Nathan Hughes (Wasps)
9. Ben Spencer (Saracens)
10. Joe Simmonds (Exeter)
11. Joe Cokanasiga (Bath)
12. Juan de Jongh (Wasps)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter)
14. David Strettle (Saracens)
15. Liam Williams (Saracens)
What happened in the Pro14?
Munster gave Ospreys a real reality check as they were thumped 49-13 at the Irish Independent Park, who were overpowered by Tadgh Beirne and Chris Cloete. Edinburgh got their 1st win of the season against Connaught, they could have easily scored more but again struggled with handling errors and Richard Cockerill went all guns blazing on the quality of refereeing afterwards.
Leinster unsurprisingly smashed Dragons 52-10 in Dublin with Tadgh Furlong and Scott Fardy amongst the scorers. For the defending champions it’s business as usual but for the Dragons, there seems to be no improvement from last season at all even with the boost in signings. Scarlets survived a real horror scare as Benetton Treviso were in the lead for much of the game, the Welsh side can be accused of taking the Italians too lightly but this Benetton side are on the up and will cause upsets this season.
The Cheetahs started strongly but then slumped dramatically to Glasgow who turned it up a notch after the second half, eventually winning 24-52 with flyhalf Adam Hastings and scrumhalf Ali Price especially impressing. For the Cheetahs, fans are beginning questions as to why more signings outside of promotions from their Currie Cup squad were not made in the light of key players departing for other clubs both in the Northern Hemisphere and in South Africa.
The return of Marcell Coetzee was well received amongst Ulster fans as he inspired his side to a victory over the Southern Kings away in South Africa and Zebre made a huge shock by beating the Cardiff Blues in the last minute. This is beginning to look ominous for Cardiff already and with the talent of the squad they have they should definitely be performing better than they currently are.
What happened elsewhere?
In the Top 14, highlights were Lyon’s thrashing of Montpellier and Clermont looking like their old selves with their away victory over Pau and Toulouse beat Racing 92 30-17 at the Stade Toulousain.
Hero of the Week
David Strettle deserves this honour as his two late tries sealed the deal for Saracens who edged Northampton. It’s so good to see that the former England winger still has it at the ripe old age of 35, with he and George Smith proving that rugby players can go on into their mid-thirties and still play a high level of rugby.
Villain of the Week
Obviously the Australian “fan” who attacked Lukhan Tui and is accused of pushing over the Wallaby’s sister. First off, it shows that he isn’t really a supporter at all, frustration should never be taken out on players like that. Plus, Tui’s stepfather had only just passed away. That make’s this “fan’s” act all the more disgusting. I hope he get’s the punishment he deserves.
Key Talking Points
– Does Cokanasiga (and other players) deserve a call up to the next England training squad?
– Should Michael Cheika be sacked?
– Is Richard Cockerill right to question standard of officiating?
– Should Will Spencer have been red carded? How much did it affect the game in the end?