RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP – RESULT – Argentina 09 vs 34 Australia

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Will Skelton of Australia during a match between Australia and Argentina as part of The Rugby Championship 2015 at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on July 25, 2015 in Mendoza, Argentina.

Will Skelton of Australia during a match between Australia and Argentina as part of The Rugby Championship 2015 at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas on July 25, 2015 in Mendoza, Argentina.

Australia outscored Argentina by four tries to none, gaining revenge for their 2014 defeat by winning 34-9 in Mendoza on Saturday.

Adam Ashley-Cooper scored a try with the final play of the match to secure the bonus point for the Wallabies, whose bench played a major role once again.

Argentina often sparkled individually but never showed enough control or composure when it mattered most, committing basic errors that undermind their efforts.

For a while the Wallabies were sucked into an attritional battle without making much progress. However a special try for Dean Mumm, the Australia lock who recently returned from a stint in England with Exeter Chiefs, proved to be a finishing blow that killed off the hopes of their hosts.

Soft penalties meant that Australia made harder work of the contest than required, particularly with off the ball incidents that cancelled out their penalty advantages.

Quade Cooper’s yellow card in the second half was inevitable and if they leak penalties against New Zealand in two weeks time Australia will be in real trouble.

Despite that the Wallabies greater structure shone through as Argentina relied on moments of individual magic, espeically from the livewire full-back Santiago Cordero, to make any real progress without aimlessly kicking the ball away. After that thrilling finish to last year’s Rugby Championship with their first win in the competition, Argentina have started 2015 very slowly.

Israel Folau was lucky not to see yellow for a mid-air challenge on Nicolás Sánchez in the opening minutes, with a penalty against the Wallabies ending a dominant opening period from the visitors where they enjoyed 90 percent possession.

Australia lost Matt Toomua to an early concussion, forcing a re-shuffle in the backline with Quade Cooper replacing him as Sánchez pushed a long-range drop goal attempt narrowly wide.

More loose kicking then cost Sánchez and his side when Folau returned one with interest, combining with Bernard Foley to release Joe Tomane down the touchline for the opening try.

Excitement was never far away when Cordero was involved for the home side but Argentina lacked that final touch to finish off some promising early moments.

They were lucky the Wallabies persisted to squander their advantages like when Will Skelton saw a penalty reversed for grabbing a player around the neck at the bottom of a ruck.

Inaccuracies from both sides meant the Wallabies still led 5-0 approaching the half-hour mark, before Sánchez knocked over his first penalty to put the hosts on the scoresheet.

Australia though persisted to threaten with the ball in hand, a show-and-go from the captain Stephen Moore being a highlight as the Wallabies forced a penalty out of the defence which Foley was unable to convert.

Argentina had to control the scrum to have a chance of winning and after a quiet week against New Zealand they looked to have rediscovered their rhythm, with James Slipper feeling the heat as a result.

Foley rediscovered his accuracy to add a first penalty but Sánchez instantly responded with the final act of the half to leave Australia ahead by two points at half-time, leading 8-6.

A second penalty from Foley right after half-time stretched the visitors advantage to five points, even if it wasn’t the cleanest of strikes from the Waratahs fly-half whose form off the tee is becoming a minor concern.

Argentina weren’t short of attacks but the Wallabies, more often than not through the excellent David Pocock, were always there ready to turn over possession or slow them down. Appropriately the openside put in an impressive run down the wing, before being bundled into touch by the cover defence.

Another penalty from Foley gave the Wallabies a comfortable eight-point lead as they welcomed back Mumm from the bench for his first Test appearance since 2010.

Argentina did receive some reward for the efforts of Cordero and Juan Pablo Socino when Sánchez added this third penalty coming up to the fourth quarter, making it 14-9 and keeping los Pumas in the hunt.

Mumm though crushed those hopes with a barnstorming run of his own down the touchline, fending off tacklers to score a fine solo try in the corner and open up the gap to ten points.

Indiscipline however kept pulling the Wallabies back into the game, with Cooper heading to the sin-bin for a high tackle, but a crucial steal from Rob Simmons prevented Argentina from attacking through their rolling maul.

Foley curled in a fourth three-pointer to make it 22-9, putting the result almost beyond doubt with ten minutes to go as Argentina’s attack failed to make in-roads, capping off a frustrating night for their supporters.

There was still time for Australia to add a third try – Tevita Kuridrani the man to go over for his second score in a week after a good pass over the top from Foley and the bonus point wasn’t far behind.

Ashley-Cooper was the man to finish it off but only after great input from Kurtley Beale, on his 50th cap, and Folau to make sure Australia head back home with all five points.

The bonus point also moves them level on points with New Zealand at the top of the Rugby Championship ahead of their meeting on August 8.

The scorers:

For Argentina:
Pens: Sánchez 3

For Australia:
Tries: Tomane, Mumm, Kuridrani, Ashley-Cooper
Cons: Foley
Pens: Foley 4
Yellow Card: Cooper

 

The teams:

Argentina: 15 Santiago Cordero, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Javier Ortega Desio, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Iglesias Valdez, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Matías Díaz, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Michael Hooper, 21 Nic White, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Kurtley Beale.

Date: Saturday, 25 July
Venue: Estadio Malvinas, Mendoza
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)


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RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP – RESULT– South Africa 20 vs 27 New Zealand

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A late Richie McCaw try helped the All Blacks clinch a closely-fought clash with the Springboks at Ellis Park on Saturday, winning 27-20.

New Zealand have become masters of the fast finish and it was fitting that McCaw – in what was probably his last Test on South African soil – landed the killer blow against their fiercest rivals.

With the Springboks having crossed the Indian Ocean twice in the last fortnight, the last 20 minutes needed a big effort, but – as was the case last week against Australia – the Boks faded at the death of what was a thrilling game.

After being outscored three tries to two, the home side will rue a number of close calls having had their noses in front for most of the game.

The scores were locked at 10-all at the interval as Willie le Roux’s early try was cancelled out by Ben Smith.

South Africa had led for almost the entire half and looked in control but – in typical fashion – the All Blacks struck with the last play of the half to level matters. It was sign of things to come.

Quick-fire tries from Jesse Kriel and Dane Coles early in the second stanza kept the contest tight before McCaw’s late try snatched victory for the world champions.rsanzl2027

After a poor tactical kicking display in Brisbane last week, South African coach Heyneke Meyer was looking for huge improvement but he will have mixed feelings as the Boks mixed the excellent with the mediocre when kicking from hand.

It took the Boks less than two minutes to cheaply hand possession over to the All Blacks with a poorly directed box kick. The ensuing ruck saw the visitors awarded a penalty, which Lima Sopoaga duly slotted for his first Test points. The home crowd feared the worst.

However, a much better kick from Ruan Pienaar was at the origin of the first try. Bismarck du Plessis caught Kieran Read in possession after Israel Dagg’s pass, forcing the turnover. The ball was sent wide to Le Roux on the overlap and the full-back split the outnumbered Kiwi defenders to race home. Handré Pollard added the easy extras.

New Zealand had a golden opportunity to strike back, but Conrad Smith couldn’t hang onto the snap pass from Aaron Smith, who had decided to run from a penalty dead in front of the posts.

The Boks were taking no such risks, and Pollard extended the lead with a penalty for offside play, meaning the hosts led 10-3 at the end of the first quarter.

The visitors were clearly intent on keeping the pace of the game as high as possible and avoiding set pieces wherever possible, robbing the Boks of attacking chances from lineouts with a few quick throw-ins.

Pollard fell short with a shot at goal from inside his own half before Sopoaga was also off target with a much easier effort.

The home side looked set to take a seven-point gap into the break but a brilliant run up the middle of the field from Sopoaga changed the complexion of the game as Ben Smith collected his fly-half’s pass to cross. Sopoaga added the conversion to draw his team level.

A knee injury meant that Bok prop Jannie du Plessis did not emerge from the tunnel for the second half, giving Vincent Koch his first taste of Test rugby. Francois Louw lasted just two minutes after the restart and home-town boy Warren Whiteley was given a huge welcome.

Kriel backed up his brilliant try last week with another great score as he split Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith off Pollard’s pop pass to sprint over. Pollard added the conversion as the Ellis Park crowd roared their approval.

The counter-punch from the All Blacks didn’t take long to follow though, as Coles showed incredible pace for a hooker to charge over under the sticks. Sopoaga’s extras meant it was all-square with a half-an-hour to play.

Beauden Barrett was given a run at full-back as Dagg was taken off but it was the visitors’ forwards who were in the firing line.

The TMO ruled that Lood de Jager had placed the ball millimetres short of the line – much to the hosts bemusement – but Pollard was able to put the Boks back in front with a penalty as the All Blacks gave away a penalty under huge pressure on their line.

A break from Le Roux put the visitors under more pressure and Sam Whitelock was sent to the bin for his attempts to kill the attack.

South Africa opted for the scrum rather than three easy points, but Eben Etzebeth was held up after a big shove for the line. A knock on from Koch – who had blood streaming from his face – meant that they failed at their second attempt as precious points were left by the wayside.

South African breathed a huge sigh of relief as a long-range shot from Sopoaga fell short of goal, allowing the Boks to take a slim lead into the final 15 minutes.

Koch’s trip to the nurse’s office meant the hosts no longer had a specialist tighthead, resulting in uncontested scrums in the last 10 minutes.

Brodie Retallick was held up over the line but New Zealand went for the corner and McCaw ghosted through the middle of the lineout to bump Pienaar out the way to score an all-too-easy try in the 73rd minute.

Sopoaga’s third conversion of the night put the men in black four points ahead, forcing the home side to chase a late try.

But it was Sopoaga who slammed home the final nail, sending over a penalty in the last minute.

South Africa – 20
Tries: Jesse Kriel (45), Willie Le Roux (9)
Penalties: Handre Pollard (56,20)
Cons: Handre Pollard (46,10)

New Zealand – 27
Tries : Richie McCaw (73), Dane Coles (48), Ben Smith (39)
Penalties : Lima Sopoaga (2, 80)
Cons : Lima Sopoaga (74,49,40)

 

The teams:South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements:  16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lionel Mapoe.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messsam, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Victor Vito, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa

Date:  Saturday, 25 July
Venue: Emirates Airlines Park (Ellis Park), Johannesburg
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT, 12:05 ART, 01:05 AEST, 03:05 NZST)
Weather: 14°C at kick-off. 60% chance of thunderstorms
Referee: Jérôme Garcès
Assistant referees: Romain Poite, Leighton Hodges
TMO: Graham Hughes


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Pacific Nations Cup – Results

pacnations2015United States beat Japan 23-18 in Pacific Nations Cup

The United States posted a confidence-boosting 23-18 win over Japan in the Pacific Nations Cup rugby tournament in Sacramento on Friday.

Less than three months before the same two teams clash at the World Cup, where they are in the same group, the U.S. survived late pressure to record their first win of the tournament.

Japan were threatening to score a late try until New Zealand-born Mick Broadhurst received a yellow card for his adopted country.

Samoa and Fiji draw thrilling Pacific Nations Cup encounter in Sacramento

Samoa and Fiji turned on the attacking flair but couldn’t be separated as their tense Pacific Nations Cup encounter ended in a 30-30 draw on Saturday at Bonney Field, Sacramento.

Just as they did against New Zealand Maori in Suva recently, Fiji started with a scoring blitz but fitness and fatigue let them down with Samoa launching a storming comeback.

Leone Nakarawa, Metuisela Talebula and Gabiriele Lovobalavu all scored for the flying Fijians, who led 17-10 at halftime.

Samoa, however, had won the last three contests against Fiji and refused to give in.

On the back of the historic test against the All Blacks in Apia, Samoa enjoyed some solid preparation and backed themselves to come back.

Down 27-10 with half-an-hour to play, they fought back through a Paul Perez double, while former Hurricanes and Highlanders prop Anthony Perenise and TJ Ioane also crossed.

Michael Stanley nailed two conversions and a penalty and a strike from replacement first five-eighth Patrick Faapale with two minutes remaining drew Samoa level.

Samoa will be keen to improve their defence and turnover areas but they will be satisfied enough to escape with a draw after conceding so many early points.

Fiji beat Tonga 30-22 in their first match in Suva while Samoa scraped past the United States 21-16 in San Jose, California.

Tonga also rebounded from a first-up defeat to Fiji with a hard-fought 28-18 win over Canada in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Canada held a 15-10 lead after two first-half tries from Aaron Carpenter but they couldn’t hold on.

Otulea Katoa and Sonatang Takalu scored two decisive tries and Tane Takalua was named man of the match as Tonga got their campaign back on track.

Canada is the only team yet to get off the mark, after falling 20-6 to Japan in their opening match.

USA, meanwhile, pulled off an upset on home soil by getting the better of Japan, prevailing 23-18 in Sacramento.

Japan led 11-9 at halftime after a try to wing Akihito Yamada. Koliniashi Holani scored after the break to extend that advantage to 18-9 but the Eagles clawed their way back with one second-half try to sevens speedster Andrew Durutalo to steal victory.

USA and Japan now each have one win and a loss in the pre-World Cup tournament.

The tournament format divides the teams into two pools. Japan, Samoa and Tonga are in pool one, with Fiji, United States and Canada in pool two.

Each team plays the three teams in the other pool, before the two teams with the best record advance to the final.

The last pool matches will be played in Toronto on Wednesday, with the final on August 3 in suburban Vancouver.


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RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP – PREVIEW – Argentina vs Australia

rrchargentina2014 austraia2014

It will be comeback time in Mendoza on Saturday when Argentina host Australia on the second weekend of the Rugby Championship.

Pumas winger Gonzalo Camacho will be playing his first game of any kind in nearly two years, while Greg Holmes returns from the international wilderness for a first start in eight years.

For Camacho, it’s been a long, arduous road to finally shake off a shoulder injury he picked up in September 2013. The dislocation ended up requiring three operations, and he has still not played for his club Leicester, with whom he signed two years ago.

It’s a testament to how highly Daniel Hourcade rates Camacho, that he is straight back in the team without having to prove himself, but it’s easy to forget just what an elusive runner he can be.

While not the most prolific winger Argentina have produced, the 30-year-old’s return comes at the right time, after Manuel Montero suffered a torn ACL, and Horacio Agulla looked off the pace against the All Blacks.

On the other side of the pitch, doing a very different job, will be tighthead prop Holmes, who gets the nod after impressing off the bench last week.

It’s not been a question of injury for the 32-year-old, who was cast aside after the 2007 World Cup, as he has fought his way back into contention with some big performances for the Reds in Super Rugby.

One of the few bright points in a dismal season, he kept the Brisbane side competitive in the scrum, and showed that side of his game against South Africa, getting the edge in the set-piece after Sekope Kepu had struggled.

It’s fitting reward for the hard-working Holmes, who has spent his entire career in Australia, rather than heading overseas when it looked like he wouldn’t ever get recalled.

Beyond the two returning players, to which we can add David Pocock, starting for the first time since 2012, it’s important to bear in mind the contrast in style of the two teams, with Argentina registering their first Rugby Championship win in this fixture last season.

The Pumas failed to gain the ascendancy in the scrum against New Zealand, and a similar result he would be catastrophic for their chances of winning the game.

Australia generally struggled up front against South Africa, but seemed to finish the stronger, while Argentina never really threatened the All Blacks after the first 30 minutes.

Michael Cheika has gone with form over reputation, with Waratahs duo Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley replacing Will Genia and Quade Cooper, while Pocock’s impact off the bench last week has deservedly been rewarded.

The team might not be quite as dynamic as the one that faced the Springboks, but they should be more accurate, and in Foley and Toomua, have a little more control with ball in hand.

Argentina are still testing players, with Juan Martin Hernandez not yet deemed ready to feature, but the return of Tomas Lavanini up front means that it should be more or less a first choice front five.

The Pumas hopes might come down to whether they can get on top of Holmes, but the way their replacement front-row struggled last week is a definite concern, given how important scrum dominance is in their game plan.

Australia shouldn’t cause many problems in that area, but the lack of experience on the Pumas bench could end being costly in Mendoza.

Last 10 Games played between Argentina and Australia
4-Oct-14 Argentina 21 – 17 Australia
13-Sep-14 Australia 32 – 25 Argentina
5-Oct-13 Argentina 17 – 54 Australia
14-Sep-13 Australia 14 – 13 Argentina
6-Oct-12 Argentina 19 – 25 Australia
15-Sep-12 Australia 23 – 19 Argentina
10-Oct-03 Australia 24 – 08 Argentina
2-Nov-02 Argentina 06 – 17 Australia
24-Jun-00 Australia 32 – 25 Argentina
17-Jun-00 Australia 53 – 06 Argentina
Overall Stats Argentina Overall Stats Australia
argentina2014 austraia2014
Games Played 23 Games Played 23
*Games Won 5 *Games Won 17
*Games Lost 17 *Games Lost 5
Games Drawn 1 Games Drawn 1
*Longest.Winning.Streak 1 *Longest.Winning.Streak 9
*Longest Losing Streak 9 *Longest Losing Streak 1
*Largest Points For 27 *Largest Points For 54
*Largest Points Against 54 *Largest Points Against 27
*Largest.Winning.Margin 15 *Largest.Winning.Margin 47
*Largest Losing Margin -47 *Largest Losing Margin -15
*Total Points For 363 *Total Points For 610
*Avg Points For 15.78 *Avg Points For 26.52
*Total Points Against 610 *Total Points Against 363
*Avg Points Against 26.52 *Avg Points Against 15.78
*Total Points Difference -247 *Total Points Difference 247
*Avg Points Difference -10.74 *Avg Points Difference 10.74
* = By Argentina * = By Australia

POSSIBLE RR World Rankings outcome on Result

ARG (on 76.28 points) at home -vs- AUS (on 84.16 points)

Possible Outcome Rating Point
Exchange
New ARG
Rating
New AUS
Rating
Will ARG
overtake AUS?
If ARG win by 1-15 points 1.488 77.77 82.67 No
If ARG win by more than 15 2.232 78.51 81.93 No
If result is a draw 0.488 76.77 83.67 No
If AUS win by 1-15 points 0.512 75.77 84.67 No
If AUS win by more than 15 0.768 75.51 84.93 No
The teams:

Argentina: 15 Santiago Cordero, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Javier Ortega Desio, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Iglesias Valdez, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Matías Díaz, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Michael Hooper, 21 Nic White, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Kurtley Beale.

Date: Saturday, 25 July
Venue: Estadio Malvinas, Mendoza
Kick-off: 19:40 local (22:40 GMT, 8:40 AEST, 10:40 NZST, 00:40 SAST)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP – PREVIEW – South Africa vs New Zealand

rrch asouthfrica nz15

It’s been six years since South Africa managed back-to-back wins over New Zealand and Saturday’s clash between the world’s top two teams represents an important chance to lay down a marker.

Last year’s last-minute victory for the Springboks in Johannesburg – only their second win over the All Blacks since 2009 – ended a three-year losing streak against their great rivals.

Self belief can be an elusive thing and that result was a massive mental boost for the Boks in their quest to regain the World Cup, but it will mean very little if they can’t repeat the feat this weekend.

Much of this week’s build up has been focused on the playing personnel. Given the experimental nature of certain selections, it’s impossible to look at the match from any other perspective other than the road to the World Cup.

Indeed, under no other circumstances would the All Blacks pick a rookie fly-half when they have three other perfectly fit, world-class playmakers at their disposal. Lima Sopoaga’s fantastic Super Rugby season earned him a crack at the black 10 jersey, but throwing him into the deep end – a Test against the Boks Ellis Park is as deep as it gets – is a very bold move.

Likewise, starting with a flanker who has only played a handful of games this year when facing the world’s number 1 ranked team can only be described as a gamble. Heyneke Meyer admitted as much.

One must also question why Heyneke has waited this long to roll the dice with Heinrich Brüssow. The answer lies in the injury to Duane Vermeulen and the subsequent loss of his outstanding skills on the deck. Starting with two scavenging opensides is a significant departure from the previous strategy of using a bruising ball carrier like Willem Alberts on the blindside.

Although it seems a bit late to be redesigning gameplans, the extra speed and mobility that this new-look Bok loose trio brings will be key to addressing the threat posed by Aaron Smith, who, if given half a chance, has the ability to dictate proceedings.

None of these experimental selections alter the fact that at the root of the rivalry between these sides lies a contrast in philosophies.

It was interesting to note this week that while Steve Hansen was calling for a change to the laws around mauls to prevent teams like Argentina building strategies around simply kicking to the corners for lineout drives, Meyer was lamenting his side’s poor tactical kicking in Brisbane.

Meyer insists that the All Blacks kick as much, if not more, than his team but the stats from Round One of the Rugby Championship tell a different story and point to Kiwis’ greater ability to adapt their game.

New Zealand, wary of Argentina’s set-piece strength, kicked from hand just 11 times in their win over los Pumas. By contrast, the Boks chose to use the boot 27 times, despite the fact that they had one of the world’s best counter attacking full-backs waiting to collect their bombs.

That is not to say Saturday’s visitors will not use their excellent kicking game to seek territory, but it will not be their default course of action. And it will certainly not be predictable.

That said, the Springboks do have the tools to beat the All Blacks. With Bismarck du Plessis an additional threat at the breakdown, the hosts have the capacity to gain the lion’s share of possession. But if Handre Pollard, Ruan Pienaar and Willie le Roux cheaply give it back to the All Black back three, there can be only one result and the Jo’burg crowd won’t like it.

As always in these clashes, the game is likely to be decided in the final quarter, when the New Zealanders’ superior fitness has often proven to be the difference. The Springbok bench does not hold a huge amount of experience but home-town boys Warren Whiteley and debutant Lionel Mapoe will hope to make an impact, as will rookie prop Vincent Koch.

Having already lost their opening game and yearning that aforementioned self confidence, there is a lot more riding on this game for South Africa than their visitors, who will feel far less pressure but will have no less motivation.

Last 10 Games played between South Africa and New Zealand
4-Oct-14 South Africa 27 – 25 New Zealand
13-Sep-14 New Zealand 14 – 10 South Africa
5-Oct-13 South Africa 27 – 38 New Zealand
14-Sep-13 New Zealand 29 – 15 South Africa
6-Oct-12 South Africa 16 – 32 New Zealand
15-Sep-12 New Zealand 21 – 11 South Africa
20-Aug-11 South Africa 18 – 05 New Zealand
30-Jul-11 New Zealand 40 – 07 South Africa
21-Aug-10 South Africa 22 – 29 New Zealand
17-Jul-10 New Zealand 31 – 17 South Africa
Overall Stats South Africa Overall Stats New Zealand
asouthfrica nz15
Games Played 89 Games Played 89
*Games Won 35 *Games Won 51
*Games Lost 51 *Games Lost 35
Games Drawn 3 Games Drawn 3
*Longest.Winning.Streak 6 *Longest.Winning.Streak 8
*Longest Losing Streak 8 *Longest Losing Streak 6
*Largest Points For 46 *Largest Points For 55
*Largest Points Against 55 *Largest Points Against 46
*Largest.Winning.Margin 17 *Largest.Winning.Margin 36
*Largest Losing Margin -36 *Largest Losing Margin -17
*Total Points For 1392 *Total Points For 1718
*Avg Points For 15.64 *Avg Points For 19.3
*Total Points Against 1718 *Total Points Against 1392
*Avg Points Against 19.3 *Avg Points Against 15.64
*Total Points Difference -326 *Total Points Difference 326
*Avg Points Difference -3.66 *Avg Points Difference 3.66
* = By South Africa * = By New Zealand

POSSIBLE RR World Rankings outcome on Result

RSA (on 86.98 points) at home -vs- NZL (on 93.70 points)

Possible Outcome Rating Point
Exchange
New RSA
Rating
New NZL
Rating
Will RSA
overtake NZL?
If RSA win by 1-15 points 1.372 88.35 92.33 No
If RSA win by more than 15 2.058 89.04 91.64 No
If result is a draw 0.372 87.35 93.33 No
If NZL win by 1-15 points 0.628 86.35 94.33 No
If NZL win by more than 15 0.942 86.04 94.64 No

– 

The teams:

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements:  16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lionel Mapoe.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messsam, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Victor Vito, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa

Date:  Saturday, 25 July
Venue: Emirates Airlines Park (Ellis Park), Johannesburg
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT, 12:05 ART, 01:05 AEST, 03:05 NZST)
Weather: 14°C at kick-off. 60% chance of thunderstorms
Referee: Jérôme Garcès
Assistant referees: Romain Poite, Leighton Hodges
TMO: Graham Hughes


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Pacific Nations Cup preview: Round 2

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The Pacific Nations Cup returned with a bang last week, and Samoa, Fiji and Japan will look to build on their victories when the action resumes this weekend in Round 2.

The big clash of the round takes place in Sacremento where Fiji and Samoa do battle. Sacremento will also be the venue for the clash between the USA and Canada.

The final match of the round takes place in Vancouver where hosts Canada face Tonga.

Canada boss Kieran Crowley has made three changes as Aaron Carpenter, John Moonlight and Andrew Tiedemann have stepped into the pack.

USA scrum-half Mike Petri will win his 50th cap when the Eagles face Japan.

His head coach Mike Tolkin wants the USA to play with more intensity than they showed against Samoa.

“We need to start the game with much more energy and intensity. We were on our heels a lot and we were loose around the rucks on defense.

“Secondly, we need much more focus on keeping the ball in the attacking 22 and coming out with points more often.”

Pool A: JAPAN, SAMOA, TONGA

Pool B: CANADA, FIJI, USA

Round Two

Fiji v Samoa

POSSIBLE RR World Rankings outcome on Result

FIJ (on 74.68 points) at home -vs- SAM (on 76.11 points)

Possible Outcome Rating Point
Exchange
New FIJ
Rating
New SAM
Rating
Will FIJ
overtake SAM?
If FIJ win by 1-15 points 0.843 75.52 75.27 Yes
If FIJ win by more than 15 1.264 75.94 74.85 Yes
If result is a draw 0.157 74.52 76.27 No
If SAM win by 1-15 points 1.157 73.52 77.27 No
If SAM win by more than 15 1.736 72.94 77.85 No

Fiji: 15 Metuisela Talebula, 14 Waisea Nayacalevu, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Nemia Kenatale, 8 Sakiusa Matadigo, 7 Akapusi Qera (c), 6 Peceli Yato, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Peni Ravai
Replacements: 16 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Campese Maafu, 18 Taniela Koroi, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Malakai Ravulo, 21 Henry Seniloli, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Napolioni Nalaga.

Samoa: 15 Fa’atoina Autagavaia, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Michael Stanley, 9 Pele Cowley, 8 Sanele Vavae Tuilagi, 7 Jack Lam, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Faatiga Lemalu, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Sakaria Taulafo
Replacements: 16 Manu Leiataua, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Jake Grey, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Faifili Levave, 21 Vavao Afemai, 22 Patrick Faapale, 23 Faleniu Iosi

Date: Friday, July 24
Venue: Bonney Field, Sacramento, California
Kick-off: 17:00 local, 00:00 GMT 1d, 01:00 BST 1d
Referee: JP Doyle (England)


Canada v Tonga

POSSIBLE RR World Rankings outcome on Result

CAN (on 66.37 points) at home -vs- TON (on 73.45 points)

Possible Outcome Rating Point
Exchange
New CAN
Rating
New TON
Rating
Will CAN
overtake TON?
If CAN win by 1-15 points 1.408 67.78 72.04 No
If CAN win by more than 15 2.112 68.48 71.34 No
If result is a draw 0.408 66.78 73.04 No
If TON win by 1-15 points 0.592 65.78 74.04 No
If TON win by more than 15 0.888 65.48 74.34 No

Canada: 15 Matt Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Connor Braid, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Liam Underwood, 9 Gordon McRorie, 8 Tyler Ardron, 7 John Moonlight, 6 Richard Thorpe, 5 Jon Phelan, 4 Brett Beukeboom, 3 Andrew Tiedemann, 2  Aaron Carpenter, 1 Hubert Buydens.

Replacements: 16 Benoit Piffero, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Doug Wooldridge, 19 Callum Morrison, 20 Kyle Gilmour, 21 Phil Mack, 22 Nathan Hirayama, 23 Phil Mackenzie.

Tonga: 15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Sione Piukala, 12 Viliami Tahitua, 11 Fetu‘u Vainikolo, 10 Kurt Moarath, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Viliami Ma‘afu, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Hale T Pole, 5 Joe Tuineau, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Tevita Mailau
Replacements: 16 Sosefo Sakalia, 17 Alisona Taumalolo, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Uili Kolo‘ofa‘i, 20 Viliami Fihaki, 21 Sosefo Ma‘ake, 22 Latiume Fosita, 23 Otulea Katoa.

Date: Friday, July 24
Venue: Swangard Stadium, Vancouver
Kick-off: 19:00 local, 02:00 GMT 1d, 03:00 BST 1d
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)


USA v Japan

POSSIBLE RR World Rankings outcome on Result

USA (on 65.75 points) at home -vs- JAP (on 73.19 points)

Possible Outcome Rating Point
Exchange
New USA
Rating
New JAP
Rating
Will USA
overtake JAP?
If USA win by 1-15 points 1.444 67.19 71.75 No
If USA win by more than 15 2.166 67.92 71.02 No
If result is a draw 0.444 66.19 72.75 No
If JAP win by 1-15 points 0.556 65.19 73.75 No
If JAP win by more than 15 0.834 64.92 74.02 No

USA: 15 Chris Wyles (c), 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Thretton Palamo, 11 Taku Ngwenya, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Danny Barrett, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Scott Lavalla, 5 Cam Dolan, 4 Hayden Smith, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Zach Fenoglio, 1 Eric Fry.
Replacements: 16 Phil Thiel, 17 Nick Wallace, 18 Chris Baumann, 19 Louis Stanfill, 20 Alastair McFarland, 21 Shalom Suniula, 22 Folau Niua, 23 Zach Test.

Japan: 15 Yoshikazu Fujita, 14 Karne Hesketh, 13 Kotaro Matshushima, 12 Ryohei Yamanaka, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Harumichi Tatekawa, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Ryu Koliniasi Holani, 7 Michael Broadhurst, 6 Justin Ives, 5 Luke Thompson, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 2 Takeshi Kizu, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Hisateru Hirashima, 17 Hiroki Yuhara, 18 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19 Kazuhiko Usami, 20 Tsuyoshi Murata, 21 Atsushi Hiwasa, 22 Kosei Ono, 23 Tim Bennetts.

Date: Friday, July 24
Venue: Bonney Field, Sacramento, California
Kick-off: 20:00 local, 03:00 GMT 1d, 04:00 BST 1d
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)


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All Blacks team named for Test against South Africa

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All Blacks team named for Test against South Africa
James Broadhurst and Lima Sopoaga to make Test debuts

The All Blacks side to play South Africa in the Investec Rugby Championship Test at Emirates Airline (formerly Ellis) Park, Johannesburg, on Saturday 25 July has been named, with lock James Broadhurst and first five-eighths Lima Sopoaga to make their Test debuts.

The team is: (with Test caps in brackets.  New All Blacks in bold)

Starting XV:

1. Tony Woodcock (112)
2. Dane Coles (27)
3. Owen Franks (69)
4. Brodie Retallick (38)
5. James Broadhurst
6. Liam Messam (41)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (139)
8. Kieran Read (74)
9. Aaron Smith (38)
10. Lima Sopoaga
11. Charles Piutau (16)
12. Ma’a Nonu (95)
13. Conrad Smith  (85)
14. Ben Smith (38)
15. Israel Dagg (48)

Reserves:

16. Codie Taylor (1)
17. Wyatt Crockett (38)
18. Ben Franks (41)
19. Samuel Whitelock (63)
20. Victor Vito (26)
21. TJ Perenara (12)
22. Beauden Barrett (28)
23. Malakai Fekitoa (8)

Sopoaga comes in for Daniel Carter at first five-eighths and Broadhurst takes over from Luke Romano.  In other changes in the starting XV, Dane Coles comes in at hooker with Liam Messam at blindside flanker. In the backs, Aaron Smith returns to the starting halfback position, while the world-record midfield combo of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith is back.  As well, with a desire to continue to give Israel Dagg more game time, Ben Smith is named on the right wing.

On the bench, Ben Franks comes in as reserve prop alongside Wyatt Crockett, Codie Taylor retains the reserve hooker jersey, Sam Whitelock is reserve lock, with Victor Vito covering the loose forwards.  TJ Perenara is reserve halfback, with Beauden Barrett and Malakai Fekitoa the other back reserves.

Broadhurst and Sopoaga will be surrounded by a hugely experienced All Blacks side, with the starting forward pack boasting exactly 500 Test caps experience, with a further 320 caps in the starting backline and 217 on the bench.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “This is a massive Test for us and one the whole group is looking forward to.  It doesn’t get much bigger or better than playing South Africa at Ellis Park.  Both teams have a massive amount of respect for each other, both on and off the paddock.

“We know that we will have to step up again this week from our performance against Argentina. Though we were happier with our game last weekend, there is a genuine desire to take it up a level. The Springboks will be desperate after their loss last week and we will have to better that desperation with our own urgency, intensity and accuracy in the execution of our game and skillsets.”

Key points of interest

* This will be the 90th Test match between the two great rugby rivals, with the All Blacks having won 51, the Springboks 35 with three draws.  The last Test between the two sides was again at Ellis Park in last year’s Investec Rugby Championship, with South Africa winning 27-25 that day.
* All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw will play his 140th Test this weekend and become the second most capped player of all time, overtaking George Gregan (139) and one behind Irishman Brian O’Driscoll.
* Kieran Read will play his 75th Test this weekend while the All Blacks second most capped prop, Owen Franks, will rack up his 70th Test.
* The All Blacks have scored 13,985 points in their history and will become the first international side to score 14,000 Test points.  Next on the list is France with 12,926 points.

The new All Blacks – mini biographies

James Broadhurst

Position: Lock
Height: 2.01m
Weight: 122kg
Born: 1 December 1987 in Kaitaia
Super Rugby team and debut: Hurricanes, 2012
Province: Taranaki

James Broadhurst is a hard-working lock who supports his team with power in the engine room and an impressive habit of stealing the ball off his opponents.  Broadhurst first pulled on a black jersey as a New Zealand Under 19 representative, in 2006, and was then selected for the 2007 New Zealand Under 21 side; both teams included a number of future All Blacks.  After several solid seasons of provincial rugby, he was a vital part of the Taranaki team that secured the ITM Cup Premiership title in 2014. That form carried over into the Hurricanes 2015 Investec Super Rugby season, where he impressed with his athleticism, consistency and technical ability.

Lima Sopoaga

Position: First five-eighths
Height: 1.75m
Weight: 91kg
Born: 3 February 1991 in Wellington
Super Rugby team and debut: Highlanders, 2011
Province: Southland

Lima Sopoaga is an extremely skilful first five-eighth who was identified as a rugby talent at a young age. Wellington-born and raised, Sopoaga accepted an offer from the Highlanders in 2011. The same year he was part of the New Zealand Under 20 team’s Junior World Championship-winning campaign in Italy. Injuries affected his 2012 and 2013 Super Rugby seasons, but in 2014 and the Super Rugby-winning 2015 season, regular game time suited the young playmaker. Along with time spent outside All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith, Sopoaga built a reputation for taking the ball to the line, and for creating exciting opportunities for his powerful wings.