Top 14 Wrap: Toulon, Brive and Toulouse win

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Toulon bounced back from last week’s shock loss at Bayonne as they defeated Pau while Brive saw off Stade Français on home soil.

17 points from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny proved key as Toulon conceded two tries to the one scored by number eight Charles Ollivon.

In the other fixtures, La Rochelle won at Grenoble, Racing 92 proved too strong for Lyon while Bayonne and Castres played out a draw, with Toulouse getting the better of Bordeaux-Bègles in the late Top 14 game.

Saturday

Pau 18-22 Toulon
Grenoble 19-22 La Rochelle
Racing 92 29-16 Lyon
Bayonne 12-12 Castres
Brive 28-20 Stade Français
Toulouse 22-17 Bordeaux-Bègles

Sunday
Montpellier v Clermont


Pau 18-22 Toulon
Stade du Hameau, Pau

17 points from Leigh Halfpenny’s boot helped Toulon claim their first victory over the season as they saw off Pau 22-18.

Toulon led 9-8 at the interval thanks to three Halfpenny penalties with Watisoni Votu crossing for a 17th minute try for the hosts.

Halfpenny and Thibault Daubagna then traded three points apiece before the Welshman landed another kick just before the hour.

When Charles Ollivon crossed for Toulon to put them into a 22-11 lead with 17 minutes remaining, the result looked wrapped up.

But credit to Pau who scored through replacement hooker Quentin Lespiaucq, as they took a losing bonus-point for their efforts.

The scorers:

For Pau:
Tries: Votu, Lespiaucq
Con: Slade
Pens: Slade, Daubagna

For Toulon:
Try: Ollivon
Con: Halfpenny
Pens: Halfpenny 5

Pau: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Louis Dupichot, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Jale Vatubua, 11 Watisoni Votu, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Thibault Daubagna, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Paddy Butler, 5 Julien Pierre, 4 Abdellatif Boutaty, 3 Sylvain Charlet, 2 Mehdi Boundjema, 1 Jérémy Hurou
Replacements: 16 Quentin Lespiaucq, 17 Chris King, 18 Daniel Ramsay, 19 Fabrice Metz, 20 Charlie Malié, 21 Thierry Lacrampe, 22 Pierrick Gunther, 23 Malik Hamadache

Toulon: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Maxime Mermoz, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Jimmy Yobo, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Charles Ollivon, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Juandre Kruger, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 1 Florian Fresia
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Laurent Delboulbès, 18 Samu Manoa, 19 Mamuka Gorgodze, 20 Juan-Martín Fernandez-Lobbe, 21 Pierre Bernard, 22 Jonathan Pélissié, 23 Xavier Chiocci

Referee: Mathieu Raynal


Grenoble 19-22 La Rochelle
Stade des Alpes, Grenoble

La Rochelle came from behind away from home against Grenoble to pull off a 22-19 victory at the Stade des Alpes.

Grenoble improved upon their dismal outing in Round 1 away to Stade Français – when they shipped over 50 points – to lead at the break, thanks to Gio Aplon’s converted try and two penalties from the boot of Jonathan Wisniewski.

La Rochelle had been kept in the game up to half-time thanks to tries from Zeno Kieft and Hika Forbes, with a conversion from new signing Brock James, to trail by a point at the break 12-13.

It was the visitors who then went ahead at the start of the second, Pierre Aguillon setting up Zack Holmes for a score converted by James to make it 19-13.

Wisniewski and James traded further penalties to leave the scoreline finally poised in the closing stages at 22-19, as La Rochelle clung on for the victory.

The scorers:

For Grenoble:
Try: Aplon
Con: Wisniewski
Pens: Wisniewski 4

For La Rochelle:
Tries: Kieft, Forbes, Holmes
Cons: James 2
Pen: James

Grenoble: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Armand Batlle, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Nigel Hunt, 11 Sisa Waqa, 10 Jonathan Wisniewski, 9 David Mélé, 8 Dylan Hayes, 7 Steven Setephano, 6 Jonathan Best, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Walter Desmaison, 2 Loick Jammes, 1 Sona Taumalolo
Replacements: 16 Laurent Bouchet, 17 Alexandre Dardet, 18 Mathias Marie, 19 Henry Vanderglas, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Gilles Bosch, 22 Edward Sawailau, 23 Dayna Edwards

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Vincent Rattez, 13 Zack Holmes, 12 Pierre Aguillon, 11 Steeve Barry, 10 Brock James, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Jone Qovu, 7 Zeno Kieft, 6 Kevin Gourdon, 5 Leandro Cedaro, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Hika Forbes, 1 Mike Corbel
Replacements: 16 Maxime Gau, 17 Vincent Pelo, 18 Damien Lagrange, 19 Romain Sazy, 20 Arthur Retière, 21 Anthony Fuertes, 22 Paul Jordaan, 23 Mohamed Boughanmi

Referee: Tual Trainini


Racing 92 29-16 Lyon
Stade Yves du Manoir, Colombes

Defending champions Racing 92 brushed past newcomers Lyon with a bonus-point win on Saturday.

Following their opening day loss away to UBB this was an instant turnaround from Racing, with centre Henry Chavancy scoring two tries, one either side of half-time.

Frédéric Michalak opened the scoring for Lyon with a penalty and that lead lasted for 14 minutes before Racing responded after a Dan Carter miss.

Juan Imhoff, fresh from featuring in the Sevens at the Olympics in Rio, was put away from an inside ball by Carter to score. Carter couldn’t land the conversion.

Chavancy was next to score with his first try of the match, converted by Carter, but two penalties from Michalak cut the gap to 12-9 by the interval.

Lyon then went down to 14 men at the start of the second half when another new signing, Delon Armitage, was sin-binned for a high tackle for Casey Laulala, and from there Racing pounced. Luc Ducalcon powered his way over before Chavancy grabbed his second after good work from Laulala.

Lyon did hit back with a try from Cameron Mapusua as Racing finished the game with 14 men after Olivier Missoup’s yellow card, but it was too little too late for an upset.

The scorers:

For Racing 92:
Tries: Imhoff, Chavancy 2, Ducalcon
Cons: Carter 3
Pen: Carter
Yellow Card: Missoup

For Lyon:
Try: Mapusua
Con: Michalak
Pen: Michalak 3
Yellow Card: Armitage

Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Yannick Nyanga, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Olivier Missoup, 20 Xavier Chauveau, 21 Benjamin Dambielle, 22 Albert Vulivuli, 23 Luc Ducalcon

Lyon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Toby Arnold, 13 Mike Harris, 12 Théo Belan, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Freddie Michalak, 9 Agustin Figuerola, 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Virgile Bruni, 6 Julien Puricelli, 5 Maselino Paulo, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Mickael Ivaldi, 1 Alexandre Menini
Replacements: 16 Cameron Mapusua, 17 Albertus Buckle, 18 Taiasina Tuifua, 19 Deon Fourie, 20 Baptiste Couilloud, 21 Thibaut Regard, 22 Henry Clunies-Ross, 23 Stéphane Clément

Referee: Pierre Brousset


Bayonne 12-12 Castres
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne

Bayonne and Castres played out a 12-12 draw in their clash as two late penalties from Willie du Plessis proved crucial.

Castres led 6-3 at the break thanks to two penalties from Benjamin Urdapilleta to Du Plessis’ one in a low-scoring opening 40.

Bayonne, who were looking to back up last week’s win over Toulon, could not bust the Castres try-line and had to rely on three more Du Plessis points in the 48th minute. However, Urdapilleta had earlier added his third penalty before a fourth arrived on 55 minutes.

At 12-6, Castres were looking good for the victory but with 10 minutes remaining two penalties from Du Plessis locked things up at 12-12.

That was how things stayed at Stade Jean Dauger as a try-less encounter ended with both teams sharing the spoils to stay unbeaten.

The scorers:

For Bayonne:
Pens: Du Plessis 4

For Castres:
Pens: Urdapilleta 4

Bayonne: 15 Martín Bustos Moyano, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Felix Le Bourhis, 12 Julien Jané, 11 Romain Martial, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Guillaume Rouet, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Jean-Jo Marmouyet, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Adam Jaulhac, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Grégory Arganèse, 1 Davit Khinchagashvili
Replacements: 16 Manu Leiataua, 17 Jérôme Schuster, 18 Dion Oulai, 19 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 20 Emmanuel Saubusse, 21 Gabi Lovabalavu, 22 Julien Tisseron, 23 Richard Choirat

Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 David Smith, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Alexandre Bias, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Loïc Jacquet, 3 Damien Tussac, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Antoine Tichit
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Victor Moreaux, 19 Sitiveni Mafi, 20 Julien Seron, 21 Afusima Taumopeau, 22 Julien Dumora, 23 Yohan Montès

Referee: Maxime Chalon


Brive 28-20 Stade Français
Stade Amédée Domenech, Brive

Brive followed up last week’s draw at Lyon with a 28-20 victory over Stade Français, with Gaëtan Germain scoring 25 of his team’s points.

An entertaining opening 40 minutes saw Brive go in 16-13 to the good and their points all came from Germain, who scored a try, conversion and three penalties. In reply the Parisians carded a Sergio Parisse try while Jules Plisson kicked the extra two points and two penalties.

But after the break it was all Brive as the boot of steady full-back Germain, as it has so often in the past, proved decisive. He struck a further three penalties before the hour mark that pushed Brive into a 25-13 lead with a quarter of the game left.

Stade Français did rally in the 75th minute when replacement Hugo Bonneval crossed for a converted try but Brive held on for a narrow win.

The scorers:

For Brive:
Try: Germain
Con: Germain
Pens: Germain 6, Laranjeira

For Stade Français:
Tries: Parisse, Bonneval
Cons: Plisson 2
Pens: Plisson 2

Brive: 15 Gaëtan Germain, 14 Sevanaia Galala, 13 Arnaud Mignardi, 12 Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 11 Benito Masilevu, 10 Matthieu Ugalde, 9 Teddy Iribaren, 8 Fabien Sanconnie, 7 Saïd Hirèche, 6 Petrus Hauman, 5 Peet Marais, 4 Julien Ledevedec, 3 Damien Jourdain, 2 Guillaume Ribes, 1 Karlen Asieshvili
Replacements: 16 François Da Ros, 17 Lucas Pointud, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 20 Jean-Baptiste Péjoine, 21 Thomas Laranjeira, 22 Benjamin Lapeyre, 23 Kevin Buys

Stade Français: 15 Djibril Camara, 14 Jérémy Sinzelle, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Paul Williams, 11 Waisea, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Sylvain Nicolas 6 Willem Alberts, 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Paul Gabrillagues, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Laurent Sempéré, 1 Zurabi Zhvania
Replacements: 16 Rémi Bonfils, 17 Aled de Malmanche, 18 Hugh Pyle, 19 Antoine Burban, 20 Clément Daguin, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Hugo Bonneval, 23 Rabah Slimani

Referee: Cedric Marchat


Toulouse 22-17 Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse

Toulouse made it two wins out of two in the early season as they picked up a 22-17 win over Bordeaux-Bègles.

The game was try-less until the 67th minute as only the boots of Sébastien Bézy, Lionel Beauxis and Ian Madigan had troubled the scorers.

In the first-half, Bézy sent over three penalties to Beauxis’ two and Madigan’s one, which meant the contest was locked up at nine apiece.

Bézy then struck in the 50th and 56th minute to push Toulouse six points clear before Madigan reduced that gap back down to three points.

The home outfit finally broke the try-scoring deadlock though when replacement hooker Julien Marchand went over but with full-back Jean-Marcellin Buttin hitting back four minutes later, the game was far from over with Toulouse leading 22-17 due to their extras being missed.

Toulouse managed to hold on though for the victory while Bordeaux-Bègles had the small consolation of going home with a bonus point.

The scorers:

For Toulouse:
Try: Marchand
Con: Bézy
Pens: Bézy 5

For Bordeaux-Bègles:
Try: Buttin
Pens: Beauxis 2, Madigan 2

Toulouse: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Paul Perez, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Gaël Fickou, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Jean-Marc Doussain, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Tala Grey, 7 Piula Fa’aselele, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Joe Tekori, 19 Grégory Lamboley, 20 Gillian Galan, 21 Samuel Marques, 22 Sofiane Guitoune, 23 Dorian Aldegheri

Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Geoffrey Cros, 13 Jayden Spence, 12 Julien Rey, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Cyril Cazeaux, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Marc Clerc, 2 Ronan Chambord, 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Beñat Auzqui, 17 Sébastien Taofifénua, 18 Johan Aliouat, 19 Marco Tauleigne, 20 Julien Audy, 21 Josaia Vakacegu, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Vadim Cobilas

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz


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Rugby Championship Result : Argentina 26 v 24 South Africa (27th Aug 2016)

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Result : Argentina 26 v 24 South Africa

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A 78th minute Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias penalty goal helped Argentina battle past South Africa 26-24 in their Rugby Championship clash in Salta.

This was only Argentina’s second victory ever over the Springboks and they deserved it.

This victory was a long time coming. Argentina were the better team overall and this time the Boks’ luck ran out even though they missed quite a few penalties.

The result is a reflection of where South African rugby finds itself at the moment and it doesn’t look pretty. The first half especially was atrocious and one of the worst first 40 minutes in recent memory from the Boks.

Argentina led 23-13 after 55 minutes and it felt like deja vu from last week’s Test in Nelspruit, but this time Argentina held their composure in the final minutes to clinch the win.

The first half was terrible, especially from South Africa who just didn’t play with any conviction, structure or fluency. What will be of massive concern for Allister Coetzee is the team’s defence which was all over the place.

The Boks gave away too many possession in the first 40, their game plan consisting of box kicks which always went too far. They didn’t have the defensive discipline to cope with the counter attacks los Pumas launched which kept South Africa on the back foot.

Argentina blundered an early opportunity to score when Manuel Montero lost the ball over the line after a desperate tackle from Lionel Mapoe.

Elton Jantjies, who was substituted after 50 minutes, slotted a penalty to get South Africa on the scoreboard after Ramiro Herrera was sent off for a late tackle on Francois Louw. It was the only points the Boks managed to get while they were playing against 14 men.

A penalty by Nicolas Sanchez was followed by a superb try for Joaquin Tuculet. Starting in their own 22, Argentina moved up the field and when Vincent Koch shot out of the defensive line it created the space the home side needed to create space on the outside before Tuculet took an inside pass to dive over for a 13-3 lead.

Argentina dominated possession and territory in the first half as the Boks looked clueless.

The second half was slightly better as Coetzee almost emptied his entire bench to try and influence the game.

It worked in patches. Jantjies slotted a penalty before Bryan Habana scored his 20th Rugby Championship try and 65th of his career for a new Tier-one Test record, surpassing David Campese in the process.

The revival was short lived when Juan Manuel Leguizamon collected a cross kick in the Boks 22 and managed to get the ball down despite colliding with Habana on the way down. It gave Argentina a 20-13 lead and left the Boks in deep trouble.

Morne Steyn missed a penalty which would have relieved some pressure before Juan Martin Hernandez extended the lead to 23-13 after 55 minutes.

Steyn pulled three points back 10 minutes later and when Pieter-Steph du Toit, who made an excellent impact off the bench, barged his way over the line four minutes later South Africa only trailed by two points.

Steyn gave his team the lead with six minutes to play and the feeling was that the Boks might just pull off another comeback victory, but it wasn’t to be.

With two minutes left Argentina won a penalty in the Springbok half which Hernandez converted to give his team their first ever win on home soil over the Springboks.

The scorers:

For Argentina:
Tries: Tuculet, Leguizamón
Cons: Sánchez, Hernández
Pens: Sánchez 2, Hernández, Iglesias

For South Africa:
Tries: Habana, Du Toit
Cons: Goosen
Pens: Jantjies 2, Steyn 2

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Lucas González Amorosino

South Africa: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel

Date: Saturday 27 August 2016
Venue: Estadio Ernesto Martearena Stadium, Salta
Kick-Off: 16:40 local (19:40 GMT)
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia


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Rugby Championship Result: New Zealand 29 v 09 Australia (27th Aug 2016)

allblacks126551  wallabies1 rrchResult: New Zealand 29 v 09 Australia

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New Zealand secured a bonus-point win over Australia in the second week of the Rugby Championship, triumphing 29-9 in Wellington.

It was a far closer game than their previous encounter in Sydney last weekend after Australia displayed a much tighter defence compared to their performance last weekend.

However, Israel Dagg scored a brace for his side as New Zealand frequently took advantage of the overlaps they fashioned after some quick recycling.

The win sees the All Blacks consolidate their lead on the overall table after their bonus point last weekend and now sit on top with 10 points.

Unfortunately for Australia, they languish at the bottom of the table after not picking up a single point in either game.

New Zealand inside centre Anton Lienert-Brown vindicated his coach’s faith in the player as he provided a fantastic link between the ever imaginative Beauden Barrett and the outside-backs on debut.

The All Blacks led at the break 15-9 after a far more defensively orientated game from the Australians.

But not much changed for the Australians in the second half as it was all New Zealand, when they scored two tries through Sam Cane and Julian Savea.

The statistics are indicative of the scoreline as New Zealand won in almost every facet of the game. The men in black pipped the Wallabies in defence as they made ten more tackles than their near rivals, while the Wallabies missed a horrendous tally of 30 tackles. What is even more impressive is that New Zealand made more tackles while actually having 10 percent more possession, with 55 to Australia’s 45 percent.

New Zealand started off the try scoring after Aaron Smith made a beautiful break down the midfield. The scrum-half was tackled and the ball was recycled quickly while the Australian defence was still in disarray.

New recruit Lienert-Brown showed great composure to suck the Australian cover defence in before giving a basketball pass over the last defender for Dagg to gather and cross the line.

After neither side could break the line and both sides’ discipline started to slack there was a period of penalty exchanges. Foley got his side into the game with a shot at goal just outside the All Black 22-metre line, shortly followed by a three-point reply from Barrett. Foley then took another kick to narrow the points gap.

Dagg grabbed the second try of the game when New Zealand played a well worked set play off the lineout, where Barrett got the ball going at pace and running laterally across the field. He then gave a perfectly weighted wide pass, which was collected by Ben Smith who gave a short pass to Dagg who cantered over the line for the try.

Australia’s luck didn’t get any better after they went down to ten men after Scott Fardy hunted down the elusive Ben Smith. Unfortunately for the Australian blindside, the full-back had already given the pass and the tackle was deemed very late and Fardy was given a yellow card.

Julian Savea was the first scorer of the second half. Dagg contested for a high ball in the air with Quade Cooper that set up a fantastic field position for New Zealand to attack from.

While the Australian defence was still sucked in, Aaron Smith spread the ball wide with haste for Savea who had inches of space as the cover defence were trying to close him down. Savea had enough pace to make it past the encroaching Australian wall and dived over.

Sam Cane then bagged a five-pointer of his own after New Zealand surged towards the try line from ten metres out.

Ben Smith darted through the Australian defence before being taken down inches before the white wash. The ball was then given to Cane who muscled through the defence to put the stamp on another convincing display.

The scorers:

For New Zealand:
Tries: Dagg 2, Savea, Cane
Cons: Barrett 3
Pen: Barrett

For Australia:
Pen: Foley 2, Hodge
Yellow Card: Fardy

New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Seta Tamanivalu

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Dane Haylett-Petty, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Ala’alatoa, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Will Skelton, 21 Tevita Kuridrani, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Nick Phipps

Date: Saturday, August 27
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)


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Top 14 – Round 2 – Preview

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Round 1 was packed full of twists and turns – who saw Bayonne winning against Toulon? – so we head into Round 2 of the new Top 14 season ready to expect the unexpected.

Toulouse v Bordeaux-Bègles

An opening day win over Montpellier was a big statement from Toulouse after a few mediocre seasons, outscoring their visitors two tries to none too. This is another tough home test up against UBB, who will be buzzing on their trip south after defeating defending champions Racing 92 on the opening day. Ian Madigan won the kicking battle that day with Dan Carter and faces another smart marksman this week in Sébastian Bézy. Raphaël Ibanez will be hoping his ambitious side can produce more try-scoring opportunities. Toulouse by 5.

Montpellier v Clermont

A monster clash awaits on Sunday between two of the league’s title contenders. Montpellier fell flat in Round 1 at Toulouse and Jake White will be expecting more in attack from his star-studded group. Clermont meanwhile came away from their trip to La Rochelle with a frustrating 30-30 draw, having led 24-10 at the break. This all comes down to which packs gets the upper hand, and neither set of forwards are exactly the shy and retiring type. Montpellier look a little susceptible after last weekend, giving Clermont a big chance. They could sneak it. Clermont by 3.

Other Top 14 predictions:

Pau v Toulon: Toulon by 7
Bayonne v Castres: Castres by 5
Brive v Stade Français: Stade by 9
Grenoble v La Rochelle: Grenoble by 3
Racing 92 v Lyon: Racing by 10


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Rugby Championship Preview: Argentina v South Africa (27th Aug 2016)

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Preview: Argentina v South Africa

Argentina’s ability to close out games when they are leading will be put to the test again when they face the Springboks in Salta on Saturday.

The Argentinians have in recent times made a habit of losing Tests in the last 10 minutes and after last week’s last-minute defeat to South Africa in Nelspruit they will be desperate to make things right this time around.

The Springboks on the other hand will want to avoid playing catch-up on the scoreboard again because the luck of a team with their limitations is bound to run out some time.

While the progession of Argentina’s rugby has been there for all to see since they joined what we now call the Rugby Championship in 2012, there has to come a time when they start to learn from their mistakes.

Tactically los Pumas are not a very accomplished team. They don’t really vary their style of play too much and their game management is poor. They rely on energy, speed and passion to win games but what they are good at is their ability to punish the mistakes of the opposition.

In Salta two year ago they narrowly lost to the Boks 33-31 after Morne Steyn slotted a 76th minute penalty to win the game. While Argentina won their first Test against South Africa in Durban last year, they were back at square one last week when they allowed the Boks to fight back from 23-13 down to win 30-23.

While Argentina are most people’s “second” team, there must come a time when we start criticising them for losing games they should win, especially since most acknowledge that they are a good team.

South Africa are in a rebuilding phase, but that has never been a good enough excuse not to win Test matches. Only seven of the players who featured for the Springboks in Salta two years ago are still in the Bok setup this time around. They are Locks Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager‚ flank Francois Louw‚ wing Bryan Habana and centre Damian de Allende, while Morné Steyn‚ Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira were on the bench.

The Boks lack cohesion as a unit and still struggle to effectively execute their game plan and the inexperienced nature of the squad also means they lack the necessary composure and patience when under pressure. Allister Coetzee has gone pretty much the same which featured in Nelspruit and will hope for a more clinical display come Saturday. While most fans expect the Boks to win every game, the least Coetzee can show them is that the team is making progress under his coaching.

If you are going to win ugly, at least give people hope that things will improve.

Players to watch:

For South Africa: The performance of Elton Jantjies will be under the microscope as he continues to establish himself in the number 10 jersey. There have been pleas for Jantjies to be given enough time to settle and at the moment it looks like he will get it. However, like the rest of the team he needs to show there is progress. Consistency is key for any player at Test level and while Jantjies has obvious skills when it comes to attack, he needs to improve his tactical kicking and defence. It would also help if his forwards hold their own up front and supply him with good go-forward ball.

For Argentina: The home side’s captain, Agustín Creevy, was one of their best players in Nelspruit last weekend. In what was his 50th Test, Creevy’s brilliant leadership and decision-making in Nelspuit kept his side in the match right until that game’s closing stages and a repeat performance in front of his home crowd should help his team to only their second ever win against the Boks. Creevy is also expected to make an impact on attack and his prowess as a ball carrier and ability to offload in the tackle means the Springbok defence will have to mark him closely as he could wreak havoc once he gains momentum.

Previous results:

2016: South Africa won 30-23 in Nelspruit
2015: South Africa won 24-13 in London
2015: South Africa won 26-12 in Buenos Aires
2015: Argentina won 37-25 in Durban
2014: South Africa won 33-31 in Salta
2014: South Africa won 13-6 in Pretoria
2013: South Africa won 22-17 in Mendoza    
2013: South Africa won 73-13 in Soweto
2012: South Africa and Argentina drew 16-16 in Mendoza
2012: South Africa won 27-6 in Cape Town

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Lucas González Amorosino

South Africa: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c) , Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel

Date: Saturday 27 August 2016
Venue: Estadio Ernesto Martearena Stadium, Salta
Kick-Off: 16:40 local (19:40 GMT)
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia


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Rugby Championship Preview: New Zealand v Australia (27th Aug 2016)

allblacks126551  wallabies1rrchPreview: New Zealand v Australia

New Zealand will look to build on their superb start to the Rugby Championship when they host Australia in Wellington on Saturday.

The All Blacks were in a belligerent mood last weekend in Sydney and they dominated in all facets of play before claiming a 42-8 triumph in the tournament opener.

What makes that result more impressive is that the three-time world champions achieved it without the services of several of New Zealand rugby’s all-time greats, who retired after last year’s successful World Cup campaign.

It was evident in that encounter – and against Wales in the three-Test series in June – that the players who have come in to the All Blacks starting line-up have picked up the baton and carried on with the good work and high standards set by their predecessors.

But despite delivering a clinical performance, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen believes his side will have to use different methods, to the ones which secured victory in Sydney, in Wellington.

“The picture won’t be the same,” he said.

“The painting we drew last week will totally be different because the opposition will be different for a start and we are going to have to find a way to win being different but that again is a side of a good team if they can do that.

“It’s a good challenge for us and we’ll learn a bit more about ourselves after this game.”

After last weekend’s humiliation, the odds are stacked heavily against the Wallabies and they will have to show considerable improvement if they want to match this All Blacks side, let alone beat them.

Little went right for them on their home turf so what are the chances of them beating the world champions in their own backyard?

A closer look at the recent history between shows that head coach Michael Cheika and his charges face an almost insurmountable task as the All Blacks have won their last 18 matches in a row at home to the Wallabies. Australia have not crossed the Tasman and won since August 2001 when they claimed a 23-15 victory in Dunedin.

Last year’s campaign at the Rugby World Cup, where they reached the final before losing to New Zealand, looks like a distant memory for the Wallabies who are yet to win a Test in 2016.

Cheika is a good coach who has a proven track record and he might have some tricks up his sleeve. Turning things around within the space of a week is a difficult task, however.

Much will depend on how their pack fare in the forward exchanges. Dominating the All Blacks up front is an almost impossible task at the moment though, so just matching them there will help the visitors to set up a platform for their backs.

Preventing their hosts from gaining momentum is crucial but that is easier said than done as few sides have managed to do that against the world champions over the past 12 months.

Players to watch:

For Australia: All eyes will be on Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper, who returns to the Test arena after last playing at this level against Uruguay during the pool stages of last year’s World Cup in England. When on song, Cooper is a joy to watch as his playmaking skills bring out the best in those around him and he will bring some unpredictability to the Wallabies game. But when things go wrong – something which has happened several times against the All Blacks in recent years – he has proven to be a liability and his selection is a real gamble. Playing alongside him in the number 12 jersey will be the Wallabies’ first-choice pivot in recent years, Bernard Foley. This will be the first time Cooper and Foley line up in the same Wallabies side and it will be interesting to see how they fare in tandem.

For New Zealand: Midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown is making his Test debut and will be keen to settle early and make a big impact. Big things are expected from 21-year-old who is highly rated in New Zealand. He has a brilliant skillset and showed during the Chiefs’ Super Rugby campaign that he can bring out the best in his team-mates with his superb playmaking skills and will hoping to do that in this Test as well. Another All Black with plenty to prove is burly winger Julian Savea who has been recalled to the run-on side after Waisake Naholo was injured in Sydney. Savea’s form hasn’t been at its best this season so he’ll be keen to impress in front of his home crowd in Wellington. His try against Australia in Sydney took his Test points total to 200, the third most of any New Zealand player in history to have not scored a goal. That’s an impressive statistic made even more remarkable considering that he has scored his 40 tries in just 44 Tests.

Team news: Chiefs centre Anton Lienert-Brown will win his first Test cap for the All Blacks. He comes in for the injured Ryan Crotty in one of four changes to the matchday 23. Prop Joe Moody returns from injury to start at loosehead prop, with Wyatt Crockett set to play his 50th Test from the bench. In the other changes, James Parsons’ experience sees him named at replacement hooker, while Seta Tamanivalu is in the 23 jersey as backline cover. When he takes the field this weekend, Wyatt Crockett will not only play his 50th Test, but also his 300th first-class match.

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has named Quade Cooper to start at fly-half. Cooper will combine with usual Wallabies pivot Bernard Foley in a dual playmaker structure, with Foley starting at inside centre. Rob Simmons has been dropped from the side entirely with Adam Coleman taking his place in the run-on side. Blindside flanker Scott Fardy has regained his starting spot, playing alongside Michael Hooper and David Pocock in the Wallabies back-row. Samu Kerevi has also been called up to start at outside centre. Tevita Kuridrani has been named on the bench, alongside rookie utility back Reece Hodge and scrum-half Nick Phipps as backs replacements, while Dean Mumm and Will Skelton will be injected off the bench for the forwards.

26551Previous results:

2016: New Zealand won 42-8 in Sydney
2015: New Zealand won 34-17 at Twickenham
2015: New Zealand won 41-13 in Auckland
2015: Australia won 27-19 in Sydney
2014: New Zealand won 29-28 in Brisbane
2014: New Zealand won 51-20 in Auckland
2014: The sides drew 12-12 in Sydney
2013: New Zealand won 41-33 in Dunedin
2013: New Zealand won 27-16 in Wellington
2013: New Zealand won 47-29 in Sydney
2012: The sides drew 18-18 in Brisbane
2012: New Zealand won 22-0 in Auckland
2012: New Zealand won 27-19 in Sydney
2011: New Zealand won 20-6 in Auckland
2011: Australia won 25-20 in Brisbane
2011: New Zealand won 30-14 in Auckland

The teams:

New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Seta Tamanivalu

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Dane Haylett-Petty, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Ala’alatoa, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Will Skelton, 21 Tevita Kuridrani, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Nick Phipps

Date: Saturday, August 27
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)


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All Blacks team named for second Bledisloe Cup Test

bled22016
All Blacks team named for second Bledisloe Cup Test
Midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown to make Test debut

bledisloe1rrch26551 bledisloe2015

The All Blacks side to play the second Bledisloe Cup match in the Investec Rugby Championship at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, on Saturday 27 August has been named, with new All Black Anton Lienert-Brown to make his Test debut.

The matchday 23 is (with Test caps in brackets. New All Blacks in bold):

265511. Joe Moody (14)
2. Dane Coles (40)
3. Owen Franks (81)
4. Brodie Retallick (51)
5. Samuel Whitelock (76)
6. Jerome Kaino (70)
7. Sam Cane (35)
8. Kieran Read – captain (88)
9. Aaron Smith (51)
10. Beauden Barrett (40)
11. Julian Savea (44)
12. Anton Lienert-Brown
13. Malakai Fekitoa (16)
14. Israel Dagg (52)
15. Ben Smith (52)
16. James Parsons (1)
17. Wyatt Crockett (49)
18. Charlie Faumuina (37)
19. Liam Squire (2)
20. Ardie Savea (3)
21. TJ Perenara (20)
22. Aaron Cruden (40)
23. Seta Tamanivalu (2)

A 21-year-old midfielder, Lienert-Brown will make his Test debut in the number 12 jersey, coming in for the injured Ryan Crotty in one of four changes to the matchday 23 which beat Australia 42-8 in Sydney in the opening match of the Investec Rugby Championship last weekend.

Prop Joe Moody returns from injury to start at loosehead prop, with Wyatt Crockett set to play his 50th Test from the bench. In the other changes, James Parsons’ experience sees him named at replacement hooker, while Seta Tamanivalu is in the 23 jersey as back cover.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “Firstly, we’d like to congratulate Anton on his Test selection. He had a very good Super season with strong performances throughout and we expect him to take the step up. We’re really looking forward to seeing him play in the international arena. It’ll be a special night for Anton on Saturday and he and his family can be proud of what he has achieved.

“We’d also like to congratulate ‘Crocky’ on what will be his 50th Test. That’s also a special milestone for an All Black. ‘Crocky’ is the ultimate team man who has worked hard throughout his career. His attitude and performances since bouncing back from non-selection for the Rugby World Cup squad in 2011 epitomises everything you want in a team member and he can be very proud of what he has achieved.”

Reflecting on the challenge this week, Hansen said: “This Test match will tell us a lot about ourselves and Australia. There’s no doubt that one of the hardest things to do in sport is to back up a big performance with another big performance. It’s totally a mental thing, so that is something we’ve been working really hard on this week: getting our feet back on the ground and our attitudes right for what is going to be a really physical and demanding Test. As always, the expectation we have placed on ourselves is to improve in everything we do.
“Australia is a proud side and will not have been happy with their performance last week. As a result, we’re expecting them to throw everything they’ve got at us. This should lead to a very exciting, physical and high-intensity Test match with the Bledisloe Cup being in the balance.”

Anton Lienert-Brown – mini biography

Called into the All Blacks squad for the 2016 Investec Rugby Championship as an injury replacement, 21-year-old dynamic midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown has been rewarded for his consistent form for the Chiefs during the 2016 Investec Super Rugby season. Originally from Christchurch, Leinert-Brown shifted to Hamilton for rugby and study where his line-breaking, distribution and defensive strength impressed fans and selectors. Made his provincial and Super Rugby debut in 2014.

All Blacks v Australia – key facts

abs2016

* When he takes the field this weekend, Wyatt Crockett will not only play his 50th Test, but also his 300th first-class match. Crockett also holds a unique world record: he has played in 38 consecutive Test matches without defeat. The last loss he experienced in an All Blacks jersey was the All Blacks 2012 loss to England

* Julian Savea scored his 40th try last weekend and is thus on 200 points for the All Blacks. Aaron Cruden is sitting on 299 points for the All Blacks.

* Beauden Barrett finished last weekend’s Test match with 199 points for the All Blacks. He has also scored six tries in his last six Tests.

* All Blacks Captain Kieran Read has won his first 13 Tests as captain. All Blacks legend Sir Brian Lochore holds the world record of winning his first 14 Tests.

* The All Blacks have scored 1,885 tries to date in their history and will be the first side to score 1,900 Test tries. France are second on 1,683 tries.

The Investec Rugby Championship – All Blacks Tests

1. All Blacks 42 v 08 Australia , Saturday 20 August, ANZ Stadium, SYDNEY
2. vs. AUSTRALIA. Saturday 27 August, 7.35PM, Westpac Stadium, WELLINGTON
3. vs. ARGENTINA. Saturday 10 September, 7.35PM, FMG Stadium Waikato, HAMILTON
4. vs. SOUTH AFRICA. Saturday 17 September, 7.35PM, AMI Stadium, CHRISTCHURCH
5. vs. ARGENTINA. Saturday 1 October, 7.10PM, Estadio Jose Amalfitani, BUENOS AIRES
6. vs. SOUTH AFRICA. Saturday 8 October, 5.05PM, Growthpoint Kings Park, DURBAN


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