David Hendy's review of the second round of Test matches in which all of the Home Nations lost again.
New Zealand 22-19 Ireland
Ireland suffered a gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of world champions New Zealand following a 79th minute drop-goal from fly-half Dan Carter.
Ireland, who were leading 10-9 at the break, through a try from scrum-half Conor Murray, conversion and penalty from fly-half Jonathan Sexton, were defiant in the second half yet the quality of New Zealand ensured it to be a close encounter.
New Zealand scored their sole try of the game 3 minutes into the second half through scrum-half Aaron Smith and with Carter wearing his ‘kicking’ boots, the game was tied 19 all going into the final moments. The deadlock was finally broken on the 79th minute when Carter sliced his kick in front of the posts but it was enough to seal a 22-19 victory and clinch a series win over the Irish.
The match was a highly thrilling one, both sides showing determination and high levels of quality. Ireland had drastically improved upon their performance from last week, however New Zealand’s had dipped, complacency may have played a part in their poorer performance. Next week’s match does not count for anything in terms of the series, but the Irish will want to try and finish off what they started in Christchurch and claim their first ever victory over the All Blacks.
Australia 25-23 Wales
Wales were left to rue ill-discipline and miss the chance to claim their first victory over Australia on their turf for 43 years following their 25-23 defeat as a last minute penalty converted by replacement Aussie fly-half Mike Harris.
Wales broke the deadlock as early as the fourth minute through winger George North’s quick thinking from the base of the maul, but his score was cancelled out on the stroke of half-time through Australian centre Rob Horne. Both tries were converted, but Australia went into the break leading 13-7 as their fly-half Berrick Barnes had scored two penalties also.
The second half proved to be a lively affair. Five minutes in and Wales scored their second try of the match through centre Jonathan Davies, who got on the end of a loose kick from fellow centre Ashley Beck. Halfpenny added the extras and it left the score to be 14-13 to the visitors. Following a concession of penalties from both sides, Australia led 19-17 at the hour mark. Winger Cooper Vuna challenged Halfpenny in the air and was sent to the sin bin, later to be cited for the same challenge.
Halfpenny gathered himself and scored the resulting penalty to give Wales a 20-19 lead. Following the conversions of a further penalty apiece, Wales led 23-22 with 13 minutes remaining. Australia missed the chance to go ahead on the 73rd minute when Barnes, who was visibly suffering with a hip injury, missed his kick at goal, giving Wales a lifeline to which they held on to until the final phase of play.
Australia’s rolling maul was causing problems for the Welsh defence in the final minute as it advanced towards the touring side’s 22 metre line, until it was collapsed. Referee Craig Joubert awarded the penalty and without hesitation, replacement fly-half Mike Harris became the hero for Australia as his kick sunk the Welsh and awarded the match and the series to the home side in a thrilling 25-23 win for the Wallabies.
Wales’ display against Australia is a well-known one, riddled with Ill-discipline. Regardless of how close Wales got to a win against their hosts, the story continues, if their discipline had been better, would they have won? A squad with that much talent does not need to concede that amount of penalties. To add insult to injury for Wales, their game plan of keeping scrum-half Will Genia quiet worked, so the defeat is even harder for them to take. As the series is now decided, the final game between these two in Sydney is only for pride, with the Welsh struggling to come to terms with their defeat, it is likely that the series will be a whitewash for the home side.
South Africa 36-27 England
A resurgent second half performance from England was not enough as they lost the second test 36-27 against South Africa, handing them the series win.
The home side starting off dominant as they scored two tries in the first seven minutes through flanker Willem Alberts and hooker Bismarck du Plessis, with fly-half Morné Steyn converting the latter and giving the home side early 12-0 lead. After scoring a penalty apiece from South Africa’s M. Steyn and England’s Toby Flood, the home side crossed the whitewash for the third time in the 19th minute through scrum-half Francois Hougaard and converted by M. Steyn to give the home side a 22-3 lead.
The touring side struck back almost immediately after quick thinking from scrum-half Ben Youngs’ quick penalty and pass to Flood set the fly-half up for their first try of the game. Flood converted his own try and reduced the deficit to 12 points as they trailed 22-10 after 23 minutes. M. Steyn scored another penalty for the home side, then missed two more before the half-time whistle. South Africa led 25-10 going into the break.
The second half started brightly for the Boks as they extended their lead to 28-10 after M. Steyn scored another penalty 7 minutes after the restart. In the 53rd minute, following an extensive look by the television match official, England’s Young was awarded a try which was converted by Flood, leaving the scores 28-17 to South Africa. Following another penalty from South Africa, England reacted by scoring another try as Youngs claimed his second of the match. Flood added the extras and the scores stood at 31-24 with 18 minutes remaining.
England were rampant and Flood converted a penalty 2 minutes later, with M. Steyn missing another attempt 3 minutes afterwards. England were trailing 31-27 and the momentum was with them until South African fullback JP Pietersen scored the final try for the home side with seven minutes left on the clock. South Africa held out and secured their second win of the series with a 36-27 victory over the 2003 world champions.
The final test will have no relevance to the outcome of the test, but after England’s spirited second half display against South Africa, they will look to claim victory and ensure that their inconsistencies in performance are rectified and provide coach Stuart Lacaster with a new basis to work from for the Autumn Internationals.
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