Springboks 28-10 Wallabies
For 70 minutes it was a smash and bash fest at Newlands in Cape Town. Both teams had long periods of phase play, but rarely broke the line. Tevita Kuridrani at centre was always a threat for the Wallabies, and set up Adam Ashley-Cooper’s try, but that was about the extent of their good news.
Then, as both coaches went to the bench late in the game with the Wallabies 10-8 ahead, everything opened up and the Boks scored three late tries, including a brace for Gentleman Jean de Villiers.
Ewen McKenzie is now under real pressure as Wallabies coach. He has not taken the team forward since the coup against ‘Dingo’ Deans. Arguably he has taken them backwards.
Obviously he doesn’t have the luxury of the player depth of New Zealand, South Africa or England. He’s had a horror run of injuries. But his game strategy is narrow, and he’s not finding a way to unleash the fantastic talent of Israel Folau from the back. A loss to the Pumas next week will have the knives being sharpened. He needs to stop blaming his players and start taking some responsibility.
Pumas 13-34 All Blacks
Another Rugby Championship in the trophy cabinet with a game to spare. Another whole team performance that shows the strength of the All Blacks coaching set-up.
Think about the breadth of the coaching achievement: the old war-horse Keven Mealamu played like a youngster, while out-of-position Malakai Fekitoa played like a veteran. Richie McCaw and Jerome Kaino ran into gaps, the scrum was more than solid, Barrett owned the Number Ten, and the back three scored tries. Beautiful.
What I particularly liked was the respect, even affection, the ABs had for the Pumas. We know who they’ll be cheering on in next week’s game against the Wallabies.
Russia 22-21 Uruguay
The first leg of the play-off to find the very last Rugby World Cup place was played in a chilly Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. Russia scored the only try of the match, but paid the price for ill-discipline with Uruguay’s Felipe Berchesi kicking seven penalties.
The second leg is played in Montevideo on 11 October, with the prize a place in Pool A alongside England, Australia, Fiji and Wales. The odds have to be firmly in favour of Uruguay playing at home.
Counties Manukau 55-7 Wellington
Rubber-necking at the scene of a car crash is both rude and dangerous. Say a silent prayer, and move along.