England 26 – 17 Australia
Wales 12 – 6 South Africa
Brazil 21 – 13 Paraguay
With the All Blacks gone to the beach there doesn’t seem as much urgency in following the last matches of the Autumn internationals. But there’s still plenty of interest in checking the chicken’s entrails for what might happen next year.
We can pretty much say that the Aussie scrum will be a joyful focus for all their opponents. Both English tries came from a Wallaby scrum going backwards. Michael Cheika, the new Wallabies coach, has been making noises about how they’re being picked on for being “too honest”. Really. That’s right up there with captain Michael Hooper’s usual post-match speech about how they’re really really close to being bloody fantastic.
I don’t think you can read too much for next year in the Welsh-Jaapies game, except that the Boks were really tired after a long season, and the Welsh played smart. Okay, that’s some pretty important stuff just there. Mentality is going to matter.
Eddie Butler at the Observer had a fair summary of the end of year positions:
New Zealand and Ireland make biggest impact in autumn internationals, England and Wales rescue themselves from misery, France are … well, France, Scotland raise a gallop, while South Africa and Australia need to bounce back – and no doubt will.
As for Brazil (ranked 37th in the world) beating Paraguay (ranked 38th), perhaps it will encourage them to give up the round ball game and pick up the ball and run with it. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but all I’m saying is “semi-final, Germany”.
That is a match that I would keep showing to the All Blacks all summer long. History does not matter. Wanting does not make it so. Sport is cruel.