Category Archives: The Rugby Championship

Wallabies thump Pumas in final game of the 2013 Rugby Championship

A hat trick from fullback Israel Folau and a stunning performance from Brumbies winger Joe Tomane highlighted a commanding 54-17 victory for the Qantas Wallabies over Argentina in Rosario on Sunday as Australia finished the 2013 Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship on a high.

Folau’s hat trick was the first for the Wallabies since Adam Ashley-Cooper’s trio against the USA in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. It was also the first time since their match against Russia in that Tournament that Australia had scored four tries or more in a Test.

The 54 points were the most the Wallabies have ever scored against Argentina in the 21 Tests between the two nations stretching back to 1979.

It was the Wallabies best performance under new coach Ewen McKenzie and there were encouraging signs all over the park in the entertaining performance, which was characterized by slick ball movement and excellent work at the breakdown.

Argentina started brightly keeping the ball in hand, but it was the Wallabies who were on the board after just two minutes.

Tomane featured prominently, first making a mid-field break on the halfway line to put the Wallabies on the front foot, then moments later popping a neat inside pass to Folau who strode over outwide to open the scoring.

Christian Leali’ifano piloted over the conversion from near the left touchline and Australia had the perfect start up 7-0 after just three minutes.

Tomane almost set up Ashley-Cooper for another try just a minute later but the ball was judged harshly to have bounced forward from a pass by referee Wayne Barnes.

The Pumas then enjoyed a long spell of possession on the Wallabies line using their powerful scrum to try and push the Wallabies pack over the line. The Wallabies were penalized three times as Argentina kept re-setting the scrum to try and force a push-over try.

Queensland Reds prop James Slipper was eventually yellow carded and the Wallabies had to hold on with a seven-man pack. But Benn Robinson came on and somehow the gutsy Wallabies held firm.

The ball squirted out the back of the next scrum and flanker Michael Hooper picked the ball up and raced away to ease the pressure. A huge confidence boost to the Wallabies.

Leali’ifano then added a penalty to put the Wallabies ten points up after 25 minutes, but some enterprising attacking play from the Pumas led to a penalty goal of their own after James Horwill was sanctioned for a steal at the breakdown.

A powerful burst from Scott Fardy down the left touchline saw him brought down just short of the line by an illegal tackle from Pablo Matera. The Pumas flanker was sent to the bin and Leali’ifano superbly landed the resulting penalty from the sideline to put the Wallabies up 13-3 on the half hour mark.

The Wallabies were in again just minutes later after good lead up work from Folau and scrumhalf Will Genia put Ashley-Cooper over in the corner. Leali’ifano missed the conversion this time from out on the right hand touchline.

And just a minute later it got even better for the Wallabies when Folau stepped through to score his second try of the match after some great ball movement from Australia’s backline. Leali’ifano landed the conversion and the Wallabies were up 25-3.

The Pumas then scored a try after a scything run by centre Marcelo Bosch, converted by flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, to bring it back to 25-10 at the break.

At half time Matt Toomua came on for his Brumbies teammate Leali’ifano who had injured his knee in a tackle in the first half.

The Wallabies hit back soon after with flyhalf Quade Cooper popping a neat inside pass to Folau to complete his hat trick. It was the Waratahs fullback’s 7th try in just his ninth Test and came after a strong run from young Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani.

With Leali’ifano off the field, Cooper landed the conversion and the Wallabies were out to a 32-10 lead.

The Pumas got their second try on 48 minutes when scrumhalf Martin Landajo burrowed his way over under the posts, and when Rob Simmons was yellow carded for a no-arms tackle on Felipe Contepomi, momentum seemed to be shifting back to Argentina.

But some solid defence from the Wallabies, coupled with precise work at the breakdown, turned the Pumas around and a penalty from Cooper put them out to 35-17.

Tomane then capped a superb performance with a brilliant 60-metre solo try on 63 minutes to put the Wallabies up 40-17, with Cooper missing the conversion.

It was the Queensland flyhalf’s last act of the match as he was replaced by his NSW counterpart, Bernard Foley, who came on for his Test debut moments later becoming Wallaby No.877.

Foley was involved on 74 minutes initiating the move that led to the Wallabies sixth try. A half break from Foley was taken on by Hooper who was stopped just short.

The ball then came mid-field to replacement prop Robinson who dove over for his third Test try in his 61st Test. Foley converted to bring up his first Test points.

Foley then capped a stunning debut with a long range try on 78 minutes after Australia turned the ball over on their own try line and a clever chip and re-gather from Tomane saw the NSW flyhalf sprint away to score under the posts.

The Wallabies now return to Australia before travelling to Dunedin in a fortnight to take on the All Blacks in the season’s third Bledisloe Cup Test.

Earlier New Zealand claimed the 2013 Rugby Championship with a thrilling 37-28 victory over the Springboks in an epic Test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

Full Time Score

Qantas Wallabies 54 (Israel Folau 3, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Joe Tomane, Benn Robinson, Bernard Foley tries; Christian Leali’ifano 2 conversions, 2 penalties, Quade Cooper penalty, conversion, Bernard Foley 2 conversions) defeated Argentina Pumas 17 (Marcelo Bosch, Martin Landajo tries; Nicolas Sanchez 2 conversions, penalty) at Estadio Gigante de Arroyito in Rosario. (Half time: Wallabies 25 Pumas 10) (Referee: Wayne Barnes [England]).

The privilege of watching the Springboks v All Blacks live

I was privileged enough to attend the test between the Springboks and All Blacks at Ellis Park this weekend. And what a game it was. An epic test match between the two best rugby nations to ever play the game. 63888 supporters packed into the stadium and the atmosphere was electric.

The Boeing, as in 1995, flew over the stadium and with the first passing the crowd erupted. What they didn’t know was that this plane, with the words GO SPRINGBOKS! On its belly, would pass over no less than 3 times.

Beast led the Springboks out onto the park and was greated with cries of: “BEEEEAAAAST!!!!!” in his 50th test for his adopted country.

The National Anthems brought goose bumps on goose bumps and it was clear that the supporters were behind the Springboks. When the Haka was done by the All Black, I could barely hear it on the TV in the suite. And that was with a closed door. The sounds of Ole, Ole, Ole being sang by the crowd the only thing you did hear.

And then it was time for the game to get underway. The Springboks didn’t start too badly and soon had a 15-7 lead. Bryan Habana scoring two tries with Morne Steyn converting one and landing a penalty. The fact that the All Blacks managed two easy tries should have had warning bells sounding at halftime. An injury to Habana also made a huge difference. The one to Willem Alberts allowed Franco vd Merwe to make his debut for the Boks at age 30. The All Blacks came back with two tries before the break. Halftime score 15-21 to the All Blacks.

South Africa had their bonus point try with 20 minutes left to go after Willie Le Roux and Jean de Villiers scored a try a piece. Morne once again only managed to convert one of the tries.

Beauden Barrett and Kieran Reid scored two tries for the visitors and that was all they need all though Barret added a penalty for good measure.

In the end much can be said and there will be a lot of debate regarding the performance of both sides in this test. Attacking rugby was played by both sides and it was good to watch. The Springboks can only blame themselves for poor defensive errors and soft turnovers at times. That cost them the game and the title in the end. It might also have been a case of winning the Rugby Championship title before winning the game.

Nigel Owens and his Assistant Referees were in top form and must be applauded for how they handled the game.

After the game I was lucky enough to meet World Cup winning Captain and current Sharks CEO, John Smit. And he obliged me with a photo and autograph on my jersey. A moment I will not forget for a while to come.

SCORERS:

South Africa 27 – Tries: Bryan Habana (2), Willie le Roux, Jean de Villiers. Conversions: Morne Steyn (2). Penalty: Steyn.

New Zealand 38 – Tries: Ben Smith, Liam Messam (2), Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (3), Barrett (2). Penalty: Barrett.

 

SOUTH AFRICA 28 v QANTAS WALLABIES 8 – CASLE LAGER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

The Springboks have defeated the Qantas Wallabies 28-8 in a fast flowing and fiery Rugby Championship clash played in Cape Town Sunday morning (AEST).

It was clear early on that the Wallabies were more than ready to meet the physical challenge of the Springboks.

In just the third minute urgent defense from the Wallabies repelled a dangerous rolling maul close to their try line. Scrambling defense then led to the Boks losing control of the ball and scrumhalf Nic White cleared.

South Africa were penalized soon after for obstruction and the Wallabies went on to the attack in the Boks 22. Australia were awarded another penalty and Christian Leali’ifano made it 3-0 with a well-struck penalty from out near the left touchline.

The Wallabies were competing much more powerfully at the break down than they had when the two teams last met in Brisbane and looked to be gaining the upper hand in the first ten minutes.

But in an instant the game was turned on its head as the Boks poured on twenty unanswered points in less than eight minutes.

First hooker Adriaan Strauss went over from close range after Quade Cooper darted out of the line and then South Africa broke the mould with a stunning long range try featuring superb hands from the backline that was finished off with Zane Kirchner stepping around Israel Folau.

Steyn converted both tries and landed a second penalty to make it 20-3 at the 18 minute mark.

The Wallabies fought back well but before they could turn their resistance into points flanker Michael Hooper was unfortunate to be yellow carded after a tackle on Eben Etzebeth on 27 minutes.

But with new scrumhalf Fourie du Preez giving lightning service to the Boks backline the Wallabies needed to be speedy and tenacious to stop their line being crossed again by the uncharacteristically adventurous South Africans.

Another penalty to Steyn made it 23-3 but the Wallabies did well only to concede three points with Hooper off the field. The Wallabies then had their own chance to begin a period of numerical dominance when Bok lock Flip van der Merwe was yellow carded for leading with his elbow on the stroke of half time.

Although dominating the scrums early in the second half the Wallabies were unable to make the man advantage count, as Will Genia came on for White to add some extra spark at the base of the ruck.

The move paid dividends with the Wallabies starting to look a lot better with the ball in hand and threatening the Boks defensive line.

With 11 minutes gone in the second half Benn Robinson returned to the Wallabies playing ranks, coming on for James Slipper, as Australia continued to threaten. Sekope Kepu came on for Ben Alexander four minutes later.

Big defence from the Australian backrowers Ben Mowen and Scott Fardy kept turning the Boks around but the Wallabies still could not close the gap.

Coach Ewen McKenzie continued to use his bench, bringing on Ben McCalman for Scott Fardy and 19-year-old Reds winger Chris Feauai-Sautia making his Test debut coming on for Joe Tomane.

The Wallabies continued to attack on the back of another superb hit from Mowen and sustained pressure in the South African 22 saw Boks No.8 Duane Vermuelen yellow carded on 66 minutes.

But the advantage was lost as new hooker Saia Fainga’a, on for the courageous Stephen Moore, threw the ball into the lineout askew. Sitaleki Timani also came on for Rob Simmons and introduced himself with a huge hit on Bok replacement Jan Serfontein.

Willie Le Roux somehow snuck over in the corner on 71 minutes to take the Boks out to 28-3, with Steyn missing the conversion from the touchline.

The Wallabies bench was then emptied as Matt Toomua came on for his Brumbies team mate Leali’ifano, as Timani was sent to the bin for deliberate use of the shoulder.

Two superb pieces of play from Cooper then saw Feauai-Sautia score a brilliant consolation try for the Wallabies. First Cooper put Toomua away after some quick thinking on his own try line and then from the resulting lineout Cooper superbly cross-kicked to an unmarked Feauai-Sautia who crossed out wide.

The Boks threw everything they had at the Wallabies in the final moments in a desperate search of a precious bonus point try but Australia held strong.

The Wallabies now travel on to Rosario in Argentina where they play the Pumas next weekend in their final match of the 2013 Rugby Championship, while the Boks meet the All Blacks in a likely Tournament decider in Johannesburg.

RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

Full Time Score:

Springboks 28 (Adriaan Strauss, Zane Kirchner, Willie Le Roux tries; Morne Steyn 3 penalties, 2 conversions) defeated Qantas Wallabies 8 (Chris Feauai-Sautia try; Christian Leali’ifano penalty) at Newlands, Cape Town. (Half Time: South Africa 23 Qantas Wallabies 3) (Referee: Jerome Garces [France]).

QANTAS WALLABIES CAPTAIN JAMES HORWILL RETURNS FOR SPRINGBOKS CLASH

Qantas Wallabies captain James Horwill makes his return from injury as Australia chases back-to-back Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship victories when they take on South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday night.

The return of Horwill comes at a timely moment for the Qantas Wallabies with a victory needed to maintain the Mandela Challenge Plate after the Springboks won the opening Test in Brisbane a fortnight ago.

His inclusion is one of six changes made to the team which secured Australia’s first win of the 2013 Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship with a gutsy 14-13 triumph over Argentina in Perth.

Three of those changes come to the starting backline, which include ACT Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani receiving his first international run-on opportunity and a new wing pairing of Adam Ashley-Cooper and Joe Tomane.

For Kuridrani his selection in the number 13 jersey continues his remarkable rise throughout 2013, which also included the 21-year-old winning the ‘Most Outstanding Young Talent’ award for the ACT Brumbies.

Included in his many highlights was his match-winning try in South Africa in the Super Rugby Semi-Final against the Bulls.

His move sees Ashley-Cooper start on the wing for the first time since last year’s opening Spring Tour clash against France in Paris.

Tomane has recovered from a shoulder injury to gain selection opposite Ashley-Cooper after starting the final two games on the wing for the Qantas Wallabies during their historic series against The British & Irish Lions.

On the bench prop Benn Robinson will receive his first opportunity for Australia during the Ewen McKenzie-era while 19-year-old sensation Chris Feauai-Sautia is in line to make his Qantas Wallabies Test debut.

Scrumhalf Nic White has also maintained his place in the number nine jersey after being awarded the team’s internal Man of Gold Award for Players’ Player against Argentina.

“James has plenty of experience and we are going into a tough environment.  He plays the game hard so it’s timely that he is back,” McKenzie said.

“In our outside backs we’ve already been forced into change but Tomane on one wing is pretty straight forward.  He is big and powerful and has been in the squad for a long time.

“The question after that is whether we wanted to bring an uncapped player onto the wing or go with Kuridrani, who has been training with the squad every week and has been used off the bench in two games.

“In the end we wanted to make things as smooth as possible while relying on as much experience as we can.  We’re going with guys who have been training with us consistently since the beginning of the tournament.

“Adam Ashley-Cooper also has great capacity to cover a number of positions and we’re always going to use him in different roles.  With his experience he knows what’s required and the role is something he feels comfortable doing.  It won’t change the way he contributes.

“Benn Robinson also comes in, which if you look at it in its totality, means our bench is structured to give us plenty of impact later in the game.  That’s where we’ve been at our weakest so far.

“Bringing in experience later in the game can only lift your performance and at the same time they can stake a claim for a further opportunity in the starting team.”

The Qantas Wallabies enter Saturday’s match against South Africa with possession of the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate and will retain the silverware for a fourth straight year with a victory at Newlands Stadium.

Victory would also be Australia’s first in Cape Town since 1992, which was the first clash between the two nations since South Africa’s return following the end of the apartheid.

South Africa has won all four matches played at the foot of Table Mountain since that time.

“We approach every game as though we can win it and I’ve never felt we can’t go out there with that expectation.  No one will back us but that sits fine with us,” McKenzie said.

“Two wins in a row would be significant for this team, especially winning in South Africa given their current circumstance.  We’ve got a great opportunity to be a thorn in what they are trying to do.”

The Qantas Wallabies will wear black armbands on Saturday night as a mark of respect following the sudden death of former Wallabies Captain and member of the Australian Rugby Hall of Fame, John Hipwell OAM.

The Qantas Wallabies side to play South Africa in the second Mandela Challenge Plate and Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship match at Newlands Stadium on Saturday 28 September is:

1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)

2. Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies)

3. Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies)

4. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)

5. James Horwill (c – Queensland Reds)

6. Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies)

7. Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs)

8. Ben Mowen (vc – ACT Brumbies)

9. Nic White (ACT Brumbies)

10. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds)

11. Joe Tomane (ACT Brumbies)

12. Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies)

13. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies)

14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs)

15. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)

 

16. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds)

17. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)

18. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)

19. Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs)

20. Ben McCalman (Western Force)

21. Will Genia (Queensland Reds)

22. Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies)

23. Chris Feauai-Sautia (Queensland Reds)*
*potential debutant

QANTAS WALLABIES ANNOUNCE 28-MAN SQUAD FOR TESTS AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA AND ARGENTINA

The Qantas Wallabies have announced a strong 28-man touring squad for the next stage of their Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign in South Africa and Argentina.

The return of Australian captain James Horwill from a left hamstring strain will strengthen a forward pack which also sees experienced NSW Waratahs prop Benn Robinson regain selection.

Robinson, who was a member of Australia’s initial 40-man extending training squad in August, has been re-called by coach Ewen McKenzie following a series of impressive performances for Shute Shield finalist Eastwood over the past month.

“James has been working hard in rehab and is getting closer to a return while Benn has also impressed in club Rugby to earn himself another chance,” McKenzie said.

“The scrums have been inconsistent across all the Tests so far and we are now about to embark on a tough two-game road tour. 

“We want to improve this area of our game and when you combine the Tests played between Ben and James we are bringing in another 99 games of experience up front.

“That’s invaluable when you are playing in hostile environments away from home.”

Queensland Reds front-rower Albert Anae, who is currently playing for Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s ITM Cup, has been added as the third hooker and can cover prop, while in the backs Joe Tomane returns from a minor shoulder injury and will join exciting 19-year-old winger and centre Chris Feauai-Sautia in the squad.

Their inclusion comes at an important time for the Qantas Wallabies with outside backs Nick Cummins and Jesse Mogg both unavailable through injury.

Cummins will miss up to a month as he recovers from the broken hand he sustained in Australia’s gutsy 14-13 victory over Argentina at the weekend, while Mogg will undergo a complete shoulder construction and will be sidelined for six months.

Mogg has been battling a persistent shoulder issue throughout 2013 and in consultation with medical staff it was decided that the best outcome for him would be to undergo surgery now to ensure he would able to take part in next year’s Super Rugby competition and be fully fit for the 2014 Castrol EDGE June Test Series.

Waratahs duo Sitaleki Timani and Dave Dennis maintain their place within the group after being called into the Qantas Wallabies setup at the beginning of their preparations in Perth last week.

Flanker Liam Gill and prop Scott Sio are the unlucky omissions but will remain on standby for a squad that will now target back-to-back Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship successes when they take on the Springboks on Saturday 28 September.

“South Africa and Argentina are always brutal games, so you need to give an edge to physicality in your selections,” McKenzie said.

“You need to fight fire with fire to some extent and it’s pretty clear that we’ve brought in added size as well as more experience for these next two games.”

McKenzie said the tour of South Africa and Argentina would be important in terms of building confidence and a winning mentality within the group.

“I don’t think anyone is going to back us to win these next two games but there is a terrific opportunity to continue to improve and surprise a few people,” he said.

“There is a good vibe in the group at the moment with some emerging confidence and experience. 

“We’ll go over there with a strong mindset, the right attitude and with a really good chance to finish positively in the competition.”

Australia has won two of its last three Tests in South Africa but has not won in Cape Town since 1992 when the first clash between the two nations since South Africa’s return following the end of apartheid resulted in a 26-3 win to the Qantas Wallabies.

South Africa has won all four matches played at the foot of Table Mountain since that time since.

The Qantas Wallabies 28-man Castle Lager Rugby Championship squad to play South Africa in Cape Town and Argentina in Rosario is:

Player

State

Age

Test Caps

PROP

Ben Alexander

ACT Brumbies

28

55

Sekope Kepu

NSW Waratahs

27

30

Benn Robinson

NSW Waratahs

29

59

James Slipper

Queensland Reds

24

41

HOOKER

Saia Fainga’a

Queensland Reds

26

23

Stephen Moore

ACT Brumbies

30

83

Albert Anae

Queensland Reds

24

Uncapped

LOCK

Kane Douglas

NSW Waratahs

24

12

James Horwill (c)

Queensland Reds

28

40

Rob Simmons

Queensland Reds

24

30

Sitaleki Timani

NSW Waratahs

26

11

BACKROW

Dave Dennis

NSW Waratahs

27

15

Scott Fardy

ACT Brumbies

29

4

Michael Hooper

NSW Waratahs

21

20

Ben McCalman

Western Force

25

24

Ben Mowen

ACT Brumbies

28

7

SCRUMHALF

Will Genia

Queensland Reds

25

47

Nic White

ACT Brumbies

23

4

FLYHALF

Quade Cooper

Queensland Reds

25

42

Bernard Foley

NSW Waratahs

23

Uncapped

Matt Toomua

ACT Brumbies

23

4

CENTRE

Adam Ashley-Cooper

NSW Waratahs

29

84

Tevita Kuridrani

ACT Brumbies

22

2

Christian Leali’ifano

ACT Brumbies

25

7

WING

James O’Connor

Melbourne Rebels

23

44

Chris Feauai-Sautia

Queensland Reds

19

Uncapped

Joe Tomane

ACT Brumbies

23

3

FULLBACK

Israel Folau

NSW Waratahs

24

7

 

Wallabies manages to hold on for 14-13 win over Argentina

A try to fullback Israel Folau coupled with the trusty boots of new scrumhalf Nic White and inside centre Christian Leali’ifano have given the Qantas Wallabies a hard fought 14-13 victory over Argentina in the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship clash played in difficult conditions in Perth tonight in front of 18,214 hardy fans.

Fullback Folau showed once again why he is one of the most exciting players in world Rugby with a brilliant piece of finishing to score his fourth Test try of the season midway through the first half while the pin point accurate boot of White kept the Pumas pinned down all night.

It was a chilly 13 degrees at the kick off with rain swirling around Patersons Stadium, making conditions tricky for both teams. The Wallabies had the advantage of the 40kmh winds in the first half.

Brumbies No.9 White began his first Test as a starter with a superb clearing kick deep into the Pumas half that gave the Wallabies a line out inside Argentina’s 22.

But the Pumas turned the ball over and on six minutes some strong charges from Argentina’s pack gave them some momentum.

Argentina’s in form flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez then popped a little kick into the Wallabies 22 forcing local wing Nick Cummins to clean up close to his own line. But Cummins was caught and the Pumas won a penalty, which Sanchez converted to give Argentina a 3-0 lead after eight minutes.

The Wallabies then returned the favour with a neat grubber into the Pumas 22 that flanker Michael Hooper, later named Man of the Match, chased strongly earning Australia a penalty. Leali’ifano piloted his kick over from a tricky angle in the blustery conditions, and it was 3-3 after ten minutes.

The Wallabies then won a scrum penalty giving Leali’ifano a chance to take the lead and he made no mistake despite the swirling wind making it 6-3 after 16 minutes.

Australia then turned the pick and drive tactic on the Pumas and they looked dangerous but lock Rob Simmons gave away a penalty just when it seemed like the Wallabies endeavour would pay off with a five-pointer.

Another clever kick from White saw the Pumas with a defensive line-out on their 22. With hooker Agustin Creevy failing to throw the ball in straight the Wallabies took the lineout option and a good throw from Stephen Moore put them on the attack.

From an ensuing ruck White fed Quade Cooper who passed to James O’Connor whose quick hands gave Folau an opportunity out on the right. The Tahs fullback finished brilliantly, bursting his way through three defenders to score his fourth try of the season. Leali’ifano’s conversion just scraped the post on the wrong side leaving it at 11-3.

Both sides had good attacking options as the half drew to a close but quick work from flanker Scott Fardy disrupted a dangerous Pumas charge and a lost ball saw a promising Wallabies effort fall just short.

The Wallabies had the last say in the first stanza with some more strong forward drives earning another penalty that Leali’ifano landed from close range as the half time siren sounded to make it 14-3.

The Pumas went on the attack early in the second half and set up a driving maul close to the Wallabies line but excellent work from prop Ben Alexander killed the attack.

Argentina however turned the scrum over and went on the attack again winning a penalty. They declined the kick at goal and launched a driving maul from the lineout five metres from the Wallabies line but good work from captain Ben Mowen again stopped the Puma’s drive.

Argentina used their powerful scrum to once again earn consecutive penalties close to Australia’s line but gutsy defence from the Wallabies again repelled the Puma’s charge.

Another scrum penalty gave Sanchez a chance to close up the gap on 54 minutes but his kick from 42 metres out fell just short.

A huge tackle from Cummins then trapped the Pumas in their half but good pressure from Argentina saw them pour on to the attack before Hooper almost pulled off what could have been a game sealing intercept.

A crooked feed from White gave Sanchez another chance with twenty minutes remaining and this time the Pumas flyhalf was accurate bringing the score back to 14-6.

Some excellent multi-phase attacking display from the Pumas was then finished off by powerful No.8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón on 63 minutes to score one of the best tries of the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship to date, although there may have been a hint of obstruction on Leali’ifano.

However TMO Vinny Munro allowed the try to stand and Sanchez’s conversion brought it back to a nail-biting 14-13.

The Wallabies had a change to get some breathing space when an ankle-biting tackle from replacement hooker Saia Faingaa saw Fardy win Australia a precious penalty in range. But kicking into a strong breeze this time Leali’ifano’s shot went wide.

The Puma’s admirably continued to attack with ball in hand as the clock wound down but strong defence from the Wallabies held them at bay.

Replacement flyhalf Matt Toomua failed with a long range drop goal attempt with six minutes left and Leali’ifano missed with another penalty with ninety seconds remaining but the Wallabies held on to claim their first victory of this year’s Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship.

The Wallabies now have a week off before travelling to Cape Town where they face South Africa on September 28th.

CASTROL EDGE RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

Full Time Score

Qantas Wallabies 14 (Israel Folau try; Christian Leali’ifano 3 penalties) defeated
Argentina 13 (Juan Manuel Leguizamón try; Nicolas Sanchez 2 penalties, conversion) at Patersons Stadium in Perth. (Half time: Wallabies 14 Argentina 3) (Crowd: 18,214) (Man of the Match: Michael Hooper).

WILL GENIA TO CAPTAIN QANTAS WALLABIES FOLLOWING HORWILL INJURY

Qantas Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia will captain Australia for the fourth time in Saturday night’s Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship clash against South Africa at Suncorp Stadium following the injury-forced withdrawal of lock James Horwill.

Horwill will miss the upcoming fortnight of the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship after precautionary scans yesterday revealed that the 28-year-old had strained his left hamstring during Tuesday afternoon’s training session at Ballymore.

His absence opens the door for Kane Douglas to be promoted into the starting line-up alongside fellow lock Rob Simmons, while Western Force backrower Ben McCalman comes onto the bench.

The injury to Horwill gives Queensland Reds teammate Will Genia an opportunity to lead Australia out at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, where he will be well supported by new vice-captain Ben Mowen.

Genia has led the Qantas Wallabies on three previous occasions since becoming Australia’s 78th Test captain when he was given the honour at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in a pool game against the United States of America.

In his most recent match as captain, coming in September last year, Genia led Australia to a 26-19 victory over South Africa in Perth.

Qantas Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie backed Genia to step up in Horwill’s absence.

“Will is a proven leader and has had plenty of success as captain for the Queensland Reds and also for Australia,” McKenzie said.

“He is a player that thrives with the added responsibility and he has always stepped up when given the opportunity to lead.  I’m sure this will bring the best out of him.

“It’s extremely disappointing to lose James but after discussions with medical staff we felt it was important not to risk further injury when he isn’t ready.

“Scans revealed his injury was on the lower-end in terms of severity and we expect him to be back to full fitness when we embark on our two-game tour of South Africa and Argentina in a few weeks.”

The Qantas Wallabies enter Saturday’s match against South Africa with possession of the Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate and will retain the silverware for a fourth straight year with a victory at Suncorp Stadium.

The updated Qantas Wallabies side: 1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds), 2. Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies), 3. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs), 4. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds), 5. Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs), 6. Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies), 7. Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs), 8. Ben Mowen (vc – ACT Brumbies), 9. Will Genia (c – Queensland Reds), 10. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds), 11. Nick Cummins (Western Force), 12. Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies), 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs), 14. James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels), 15. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)

Replacements: 16. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds), 17. Scott Sio (ACT Brumbies), 18. Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies), 19. Ben McCalman (Western Force), 20. Jake Schatz (Queensland Reds)*, 21. Nic White (ACT Brumbies), 22. Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies), 23. Jesse Mogg (ACT Brumbies)

*potential debutant

Wallabies change one for Wellington clah

Qantas Wallabies backrower Scott Fardy will make his run-on debut for Australia in the sole change made to the starting line-up for Saturday’s second Bledisloe Cup and Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand at Westpac Stadium.
 
Coach Ewen McKenzie has backed his new-look squad to respond to their opening Bledisloe Cup loss against the All Blacks by giving them a chance to atone while continuing to develop as a group.
 
The inclusion of the combative Fardy is the only change made to the starting XV with the opportunity presenting itself following the injury withdrawal of Western Force backrower Hugh McMeniman, who will undergo a complete shoulder reconstruction in Brisbane next week.
 
Fardy’s first run-on appearance comes a week after his Test debut, capping off a remarkable journey where only two seasons ago the 29-year-old was uncapped at Super Rugby level and playing for Japanese club Kamaishi Seawaves.
 
His elevation to the number six jersey opens to door for lock Kane Douglas to come onto the  bench in the only other change made the Qantas Wallabies matchday squad.
 
By making two changes McKenzie has backed the core playing squad to do better and improve from the experience after last week fielding five debutants and an additional five players with 10 caps or less.
 
“You can’t fudge experience and I know this group learned a great deal from last week and will be much better for the experience on Saturday night,” McKenzie said.
 
“We made a decision to reward players that were in-form and who we believed were capable of executing what we are trying to achieve as a group.  That doesn’t change overnight or following one losing result.
 
“It’s always important to be conscious of finding a balance between selecting experience against youth but the only way to develop that experience is by providing opportunities to players and hoping they take them.
 
“Right now, I’m more concerned with how each individual responds to the defeat.  We need to fix aspects of our performance but we will get better the more time we spend together.
 
“However, in saying that, you only get a finite number of chances at Test level so it’s important that you don’t let the moment pass.  That’s been made very clear this week as has the expectation of the level of improvement we need from each player within the squad.”
 
Victory on Saturday is a must for the Qantas Wallabies if they are to keep their Bledisloe Cup hopes alive in 2013 with the third Test against New Zealand to be played in Dunedin on October 19.
 
It also presents an opportunity for Australia to break a 12-year losing drought against the All Blacks on their home soil with the Qantas Wallabies unsuccessful in their past 14 matches in New Zealand.
 
The last time an Australian side beat the All Blacks in New Zealand was at Dunedin in 2001.
 
Following Saturday night’s match the Qantas Wallabies will return home to take on South Africa in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday 7 September.
 
Wallabies team: 1. James Slipper, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Ben Alexander, 4. Rob Simmons, 5. James Horwill (c), 6. Scott Fardy, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Ben Mowen, 9. Will Genia (vc), 10. Matt Toomua, 11. James O’Connor, 12. Christian Leali’ifano, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14. Israel Folau, 15. Jesse Mogg. replacements: 16. Saia Fainga’a, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Sekope Kepu, 19. Kane Douglas, 20. Liam Gill, 21. Nic White, 22. Quade Cooper, 23. Tevita Kuridrani

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The Castle Lager Rugby Championship round 1 reviewed

The first round of The Castle Lager Rugby Championship has been played and what a round it was. The Springboks are on top of the log with 5 points and lead the race due to superior points difference. The All Blacks are second also 5 points with Australia and Argentina both on 0 points.

The opening game saw the All Blacks beat Australia 47-29 in Australia. Both sides were still in it after the first half and it looked like it would be a close affair. The second half however saw the All Blacks show why they are the world champions and defending Rugby Chapionship title holders.

Australia’s young side just could gain any momentum in the second half. The scrums will be a contension point through out this competition or until the scrumhalves learn to feed the scrum straight. Both scrumhalves in this game struggled with this aspect. In the end a game that entertained and showed just what to expect of the All Blacks.

South Africa v argentina looked like it would be a dull boring match during the first half. Both sides struggled to gain momentum and made some basic errors. Once again the scrum proved to be a problem area although not as much as in the All Blacks v Australia game.

The second half saw the Springboks opening up the flood gates and they scored 7 tries. A much more clinical performance by them than during the opening 40 minutes. Argentina was out played and in the end the 73-13 scoreline proved it. South africa scored 9 tries in all including a penalty try and yet no player scored more than 1. Bryan Habana increased his telly to 51 test tries while Bismarck took a record 7th try for a South African hooker.

Next week will see the Springboks up against Argentina again this time in Mendoza. The All Blacks will host Australia in New Zealand.

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FIVE DEBUTANTS TO START FOR WALLABIES IN RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

The Qantas Wallabies have announced five uncapped players in their 23-man Test squad with playmaker Matt Toomua to make his debut at flyhalf in Saturday night’s opening Bledisloe Cup and Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand at ANZ Stadium.

Toomua is the sole debutant to be chosen in new coach Ewen McKenzie’s inaugural Test starting line-up while fellow uncapped ACT Brumbies teammates Scott Sio, Scott Fardy, Nic White and Tevita Kuridrani have all earned places on the bench.

The selection of five uncapped players marks a new era under McKenzie and is reward for their year-long performances in a Brumbies side that only marginally went down to New Zealand’s Chiefs in the Super Rugby Final a fortnight ago.

They’ll be expected to play an integral role in a new-look Qantas Wallabies line-up that includes eight changes to the starting XV which took the field for Australia in their final Test against The British & Irish Lions in July.

Those changes comprise of Ben Mowen shifting to No.8 and James O’Connor to the wing, along with the inclusion of prop James Slipper, lock Rob Simmons, flankers Hugh McMeniman and Michael Hooper, fullback Jesse Mogg and Toomua.

McKenzie said he was confident the new group could achieve immediate success as they begin their pursuit of winning the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.

“When we picked the team we didn’t spend one minute looking at how many Test caps a player had or the number of debutants.  It was picked on performance over a sustained period of time and on how we want to play the game,” McKenzie said.

“The fact that five guys haven’t played a Test before isn’t a concern.  Everyone has to start from somewhere and we definitely haven’t picked them on one game. Rather, they are starting their Test careers off the back of consistently strong performances at a provincial level.

“The reality is that whether it’s in Super Rugby or the Test arena, all our guys have a lot of familiarity with who we are playing against.  I see that as a positive as we aren’t playing anyone we don’t already know a lot about.

“If you keep the contest in that space you will find that we’ve had success in all the head-to-head individual battles at some point and under different circumstances.

“So, if our guys do well against their individual opponent, than I think we’ve got a gameplan and a game style where we will be able to express ourselves and put the team in a good position to win.”

All five potential debutants have experienced unique journeys on their way to winning selection in the Qantas Wallabies line-up for Saturday night.

For Toomua, his selection has been four years in the making after the talented 23-year-old made the briefest of appearances for Australia in an uncapped midweek clash against the Cardiff Blues in 2009.

Toomua lasted just four minutes when a broken jaw ended his night prematurely, setting the tone for a frustrating next three seasons where he was limited to just 28 Super Rugby games heading into 2013.

Having enjoyed an injury-free preseason, Toomua has stepped up to the next level during the past year and was an integral member to both the Brumbies’ Super Rugby Finals Series success and also their historic midweek victory over The British & Irish Lions in June.

“We could have gone many different ways at flyhalf as we have a lot of good options there, but in the end we see some great tactical opportunities starting the game with Matt,” McKenzie said.

“It’s obvious that each of our playmaking options have different styles so it’s important that we’re looking to get the best out of their individual strengths at different stages of the game. 

“To his credit, Matt has had a really good season and he has been playing up until last week in a team that made the Super Rugby Final.  He’s done a lot of good things and there isn’t any reason he doesn’t deserve a go.”

While just 21 years of age, Sio flashed enormous potential in his second year of Super Rugby to earn a place on the Qantas Wallabies bench.

However his rapid rise has not come unexpectedly, with Sio continuing his family’s long Rugby tradition after father and prop Tevita ‘David’ Sio represented Samoa in the 1991 Rugby World Cup.

It will also be a special occasion for Sio and his family after the 116kg prop was initially named in the Qantas Wallabies squad to take on The British & Irish Lions only to miss out on matchday selection throughout the series.

Joining Sio on the bench is fellow 21-year-old youngster Tevita Kuridrani, who was a deserving winner of the ‘Most Outstanding Young Talent’ award at the Brumbies annual awards ceremony at the weekend.

Also in just his second year of Super Rugby, Kuridrani quickly solidified his place in the starting line-up with an emphasis on strong ball running highlighted when he scored the winning try in the Brumbies upset victory over the Bulls in the Super Rugby Semi-Final.

While Kuridrani just pips Sio as the youngest member of the potential debutants, it’s 29-year-old backrower Scott Fardy who sits at the other end of the spectrum.

It has been an unlikely journey for Fardy to Qantas Wallabies selection after he left Australia for Japanese club Kamaishi Seawaves in 2009 having never played a game of Super Rugby despite spending a season with the Western Force Academy in 2008.

However, after being forced to return to Australia when his village was wiped out by the 2011 tsunami, Fardy took up an Extended Playing Squad contract with the Brumbies only to be offered a fulltime contracted midway through the 2012 season.

He has taken massive strides since returning to Australia and has shown the ability to be equally productive as either a backrower or lock.

Scrumhalf Nic White has been waiting in the wings for a number of years to receive an opportunity for Australia after having sat on the bench for all three of the Qantas Wallabies wins over Wales last June before a shoulder injury ended any hopes of making a Test debut during the Spring Tour.

White returned to full health in 2013 but was overlooked for Australia’s recent series against The British & Irish Lions only to feature heavily in the Brumbies playoff run which ended just short of a dream finish in the Super Rugby Final.

Wallabies Team: 15. Jesse Mogg (ACT Brumbies), 14. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs), 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs), 12. Christian Leali’ifano (ACT Brumbies), 11. James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels), 10. Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies)*, 9. Will Genia (vc – Queensland Reds), 8. Ben Mowen (ACT Brumbies), 7. Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs), 6. Hugh McMeniman (Western Force), 5. James Horwill (c – Queensland Reds), 4. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds), 3. Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies), 2. Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies), 1. James Slipper (Queensland Reds). Replacements: 16. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds), 17. Scott Sio (ACT Brumbies)*, 18. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs), 19. Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies)*, 20. Liam Gill (Queensland Reds), 21. Nic White (ACT Brumbies)*, 22. Quade Cooper (Queensland Reds), 23. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies)*
*uncapped

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