International rugby returned with weekend and it returned in style. The two big headers didn’t disappoint and there were tries across the board as Ireland showed that the Northern Hemisphere does have some spark and Australia put their challenge out to Europe to stop them. Wessex Scene will be rounding up each week’s load of action to keep you up to date on all the biggest matches this autumn.
Ireland 40 – 29 New Zealand
66,000 Americans turned out in a sunny Chicago for the biggest rugby event in USA history, and they saw something spectacular. Something which has not occurred for 111 years, dating back to the first time the fixture was played. Ireland successfully broke New Zealand’s 18 game winning streak and claimed their first win against the All Blacks in 29 attempts.
Some early indiscipline by New Zealand saw Sexton slot an easy penalty to put the men in green up 3-0 which must have definitely steadied some nerves. Almost immediately from the following kick-off, a crazy turn of events where CJ Stander managed to hit the ball with his face saw Moala gather to ball to cross the whitewash to bring the score to 5-3. At this point, many were seeing New Zealand taking this game easily, the Irish defence did not look up to the fast paced action of the southern hemisphere.
A yellow card for Moody gave the Irish a chance to reclaim the lead, which they did through Jordi Murphy who scored from a lineout, with Sexton’s conversion taking the score to 10-5. With two minutes left a man in the bin, the New Zealand defence was cut open by Kearney who was stopped down a metre short. Stander then showed immense strength to drive over to give Ireland a 10 point lead.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) November 5, 2016
Barrett and Sexton then exchange penalties and things settled down for a bit after the flurry of early tries.
But Ireland weren’t done, Murray’s show and go through the middle of the ruck, as he spotted a gap, gave him a straight run to the line to give Ireland a 25-8 lead going into half time. Irish fans were still feeling nervous though, as they could hardly forgot Dublin 2013, where New Zealand were trailing by 15 points but still managed to fight back and win the match in the 86th minute of the match.
At the start of the second, a well worked maul and then subsequent the two on one, as Sexton connected with Zebo, gave Ireland the crucial first score of the second half and in some style with that.
But New Zealand aren’t the world number 1 for nothing and they quickly responded, returning the favour within two minutes as Perenara showed his handling skills as he gathered an offload aimed about two metres behind him and crossed over the line. 30-15 with 30 minutes to go.
New Zealand continued to turn on the heat as they stole a lineout and use the entire width of the pitch as Smith dived for the line in the far corner, the TMO had to be called in and due to poor camera angles in the stadium no evidence could be found not to award the try.
Another Sexton penalty restores the lead to an 11 point gap, 33-22, but not for long as Devin Toner misses a tackle giving Scott Barrett a try on his debut, and at a crucial time. With Beadon Barrett’s conversion the All Blacks were back to within 4 points and with all the momentum.
But the comeback wasn’t to be as with a great play by Zebo, putting boot to ball into the opposing 22 and eventually forcing Savea off the pitch in the dead ball area, giving Ireland a 5 metre attacking scrum. Quick ball to Heaslip who ran the switch with Henshaw who got the score. Carbery, on his debut, gets the conversion and that’s the game! A 5 try victory for Ireland was something no one would have predicted.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) November 5, 2016
Ireland 40 – 29 New Zealand. It will be interesting to see if they can repeat this momentous achievement in two weeks when the sides face off again in Dublin.
Australia 32 – 8 Wales
On any other day, the Australia v Wales game would have been the headliner. It’s just such a testament to how the autumn internationals have started with a bang of fireworks that it wasn’t. At least the Welsh will be glad that Ireland took the attention of themselves as it was an absolute shocker for them.
Whether it was that Australia had just come from playing in the rugby championship or if Wales were just not awake, there was a huge gap in the intensity shown between the teams.
The Wallabies put up 20 points in the first half, which easily could have been double if they hadn’t butchered several golden opportunities and Foley had been more precise with the boot. Wales only managed a Leigh Halfpenny penalty to show for their efforts. Which frankly was more than they deserved, they were lacklustre, struggled for possession and had to scrap for any kind of territory.
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) November 5, 2016
The only positives the Welsh side could take from this match was that following a cynical early tackle by Dan Biggar and going down to fourteen men they didn’t concede any points, which couldn’t be said for when they were at full strength. Aside from that, Scott Williams had a flash of individual brilliance where he put the ball behind the Aussie defence with a smart kick and had the pace to gather and score.
For a side that has now lost 7 of 11 matches this year and has suffered their 12th defeat in a row to the men from down under, many wouldn’t be surprised by the result. It was just in the manner that it occurred, the crowd was silent throughout almost as if they couldn’t believe what they were seeing in this 32-8 defeat. Wales will next face Argentina on the 12th and the score line there could easily be the same if something drastic isn’t changed.
United States 7 – 54 Maori All Blacks
This score line is probably what most people were expecting, it’s a shame that the USA couldn’t get a few more points on the board but at least they got over the line once.
Japan 20 – 54 Argentina
— Los Pumas (@lospumas) November 5, 2016
A solid result for both sides, plenty of tries. Japan will be pleased to be able to put up 20 points on a world cup semi-final side while Argentina will be pleased to be heading to Cardiff with a bag full of tries already under their belt.
Barbarians 31 – 31 South Africa
A decent results for the invitational side that is the Barbarians, perhaps a sign that South Africa aren’t their best. Which could be a good sign for England as they aim for a perfect year with four fixtures left this autumn.