Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are all on tour in the Northern Hemisphere and all of them had wins against Wales, England and Ireland respectively last weekend.
Australia struggled badly against the Welsh scrum, but their backline was too good for the home side. Australia scored three tries to one, in a 25-16 victory with the majority of the Welsh points coming from the boot of Stephan Jones. David Pocock scored an early Try for Australia, but they were unable to amass the early points count that they did in many of this years Tri-Nations clashes. Jones converted two penalties to keep Wales in contention at 6-7 at half time. O’Connor and man of the match Beale combined brilliantly for the second try, which O’Connor converted. Beale almost made it two when he collected his own chip over the Welsh defence and then grubbered past full back Hook only to spill the ball as he went over the line. O’Connor also set up Australia’s third try, he released prop Alexander, when he probably could have scored himself. But I am sure the prop was grateful for his first test try. Wales scored a consolation Try after three penalties 5 metres from the Australian line for scrum infringements. But O’Connor sealed the victory with another penalty for Australia.
Australia’s opponents this coming weekend, England, made a good show of themselves in a 10 point loss to the All Blacks. New Zealand went ahead by two converted tries from Hosea Gear and Kieran Read. Then two penalties apiece for Toby Flood and Dan Carter brought the score to 20-6 to the Kiwis at half time. The New Zealand side featured former Rugby League star Sonny Bill Williamson making his debut as an All Black and he was involved in the set up of their first try. Williamson bulldozed through the England midfield and offloaded to Jerome Kaino who sent out a long pass to Gear to go over in the corner. England’s only try came from replacement Hooker Hartley, who burrowed over the line, with a suspicion of a double movement, to score the first try that New Zealand have conceded in their last three tours to Europe. England will be comforted by their strength in the scrums and the fact that they fought all the way to the end. They will certainly be handful when Australia visit Twickenham on Saturday.
South Africa had the narrowest victory of the Southern Hemisphere sides, defeating Ireland by only 2 points. Both sides scored two tries and three penalties with only a missed conversion by O’Gara separating the sides.
This weekend sees Australia meet England at Twickenham, New Zealand face Scotland and South Africa journey to Cardiff to meet Wales. In other games France face Fiji, Ireland host Samoa and Argentina’s Pumas make the trip to Italy.
By Max Power