Final Matches for Six nations Touring Sides
Saturday saw the final round of fixtures between the might of the Tri-Nations and the northern hemisphere rugby sides who came down for the winter. Rounds one and two had gone to the southern hemisphere sides, with Wales and Ireland making strong showings in their second fixtures against Australia and New Zealand respectively. Although beaten, Wales narrowed the gap to two points and Ireland looked for all the world like they would pull off a win, only to go down 22-19. England let themselves and the Six Nations down, going down 36-27 after looking strong in their first test in South Africa.
Week three started with Australia and Wales playing a daytime fixture. Once again it was a hard fought battle. Kurtley Beale made a come back for the Wallabies with Adam Ashley Cooper moving from full back to the wing, to make way. But it was not a successful comeback with Beale making several mistakes and handling errors. The result was determined by the boot with Barnes converting five penalties for Australia, while Halfpenny picked up four for Wales. Both sides only managed a single try, with defence being strong from both sides throughout the match. Wales bore the brunt losing captain Sam Warburton, Prop Gethin Jenkins and number eight Toby Faletau to injuries. It was Feletau’s replacement, Ryan Jones, who was first to cross the line. He crashed over under the posts following strong charges from Mike Phillips and Cuthbert. But Australia replied almost immediately with Horne scoring in the corner for his second try in a week, after the Wallaby backs created an overlap. Wales paid the price for indiscipline, losing by the narrowest of margins 20-19 due to the accuracy of Berrick Barnes’s kicking.
Wales have never beaten the Wallabies on Australian soil and believed that they had the troops for it this tour. They came as close as they ever have, but get a chance at revenge when they face the Wallabies in Cardiff in the northern autumn tests.
Evening in New Zealand saw Ireland face the All Blacks again, in what was effectively a dead rubber. But they were expected to play for their pride and with some confidence, after their efforts the previous week in Christchurch. Unfortunately none of that materialised. The Kiwis scored first and continued to score prolifically throughout the match. New Zealand were already 21-0 ahead after 19 minutes. Even without talisman fly half, Dan Carter and losing his replacement Aaron Cruden after 25 minutes to injury, the All Blacks ran in 9 ties, four in the first half and five in the second. Flanker Sam Cane and centre Sonny Bill Williams scored two each, with Ben Smith, Gear, Messam, Dagg and Thompson getting the others. Kicking was shared between Cruden, Dagg and Barrett adding six conversions and a penalty. The final score was 60-0 to the All Blacks, the biggest losing score between the sides. Irish skipper Brian O’Driscoll was the master of understatement when he described the defeat as “a bit embarrassing”.
So, much later in the day, but still daylight in South Africa, England took to the field to try to spare the blushes of the Northern Hemisphere sides. England scored early, via a quick tap penalty from Danny Care, giving them an 8-3 lead. But the reliable boot of Morne Steyn saw the home side going in 9-8 ahead at half time. But on this day Steyn was not on his normal form, missing three kicks out of six and also failing with a drop-goal. A Farrell penalty put England back in the lead early in the second half. Farrell had replaced Toby Flood early in the game, after he went down injured. But JP Pietersen soon put the hosts back in front 14-11 after the South Africans created an overlap. The score remained the same until the closing stages, when the England pack were awarded a penalty after a strong scrum. Farrell converted and the scores were even. Both sides had further chances to score, but Steyn sent a drop goal well wide and Farrell missed another difficult penalty. England escaped with a draw to avoid a total whitewash.
By Max Power