Irish team win on New Zealand soil, as home unions rebound

Irish team win on New Zealand soil, as home unions rebound
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For the first time, fans witnessed an Irish team win on New Zealand soil, among a stack of results that showed the ‘home unions’ rebounding from past losses.

Ireland, England, Scotland, and then Wales all rebounded to defeat their Southern Hemisphere hosts, which also supported a new Number One ranked team ascending to the top of World Rugby’s rankings.

France can now claim to be the leading nation of the global game, with Ireland too shortening up odds only a year out from the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Good returns for the French team, who defeated Japan for the second week in a row, winning 15-20 in Tokyo. A somber match that held a minute’s silence for assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Yet after a day to forget for the Southern sides, France will have toasted their success and new status at top of the rugby world.

What surprised the most though, was the dominance displayed by Ireland, who outplayed and out-thought a New Zealand team bereft of counters to the early onslaught from the visitors, and then how to manage a volume of Yellow and Red cards, that provided more opportunity – which Ireland gladly accepted.

Irish team win on New Zealand soil, as home unions rebound

The second Test match of the series, it was played indoors at the Forsyth-Barr Stadium, in Dunedin. With winter conditions outside, under the covered ground the Irish men ran out hottest. Their captain Johnny Sexton had a hand in the early try, with a short pass seeing prop Andrew Porter cross the All Blacks line.

From there, a Yellow card to Leicester Fainga’anuku was followed by another to prop Ofa Tuungafasi. His replacement, Angus Ta’avao, was then involved in a sickening head clash with Gary Ringrose. The casualties were still laying on the field, as (by the rule of the Law) the All Black was summarily sent off the park for his actions. It removed any strategic comeback by the New Zealand team – even a 42nd-minute try to Beauden Barrett would see the home side get out of jail this time.

An intense first half, where Ireland claimed a mammoth 78% of territory, was followed by a well-managed second 40 minutes. The contrast in teams’ structure and the more calculated approach by Sexton and his men will be of concern to All Blacks fans. To be the first side to allow an Irish team to win is not a reputation many will wear easily. Captain Sam Cane will be under immense pressure on his role, as well as team chemistry as replacements seemed ill-equipped to correct the outcome.

What a difference a week makes. Ireland had the intent for the opening quarter of last week’s game, and their tactics worked for the entirety this week. Sustained pressure made New Zealand react poorly. Some have pointed out ‘it could have been worse’ and a penalty try would have turned the screws on the All Blacks even more. Yet there is no argument, the better team won well, and will head to Wellington with history to make once again.

All Blacks 12 – Tries: Beauden Barrett, Will Jordan; Conversion: Jordie Barrett

Ireland 23 – Tries: Andrew Porter (2); Cons: Johnny Sexton (2); Pens: Sexton (3)

Over the Tasman, the English team had similar projections – as did Wales in South Africa, and Scotland in Argentina.

England bounce back to beat the Wallabies in Brisbane

With the boot of Owen Farrell on target, the England team held their nerve to withstand Wallabies’ pressure, 17-25. Displaying the calm and collected authority not seen in a few years, the Eddie Jones-coached side took any and all advantage from the 16 penalties Australia conceded. Farrell accepted the responsibility and holding the Aussie men down rattled the hosts’ game plan.

Even when the ‘Tongan Thor’ Taniela Tupou crossed for his try, the halftime score of 7-19 reflected the strong position England were in. Not helped by injuries to several key players, Australia mounted the comeback, and unlike New Zealand, came close but a total of 12 turnovers showed how poor ball control will cost any Test side. A forward pass removed their last hopes of recovering the lead, as Farrell booted his team out to an eight-point win.

The series-leveling win must boost the morale of a dogged England group. The traveling squad can now focus on one last performance to fend off the questions that had been so prevalent when they flew down to Perth a fortnight ago. A good performance in Sydney will repell those questions, and give Eddie Jones some respite, as he hopes to show that his style and management are still the right fit for England Rugby.

Read Charlie Inglefield’s assessment of the Australia v England test match here.

History also made in South Africa with Wales win over Springboks

With Scotland also securing victory in Salta against Los Pumas, the flow of results in the home nations favour needed only one more outcome to completely reverse last weekend’s losses. So the pressure was on the Welsh to right the wrongs from their first-up, last minute loss to the World Champions.

Yet for all the pre-Series confidence shown by Siya Kilosi and his men, they were never at any sort of peak performance. And Wales knew that if they formed up, and held on for long enough periods, the Springbok lines could be overcome. And so it was – mind you, it took a good 77 minutes, before a good backline move saw Josh Adams cross for the only try of the game. This was followed up by a game winning sideline conversion from Gareth Anscombe.

South African fans will be livid at how aimless so much of their sid’s attack was. Now faced with needing to save the series, where once they believed the home nations would not trouble their team. They, like so many others across the Southern hemisphere this weekend, were proved wrong. In New Zealand, they underestimated their opposition that allowed an Irish team win. The circumstances and a dogged Irish defensive line swamped the shell-shocked All Blacks.

Now each of the four International Test Series are delicately poised. Few would have imagined such a scenario. The odds would be hair raising of this, as will the ramifications for any team not turning up on Saturday July 16 with anything less than their best, they will lose more than just a game. It might have repercussions that impact players and team’s management for the near term, as much as hopes for 2023 in France.

 

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