All the details you need about the home nations' Tests this weekend – facts and stats, photos and quotes
IN A NUTSHELL
England 21-24 New Zealand
The All Blacks made it five wins from five against England, their composure in the second half delivering two tries, for Richie McCaw and Charlie Faumuina. Jonny May had provided the opening spark, gliding around Conrad Smith and using his pace to beat Israel Dagg for the opening try inside four minutes, and England looked to attack wide out early on. Aaron Cruden scored New Zealand’s first try – although there were question marks over whether he grounded the ball on the line – but Owen Farrell’s boot gave England a 14-11 half-time lead.
In the second half, however, they reverted to a more kick-based game – and it simply wasn’t accurate enough. Too often the ball fell straight into the hands of the All Blacks back three and England then struggled to win back possession. England also couldn’t capitalise on the one-man advantage that resulted from Dane Coles sin-binning. In fact, New Zealand won that period 3-0. England did get a late penalty try from a 5m scrum, but the All Blacks held on for yet another victory.
Wales 28-33 Australia
A crowd of 55,000 were treated to an entertaining contest, with six first-half tries making it 21-21 at the break – the highest scoring half in Cardiff since 2004. Rhys Webb crossed first after only three minutes, giving a quick show and go to skip in under the posts, then Michael Hooper offloaded to Israel Folau, who gleefully cantered in under the sticks. Folau got his second when he read a Webb pass, intercepted and raced 80 metres to score, but George North then beat some flimsy Wallaby tackling to put Alex Cuthbert away. Tevita Kuridrani scored Australia’s third before Alun Wyn Jones powered over from close range.
After the break, it was a cagier affair, with two Bernard Foley penalties putting Australia 27-21 in front. But Wales weren’t finished and on 66 minutes, after five scrum penalties, Craig Joubert awarded a penalty try. Rhys Priestland added the conversion to put Wales 28-27 up. From there it was a familiar pattern for Wales. Foley dropped a goal on 72 minutes and finished the job with two minutes to go with a penalty. It was Wales’ tenth straight loss to Australia.
Ireland 29-15 South Africa
It was a low-scoring first half in Dublin, Johnny Sexton – a current Rugby World cover star – slotting two penalties and Handre Pollard one to make it 6-3 to Ireland at the break. Early in the second half, Rhys Ruddock – a late replacement in the Ireland team after illness ruled out Chris Henry – scored a crucial try from close range, Sexton’s conversion putting Ireland 13-3 ahead.
Marcell Coetzee then crossed to cut that lead but Sexton’s boot ensured Joe Schmidt’s side, who continually put the pressure on South Africa’s half-backs, stayed in front. Then came the moment that sealed the win for Ireland, Conor Murray kicking cross field for Tommy Bowe, who collected the ball and dotted down over the line. JP Pietersen touched down late on but it was merely a consolation for the world’s No 2 side. Sexton was Man of the Match and Schmidt is sure to be delighted by such a performance given the number of key players who are sidelined by injury.
Scotland 41-31 Argentina
It was a try fest at Murrayfield with nine being awarded in total – five for Scotland and four for Argentina. It was the first time Vern Cotter had taken charge of Scotland for a Test on home soil and the coach would not have been happy with the start, Javier Ortega Desio touching down inside two minutes. However, Scotland recovered and led 24-10 at half-time thanks to tries from each of the Gray brothers, Richie and Jonny, as well as another from winger Sean Maitland.
Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour both crossed in the second half to ensure the starting back three all got their names on the scoresheet. Things did not all go Scotland’s way in the second period, however, as Argentina were awarded a penalty try and replacement scrum-half Tomas Cubelli scored a brace.
Still, Cotter will be pleased to have the confidence a win brings ahead of next weekend’s meeting against his countrymen from New Zealand.
446 – The number of metres made by New Zealand – more than twice as many as England managed (204). Every member of New Zealand’s back-line hit double figures whereas only three England backs did – Mike Brown, Jonny May and Danny Care.
18 – The number of tackles Wales flanker Dan Lydiate made against Australia, the most by any player at the Millennium Stadium. Taulupe Faletau and Jamie Roberts were next, both with 17.
38 – The territory percentage Ireland had against South Africa. They also had less possession (43%), made fewer passes and runs but still won the game. Conceding 20 turnovers probably didn’t help the Springboks’ cause.
96 – Scotland’s tackling success rate against the Pumas. They made 132 tackles and missed just five, while Argentina missed ten.
“We don’t feel we’re far away. We’ll keep our confidence and the direction in which we’re going” England coach Stuart Lancaster
“When we face them in the World Cup we think it’s going to be a different beast; a different animal is going to be facing them in that pool game” Wales coach Warren Gatland
“It’s a massive win. To get it against one of the big southern hemisphere teams is massive for us” Ireland captain Paul O’Connell
“We caused a stubborn Argentina side a lot of problems. It gives us something to work on going into a big Test next week” Scotland lock Richie Gray