A round-up of the home nations' Tests this weekend - stats, facts, quotes and photos
IN A NUTSHELL
Scotland 37-12 Tonga
A change of tactics at half-time allowed Scotland to take total control at Rugby Park and stretch away from 14-12 up to beat the Tongan tourists at a canter.
Two of Scotland’s five tries came in the first half, through Blair Cowan and Stuart Hogg, who ran the length of the pitch when Tonga spilled the ball in attack. But Tonga’s fly-half Latiume Fosita was able to keep the scoreboard ticking for his side as Scotland were penalised again and again for offences in the tackle area.
The home side were also making handling errors as they tried to play a wider game than in the last two weeks, so after half-time they tightened up, played mostly through Greig Laidlaw at No 9 and only opened up after a few phases. It worked a treat and Alex Dunbar, Geoff Cross and Tommy Seymour grabbed a try apiece, with Laidlaw converting one and kicking two second-half penalties.
Tonga’s scrum and lineout went totally to pieces in the second half, leaving them with no platform to play from and a lot of defending to do.
Scotland and London Irish openside Blair Cowan was named Man of the Match and the win leaves Scotland with two victories from their three November Tests and the satisfaction of avenging the 2012 loss to Tonga which cost former coach Andy Robinson his job.
Ireland 26-23 Australia
Ireland showed real steel to see off Australia at the Aviva Stadium after allowing the visitors back into the game from 17-0 ahead.
Two fine converted tries – a sumptuous crossfield kick for Simon Zebo and a blistering interception score from Tommy Bowe – and a single penalty kick gave them the hefty lead.
However, the Wallabies scratched their way back, and even took the lead. They drew ahead after two tries from a scintillating Nick Phipps, one which saw him break clear of any cover, and a pinball-score from Bernard Foley. Only one conversion sailed through, but the Aussies had the lead after Foley knocked over a penalty.
Sexton got a penalty of his own to level things before the break.
The second half was much closer, but while Foley could only manage one more three-pointer in the game, Sexton got two. Everything else fell to brave defending, with Ian Madigan making the decisive rearguard effort to ensure a famous last win of this series.
Wales 16-34 New Zealand
For 68 minutes Wales were well and truly in this match. New Zealand couldn’t find a way through the Welsh defence and the home side led 16-15, but in the last 11 minutes the All Blacks ran in three tries.
The first half was a nip-tuck affair, a penalty apiece from Leigh Halfpenny and Beauden Barrett the only points on the scoreboard. Wales dominated but had little to show for their efforts.
The second half was a different story, with two tries inside the first five minutes at either end of the pitch, Julian Savea and Rhys Webb scoring. Jerome Kaino got New Zealand’s second after 64 minutes but after Halfpenny slotted his third penalty the All Blacks showed their class.
Barrett delighted with a chip-and-collect, Kieran Read charged down a Mike Phillips clearance and Barrett rounded off the try-fest after another cross-field kick. The scoreline flattered New Zealand but if Wales are to end this southern hemisphere hoodoo they need to play at their best for more than 68 minutes.
England 28-9 Samoa
Without overwhelming or ever threatening to blow Samoa away, England did what they had to end their run of Test losses and get their first in the Autumn Internationals. It was disjointed at points, but an incredibly confident performance from George Ford and two Jonny May tries were the pick of the action.
It was one penalty apiece when England fortuitously claimed their first try. Jonny May scuttled in, despite Mike Brown giving what could have been interpreted as a forward pass – mind you the tackle put on Brown as he gave the pass could certainly have qualified for a card, as the full-back was lifted in the contact. Nevertheless, referee Jaco Peyper raised his hand for the try.
That was your lot for the first half, bar a few penalty kicks and misses. It took a fine England score from a Ford crossfield kick, with Watson taking, stepping in and giving Brown the ball. All he had to do was fall over the line.
Samoan centre Johnny Leota was yellow-carded for putting a big hit on Ford and with their man advantage, England drove the next lineout. The extra attacker in the backline told and the set managed to find May for his second, out wide.
Not a sunburst, not pretty, but three penalties and two conversions from Ford added gloss to this much-needed victory.
7 – Scotland stole seven of Tonga’s 18 lineouts. Scotland had 81% of second-half territory and 73% of second-half possession.
3 – the number of tries the All Blacks scored in the last thirteen minutes of their win over Wales. This despite both sides having identical 86% tackle success rates.
12 – the number of turnovers Australia conceded, half that of their opponents Ireland. They also conceded double the amount of penalties than Ireland, offending ten times while Ireland were only pinged five.
22 – the number of tackles England captain Chris Robshaw made in a game were England made 131 hits in total and no Samoan made more than six tackles themselves.
“I was delighted with the way we stuck at it. It’s a relief to know we can score tries (they got 11 in the three-match series) and we probably left a couple out there as well today. We are coached by a great man. Vern gives us a lot of confidence and the belief to go out and take control of these games.” Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw
“I’m just hoping to survive tonight.” Ireland coach Joe Schmidt on his side’s Six Nations hopes, just before he was rushed to hospital with appendicitis
“We’ve been there before. Even when they were ahead I didn’t think we were under the pump and I felt we just had to stick in there. We did that and once we got the try we were on top.” New Zealand captain Richie McCaw
“It’s a big responsibility to try and run a game and I think he did it well. He looked incisive in his line breaks, his eye for a gap, obviously he took the responsibility for kicking, took some hits and showed a great deal of bravery. I thought it was a really, really positive game for him. He’s put a real marker down for next week.” England coach Stuart Lancaster on George Ford