A round-up of the home nations' Tests this weekend - stats, facts, quotes and photos
IN A NUTSHELL
England 28-31 South Africa
Another week, another narrow defeat for England. England were their own worst enemies in the first half, playing predictable rugby and kicking away too much ball. Owen Farrell opted to run the ball from deep inside his own 22, which resulted in a penalty for the Springboks, and then Jan Serfontein intercepted a Danny Care pass to score under the posts. An easy 10-0 lead for South Africa.
It was 13-6 at half-time, thanks to the boots of Farrell and Pat Lambie, but South Africa quickly extended the lead at the start of the second half. Lambie produced a sublime kick off the side of his boot, Willie le Roux collected, and offloaded to Cobus Reinach to touch down.
England hit back when Victor Matfield was sent to the sin bin with two tries from rolling mauls, David Wilson touching down the first, and Ben Morgan getting the second. The Boks were not to be outdone in the physicality stakes, though, and scored from a maul of their own through Schalk Burger. The boot of Lambie put them 31-23 up, and even a late try from Brad Barritt couldn’t save England from defeat.
If they are to beat Australia in their final game, they need to cut out the errors, and be more creative in attack.
Wales 17-13 Fiji
First-half tries from George North and Alex Cuthbert, plus a penalty try, gave Wales enough of a cushion to beat the touring islanders, but Fiji scored the only points of the second half, despite being down to 14 men. It was a frustrating, error-strewn day for Wales, but a win is a win!
North’s early try was a beauty, created when Rhys Priestland looped around Jamie Roberts before Scott Williams made a few more metres and gave the scoring pass.
The 61,326-crowd was cheering again with 20 minutes gone when Cuthbert scored his fourth try in consecutive Tests, but Fiji hit back with two penalties from Nemani Nadolo.
Loosehead Campese Ma’afu was sin-binned for joining a maul at the side before half-time and Wales were awarded a penalty try from the next maul to make it 17-6 at the break.
Ma’afu received a second yellow for driving through under the airborne Bradley Davies at a lineout after 52 minutes but Fiji created just as many scoring chances as Wales in the remaining time. Nadolo rewarded them with a breakaway try which he converted in the final minute.
A couple of overly long TMO decisions took the momentum out of the game as Wales had two potential tries ruled out, but full-back Liam Williams reignited proceedings time and again with his jinking runs and was deservedly named Man of the Match.
Scotland 16-24 New Zealand
It was a 28th defeat to the All Blacks for Scotland, but Vern Cotter’s side will be able to hold their heads high after pushing New Zealand all the way. Scotland have never beaten NZ, though they have drawn with them twice.
An early try through Victor Vito jangled Scottish nerves, before Tommy Seymour answered back and Greig Laidlaw’s conversion took the hosts to an early 7-5 lead. But despite a further two penalties from Laidlaw, three penalties from Dan Carter put the All Blacks in the lead at half-time, the score 10-14.
Captain Laidlaw took Scotland to within a point of the visitors with a penalty early in the second half, and Vern Cotter’s side’s defence withstood an onslaught of All Black attack, meaning it was the two kickers keeping the tallies ticking over. Scotland were still in touch, with a Laidlaw penalty taking the score to 16-17 in the 66th minute. However, a Jeremy Thrush try for the All Blacks in the 73rd minute, and Colin Slade’s subsequent conversion, sealed the victory.
Ireland 49-7 Georgia
Ireland made 13 changes from the team that beat South Africa last week, but after a stilted first half they scored six tries in the second to pull off a comfortable 49-7 win over Georgia. Part of Joe Schmidt’s remit is to improve Ireland’s strength in depth, and the new combinations all over the park showed their inexperience in the first half. Ireland had try-scoring opportunities, but Georgia’s defence held firm the under pressure. It was three penalties from Ian Madigan that took the score to 9-0 by half-time.
The second half was a different story as Ireland opened up, with Dave Kilcoyne the first to burst over the line in the 42nd minute. Richardt Strauss and Simon Zebo were next to cross, before Felix Jones dotted down twice in four minutes, followed by Stuart Olding in the 73rd minute. Georgia did exert pressure of their own, with lock Giorgi Nemsadze crossing the line in the 56th minute.
Ireland continued to use the maul as a successful weapon, winning 12 from 13 with one resulting in Strauss’s try, and their lineout also functioned well without Paul O’Connell – they won 19 and lost one. Ian Madigan kicked 19 points.
72 – the percentage of territory England had in the first half (they also had 65% possession), compared to South Africa’s 28%. The second half told a different story, as England had 49% compared to South Africa’s 51%.
224 – the number of metres Liam Williams ran. Wales made 607, compared to Fiji’s 479. Williams also beat 13 defenders.
127 – the number of tackles made by Scotland, compared to New Zealand’s 86. The home side also missed 16, where NZ missed 11. Richie Gray made 14 tackles – more than any other player – and missed none.
7 – the number of lineouts made by Ireland debutant Dave Foley, more than any other player. He also made five tackles and missed none, and ran 15 metres.
“In the first half, South Africa benefited from our errors rather than constructing anything themselves. It hurts to lose at Twickenham but we’re not going to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. I believe in the coaches and I believe in the players.” England coach Stuart Lancaster
“At 20-all it was a big test of character for the boys and the game could’ve gone either way. I really believe they (England) will have a great World Cup and hopefully we’ll see them in the final.” South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer
“We weren’t clinical enough behind. It ended up being a bit of a dog fight and there were too many turnovers.” Wales coach Warren Gatland