Watch the best bits from this weekend’s Test matches
Summer Internationals Round-up: Weekend One
Away from the British & Irish Lions 2021 tour, there is plenty of international rugby taking place around the world.
England, Ireland and Wales all have a programme of July Tests while New Zealand are playing Pacific Islands teams and Australia host France in a three-Test series that kicks off next week.
Below is a round-up of the weekend’s results.
Summer Internationals Round-up
Leigh Halfpenny’s 100th Test appearance sadly lasted less than a minute as he suffered a serious knee injury early on against Canada.
Then the visitors caught Wales off-guard with a quick tap penalty that saw Kaiona Lloyd cross in the corner to give Canada a 5-0 lead.
It was one-way traffic after that, however. Wales scored six tries in the first half, Tomos Williams getting the first as he caught Canada out with a quick tap of his own.
The Canadians couldn’t cope with the tempo of Wales’ play and were off the pace defensively, falling off too many tackles, as James Botham, Jonah Holmes, Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee and Will Rowlands followed Williams over the line.
In the third quarter, Callum Sheedy put Williams away for his second try and Taine Basham marked his Test debut with a brace. First he crossed in the corner after a lovely wide pass from captain Jonathan Davies and then, just five minutes later, he was at the back of a driving maul to touch down.
The game petered out late on, the raft of substitutes probably leading to a fractured final quarter, but Canada did get a second try. Full-back Cooper Coats hit a great line following a close-range scrum after the visitors had seen two tries rightly ruled out by the TMO for knock-ons.
Holmes wrapped up proceedings with his second try in the 82nd minute while debutant Ben Carter, the lock, was named Player of the Match.
These two sides produced an entertaining match for the 3,000 fans allowed into the Aviva Stadium. Nine tries were scored in all – five by Ireland and four by Japan.
The high-tempo passing game that brought the Brave Blossoms such success at their own World Cup – they beat Ireland in the pool stages then – was again evident in Dublin as they caused the Irish defence problems with the speed and variety of their play.
The hosts looked somewhat rusty at times but their game management in the second half, particularly their kicking and set-piece, allowed them to close out a win.
Tries from Ireland centres Chris Farrell and Stuart McCloskey sandwiched a score from Japan captain Michael Leitch early on. Then Timothy Lafaele, who’d had a try ruled out for a forward pass earlier, linked with Siosaia Fifita to make the most of a Yu Tamura cross-field kick and cross for Japan’s second.
A Finlay Bealham try, converted by Joey Carbery, ensured Ireland had a two-point lead at the break, but it was Japan who struck first in the second half as another clever kick from Tamura bounced up for Fifita to cross.
Josh van der Flier and Jacob Stockdale scored in quick succession to put Ireland in front, Naoto Saito reduced the deficit for Japan, but a couple of Carbery penalties allowed Ireland to record the win.
New Zealand 102-0 Tonga
As expected, the All Blacks thumped a depleted Tonga side that featured nine debutants.
Will Jordan touched down five times, Brad Weber got a hat-trick and Dalton Papalii crossed for a brace while Damian McKenzie, Luke Jacobson, Richie Mo’unga, Rieko Ioane, Patrick Tuipulotu and George Bridge also contributed tries.
It’s hard to know what either team will have learnt from the encounter at Mount Smart Stadium.
The All Blacks now head into a two-Test series against Fiji, who will hopefully provide sterner opposition, while Tonga head into their two-legged Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifier against Samoa, who have been beaten 35-10 and 38-21 by the Maori All Blacks over the past two weekends.
England 43-29 USA
It was a disjointed affair for England on America’s Independence Day, but a debutant-filled host side managed to punch out a result against the USA – who deserve credit for outscoring their hosts in the second half.
There were 12 new caps for England, and a few flashes of action to catch the eye but there was some disruption too – Max Malins’s magnificent take from a kick-off led to the first try for the hosts, but then he went off with a shoulder injury. And Ollie Lawrence showed up well, even when shifting to the wing after Malins’s injury, and scored a try while opposite wing Mike Te’o hung off his short and showed his backside to all of Twickenham. However he too went off hurt.
England only picked two backs on their bench, which meant plenty of shuffling around unfamiliar roles. Still, when you can unleash Joe Cokanasiga and there are tries for three debutants (Marcus Smith, Harry Randall and Jamie Blamire) there is plenty to work on. And Lewis Ludlow was able to get a win on his debut, as captain.
The Eagles came out firing in the second half, too.
England scored through Underhill, Lawrence, Cokanasiga (twice), Blamire, Smith and Randall but it will be the US scored – by Fa’anana-Shultz, Dolan, Germishuys, Whiting – that stand out for fans across the Atlantic. What sort of impact will a performance like this have?
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