All Blacks versus Springboks

There is more interest than usual in the test match this morning between the All Blacks and Springboks being played in Pretoria this morning.

The Springboks won the first of two Rugby Championship games between New Zealand and South Africa in Wellington last month (36-34). There is more pressure than usual for the All Blacks – if they lose then the Springboks will be unbeaten against them in 2018.

It is good to have a test with more interest at stake. One loss for the All Blacks is not uncommon but not a bad thing, but a second loss against the Springboks would be a major blow for them.

All Blacks lose to the Wallabies

The All Blacks have lost their second test of the season 23-18 (the also lost one to the British and Irish Lions), in the third of the year against the Wallabies, in Brisbane. The ABs had won easily in the first test in Sydney but only just came out in front in Dunedin a week later.

This was a ‘dead rubber’, the Bledisloe Cup had already been won for the season, but it will have (or should have been) a severe blow to All Black pride. But overall it shouldn’t do them any harm, being reminded of the hurt of losing can help drive teams to win.

It was a big win for the Aussies, who have been under a lot of pressure this year but are improving. Good on them.

This is obviously an excellent result for the Wallabies and for Australian rugby. It is also good for the game worldwide.

I didn’t watch the game so I won’t comment on specifics of the game. It was too late for me to be bothered going out and watching it, and I’m still refusing to pay Sky exorbitant amounts for single games and also won’t pay a subscription for a lot of crap I don’t want just to be able to watch what I do want to see.

I see that the All Black business is going to offer pay-per-view internationally for the tour of Europe, starting shortly. Sky will supply the feeds via streaming. I could be tempted, but at $24.95 a game that’s still a bit steep. The Maori All Black games are more reasonable at $14.95 but I’m not as interested in watching them – with so much rugby on these days I’m a lot more selective in what I watch.

All Blacks v Springboks

I’m glad I got up to watch the test between New Zealand and South Africa at Cape Town this morning. A classic match.

The ABs were relentless at times but made a lot of mistakes and failed to capitalise on their dominance. The teams were barely separated after a 50 minute first half.

Then the second half was absorbing. The Springboks started well and took the lead, and the lead kept changing from there. A couple of very good All Black tries, but the Springboks kept coming back. In the end a 25-24 scoreline was a fair enough reflection on how the game went, but it could easily have gone either way.

Commentators complained about the red card but I think that was the only option. A deliberate late charge with forearm contact to the head had to result in marching orders. It would always have been a yellow at least so it made no difference to the final outcome, apart from giving the All Blacks what turned out to be a crucial 3 points.

 

All Blacks v Springboks

It’s been a good year for rugby. First the Lions tour, drawn. Then Australia came very close to upsetting the All Blacks in Dunedin after a great come back from a poor first test.

Tonight the ABs get to test themselves against a resurgent Springbok team. This is the last home game of the year but it should be a good one.

It’s good to have a diversion from the election campaign.

All Blacks and Black Ferns

Last night in Dunedin the All Blacks had a shocking first 15 minutes with Australia scoring 3 tries, one within a minute of the kick off through an AB mistake and leading 17-0,

The All Blacks played their way back into the game and took the lead mid way through the second half. Australia snatched the lead back with a late try, but the AB responded with a superb try under pressure to win by 35-29.

It was a very good come back by Australia from their performance last week, and it was great to have an exciting game down to the wire.

Black Ferns

The Black Ferns are currently playing England in the final of the women’s world cup. England led 17-10 at half time.

England seem to be tiring and the Black Ferns have put the after burners on, to jump out to a 41-25 lead late in the second half.

A late try to England but it looks to be too late for them to come back now.

The Black Ferns have won 41-32!

An electrifying end to the match captured here:

Lions series result could have been much worse

Major sports results can swing on small things, like single refereeing decisions. That was the case in the 3rd and deciding All Blacks-Lions test.

There has been a lot of talk about the referee changing a penalty to a scrum in the last minutes, something he shouldn’t have done, perhaps denying the All Blacks a win (if the penalty shot had been successful).

The referee also denied a possible try by not allowing advantage to be played.

The All Blacks were within a whisker of a win, but a different decision could have easily swung the game and the series against them

The Telegraph: Ref Romain Poite could’ve avoided controversy by awarding Lions a penalty for Kieran Read’s challenge

To my mind there were three elements to the decision. The first was whether Kieran Read’s challenge in the air on Liam Williams was legal, and if a penalty should have been awarded to the Lions.

On the first question I disagree with the outcome that Romain and George reached in deciding that Read’s challenge was legal. I would argue that Williams had already taken the space in the air and that Read could not win possession from where he was, even with an outstretched arm.

That is a decision that could have been legitimately changed by video review. Read was lucky to get away with his challenge.

If the penalty had been reversed the Lions would have then kicked for touch and the line out with their throw in would likely have been in kicking range if the All Blacks had then given away a penalty.

We can lament a controversial decision denying the All Blacks a win, but it also saved them a much greater risk of a game and series loss.

Perhaps we should be thankful for the draw. It’s how things ended up anyway, and is now written into history.

 

Read sums up the 3rd test

All Black captain Kieran Read sums up the third test against the British and Irish Lions:

Referee Roman Poite had originally ruled that it was offside, but after consultation with the television match official downgraded his decision to an accidental offside.

“In my view it is a penalty and I think he ruled it correctly from the start,” Read told Sky Sports.

“I guess when you bring in replays, and everything, you will get different decisions.

It looked to me like the correct decision initially, and changing that decision will be much debated.

“That was not why we didn’t win the game, it was an accumulation of everything throughout the game.

“It was just one of those that goes against you and you have to deal with it.”

The penalty reversal was at a crucial time but it wasn’t a given that the penalty would have been successfully kicked (my first reaction to the penalty being warded was dread that it could be missed), and it was far from the only reason why the All Blacks didn’t win. They made mistakes right through the game that put them in a position where a single decision mattered.

Asked how he was feeling after the game, Read said: “Pretty hollow to be honest.

“You walk away with a draw, it doesn’t really mean much.

It felt a bit hollow for me as a spectator too. But relief it wasn’t a loss.

“I’ll look back on this in the future with a bit more pride, look back on the series as pretty well fought-out.

“Two teams couldn’t be split so that’s the way it goes.”

Meanwhile, Read, who was making his 100th appearance for the All Blacks, believes his side were just not accurate enough with their execution.

“There was a lot of endeavour and hard work from the boys, perhaps we were just trying too hard,” he added.

“We wanted to put in a great performance and it just didn’t click for us.

“Really proud of the lads, we stuck at it. It is hard to know what you’re feeling right now.”

The All Blacks weren’t accurate enough, partly due to pressure from the Lions, partly probably due to pressure of the game situation, and partly just poor execution.

But it was still a top game between two top sides, especially the first half.

The second half was dragged down by too many stoppages but it was still closely fought and tense.

The best team didn’t win – there wasn’t one. In the second and third tests little separated them, and regardless of discussion afterwards it will go down as a drawn game and a drawn series.

That result and the series generally will be good for the future of the Lions.

And it won’t do the All Blacks any harm. They win a lot but can be beaten and don’t always win big games.

 

Lions v All Blacks – 3rd test

LionsAllBlacks

Tonight’s 3rd test between the British and Irish Lions and the All Blacks is one of the biggest and most anticipated games of rugby for a long time outside the Rugby World Cup.

There’s something special about a closely contested series. It is 1-1 after two tests, so everything is riding on this game.

The winner is already rugby, and no matter who wins the game will have benefited a lot from this series.?

Who’s going to win? I have no idea, both teams start the game on 0-0, and it could easily go either way.

There could end up being one dominant team, or it could be close all the way and come down to one piece of brilliance or one bad mistake.

It’s great to have a game to watch that is so full of interest and uncertainty.

Of course I want the All Blacks to win, but if they turn out to be no good enough then so be it.—

The Lions have won the toss and will kick off at Eden Park.

Half time 12-6 to the All Blacks.

The Lions have played well at times but the ABs had the better of the first half that’s been full of action. Two very good tries, but a few missed chances as well through handling mistakes.

The Lions need to come out in the second half with new energy and lift themselves or they may struggle as fatigue sets in. They don’t look as committed as they were last week.

Still anyone’s game, but advantage at this stage to the All Blacks, both on the scoreboard and on dominance.

An odd second half, very stop start, mistakes from both sides.

Final score 15-15, a drawn series.

The All Blacks seemed to see it as a failure, the Lions saw it as a success.

One very contentious decision where it seems that a penalty (kickable) to the All Blacks was changed to a scrum after referring to the video ref – I didn’t think the video ref could be used for general play decisions like that, it still looked like a deliberate play so offside, but the ref ruled and the All Blacks didn’t finish off so the result stands.

Lions-All Blacks 3rd test teams

There is more anticipation for the third test and the British and Irish Lions and the All Blacks than I can remember for a long time outside the World Cup, and it’s getting right up there along side finals in interest.

The All Blacks team for the third test has been announced, with an unchanged forward pack and the selectors going for young prospects rather than experience in a couple of forced changes but Julian Savea replaces Riko Ioane. Jordy Barett has been named at fullback, and Ngani Laumape is at second five with Malakai Fekitoa in the reserves.

The match day 23 for the Test (with Test caps in brackets) is:
1. Joe Moody (27)
2. Codie Taylor (18)
3. Owen Franks (93)
4. Brodie Retallick (63)
5. Samuel Whitelock (87)
6. Jerome Kaino (80)
7. Sam Cane (43)
8. Kieran Read (99) – Captain
9. Aaron Smith (61)
10. Beauden Barrett (52)
11. Julian Savea (53)
12. Ngani Laumape (1)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (12)
14. Israel Dagg (64)
15. Jordie Barrett (1)
16. Nathan Harris (7)
17. Wyatt Crockett (61)
18. Charlie Faumuina (49)
19. Scott Barrett (7)
20. Ardie Savea (15)
21. TJ Perenara (32)
22. Aaron Cruden (49)
23. Malakai Fekitoa (23)

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said:

“Firstly, on behalf of the All Blacks and all of New Zealand, I’d like to congratulate ‘Reado’ (Kieran Read) on reaching the milestone of 100 Test matches.

It’s a special achievement to play just one Test, so to play 100 is a remarkable effort. His playing ability speaks for itself and inspires others, and he now joins a unique group of special All Blacks.

We’d also like to congratulate Jordie on making his first Test start in what will be a very memorable occasion for him.

“This final match in the DHL New Zealand Lions Series is going to be a cracker. It’s the Series we expected it to be, as the Lions have quality players. It now comes down to this Saturday – the winner takes all – and that’ll create its own unique pressures and it’s going to be interesting to see how both sides cope with it.

“We’ve had a good week of preparation and are very excited by the opportunity that’s ahead of us, and I’m sure the Lions are as well. We know it’ll be a physical and intense match, but just as importantly, it’ll be a game where both teams will have moments of momentum, and the ability of everyone to adapt and adjust throughout the 80 minutes will be crucial.”

1 News: Lions name unchanged team for third Test against All Blacks

That’s not surprising.

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has rewarded his victorious Test players by naming an unchanged team for their tour-ending showdown against the All Blacks.

Lions: Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Davies, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Toby Faletau, Sean O’Brien, Sam Warburton (c), Alun Wynn Jones, Maro Itoje, Tadgh Furlong, Jamie George, Mako Vunipoloa.

Reserves: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, CJ Stander, Rhys Webb, Ben Te’o, Jack Nowell.

I’m looking forward to Saturday night.

All Blacks v Lions – second test

The All Blacks beat the British and Irish Lions comfortably 30-15 last Saturday. The ABs out-thought and out-played the Lions.

The 2nd test kicks off in Wellington tonight. The ABs will be favourites, but it could still easily be closely fought and could go either way.

There are changes from last week.

All Blacks – minor changes to the team with Crotty and Ben Smith out injured, but hardly weakened if at all.

Lions – some significant changes to the team, trying to strengthen to forwards and more attacking in the backs.

Both will have learned from the first test and are likely to vary their tactics to try to outwit their opponents. Who does this best and adapts to the changes the other team brings best will gain an advantage.

Wellington – forecast to be wet and windy, so this will be an influence. It could be a leveller. Or one team could handle the conditions better – the ABs will have more local knowledge so could benefit from that, but they may not be able to play such a fast paced game so may be disadvantaged from that.

There could be a number of tries again, or it could be very tight like a World Cup final or Lions v Crusaders, in which case it could swing on one crucial mistake or one flash of brilliance.

For me again there is more anticipation than for the average test. Really looking forward to see how this plays out tonight.