Rugby World Cup finals

On Friday night New Zealand beat Wales 40-17 to finish the Rugby World Cup with the bronze medals. The All Blacks played very well generally, bouncing back from their disappointing performance against a fired up and focussed England team in the semi-final. Wales played well at times, scoring two tries, but looked like they had run out of steam, and had lost some key players through injury.

Some of the players that missed out on the semi-final squad stepped up in their final game for the All Blacks, Ben Smith in particular who had been a surprise omission from the big games. And Sam Cane showed why he should have started the game last week. Selection mistakes may or may not have been costly against England – they played so well last week any All Bl;ack line-up would have struggled.

Last night in the final South Africa wore down England. It was a bit of a kick fest for most of the match, but they scored two very good tries in the last quarter with both wings touching down to win the final and their third world cup, beating England 32-12. They had an easier path through the play offs and had enough energy left.

England were warned they may have played their ‘final’ last week and that’s how it looked, they couldn’t lift themselves to the same heights last night. That’s not a surprise, near perfect performances usually don’t happen very often in any team sport.

England coach Eddie Jones was hailed as a hero last week, but couldn’t get his team over the final hurdle.

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus wins the plaudits this time, having turned a struggling team around in a year to take the big four yearly prize.

So congratulations to South Africa, who clearly deserved their win, and became the first team to lose a pool match and go on the win the final. The draw may have helped, but that’s sport.

Rugby World Cup semi finals

Big games for four teams in the Rugby World Cup in Japan this weekend.

Tonight (Saturday) at 9 pm (NZ time) England will play New Zealand. It will be broadcast live on TV1.

Obviously this could go either way. At their best the All Blacks will be very hard to beat, but if England get their tactics and execution right, minimise mistakes and keep the ABs under pressure they are a real chance. Both countries had very good wins in their quarter final matches, so this should be  very good game.

I’d like the ll Blacks to win, but if England are good enough on the day to beat them then good on them.

Tomorrow night at 10 pm (NZ time) South Africa play Wales.

It’s hard too predict how this game will go. South Africa lost their first pool game (against the All Blacks), and haven’t really been tested since then. Japan put up a real fight in the first half last week but couldn’t get over the line to score, and succumbed to the power of the Springboks in the second half.

Wales did well to beat Australia in their pool, but they didn’t play very well against France last week. A red card reduced France to 14, and Welsh tenacity got them the win, just.

Another game that could go either way. As it should be.

I’m looking forward to both games with anticipation.

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.

South Africa objects to Trump tweet

Another controversial Donald Trump tweet:

This has raised concerns in South Africa.

CNN: South Africa hits back at ‘unfortunate’ Trump tweet on land reform

On Thursday, the South African government said Trump’s tweet was “based on false information” and said it would call on the US Embassy to explain the President’s remarks.

“South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past,” the government tweeted. “South Africa will speed up the pace of land reform in a careful and inclusive manner that does not divide our nation.”

“Hysterical comments and statements do not assist in the process,” Khusela Diko, spokeswoman for President Cyril Ramaphosa, told CNN. “The majority of South Africans want to see land reform. The majority of our farmers, white and black want to be a part of this initiative.”

Land is a complex issue in South Africa. Racist policies of the past forcefully removed black and non-white South Africans from the land for white use.

There has been a land redistribution and restitution provision in the country’s constitution since South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994. The government has been criticized for not moving quickly enough to settle land disputes.

If Trump and the US have concerns over land reforms in South Africa tweeting about it seems a dumb way to raise the issue.

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.

Guptill v. South Africa

South Africa let loose in their last few overs to put up a challenging total of 279/8  in today’s one day game. Commentators called it a formidable total.

But Martin Guptill.

180 not out.

The fourth highest chasing score in a one day match ever, with the higher scores being 185, 183, 183.

A great innings, which ties the series with one game to go.

 

 

All Blacks dominant

The All Blacks have dominated the Springboks in their final Rugby Championship game, scoring seven tries in a second half rout and nine in the game to South Africa’s five penalties. The final score was a record high versus the ‘Boks, 57-12.

The All Blacks played very well but the Springboks were very disappointing. They did little but shovel the ball a bit and kick a lot.

The AB’s have dominated the whole Rugby Championship, winning all games and leaving South Africa, Australia and Argentina scrapping over the dregs.

With the latter two soon to play their final game the table already says it all, with none of the others getting half the AB’s points – in fact no matter what the result is there the All Blacks have clocked up as many or more table points than the other three teams combined.

rugbychampionship2016

With their dominance this year some games get boring but this game was well worth watching given the performance of the All Blacks, they played some fantastic rugby.

 

Two T20 triumphs

Both New Zealand teams won their final World t20 pool matches overnight and both have topped their pools in impressive style.

The New Zealand women’s team restricted South Africa to 99. Devine and Kasperek each took 3 wickets.

They then easily reached 100 in 14 and a half overs with the loss of only 3 wickets. Bates (29), Priest (28) and Devine (27 not out) all contributed.

Their semi final opponent won’t be decided until other pool matches are played.

And the Black Caps outplayed Bangladesh to complete a clean sweep of their pool. They batted well on a slow pitch to reach 145 for the loss of 8, with Williamson top scoring with 42. Munro also adapted to the conditions well to score 35.

They then restricted Bangladesh to a record low score of 70. Elliot and Sodhi each took three wickets.

England have just beaten Sri Lanki in the other men’s pool to secure second slot so will be the Black Cap’s opponent in the semi finals. South Africa have missed the cut with a game yet to play.

West Indies won Group 1. They will play the winner of India versus Australia.

 

Pistorious found guilty of murder

A South African court of appeal has overturned the verdict in the trial of Oscar Pistorious, upgrading the conviction to murder.

This doesn’t surprised me. It surprised me that the original verdict was just of manslaughter.

Firing multple shots into a bathroom knowing that someone was in there msut have been with the knowledge that it could kill someone.

Specific intent to kill is more difficult to determine but multiple shots suggest some degree of intent.

The big unanswered question is whether there was intent to harm or kill Reeva Steenkamp. This may remain unanswered.