It was an early start for me on Saturday. Awoken by pain, not the kids, it started at 4.55 a.m. Yep, I’m not indestructible, I annoyingly suffer from arthritis, so when I wake the pain kicks in. No point trying to get back to sleep, better to get up, pop the pills and relax with the rugby on the box. Therefore I made my way downstairs, turned on the TV and was delighted to see Australia putting in a fine display against a plucky Fiji (final score 37 – 14). The day however wasn’t meant to start that early, as I had intended to wake at 8 a.m. and enjoy a slow breakfast, watching the Lions take on Crusaders, followed by a day resting up, watching Japan vs Romania online, then England vs Argentina in the early evening. #Bliss.
What I didn’t envisage, nor did my wife, was South Africa were also entertaining France, and the Irish would be taking on the USA…I really must check my rugby schedules better! A rugby packed day beckoned.
So here’s a quick round-up of the matches and results….
Once again Fiji showed glimpses of magic against an organised Aussie team. When you see Fiji play, it’s just like a 7’s match, massive runs, sublime off-loads and goose steps that even Campese would die for. The Aussies played well, however you do wonder if Fiji played a more structured game, would the result be even closer.
Gregor Townsend started off his Scotland managerial career with a win against Italy in Singapore and now head off to get some revenge against Australia in Sydney. Seeing how Scotland played and how Fiji caused Australia some issues in the backs, I think the anticipated game will be close…possibly even a sneaky Scot win could be on the cards.
Japan’s Michael Leitch scored a second-half try, helping his side beat Romania 33-21 on Saturday in a rugby test match. Romania had an early 6-0 lead with two long-range penalties from Florin Vlaicu. But Japan took control when Akihito Yamada sprinted over from 30 meters in the 12th minute and Kenki Fukuoka added another try 10 minutes later. The Brave Blossoms will certainly be pleased with not only the result, but their performance in such high humidity. Japan welcome Ireland later on in the rugby series, so this performance will have helped prepare players and kick in a winning mentality.
British Lions star Owen Farrell kicked three first-half penalties to give the Lions a 9-3 lead going into the break against a formidable Crusaders side. During the second period in Christchurch, Warren Gatland’s side produced a strong defensive display to keep out one of the most revered rugby teams on the planet while Farrell added another three points. Surely Sexton and Biggar must be thinking they now play 2nd and 3rd choice in the number 10 position. Most would of thought Sexton would be claiming the 10 spot, however with poor game time so far, Sexton has failed to impress and time is running out for him to switch on a winning performance. Farrell however has produced sublime kicking, tough tackling and some wonderful line runs. The more he plays, the more he looks so relaxed and the Lions look like a winning team. The key to playing great rugby is enjoying it..and Farrell’s loving his tour!
Finally, one more match to comment on, and what a match! Englands squad of young players mixed with more experienced heads, including uncapped 18 year old Tom Curry and 50 cap plus Danny Care, put in an amazing performance again against the Argentina. From the opening exchanges you could see the Puma’s were ready to make history this day and bloody Eddie Jones squad in San Juan. The matched flipped between the two teams, with Argentina going in at half team certainly more happy with their performance. Whether it was Eddie Jone’s calming team talk or a hair dryer moment, England came out in the second half much more focused and increased urgency. Once again the match was in the balance, especially after 2 tries from Argentia, caused by England Denny Solomona being in the wrong position and then missing key tackles. At 31 – 31 with only 4 minutes to go, it looked like it was heading for a draw until Argentina gave one last assault on the English line and came away with a drop goal.
Bizarrely, Argentina could have snatched the game with a last gasp penalty, whilst letting the clock run down, but the drop goal was the preferred option for the Puma’s, who then had to defend for 90 seconds to secure the win.
Step up Denny Solomona, who after what could only be described as the worst debut ever, managed to collect the ball at the half way line, bounce off a defending Puma, two wicked side steps and then off into space in 6th gear, running under the posts for a last second try, which Ford converted.
Denny…your try was superb and if you can score like that in every match you’ll be a legend in your lifetime!