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Review: Summer Tests don’t disappoint in thrilling weekend

Review: Summer Tests don’t disappoint in thrilling weekend

Kolisi vs Scotland

Week one of the summer Tests did not disappoint, as the precursor of the Autumn Nations Series saw the best of the northern hemisphere travel to the best of the southern hemisphere.

It all began on Friday night, as Italy travelled to Bucharest to take on Romania before Japan hosted France first thing on Saturday morning.

New Zealand and Ireland clashed in the first of three Test matches between the two giants, before England took on Australia in Perth.

And the action was not done there, with South Africa hosting Wales at the famous Loftus Versfeld Stadium, before Scotland visited Argentina in their first ever three Test series in Patagonia.

Italy win third game on the bounce in style 

Italy had already overcome Wales 22-21 in what was a famous Guinness Six Nations victory this year before beating Portugal 38-31 in the first of their summer Tests.

But there was nothing close about this one, as Italy eased to a comfortable 45-13 win in the Romanian capital to extend their winning run in style.

Centre Tommaso Menoncello led the fight with a brace of tries, while there were also tries from Tommasso Allan and Niccolo Cannone in the first half.

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Alessandro Garbisi, Marco Zanon and Giacomo Nicotera scored second half tries, as well as Menoncello’s second, to seal a first win in Romania since 1991.

They end their summer next weekend against Georgia.

France run away in second half 

France were made to work for their 42-23 win over Japan in Nagoya, as they scored four second-half tries to overcome the Brave Blossoms.

It was a an incredibly tight first half, which saw the sides head into the changing rooms at 13-13.

But France, led by Charles Ollivon for the first time in a year, showed their class in the second half and pushed their win streak up to nine – their best post-war winning streak.

Damian Penaud

Damian Penaud scored a try in each half, while there were also French second-half tries from Matthis Lebel, Yoram Moefana and Pierre Bourgarit, with Melvyn Jaminet scoring 17 points from the boot.

Japan scored two tries of their own through Tevita Tatafu, before Siosaia Fifita scored a consolation try late in the second half.

New Zealand too strong at Eden Park 

Ireland recorded a famous 29-20 victory in Dublin in November and had actually won three of the past five matches with the All Black, but they had never won in New Zealand.

That did not change at the weekend, as New Zealand’s outstanding record at Eden Park continued – winning 45 and drawing two Test matches there since their last defeat in 1994.

But it was Ireland who came flying out of the blocks, with experienced winger Keith Earls finishing off a well-worked Irish team try in the early stages.

The All Blacks were not rocked by this like in Dublin though, as they scored 28 unanswered first-half points to lead 28-5 at the break.

Tries from Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Quinn Tupaea and the first of two Ardie Savea tries saw New Zealand rush into what proved to be an unassailable lead.

Ireland did at least draw the second-half, with tries from Garry Ringrose and Bundee Aki both converted by Joey Carbery, while Savea scored his second try and Pita Gus Sowakula scored off the bench.

14-man Australia stun England 

It is a well-known fact that England had yet to lose a match under Eddie Jones against Australia, with their last defeat against the Wallabies coming in the humbling 33-13 Rugby World Cup loss in 2015.

And England’s last series down under saw them win 3-0 in 2016, as Jones and his men made their push for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

There will not to be a repeat of that result this time around though, as England laboured to a 30-28 defeat, despite their opponents being down to 14 men for more than half the match.

That was because second row Darcy Swain was sent off for a headbutt on Jonny Hill, who in turn saw yellow for pulling Swain’s hair.

It was an otherwise fairly uneventful first-half, with the sides heading in at 6-6, but Australia, who had already lost Quade Cooper in the warmup to injury, saw Tom Banks break his arm and prop Allan Alaalatoa leave the field with a head injury.

When England scored first in the second half through Ellis Genge it seemed inevitable

they would go on to win the match, but Australia never stopped fighting, and through replacements Jordan Petaia, Folau Fainga’a and Pete Samu, scored three tries in ten second half minutes to race into a 30-14 lead.

England scored two excellent consolation tries through debutants Henry Arundell and Jack Van Poortvliet, but it was not to be enough, and Australia took a 1-0 lead in the series.

South Africa leave it late to see off Wales  

Many people tipped this to be the most comfortable victory of the weekend, with South Africa as low as 1/16 with some bookies to win.

But Wales raced into a commanding lead – with winger Louis Rees-Zammit scoring two well-taken first-half tries which, combined with Dan Biggar’s boot, put the away side 18-3 ahead at half time.

South Africa were always going to come back though, and Wales were left with just 12-men on the field at one point, with the Springboks having too much power for the Welsh forward pack to cope with.

Bongi Mbonambi and his replacement Malcom Marx both scored from driving mauls, while Cheslin Kolbe and a penalty try saw South Africa into a 29-24 lead, with Rees-Zammit, Alun Wyn Jones and Rhys Carré all in the sin-bin at the same time.

Louis Rees-Zammit is tackled by Siya Kolisi

But that did not stop them from scoring an equalising try, with Dewi Lake popping over with a powerful leg drive after a maul broke up, and the scores level with a minute on the clock.

But Biggar was deemed to have deliberately knocked the ball on, which saw Damian Willemse knock over a winning penalty to the delight of the Springboks supporters, and the dismay of the travelling Welsh fans.

Argentina respond to Scottish fightback to sneak victory 

 And finally on a day of international rugby to remember, Argentina were able to hold on for an important 26-18 win over Scotland at the Estadio 23 de Agosto.

The Pumas led 18-6 at the break, with tries coming from Jerónimo de la Fuente and Santiago Carreras, as Scotland could only muster up two Blair Kinghorn penalties.

But they rallied incredibly, with quickfire tries from Mark Bennett and Rory Hutchinson, which saw Scotland pull level at 18-18.

In the end though, a try from replacement Gonzalo Bertranou and a penalty from Emiliano Boffelli saw Argentina to victory in the first Test.

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