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Power Rankings after Round 1 of the Autumn Nations Series

Power Rankings after Round 1 of the Autumn Nations Series

power rankings

Round 1 is in the books and now that we have seen every team in action, the Autumn Nations Series Power Rankings are starting to take shape.

The top of the list was always going to come down to what happened in Dublin, with Ireland’s win over South Africa underlining their status as the team to beat, while the other two games that went down to the wire went the way of France and Argentina.

Elsewhere, Italy and New Zealand laid down markers, and move up as a result, while Scotland’s win over Fiji was not quite as comprehensive as they might have hoped.

Anyway, without further ado, here are our power rankings after Round 1.

Don’t agree? Then let us know on the Autumn Nations Series social channels!

1. Ireland

We spoke last week about what a test South Africa would pose Ireland, and for 40 minutes, it felt like the Springboks might just have too much power.

At times in the first half in Dublin, Ireland were hanging on, but that is one of their strengths under Andy Farrell.

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When they did get an opportunity, they took it, with two tries in three minutes, including Josh van der Flier’s score from a rolling maul, while largely shutting down the Springboks’ driving lineout.

They are still officially top of the world rankings, and after that win, they lead our power rankings too!

2. France

But for some Damian Penaud magic, France might have taken a tumble down these rankings, but even after a scare against Australia, it is hard to justify dropping them from second spot.

Les Bleus have now won 11 Tests in a row, an all-time record, and showed that they can win when not at their best in edging out the Wallabies 30-29.

There are concerns about injuries up front, and South Africa will certainly look to take advantage of the absence of Paul Willemse.

And yet, even after a game where their half-backs were not at their best, France found a way to win. Roll on Marseille.

3. New Zealand (+1)

There were slight concerns at New Zealand letting a 17-0 lead get pegged back, having suffered a similar fate to Japan last weekend.

But against Wales, the All Blacks scored almost immediately, every time Wales got back to within a score, and ended up with their highest-ever points tally against Wales in Cardiff.

That is now five wins in a row, and while the run at the start of the year means that this time does not quite have the fear factor of New Zealand teams of old, they are starting to find their groove.

Oh, and in Ardie Savea, they have a player who can literally do it all.

4. South Africa (-1)

With a more accurate goal-kicker, South Africa might have jumped to the top of this list, rather than dropping a spot to fourth.

But goal-kicking is a key part of the game, and they were found wanting in that respect at the Aviva Stadium as Damian Willemse and Cheslin Kolbe struggled from the tee.

The questions over the fly-half position remain in the absence of Handre Pollard, although the return of Faf de Klerk and, in particular, Willie le Roux, to the starting line-up against France should make Willemse’s job much easier.

The challenges, on the other hand, keep coming for the Springboks.

5. Argentina (+2)

Is this is a little premature? Perhaps, after all, Argentina could easily have come out on the wrong side of that clash with England.

And yet, it only feels right to reward a second-ever win at Twickenham for Los Pumas, for whom Emiliano Boffelli is such a weapon from the kicking tee.

Emiliano Boffelli stats

That is a series win over Scotland, a first-ever win in New Zealand and a victory at Twickenham in the space of a calendar year. Not bad going for Michael Cheika and his squad!

6. England (-1)

Yet again, England were beaten in their opening match of an international window, as was the case in the summer in Australia and in each of their past two Guinness Six Nations campaigns.

The first outing of Smith-Farrell-Tuilagi in the 10-12-13 shirts brought a lot of expectation, but may need a bit more time to really click.

Next up is Japan, and having lost to one 2023 pool opponent, England will be absolutely desperate to ensure they do not repeat the trick.

On the positive side, it was nice to see Joe Cokanasiga produce his best international performance in a long time.

7. Australia (-1)

Dropping a spot in the rankings is not a reflection of Australia’s performance, but more a reward for Argentina’s efforts at Twickenham.

The Wallabies could and probably should have beaten France in Paris, but as they admitted afterwards, that might have evened out the narrow win in Edinburgh the week before.

While they will not score tries like the one Lalakai Foketi finished off every week, there were some areas on which they can certainly build.

The period of the second half when they were able to build phase after phase as Will Skelton, Taniela Tupou and Rob Valetini kept punching holes in the defence, was the sort of attack that no team can hold out forever.

A big test in Italy this weekend.

8. Scotland (+1)

If Australia’s fall was not a reflection of their performance, you can say the same about Scotland’s rise.

Yes, they were comfortable winners in the end against Fiji, but if Vern Cotter’s side had been a little more clinical during Stuart Hogg’s sin-binning period, this could have been very tight.

The scrum held up well, and Scotland took a few chances that came their way, but there is still a little bit of confusion about what they are trying to do.

We will know a lot more about them after Sunday’s clash with New Zealand.

9. Italy (+3)

Our biggest risers and justifiably so after Italy put Samoa to the sword in Padua.

Even without Ange Capuozzo and Edoardo Padovani, Italy’s back three did a lot of damage in a 49-17 win, with two tries apiece for Pierre Bruno and Monty Ioane.

Just as pleasing was how half-back duo Stephen Varney and Paolo Garbisi got on, while a word for Lorenzo Cannone after a brilliant debut at No.8.

10. Wales (-2)

Wales showed a lot of spirit to come back into their clash with New Zealand three times after letting the All Blacks open up big leads.

Still, it is hard to take too many positives from a game in which you conceded eight tries and shipped a half-century of points.

There is something about the All Blacks in Cardiff which they are struggling with at the moment, but Wales need to turn things around and fast.

Argentina looked mighty impressive at Twickenham and will fancy their chances of another win at Principality Stadium.

11. Georgia

Not in Autumn Nations Series action, but Georgia picked up a handy win on Sunday against Uruguay, with Beka Gorgadze grabbing a first-half hat-trick.

Samoa in Tbilisi this weekend will be another must-win match for the Lelos before they head to Cardiff in a fortnight.

12. Japan (+1)

A week off from the impressive performance against New Zealand, and now Japan will get the chance to take on England with two weeks’ preparation.

The last time the sides met in 2018, the Brave Blossoms really troubled their hosts, and caused a few English players to be cast into the international wilderness.

With narrow defeats to France and New Zealand in their last two games, can Japan spring a shock this time around?

13. Fiji (+1)

What to make of Fiji in Scotland?

They recovered from going a try down early on and really seized control of the match for period in the first half.

Power rankings

And yet they looked uncharacteristically short of ideas when they had successive five-metre scrums against 14 men. When you have so many players who can beat a man one-on-one, that should be a dream scenario.

On the plus side, the Vilimoni Botitu experiment at ten looks like a winner. It might be asking a lot to earn a win in Dublin though.

14. Samoa (-4)

Unquestionably, the most underwhelming performance of the weekend came from Samoa, who had looked so good this summer but were overrun by Italy.

While it was tight for the opening 20 minutes, when the Azzurri hit the front, they never looked back.

That will be a concern for Seilala Mapusua, whose team now travel to Georgia before taking on Romania.

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