Almanac Rugby Union: Week 2 of Tier 1 North v South Tests plus Pacific Nations Cup



Pacific Nations Cup

Samoa 34 Tonga 18

Australia A 32 Fiji 18


Tier I Tests

All Blacks 12 Ireland 23

Wallabies 17 England 25

Springboks 12 Wales 13

Los Pumas 6 Scotland 29


The two games in the Pacific Nations Cup produced interesting results but it hardly seemed a portent for the dynamite news of the weekend. The northern interlopers were uniformly sublime in producing a clean sweep of the southern powerhouses. For the first time in 20 years, the European nations secured victories over their hosts in every Test on a single weekend.

Looking at the Pacific Nations Cup first, SAMOA met some resistance from TONGA but was in control for most of the match. AUSTRALIA A showed a lot more daring and far superior set pieces than they did last week. It was a well-deserved win over FIJI. The title is wide open but Fiji has to win next week for the Aussies to sneak home and snatch the silverware by beating hapless Tonga.

What a boilover in Dunedin! IRELAND had never beaten NEW ZEALAND in the Land of the Long White Cloud, but in this game, they were patient, disciplined and unrelenting. They dictated terms for most of the game and simply wouldn’t allow the All Blacks to bludgeon them the way they had in Auckland. It was a great victory and warmed the cockles of your humble scribe. It has certainly brought out the blarney in me.

In the Brisbane fortress, our boys were hoping they could continue the streak of ten consecutive wins. It was ENGLAND, however, who last tasted victory there and it was under Eddie Jones. Well, Eddie pulled another rabbit out of the hat. AUSTRALIA never got any rhythm and the English varied the tempo of the game to great effect. The four penalties slotted by Farrell in the first half showed that they would play the long game to get the win. That 19-point buffer before the Wallabies got on the board proved the difference.

Frustratingly, most of the post-match talk has been about the two yellow cards for deliberate knockdowns. Nonetheless, the Poms should be congratulated for clinical performance. Jones is a master tactician and should get plaudits for it rather than the bricbats so often hurled at him.

The upsets continued overnight Saturday. WALES beat SOUTH AFRICA at their own game. They played a game of inches and seizing key moments to upset any flow the Springboks sought. With the game grinding to an inevitable win for the World No 1 team, the Welsh produced a dazzling backline move to score the only try of the game in the corner with less than two minutes to go. An incredible conversion by Gareth Anscombe was enough to send the Red Army into delirium.

SCOTLAND was the most impressive of the quartet in their win over ARGENTINA. They were very good across all facets. Their execution of a play that seems a relic of the past was brilliant. Two tries under the posts were scored by simply having a back run a hard, straight line from an offload. That was once commonplace, so to see it used to such great effect was brilliant.

In the final weekend, we have deciders in all four South v North series and the potential for the second-string Wallabies to lift the PNC. While these games won’t garner anywhere near the coverage of the State of Origin finale, it will be a nice coda for sports fans to consider once they get over the highs or lows from Wednesday. Good thing my heart medication works so well.


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Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.


  1. A fascinating set of results, Brian – probably three underdogs getting up by my estimate. Wallabies ill-discipline made for catch up football but the horse had bolted. It is all good for the suits as they’ll get better crowd numbers in Sydney. Over the ditch, just imagine if the Irish get over the ABs again! How will you deal with that?

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