New Zealand 41 Tonga 10
The All Blacks have a weird quality about them that my in-law Matt once observed. Second tier teams such as Samoa, Tonga, Scotland, Ireland and Wales can all have competitive games against one another and against top tier sides such as England, Australia and South Africa but for some reason whenever they are pitted against the All Blacks, they are crushed in resounding fashion. It actually makes most All Black fixtures that aren’t against England, Australia or South Africa rather dull to watch since these games are usually over as a contest within the first twenty minutes. This game was no different with the ABs piling on the points quick and early. They unexpectedly stalled in the second half but who cares? I don’t think there was much you could read into it. Their goals in the group stage are probably to stay injury free and maybe see if they can hit triple digits against Japan.
Australia 32 Italy 6
Australia got off to a sputtering start in the tournament. They played in wet conditions at North Harbour stadium and looked rather ordinary in an error riddled first half that saw a few squandered try scoring opportunities and Quade Cooper missing a goal from right in front. They subbed on James O’Connor in the second half and shifted into another gear as the weather improved. They piled on four tries, secured the bonus point and found their form. Unfortunately it came at a heavy cost – Digby Ioane out with a broken thumb. It is crucial he return in the later stages of the tournament as the All Blacks cannot tackle him. Fingers crossed for a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.
The Minnows Step Up
There were several games in this tournament that were expected to be lopsided affairs which turned into anything but. Underdogs Romania, Japan, USA and Argentina all put on excellent performances and although none of the upsets eventuated, few people would have pegged that Argentina would be leading England late in the game or that Romania would be ahead of Scotland with ten minutes on the clock.
This presents the IRB with an interesting opportunity – there is a real chance here to expand the reach of the game beyond the traditional rugby playing nations. Unfortunately, when Argentina finished 3rd in 2007, the IRB failed to help Argentina continue their development into becoming a top class rugby nation – they played just 17 games in the next four years which is hardly ideal. What these underdog teams need is regular competition against similar quality or better opponents. Can the IRB deliver?
Why Are England So Goddamn Boring In Every Major Sports Tournament, I Swear To God
Doesn’t matter if its football, rugby, league or any other team sport. Trust good ol’ England to stink up the place with some dull and conversative tactics that disinterest viewers and sees them only barely scrape through to the next round. Zzzzzz….