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RWC 2023 Round Up: 25th September

RWC 2023 Round Up: 25th September - Absolute Rugby

Matthew Buckland |

With massive results that will set up the knockout stages of the tournament, the Rugby World Cup has produced another incredible weekend of games. So let’s take a look back at the weekend of rugby we have just seen.

Argentina keep their quarter-final hopes alive

The weekend began with a huge game between Argentina and Samoa. Both teams looked to keep their quarter-final hopes alive, with England seemingly having the top spot in Pool D secure.

It was a pretty awful start for Samoa, with Duncan Paia’aua being sent to the sin bin within 30 seconds for making contact with a player in the air. Argentina took advantage of the man advantage, finding space on the outside for Emiliano Boffelli to score the first try of the game.

Boffelli’s goal kicking extended Argentina’s lead to ten points before the two teams traded penalties going into the half. In the firs thirty minutes of the second half, a single Boffelli penalty was the only score. But Samoan pressure finally got through as Sama Malolo powered over the line to close the gap.

With Michael Cheika’s side holding just a one score lead, the final five minutes of the game were set to be very close. But Samoa were not able to get a huge amount of the ball, giving away a penalty around the halfway line that allowed Argentina to extend their lead and put the game away.

While it was not the bonus point win Argentina were looking for, they will be happy to have beaten Samoa and prevented them from getting a losing bonus point. The race for the second spot in the group still remains very open.

Both Samoa and Argentina now have to make sure they get big results against Japan, as all three of those teams could still make it to the knockout stages of the tournament.

Portugal come incredibly close to winning their first Rugby World Cup game

Considering their excellent performance against Wales, Portugal’s game against Georgia was expected to be a close one. Well in the first half, Georgia showed that they were the more physical team. Able to get over the gain line with ease, it took just one minute for a brilliant line break from Davit Niniashvili led to Akaki Tabutsadze scoring the first try of the game.

Georgia were able to consistently win penalties and took the points when they could, racking up a thirteen-point lead. But their wasted chances in the Portuguese 22 were punished when Raffaele Storti scored a spectacular solo try cut the deficit.

A couple of penalties meant the game was incredibly close when Storti cut through the Georgian defence again and scored his second try of the game. With a five-point lead with twenty minutes to go, some exceptional defence was needed from Portugal.

They were consistently able to disrupt the Georgian set piece. That was until the 79th minute when the TMO awarded Tengizi Zamtaradze the game tying try in the corner. With the conversion missed, Portugal had to do something special from the kick off.

Well that is exactly what they did. A phenomenal turnover from the restart meant had the kick to win it. Sousa Guedes had the chance to make history, but he pulled his kick wide and the game ended an 18-18 draw.

It is still a phenomenal result for Portugal. This is a Georgian team with some huge wins over the last 18 months that many people were expecting to be dark horses for the knockout stages. Considering this is just their second appearance at a Rugby World Cup, Portugal can be proud of their performance to date.

For Georgia, this result means that a trip to the quarterfinals is almost impossible. They would now need to beat Fiji and Wales in successive weeks to have any chance of a miraculous quarter-final place.

England rampage past Chile

It has not been the start to the Rugby World Cup that Chile were hoping for. They might have started well in their opening two games but were still on the wrong end of some one-sided defeats. They were up against a massive challenge in England on Saturday.

For the first twenty minutes, Chile were able to meet that challenge. They forced England into some early mistakes, as well as being able to put together some attack of their own. But at the twenty minutes mark, Henry Arundell opened the scoring with a try in the corner.

From that point onwards, the floodgates really opened. Theo Dan scored from a driving maul just a few minutes later. Arundell had his second within the first 30 minutes and England secured the bonus point inside the first half with Bevan Rodd dotting the ball down over the line.

Just before half time, Marcus Smith went on a brilliant solo run to score England’s fifth try of the first half. With Chile having a man in the sin bin, England took advantage and added two more tries quickly after half time. Henry Arundell secured his hattrick with the second of those tries.

He added his fourth and fifth quickly after, meaning that the 20-year-old equalled the record for the most tries scored by an England player in a test match and put him top of the tournament’s try scoring standings.

Tries from Marcus Smith and Jack Willis meant that England finished up the game 71-0 winners, scoring eleven tries in total. It was exactly the sort of performance England were looking for, with no major injuries or suspension concerns moving forwards. They had a few different players contribute throughout.

It is another disappointing result for Chile after they started out so strongly. With just one game left in the tournament, Chile need to improve throughout the rest of the game If they want to get some more points on the board.

Ireland hold off the Springboks

Not only was this game the best of the weekend, but it was arguably the most important game in the pool stage of the tournament. The entire weekend was building up to a titanic clash between South Africa and Ireland. The game certainly lived up to expectations.

It was the Springboks who looked like the more likely team to open the scoring. Ireland were making early mistakes and it allowed South Africa to set up camp in the Irish 22. While their attack faltered, South Africa were able to force Ireland into conceding a penalty which allowed Mannie Libbok to open the scoring.

Ireland had opportunities to get over the line, knocking the ball on just a few metres away from the Springboks line. After mistakes from both teams, Ireland had a penalty which they kicked into the corner. While South Africa held off the maul, the constant pressure eventually caused space to appear on the wings.

Mack Hansen took advantage of that space, scoring the games first try with just even minutes left in the first half. It was a crucial score and with Johnny Sexton’s conversion, Ireland were able to go into the break with a four-point lead.

A Faf de Klerk penalty which hit the posts allowed South Africa to attack again. James Lowe’s incredible tackle on Eben Eztebeth forced the turnover, but just a few minutes later South Africa were back in the Irish 22.

It was the Springboks who took advantage of the space on the wings this time, with Cheslin Kolbe scoring to give South Africa the lead. The scrum turned out to be a huge deciding factor in the game. Ireland won a penalty at the scrum to give Johnny Sexton a shot at the lead which he nailed.

But South Africa were on the right side of a scrum penalty just a few minutes later, although they did not take the points as Mannie Libbok missed the post with his kick. Another missed Springbok penalty and another one nailed by Ireland meant the Irish were able to hold out for a 13-8 victory.

For Ireland, it was a huge victory which now puts them in the perfect position to finish top of their pool. They controlled the game extremely well and were able to overcome their first half mistakes.

South Africa will be disappointed. They had the chances to win the game, missing crucial kicks and not taking advantage of their attacking opportunities. It was a game that showed South Africa need Handre Pollard to beat the best teams in the world. Who knows, maybe we could get a repeat of this game in the Rugby World Cup final.

Scotland get the job done over Tonga

This was the definition of a professional performance from Tonga. Considering the superstars that Tonga have in their ranks, this could have been a game that caused a few difficulties to Gregor Townsend’s team.

Scotland began the game with one of the best lineouts moves you will ever see. They managed to manoeuvre the maul from the 22 line all the way to the try line, with George Turner able to dot down for the first try of the game.

 Tonga were able to take the lead through a penalty and Solomone Kata dotting down. But from that point onwards Scotland controlled the game. Duhan Van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn scored on each wing to give Scotland the lead back. Rory Darge scored another try just before half time to extend the Scottish lead.

The second half was more of the same, with Scotland adding three more tries on their way to the bonus point victory. With Darcy Graham adding Scotland’s final try of the game, they were able to run away with a 45-17 victory over a strong Tongan team.

It was the sort of performance that Scotland needed, especially as they had rotated some of their key players for this game. The bonus point win keeps Scotland alive, but now they must focus on beating the number one team in the world Ireland.

Sadly for Scotland, it was not a simple affair. Captain Jamie Ritchie suffered a concussion after an upright tackle from Afusipa Taumoepeau that somehow only resulted in a yellow card for the Tongan winger.

The more dangerous play was the shoulder to the head of Finn Russell which resulted in Vaea Fifita’s red card with only a few minutes to go. Tonga will be disappointed their discipline took the headlines, as their poor execution allowed Scotland to run away with the game.

Wales hammer Australia

While a close affair was expected to finish out the weekend between Wales and Australia, the exact opposite was the result.

A brilliant break from Jac Morgan allowed Gareth Davies to score Wales first try of the game. Australia were able to respond, scoring two penalties to close the lead. When Ben Donaldson slotted the second penalty in the 15th minutes, I don’t think anyone expected that to be the last points of the game that Australia scored.

A few Welsh penalties extended their lead, but Australia looked like they had the momentum to start the second half, having held Louis Rees-Zammit up over the line.

In the second half, Nick Tompkins outran Samu Kerevi for another Welsh try. Wales just continued to add more and more points with the boot. Jac Morgan’s try in the final few minutes was the perfect end to the ideal game for Wales. 40-6 is a scoreline no one expected when the game began.

It was an even more impressive result when you remember that Wales were without Dan Biggar, whose shoulder injury will keep him out of the rest of the pool stage. In his place, Gareth Anscombe was phenomenal, scoring 23 points on his own.

Gareth Davies was brilliant at controlling the game and created countless try scoring opportunities. Jac Morgan had a stellar game and looks like the long-term solution to the Welsh back row.

Australia on the other hand are now facing going out at the pool stage of this tournament. Eddie Jones is starting to get close to becoming public enemy number one in Australia. With the amount of strange selection choices he has made in this tournament, you can understand why he is under so much criticism at the moment.

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