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While most global rugby attention was focused on the Australia vs. England contest in Brisbane, Ireland scored the surprise test upset with a 26-20 away win over South Africa. The Springboks played with only eight men from their third place Rugby World Cup team under new coach Allister Coetzee. But plucky Ireland, playing with fourteen men for a long period of time, took the game to South Africa and prevailed. In the past year and a half, South Africa have ceded first ever victories to Argentina, Japan, and now Ireland. The test series continues this Saturday in Johannesburg.
Coach Eddie Jones of England, fresh off an undefeated European Six Nations title, had boasted that his team would beat the second ranked squad in the world. The Red Roses’ convincing 39-28 win against the Wallabies proved him correct. The England win represented their highest points scored against Australia, and the first ever victory in Brisbane. Jones, the former coach of Japan, has, in a short space of time since October’s RWC, revitalized a moribund English XV, now undefeated in their last six contests.
Wales did not fare as well as their two Six Nations rivals, losing 39-21 to the All Blacks in Auckland. Wales led 18-15 at the break, but the World Champions scored three tries in 20-minutes to clinch the game. The Welsh XV will play the Super Rugby Chiefs before the second test match against New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday.