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New Zealand 16 – England 15: It’s early in the match that everyone in Rugbyland has been waiting for since these teams last played in November 2014. You’re an English rooter at Twickenham, and the Red Roses are ahead 15-0 at the 27th minute. Could this be the beginning of a historic rout? Is this, at last, the preview of a future Rugby World Cup final in Tokyo next September with England ascendant?
The All Blacks respond with a try and a conversion. Now, 15-7, with lots of time remaining in the first half. Then, 15-10, and that’s the way it stands at the break.
The match continues in a see-saw fashion until Beaudon Barrett, former Player of the Year, notches a drop goal and the lead is cut to 15-13. At the 60th minute, he kicks a penalty, and, for the first time in the contest, the Kiwis take the lead. England have not scored a point in 33-minutes. Later, there will be an English try disallowed for offsides violation. Final whistle. New Zealand triumphant.
Wales 9 – Australia 6: How many years had Wales not beaten the Wallabies? Ten. An embarrassing losing streak ended in Cardiff. A defensive battle with no tries posted, only penalty kicks.
South Africa 29 – France 26: Another upset avoided in the last minutes. Les Bleues were ahead 26-9 at the 43rd minute. France held on to lead 26-22 with time running out on the clock when the Springboks scored late and converted. A brave effort from the French at home in Paris.
Ireland 28 – Argentina 17: Los Pumas were ahead in the first half, and the second ranked team in World Rugby ranking had to dig deep to stem the tide. Ireland found resolve in the second half and moved out to a nine-point lead.
Scotland 54 – Fiji 17: Perhaps, Fiji, ranked tenth, begin the list of Tier Two nations as the Pacific Islands’ highest-ranking squad were easily handled by the Scots at Murrayfield.
Italy 28 – Georgia 17: Italy drew a proverbial line in the sand when they welcomed Georgia (one place higher). The Italians want to discourage talk of a Six Nation expansion.
This week’s matches:
Ireland v. New Zealand
Italy v. Australia
Wales v. Tonga
England v. Japan
Scotland v. South Africa
France v. Argentina