A review of four more of the weekend’s games, including an upset in Tbilisi, a surprising scoreline in Cardiff, and two blowouts over the Iberian sides in Lisbon and Madrid.
WALES 17 vs 7 TONGA
Friday, November 22, 19:30 GMT, Cardiff
With the Millenium Stadium pitch in horrendous condition, a second string Wales side quickly put 17 points on Tonga and it looked as though things might get ugly. Tonga came back, however, and a nice offload from Sione Kalamafoni to Viliami Helu running hard on an angle gave them some points and a little confidence. The deficit was 10 points at the break, but with Wales in complete control surely Tonga would tire quickly in the second half.
The crowd was let down, however, as neither team were able to put any points on at all in the final forty. Despite Tonga missing 26 tackles, surrendering nearly 70% of the possession and more than 80% of the territory, Wales could not score any more tries. It wasn’t the greatest effort ever but Warren Gatland will have bigger things to worry about as his team face Australia in the final test of the November series on Saturday.
Wales – L. Halfpenny 2c 1p, O. Williams 1t, A. Beck 1t
Tonga – L. Fosita 1c, V. Helu 1t
L. Halfpenny; G. North, O. Williams, A. Beck, H. Amos; J. Hook (R. Priestland 69), L. Williams (R. Williams 70); P. James (R. Bevington 69), K. Owens (E. Phillips 69), Rh. Jones (S. Lee 69); L. Charteris, I. Evans (A.W. Jones 70); D. Lydiate, J. Tipuric, Ry. Jones (capt.).
V. Lilo (T. Halaifonua 71); V. Helu, S. Piutau, H. Paea, F. Vainikolo; L. Fosita (F. Apikotoa 77), T. Moa (S. Fisilau 51); E. Aholelei (T. Mailau 51), E. Taione (S. Taufalele 63), S. Puafisi (T. Vea 51); L. Lokotui, J. Tu’ineau; S. Kalamafoni (H. T-Pole 47), N. Latu (capt.), V. Ma’afu (O. Fonua 42).
Referee: M. Fraser (NZRU)
Assistants: C. Joubert (SARU) & L. Pearce (RFU)
TMO: C. Damasco (FIR)
GEORGIA 16 vs 15 SAMOA
Saturday, November 23, 12:30 GMT, Tbilisi
Two first half tries, first from Alapati Leiua and then Jack Lam, gave the Manu a lead at halftime, but a fine individual effort from Merab Sharikadze gave Georgia the lead just after the break. With both teams deadlocked for some time, Tusi Pisi kicked his side back into the lead and it looked like Samoa would close it out. Merab Kvirikashvili had other ideas, however, and his third penalty goal clinched a famous win for the Lelos, with Davit Kacharava winning a penalty to end a last-gasp assault by Samoa.
The win over Samoa marks the highest ranked opponent Georgia have ever defeated, and caps a very respectable November after beating Canada and losing to the Americans only because of a time discrepancy. Stephen Betham’s Samoan side, meanwhile, looked exhausted at the end of the match and will be glad that their dismal month is over. It’s back to the drawing board with three consecutive losses and no strong performances to show for.
Georgia – M. Kvirikashvili 1c 3p, M. Sharikadze 1t
Samoa – T. Pisi 1c 1p, A. Leiua 1t, J. Lam 1t
Georgia – M. Gorgodze yellow (15)
Samoa – F. Paulo yellow (48)
M. Kvirikashvili; T. Mchedlidze (T. Zibzibadze 48), D. Kacharava, M. Sharikadze, G. Shkinin (B. Tsiklauri 70); L. Khmaladze, G. Begadze; M. Nariashvili (Z. Zhvania 65), S. Mamukashvili (S. Maisuradze 65), L. Chilachava (D. Kubriashvili HT); K. Mikautadze (G. Nemsadze 59), L. Datunashvili; M. Gorgodze (capt.), G. Tkhilaishvili (S. Sutiashvili 65), G. Chkhaidze.
F. Autagavaia; B. Va’aulu (S. Sinoti HT), I. Tu’ifua, J. Leota (K. Pisi 55-60), A. Leiua; T. Pisi, K. Fotuali’i (capt.) (J. Su’a 65); S. Taulafo, T. Paulo (O. Avei 65), J. Johnston (A. Perenise 60); P. Fa’asalele (J. Tekori 55), F. Paulo; O. Treviranus (T. Tuifu’a 48), J. Lam, F. Levave.
Referee: R. Poite (FFR)
Assistants: A. McMenemy (SRU) & V. Iordachescu (FRR)
PORTUGAL 8 vs 52 CANADA
Saturday, November 23, 15:00 GMT, Lisbon
Portugal were dead and buried by half time as they shipped 25 points to the Canadians with only a penalty goal from Pedro Leal to account for their efforts. Canuck fullback James Pritchard racked up 27 points in all, scoring two tries to go with seven successful kicks at goal. Ciaran Hearn added two tries of his own in a feeble defensive effort from an obviously fatigued and disinterested Lobos side.
Kieran Crowley’s men have had a mixed November, playing adequately against the Maori and Portugal, but falling short in Georgia and Romania. Injuries and availability issues have plagued their season and several leading players have been out of form. Consistency in selection will be key as the build towards the World Cup, with flyhalf an especially troubling position.
Os Lobos coach Sousa has brought a host of new players onto the international scene with mixed success. A number of their France-based professionals have been overlooked for the November series, and must be considered if the team are to be competitive in the European Nations Cup. Given their results from the past few weeks, chances of qualification for the World Cup look slim at best.
Portugal – P. Leal 1p, P. Bettencourt 1t
Canada – J. Pritchard 4c 3p 2t, C. Hearn 2t, T. Paris 1t, N. Blevins 1t, C. Braid 1t
P. Leal; G. Foro, P. Bettencourt, M. Leal (F. Appleton), F. Oliveira (A. Esteves); F. Almeida, F. Magalhaes (N. Costa); J. Segurado (B. Rocha), J. Correia (capt.) (F. Tavares), B. Medeiros (J. Almeida); R. Simoes (E. Dos Santos), G. Uva; F. Almeida (L. Portela), A. Duarte, V. Uva.
J. Pritchard; C. Trainor, C. Hearn, N. Blevins (P. Parfrey), T. Paris; H. Jones (C. Braid), P. Mack (J. Mackenzie); H. Buydens (capt.) (D. Sears-Duru), R. Barkwill (B. Piffero), A. Tiedemann (J. Ilnicki); J. Phelan (B. Beukeboom), T. Hotson; J. Moonlight (K. Gilmour), N. Dala, A. Kleeberger.
Referee: I. Davies (WRU)
Assistants: S. Brickell (WRU) & W. Davies (WRU)
SPAIN 7 vs 40 JAPAN
Saturday, November 23, 15:00 GMT, Madrid
Spain managed to score the only try of the first half through fullback Cesar Sempere, but five penalty goals from Ayumu Goromaru gave Japan an eight point lead at the break. Similar to the Russian game, the Brave Blossoms piled on the points in the second half, scoring four tries to zero and adding 25 points in a miserable 40 minutes for Spain. Michael Broadhurst scored twice, with Shota Horie and captain Toshiaki Hirose adding single tallies.
Japan end a reasonable year on a high, but questions surrounding the status of head coach Eddie Jones remain following his recovery from stroke. Some of the older players look unlikely to hang on until the World Cup and will have to be replaced sooner than later. Spain have a massive amount of work ahead of them before the European Nations Cup gets underway in February.
Spain – M. Garcia 1c, C. Sempere 1t
Japan – A. Goromaru 6p 1c, M. Broadhurst 2t, S. Horie 1t, T. Hirose 1t
Spain – M. Cook yellow (58), A. Pradalie yellow (62)
Japan – L. Thompson yellow (31), H. Hirashima yellow (46)
C. Sempere; S. Ascarat, M. Heredia, J. Nava (J. Canosa 61), I. Contardi (M. Tudela 54); M. Garcia, P. Feijoo (capt.) (I. Genua 61); F. Labbe (A. Pradalie 58), J. Anaya (U. Lasa 56), A. Ortiz (X. Garmendia 67); A. Blanco, D. Barrera (I. Villanueva 61); M. Cook, G. Rolls (A. Newton 54), G. Gibouin.
A. Goromaru; T. Hirose (capt.), M. Sa’u, Y. Tamura (S. Shimomura 54), A. Yamada (Y. Imamura 76); K. Ono, F. Tanaka (A. Hiwasa 48); H. Hirashima (M. Mikami 67), S. Horie (H. Yuhara 76), H. Yamashita (K. Hatakeyama 48); H. Ono (S. Makabe 48), L. Thompson; H. Tui, M. Broadhurst, T. Kikutani (M. Mikami 46-56) (J. Ives 62).
Referee: J. Montes (URU)
Assistants: T. Trainini (FFR) & D. Rosich (FFR)