In Review Part 2

On to the remaining four games of the weekend, including the almighty clash in Dublin between an inspired Ireland and the All Blacks, and matches in Bucharest, Edinburgh, and Paris.

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ROMANIA 7 vs 26 FIJI
Saturday, November 23, 16:30 GMT, Bucharest

Romania’s hopes for an undefeated season were dashed as Fiji showed far greater discipline to earn a comprehensive victory over the home side. As expected the Romanian forwards pushed their pacific counterparts around in the tight phases, and their lone score came from a penalty try at the scrum. They had no answer for the pace and power of the Fijian backs however, with Nemani Nadolo in particular wreaking havoc and scoring another excellent individual try.

Despite the loss the Oaks can hold their heads high after an exceptional year, with this loss and a draw with Georgia the only blemishes on their record. They now look in good shape heading into the final rounds of World Cup qualification, and with good depth in the forwards what they need now is to find themselves a flyhalf who can control a game for them.

As usual Fiji are a bit of a rollercoaster, having enjoyed an impressive Pacific Nations Cup but a conspicuous November. They still have their own World Cup qualifiers against the Cook Islands next year, but that should be little more than formality, and the key now will be to find consistency in selection and focus on their set pieces.

SCORING
Fiji – S. Bai 1c 2p, N. Nadolo 1p 1t, M. Talebula 1t, T. Nasuga 1t
Romania – F. Vlaicu 1c, Penalty try

CARDS
Fiji – N. Nadolo yellow (60)

ROMANIA
C. Fercu; I. Dumitru, R. Dascalu (C. Dinis 55-65), C. Gal, F. Ionita (S. Hihetah 62); F. Vlaicu, V. Calafeteanu (F. Surugiu 45); M. Lazar (C. Pristavita 54), O. Turashvili (A. Radoi 54), P. Ion (H. Pungea 68); V. Poparlan, M. Sirbe (A. Coste 65); A. Mitu (D. Lazar 66), V. Lucaci, M. Macovei (capt.).

FIJI
M. Talebula; T. Nagusa (M. Bakaniceva 61), A. Tikoirotuma, N. Nadolo, N. Nalaga; S. Bai (A. Rokobaro 76), N. Kenatale (H. Seniloli 76); J. Yanuyanutawa (C. Ma’afu 62), S. Naureure (P. Ravai 62), S. Somoca (M. Saulo 62); W. Lewaravu, A. Naikatini; M. Ravulo (S. Matavesi 66), A. Qera (capt.), M. Matadigo (N. Nagusa 22).

Referee: D. Phillips (IRFU)
Assistants: S. Gallagher (IRFU) & J. Carvill (IRFU)
TMO: S. McDowell (IRFU)

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SCOTLAND 15 vs 21 AUSTRALIA
Saturday, November 23, 18:00 GMT, Edinburgh

The Wallabies avenged their two previous matches against Scotland, winning over the hosts for the first time since 2006 in a convincing but fairly ordinary performance. If anything the scoreline flattered the Scots somewhat as Christian Leali’ifano uncharacteristically missed five shots at goal, no doubt hampered by the atrocious pitch conditions at Murrayfield. The Australian forwards won the battle at the gainline, repeatedly smashing Scottish attackers backwards, exemplified by a crunching welcome from Ben Alexander on Kieran Low, not ten minutes into his test debut.

Scotland fans will be pleased to see the end of the year, and hopefully with it the end of Scott Johnson’s rotational policy. Aside from the Japan match they have shown little attacking nous though one hopes that with some consistency and perhaps a couple more healthy bodies that it might improve. Australia now head to Cardiff where they will end a grueling 15 match test season against many of the players they faced in their Lions series defeat.

SCORING
Scotland – G. Laidlaw 5p
Australia – C. Leali’ifano 1c 3p, I. Folau 1t, C. Feauai-Sautia 1t

CARDS
Australia – R. Simmons yellow (48)

SCOTLAND
S. Maitland; T. Seymour, N. De Luca, D. Taylor (M. Evans 66), S. Lamont; D. Weir, G. Laidlaw (C. Cusiter 58); R. Grant (A. Dickinson 47), R. Ford (P. MacArthur 20), M. Low (E. Murray 51); G. Gilchrist (J. Gray 66), J. Hamilton; J. Beattie, K. Brown (capt.), D. Denton (K. Low 60).

AUSTRALIA
I. Folau; J. Tomane, C. Leali’ifano, M. Harris, C. Feauai-Sautia; Q. Cooper, W. Genia (N. White 66); J. Slipper, S. Moore (S. Fainga’a 77), S. Kepu (B. Alexander 58); R. Simmons, J. Horwill (S. Timani 58); S. Fardy (B. McCalman 75), M. Hooper, B. Mowen (capt.).

Referee: J. Peyper (SARU)
Assistants: P. Gauzere (FFR) & F. Pastrana (UAR)
TMO: G. Warren (RFU)

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FRANCE 10 vs 19 SOUTH AFRICA
Saturday, November 23, 20:00 GMT, Paris

It was the worst possible start for France as J.P. Pietersen charged down Morgan Parra’s clearance attempt to touch down only a minute into the match. Two Morne Steyn penalty goals had the Springboks in healthy shape heading towards the half mark, but a late try Yoann Huget, created by Pascal Pape from some loose play at the ruck brought the home side back into contention. The two sides engaged in a positional battle in the second half, with South Africa again coming out on top, adding two penalties to only one for France.

Les Bleus were certainly not blown out of the water but lacked penetration, especially in the forwards where no players seemed capable of making yardage against the physically imposing Springbok pack. The kicking game favoured the visitors as well, something the French will have to improve on significantly before the Six Nations. South African fans can be very proud of their team’s efforts this year, with only the All Blacks able to claim superiority over them during the last 14 months.

SCORING
France – M. Parra 1c, J.M. Doussain 1p, Y. Huget 1t
South Africa – M. Steyn 1c 3p, P. Lambie 1p, J.P. Pietersen 1t

CARDS
France – T. Domingo yellow (68)
South Africa – F. Louw yellow (73)

FRANCE
B. Dulin; S. Guitoune, F. Fritz (M. Bastareaud 60), W. Fofana, Y. Huget; R. Tales (F. Michalak 75), M. Parra (J.M. Doussain 66); Y. Forestier (T. Domingo HT), B. Kayser (D. Szarzewski 47), N. Mas (R. Slimani 56); P. Pape, Y. Maestri (S. Vaha’amahina 50); T. Dusautoir (capt.) (Y. Forestier 72-78), W. Lauret (Y. Nyanga 69), D. Chouly.

SOUTH AFRICA
W. le Roux (P. Lambie 56-60); J.P. Pietersen, J. Fourie, J. de Villiers, B. Habana; M. Steyn (P. Lambie 72), R. Pienaar; T. Mtawarira (G. Steenkamp 56), B. du Plessis (A. Strauss 66), C. Oosthuizen (L. Adriaanse 74); E. Etzebeth (B. Botha 16 {S, Kolisi 75}), F. van der Merwe; W. Alberts (P.S. du Toit 68), F. Louw, D. Vermeulen.

Referee: W. Barnes (RFU)
Assistants: G. Jackson (NZRU) & L. Hodges (WRU)
TMO: I. Ramage (SRU)

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IRELAND 22 vs 24 NEW ZEALAND
Sunday, November 24, 14:00 GMT, Dublin

Ireland needed a miracle and they almost got one, holding the lead until the last play of the game when Ryan Crotty broke the hearts of Irish fans all over the world. Paul O’Connell’s men exploded out of the gate, scoring three tries and 19 points within the first quarter. New Zealand replied through Julian Savea, but Jonny Sexton added another penalty and at the break it was a very healthy 15 point lead.

The All Blacks showed their class in the second half and completely shut out the home side while scoring 17 points of their own, with Aaron Cruden’s second-attempt conversion just nudging the score towards the visitors. It was a fine game of rugby, arguably the best of the year, and would have been a fitting end to a season where New Zealand has proven once again that they remain head and hefty shoulders above the field at the turning point towards the World Cup.

SCORING
Ireland – J. Sexton 2c 1p, C. Murray 1t, R. Best 1t, R. Kearney 1t
New Zealand – A. Cruden 3c 1p, J. Savea 1t, B. Franks 1t, R. Crotty 1t

IRELAND
R. Kearney; T. Bowe, B. O’Driscoll (L. Fitzgerald 53), G. D’Arcy, D. Kearney; J. Sexton (. Madigan 76), C. Murray; C. Healy (J. McGrath 70), R. Best (S. Cronin 15), M. Ross (D. Fitzpatrick 67); D. Toner (M. McCarthy 67), P. O’Connell (capt.); P. O’Mahony (K. McLaughlin 57), S. O’Brien, J. Heaslip.

NEW ZEALAND
I. Dagg (R. Crotty 53); C. Jane (B. Barrett 67), B. Smith, M. Nonu, J. Savea; A. Cruden, A. Smith; W. Crockett (B. Franks 61), A. Hore (D. Coles 42), C. Faumuina (O. Franks 57); B. Retallick, S. Whitelock; S. Luatua (L. Messam 57), R. McCaw (capt.), K. Read.

Referee: N. Owens (WRU)
Assistants: J. Garces (FFR) & G. Garner (RFU)
TMO: G. Hughes (RFU)

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