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Scotland 19 Samoa 16
A buoyant Scotland took on Samoa at a freezing Pittodrie on Saturday (27th Nov) and were looking to finish on a high. It was a tight game throughout with Scotland dominating the opening minutes of the match. It was Samoa, however, that struck first with a neatly worked overlap down the small blindside in the Scottish half. Scrum half Foutoali’i broke before a grubber kick was put through, with centre Seilala Mapusua collecting and passing inside to send Foutoali’i over the whitewash. Paul Williams duly converted.
It was not long before Scotland hit back with a training ground move from a scrum inside the Samoan ’22. Greame Morrison acting as the decoy, allowed winger Nikki Walker to scythe through the defence – untouched – to score under the posts. The sides then traded penalties to go into half time at 13 -10 to Scotland. The game grew close in the second half with Sale full-back Paul Williams levelling the scores one minute into the second half. Parks then reverted to what he knows best, the drop goal, slotting his thirteenth in international rugby. A good Samoan attack saw them draw a penalty from the Scots and Williams restored parity. Neither side could take control of the match in the remaining half hour until Scotland won a penalty in the last minute. Ruaridh Jackson, winning only his second cap, stepped up and sent the ball over; to the delight of the Scottish fans. Spare a thought though for a strong showing from the Samoans but ultimately Andy Robinson can be proud of his team and their performances this autumn.
England 11 South Africa 21
South Africa’s physical dominance that was sorely missing at Murrayfield last weekend reappeared with a vengeance at Twickenham. England suffered key injuries during the first half loosing fly-half Toby Flood, back row Tom Croft and in-form winger Chris Ashton. Victor Matfield was denied a try due to a combination of Coutney Lawes and losing control of the ball as he tried to ground it.
Morne Steyn nudged the Springboks ahead nine points to six, after the half time break. Good work from the South African forwards saw Willem Alberts dive over in the corner to further the lead. This was Alberts’ third try in three caps; not a bad scoring record for a back row forward. The afternoon got worse for the English as Lwazi Mvovo ghosted through the defence with Steyn compounding the woe by slotting the conversion, England 6 South Africa 21. Another promising Springbok attack was cut short as England full-back Ben Foden rushed up in the defensive only to find the ball delivered into his lap by CJ van der Linde. Foden raced seventy meters to score a consolation try and reduce the deficit to ten points. Two wins and two loses for the English in the autumn, but overall the side look to have progressed and have a promising six nations campaign on the horizon.
Wales 25 New Zealand 37
There were two very contrasting outcomes for the sides on Saturday afternoon in Cardiff. A jubilant New Zealand completing the Grand Slam over the home unions while Wales emerge with one draw and three loses from their campaign.
New Zealand dominated from the start getting their first try after three minutes. Following a lineout inside the Wales twenty-two play developed and the ball was spun wide with Isa Toeava handing off a couple of defenders, before slipping the pass to Hosea Gear to go over in the corner. The conversion saw Dan Carter overtake Jonny Wilkinson as the leading international point scorer and it was not long before he was to extend his total. A hurried Welsh clearance found Carter in his own half and a scissors move set full back Mills Muliaina away for a second New Zealand try. Wales kept in touch through the boot of Stephen Jones, kicking three penalties to see the sides head into the break at only four points apart.
Jones reduced the deficit to just one point at the fifty minute mark but New Zealand struck back almost immediately. A Wales penalty saw them miss with a kick to touch and they were duly punished. The ball was returned through centre field before a break from Conrad Smith and several neat offloads saw the All Blacks well into Welsh territory. Wales were outnumbered and as the ball reached the left wing Hosea Gear sped to the line for his second. Things did not get any better for the Welsh. Muliaina put a box kick over the top, chased it and caught James Hook as he tried to clear the ball. New Zealand recovered the ball and replacement lock Anthony Boric took a nice line before sending Toeava in for a try. The lively Jimmy Cowan broke round the fringes of a ruck then offloaded to Muliaina who, in turn, gave prop John Afoa the chance to race twenty meters to score. A consolation score at the end of match saw Lee Byrne take a good line off Stephen Jones after strong work by the Welsh forwards to draw a penalty in the scrum.
Ireland 29 Argentina 9
Ireland finish the year on a high after this victory Argentina on Sunday afternoon. It was Argentina threatened the Irish line with hooker Mario Ledesma held up over the line after a strong rolling maul. A fortunate decision form referee Mark Lawrence saw Ireland able to clear their lines after a dominant Argentine could have been awarded a penalty try. Two breaks from the Irish then drew an infringement from the Pumas which allowed Jonathan Sexton to open the scores. Further good play from the Irish attacking the midfield before spreading the ball to wing Tommy Bowe who was able to find Jamie Heaslip in support. Heaslip straightened his running line creating space for fellow back row Stephen Ferris to break a tackle and score in the corner. Penalties accounted for the rest of the total in the first half; Sexton added three more while Felipie Contepomi converted one out of two attempts.
Contepomi missed with his first attempt in the second half although a try was nearly scored with Amorosino flying through but lacked support when he needed it. Contepomi’s radar was working again and he converted a penalty chance to double Argentina’s score. Sexton then traded further penalties with Contepomi. After an attacking Irish lineout, replacement fly-half Ronan O’Gara put a kick in with Keith Earls collecting to score, only for it to be ruled out by the Television Match Official. It was another kick that saw Ireland clinch their second try of the game. Inside the Irish 22 centre Gordon D’Arcy chipped the ball over the defence and was able to gather the ball and score. O’Gara converted to seal the victory for the Irish.