Race for semis hots up after day two at JWC

(IRB.COM) Tuesday 14 June 2011
 
 Race for semis hots up after day two at JWC
Marland Yarde was one of England's try scorers against Scotland - Photo: Getty Images

New Zealand delivered an onimous warning to anyone with aspirations of wrestling the title from their grasp with an impressive rout of Wales, scoring 14 tries at the Stadio Mario Battaglini in Rovigo and only just coming up shy of the century, winning 92-0 in glorious sunshine.

It took a mere 56 seconds for flanker Sam Cane to open the scoring and the tries came thick and fast after that with seven touchdowns in the first half alone, leaving Welsh manager and former international Mark Taylor to admit at half-time that his side were "a little bit shell-shocked".

There were also wins for Argentina, Australia, England, France and South Africa on day two. The win was Argentina's first in the tournament, while the other quartet remain unbeaten and still dreaming of reaching the semi finals.

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POOL A


New Zealand unquestionably stole the headlines on match day two with the manner of their destruction of Wales, scoring 14 tries to post the biggest winning margin in JWC history before an enthusiastic crowd who's only disappointment could be that the century wasn't reached.

READ A FULL REPORT ON NEW ZEALAND'S WIN >>


Argentina now have the daunting task of trying to prevent New Zealand from recording an 18th successive JWC victory, a task few would relish, but at least Los Pumitas will go into Saturday's encounter on the back of a 27-3 win over hosts Italy.

The star of the show was Argentina wing Manuel Montero, who opened the scoring in the third minute to the dismay of the partisan Italian crowd, capitalising on a missed tackle by full back Augusto Cosulich to touch down.

Montero also had a hand in Argentina's next try on the hour mark with a great run from his own half to the Italian 22-metre line, before finding full back Matias Masera in support. A third try followed through wing Matías Moroni from close range, but Los Pumitas were unable to cross again and missed out on the bonus point score.

Italy, for their part, could only manage a solitary first half penalty from the boot of Marco Gennari and will be hoping to finish the pool stages with a strong performance against Wales, potentially catching a side torn apart from New Zealand on another bad day.

POOL B


Australia were tested by a lively Fiji outfit before running out 50-25 winners at the Stadio Plebiscito in Padova, a result which keeps the 2010 runners-up sitting on top of Pool B ahead of their meeting with unbeaten France on Saturday.
 
In their 54-7 opening day win over Tonga, eight Australian players scored tries, and they shared the spoils once again, with another eight players crossing the line against Pacific Island opposition.
 
Captain Michael Hooper and scrum half Eddie Bredenhann were outstanding for the Australians, both scoring tries, the former's being his country's 100th in JWC history, a figure only bettered by three-time champions New Zealand.

Hooper's back row colleague Ted Postal, number 8 Jarrad Butler, wing Damon Anderson, prop Siliva Siliva, full back Jacob Woodhouse and second row Blake Enever also crossed in the victory.
 
But the Aussies, who led 33-10 at the break, by no means had things all their own way. The Fijians produced some impressive passing movements to run in three of their own tries through wing Ratu Ratini, fly half Metuisela Talebula and second row Maikeli Mudu.

France's hopes of reaching a first ever JWC semi final are still alive however, after their 27-14 victory against Tonga in the other match in Padova, but the failure to pick up a bonus point in their opener against Fiji means they simply cannot afford to lose to Australia if they are to have a chance of realising that goal.

Tonga threatened to claim a notable scalp when they cut the deficit to just six points with 10 minutes of the match remaining, breaking some stiff French defence following a long period of possession to enable Motekiai Faeamani to cross the line.

Mona Paraki’s conversion made it 20-14 and with the momentum swinging the Tongans' way, an upset seemed on the cards. However, France quickly responded with a converted try by replacement Pierre Gayraud to wrap up the victory.

Prop Victor Delmas and number 8 Karl Chateau had earlier crossed for the French, who were also awarded a penalty try, while outside centre Pita Ahki’s converted try had enabled Tonga to go in at half-time trailing by a solitary point.

POOL C


A hat-trick by wing Christian Wade steered England to a hard fought victory over a much improved Scotland outfit at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Treviso, but the margin of victory was not enough to lift them above South Africa at the top of the Pool C standings.
 
The two rivals, who met in the third place play-off in last year's Championship, have both accumulated the maximum 10 points from their two matches and will come face to face in Padova on Saturday to determine who tops the pool for a guaranteed semi final berth.

It was Wade’s fellow speedster Marland Yarde who crossed for the first try on 10 minutes after Owen Farrell, starting at fly half in place of George Ford, had kicked two penalties. Wade scored his first try just before the break and added a brace in the second half after inside centre Ryan Mills had crossed soon after the restart.
 
Scotland coach Peter Wright will be heartened by his team’s spirited showing just four days after the 33-0 opening day defeat by South Africa, scrum half Sean Kennedy and wing Kerr Grossman scoring tries against the Auld Enemy.

In the other Pool C match Francois Venter scored a brace of tries for the second match in a row as South Africa beat Ireland 42-26 in Treviso. Captain Arno Botha, another two-try hero on day one, also touched down along with Wandile Mjekevu and second row Eben Etzebeth.
 
Andrew Conway matched Venter's brace for Ireland but, despite being cheered on by a large band of vocal supporters, the Irish were unable to match the physicality of the South Africans, especially their forwards. Etzebeth's try illustrated this when he simply barged through the defence to touch down.
 
Ireland coach Mike Ruddock and his squad can count themselves unlucky to be winless after their opening two matches, having come up against two of the strongest teams at JWC 2011 and pushed England all the way before losing 33-25 on day one.

Day two buzz

New Zealand captain Luke Whitelock: “It’s an exciting brand of rugby to play, plenty of fast ball, lots of running. We just need to make sure we continue that sort of form throughout the tournament.”

Wales captain Lloyd Peers:
"Take nothing away from them, they are a good team. I think we did give them a bit too much respect at the breakdown area. We should have got in and done a bit more but you can’t take anything away from them, they’re a great team.

"Never look back at the past, that was a big defeat but at the end of the day they are one of the best teams we’ve ever played as individuals and as a team.  We’ve got to put that behind us and just look forward."

England hat-trick hero Christian Wade: "We knew this was going to be a big game for us to give ourselves the best chance of getting through to the semis. I am really pleased that we won but it was just a bit frustrating as I don’t think we played to our best today. We showed good character to pull through and in the end we scored two or three tries at the end, but we’ve still got a lot to work on and we are looking forward to the South Africa game."

Australian captain Michael Hooper: "The key was getting to the breakdown and just working really hard. It was a hot Italian day today and we were sweating and working hard. I think we were scoring good points but also letting in a few so we have to work on that. We are a bit scrappy sometimes, losing the ball and then not working hard enough back and hard enough in general.”

Scotland coach Peter Wright: "I didn’t realise so many Italians had Scottish heritage! It’s the underdog thing isn’t it - underdogs tend to get the crowd on their side. I think when we scored that first try that really got the crowd going."

Tonga coach Benhur Kivalu: “The positive for this game I think was the guys gave their 100 percent, they fought right to the end plus we improved a lot from our first game against Australia. We improved our defence and our attack, the momentum going forward made it easier for us to attack.”

Ireland coach Mike Ruddock: “I thought we were matching them right until the end, until that last try, which was a bit of a heartbreaker. We’ve played two of the best rugby nations around and we certainly haven’t discredited ourselves. We’ve played quite well and really put it up to the both of them.

"South Africa, I’m sure if you go into their changing room, they’ll know they’ve been in a battle, England know they’ve been in a battle. South Africa had to dig deep again today to beat us. We’re showing glimpses of really good rugby but making basic errors to let the other team back in.”

South Africa coach Dawie Theron: “To be very honest we spilled quite a number of try-scoring opportunities. We were not patient enough in the strike zone, and were guilty of forcing quite a number of passed when the correct option was simply to have patience.

“We have to attempt to round off our point scoring opportunities, and against teams such as England, it could ultimately prove to be the difference between winning and losing."