New Zealand strengthen position at the top

(IRB.COM) Monday 3 November 2008
 
 New Zealand strengthen position at the top
Richie McCaw scored one of New Zealand's two tries against the Wallabies in Hong Kong

New Zealand have increased their cushion at the top of the IRB World Rankings to 4.66 points over South Africa following their 19-14 defeat of Australia in the first ever Bledisloe Cup match played outside the two countries.

Tries from Sitiveni Sivivatu and Richie McCaw saw New Zealand to victory in Hong Kong on Saturday, a result which increases their rating points total to 92.41 - a climb of just under four tenths.

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Australia remain third with defeat, but now trail New Zealand by over seven points and sit just under two points ahead of Argentina with England only two tenths further adrift ahead of the autumn internationals this month.

The next highest ranked side in action was Canada, who overcame Portugal 21-13 in Lisbon to edge a little closer to Georgia above them in 14th. Portugal remain 23rd, still 1.5 rating points above Chile.

Another side to improve their rating points was Belgium, who kicked off their European Nations Cup 2010 campaign with a slender 9-8 victory over Ukraine in their Division 2A encounter in Brussels.

Belgium remain 27th but now only half a point behind Namibia above them, while 31st ranked Ukraine slip a little closer to Paraguay, Kazakhstan and Morocco beneath after their first loss in a competition which doubles as the region's qualifying process for Rugby World Cup 2011.

Biggest climbers of the week

Three sides, though, did improve their position in the IRB World Rankings following victories in the European Nations Cup on Saturday, with Slovenia the biggest climbers of the last seven days with a six place jump to 60th.

Their 25-19 away victory over Denmark in Odense maintains their unbeaten start to Division 3B and takes them above Niue, Thailand, Bermuda, Cayman, Hungary and Colombia in the process, while the Danes fall four to a new low of 73rd.

However it was Malta who caused the biggest upset of the weekend, recording a narrow 9-6 victory away from home against Sweden in Vanersborg - a side who had been ranked 22 places above them in 37th going into the Division 2B tie.

Malta climb five places to 54th as a result - climbing above Singapore, Zimbabwe, Cook Islands, Venezuela and Andorra - with Sweden sliding four places to 41st and equalling Denmark with the biggest drop of the last seven days.

The weekend's other European Nations Cup encounter came in Division 2A where the Netherlands made the most of home advantage to beat the higher ranked Croatia 18-12 in Amsterdam.

Netherlands climb three places on the back of the win to 43rd with Croatia falling one place to 44th and now trailing their conquerors by just over three tenths in the latest IRB World Rankings.

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