June Internationals: Wales stop Southern Hemisphere sweep

by AFP

Debutant captain Cory Hill led Wales to a 23-10 victory over Argentina in San Juan on Saturday in the first of a two-Test series.

Dogged defence and opportunism in attack laid the victory foundations for an experimental Welsh side, who led 17-3 at half-time.

Victory for Wales prevented a clean sweep by southern hemisphere countries after New Zealand, Australia and South Africa won earlier in the day.

Argentina, fielding 14 starters from the Jaguares team that won their last six Super Rugby matches, were bitterly disappointing, offering virtually no creativity in attack.

The Pumas were on the scoreboard within 106 seconds of the kick-off as star fly-half Nicolas Sanchez slotted a penalty before a 23,000 crowd in the western city.

After absorbing considerable early pressure, Wales made the most of their first scoring opportunity to take the lead on eight minutes at Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario.

A brilliant one-hand pass to his right by full-back Hallam Amos sent flanker James Davies over in the corner and fly-half Rhys Patchell succeeded with a challenging conversion.

Argentina and Wales had a tough battle in San Juan. Photo: AFPWales were then forced to defend magnificently for many minutes as the Pumas camped inside their opponents' 22 and made numerous attempts to drive the ball over the line.

 When flanker Marcos Kremer did force his way over and thought he had scored, the South African television match official disagreed, saying there was not conclusive proof of a touchdown.

More intense Argentine pressure ended after they were penalised and when Wales got another chance to score, they grabbed it to go 14-3 ahead despite minimal possession.

The tourists won a line-out, scrum-half Gareth Davies broke free and passed to 75-cap winger George North, who darted over and Patchell converted.

Argentina were being penalised frequently and Patchell was successful with a shot at goal on 36 minutes to close the first-half scoring with Wales 14 points ahead.

Patchell had two opportunities from penalty kicks to increase the lead and succeeded with the first while the second drifted narrowly wide.

Meanwhile, a bad day at the office for Argentina got worse when captain and flanker Pablo Matera limped off on 47 minutes having just recovered from a long injury absence.

When the Pumas got a rare second-half chance to score, substitute winger Sebastian Cancelliere dropped the ball within sight of the tryline. 

Argentina knew it was not going to be their day when replacement hooker Julian Montoya had a try disallowed five minutes from time.

The Pumas finally got a try, from substitute loose forward Tomas Lezana which Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias converted, but it was too little, too late.

Wales were awarded a close-range penalty in front of the posts in additional time and Gareth Anscombe made no mistake.


Argentina 10

Tries: Lezana

Cons: Iglesias

Pens: Sanchez

Wales 23

Tries: Davies, North

Cons: Patchell 2

Pens: Patchell 2, Anscombe


Hooker George Turner scored a hat-trick as Scotland opened their summer tour with a comfortable 48-10 victory over Canada in Edmonton on Saturday.

Turner became the first Scot to score an international hat-trick in more than a decade as the tourists' power and fitness overwhelmed the hosts at the Commonwealth Stadium.

An encouraging opener also saw Gregor Townsend hand a second half debut to Adam Hastings, son of legendary former Scotland and British Lions captain Gavin Hastings.

Scotland took the lead in the opening exchanges, scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne slotting a straightforward penalty in front of the posts after Canada infringed at the breakdown.

Scotland's early dominance soon led to a try in the ninth minute, inside centre James Lang finding Byron McGuigan with a crisp pass for the left wing to dot down in the corner for 8-0.

Hidalgo-Clyne missed the chance to add to his tally, sending the conversion attempt wide.

A rare good spell for Canada soon afterwards ended with a penalty for Shane O'Leary, the Canadian fly-half opening the scoring for the hosts after the Scots infringed near their own 22.

But Canada were soon rocking after a controversial flashpoint in the 18th minute, when prop Noah Barker was sent to the sinbin for a blatant off the ball incident that took out Scottish loosehead Allan Dell.

Scotland's attempts to make their advantage count however were frustrated by some desperate Canadian defence, and Scotland fly-half Ruaridh Jackson had a try disallowed when he was deemed not to have grounded.

Jackson made no mistake though six minutes from half-time, bagging Scotland's second try as Canada's resistance finally broke, Hidalgo-Clyne adding the two points to make it 15-3 at half-time.

Scotland were again quick to get into their groove after the restart, with Turner bagging his first of the night after a well-executed rolling maul from a lineout. Hidalgo-Clyne's conversion put the Scots 19 points clear at 22-3.

Yet Canada hit back quickly after Jackson was adjudged to have made a deliberate knock-on to thwart a score for the hosts' centre Ben LeSage, earning the Canadians a penalty try for 22-10.

With Canada beginning to tire rapidly, Scotland began punching through the Canadian defence at will.

Blair Kinghorn was denied by a desperate DTH van der Merwe tackle, but soon after Magnus Bradbury powered through weak tackling to score a try converted by Kinghorn for 29-10.

From there on, it became a question of how many more Scotland would score.

Turner crossed for his second of the game from a rolling maul and then completed his hat-trick from another drive inside the final 10 minutes.


Canada 10

Tries: Penalty

Cons: O'Leary

Scotland 48

Tries: Turner 3, Jackson, Bradbury, Carmichael

Cons: Kinghorn 3, Hidalgo-Clyne 2

Pens: Hidlago-Clyne 


Siya Kolisi celebrated becoming South Africa's first black Test captain by leading his country to a thrilling 42-39 triumph over England on Saturday in the first Test in Johannesburg.

Trailing by 21 points after 18 minutes, the Springboks staged a magnificent rally to lead 29-27 at half-time and held off a late England charge to succeed in a 10-try festival.

England coach Eddie Jones had warned his team to match fire with fire from the kick-off and they did him proud, building a quick 24-3 lead.

A 60-metre penalty from full-back Elliot Daly in the third minute served an early warning to the Springboks that the visitors were desperate to snap a three-match losing streak.

Winger Mike Brown followed up with a try in the corner and captain and centre Owen Farrell converted to give England a 10-point advantage with just five minutes gone.

Rattled South Africa pulled three points back when fly-half Handre Pollard slotted a penalty only for the Red Rose to respond with two more tries.

It wasn't easy for either side. Photo: Getty ImagesDaly crossed the tryline on 15 minutes and Farrell two minutes later with great ease as rampant England tore through the South African defence at will.

Farrell converted both scores and with 18 minutes gone in the first half, near silence enveloped Ellis Park with dominant England 21 points ahead.

But Kolisi rallied his troops and with scrum-half Faf de Klerk playing a starring role, a magnificent comeback ensued in which the home team scored four tries to take a 29-24 ahead.

Pollard failed to convert the first score from De Klerk, but added the extra points to those from debutant winger Sibusiso Nkosi (two) and full-back Willie le Roux.

As an exhilarating first half went into additional time, Farrell slotted a penalty to trim the gap to just two points at the break.

It was asking too much for the second half to match the first and so it proved for quite a while as South Africa camped in the England half but added only a Pollard penalty.

England lost prop Mako Vunipola to the sin bin on 63 minutes for a late tackle and almost immediately Aphiwe Dyantyi marked his first cap with a try which Pollard converted.

A try from lock Maro Itoje narrowed the South African advantage to seven points only for Pollard to kick a penalty four minutes from time to stretch the lead to 42-32.

But there was yet another twist to a remarkable match right at the death when winger Jonny May scored and Farrell drop-kicked the conversion.

England had a chance to snatch a stunning victory when they forced a lineout inside the South African half, but the home team won it and a memorable Test came to an end. 


South Africa 42

Tries: Nkosi 2, De Klerk, le Rouz, Dyantyi

Cons: Pollard 4

Pens: Pollard 3 

England 39

Tries: Brown, Daly Farrell, Itoje, May

Cons: Farrell 4

Pens: Daly, Farrell


Karl Tu'inukuafe made his immense presence felt with a game-changing introduction to Test rugby as the All Blacks came from behind to record a runaway 52-11 win over France in Auckland on Saturday.

The All Blacks scored eight tries, seven of them after the man mountain, who was not on their radar a few weeks ago, came on five minutes into the second half and used his immense bulk to give the world champions a much-needed scrum dominance.

From being 8-11 down at the break, the All Blacks piled on 44 unanswered points in a blistering second half to stretch their Eden Park unbeaten run to41 games.

Codie Taylor, Ben Smith, Damian McKenzie, Ardie Savea and Ngani Laumape all scored tries in the second period, while Rieko Ioane ran in two.

French fullback Maxime Medard will have nightmares about his last-ditch attempt to block Laumape when the All Blacks replacement charged at the line.

Nine years ago, Medard was the French hero with a match-winning try when they beat the All Blacks in Dunedin, but this time he will be remembered for being sent flying as Laumape ran through him.

It epitomised a brutal turnaround by the All Blacks after France had claimed the better of the first half to hold a three-point lead at the turn.


New Zealand 52

Tries: Ioane 2, J Barrett, Taylor, B Smith, McKenzie, Laumape, Savea

Cons: B Barrett 3

Pens: B Barrett 2

France 11

Tries: Grosso

Pens: Parra 2


Japan has nabbed a big scalp in its first 2018 June Test. Photo: Getty ImagesJapan conjured a hat-trick of magical scores to floor Six Nations side Italy 34-17 on Saturday in the first game of their two-match rugby series.

The Brave Blossoms, who finished with four tries to Italy's two, produced moments of breathtaking skill as Amanaki Mafi, Kenki Fukuoka and Lomano Lemeki scored for the home side in Oita, western Japan.

Japan fly-half Yu Tamura made six out of seven kicks in a confident performance for the 2019 World Cup hosts.

Prop Tizano Pasquali opened the scoring for Italy with an opportunistic try after 15 minutes.

But a slick exchange of passes between Kenki Fukuoka and Japan captain Michael Leitch allowed Amanaki Mafi to restore parity.

Italy was left disappointed in Japan. Photo: Getty ImagesFukuoka added another try for the Brave Blossoms after 28 minutes when the jet-heeled winger escaped the clutches of two beefy Italians to score.

Flyhalf Tamura slotted a penalty before Italy flanker Braam Steyn bulldozed over for a try converted by Tommaso Allan to reduce Japan's half-time lead to 17-14.

Allan and Tamura traded penalties early in the second half to tie the game before Japan blew it wide open with one for the highlights reel.

Tamura kicked wide for Shota Horie to touch the ball back in for Lemeki to storm over.

Kotaro Matsushima added a fourth try for Japan after 65 minutes to dash Italian hopes of a comeback.

The teams meet again in Kobe next weekend.


Japan 34

Tries: Mafi, Fukuoka, Lemeki, Matsushima

Cons: Tamura 4

Pens: Tamura 2

Italy 17

Tries: Pasquali, Steyn

Cons: Allan 2

Pens: Allan