Nov Tests wrap: Ireland thump Azzurri, Wales down Scots

International
AFP
by AFP
The opening weekend of the November internationals threw up some interesting results.

IRELAND vs ITALY

Rising star Jordan Larmour scored a hat-trick as Six Nations champions Ireland outclassed Italy 54-7 in their Autumn Series international at Soldier Field on Saturday.

Leinster fullback Larmour produced an electrifying individual display to delight the Chicago crowd, scoring three tries and setting up another in a convincing Irish victory.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt had named an experimental line-up after opting to rest several first choice players ahead of matches against Argentina, New Zealand and the United States.

And the 21-year-old Larmour seized his chance to shine in the absence of regular No. 15 Rob Kearney with a superb display in a comfortable win.

Ireland ran in eight tries in total, with Italy dotting down just once.

Six of Ireland's tries came in the second-half when they upped the tempo to leave the Italians struggling to compete.

"We knew we were a little bit inaccurate in the first half," Ireland stand-in captain Rhys Ruddock said.

"We wanted to play with a bit more tempo and hold onto the ball a bit better and we knew we'd get opportunities the longer we held onto the ball.

"We were able to do that towards the end."

Ireland were quickly into their stride, almost scoring in the opening minutes when centre Garry Ringrose burst towards the tryline only to knock-on as he attempted to dot down.

However, the Irish did not have to wait long to get on the board, opening the scoring from an attacking line-out after fly-half Joey Carbery opted to kick a penalty to touch rather than go for the posts.

Ireland won the lineout smoothly and then rumbled forwards before second row Tadgh Beirne blasted over for the score.

Italy enjoyed a sustained period of possession midway through the half but turned over the ball after knocking forward as Ireland's defenders held firm.

The Irish doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark.

Larmour burst into the line and skipped past the Italian defense before offloading to scrum-half Luke McGrath who dotted down. Carbery added his second conversion of the match to make it 14-0.

Italy again responded well, but once more wasted a promising attack when fullback Luca Sperandio's pass to the overlapping Giulio Bisegni flew directly into touch with the tryline in sight.

But Italy did eventually break through the Irish defense shortly before half-time when Ruddock's pass was intercepted by Azzurri skipper Michele Campagnaro, who sprinted over for the score.

Any hopes of an Italy fightback were snuffed out in the opening minutes of the second half, however, as Ireland raised the tempo effectively.

A turnover in midfield set up a second try for Beirne before Campagnaro saw a pass intercepted by Larmour, who sprinted 60 meters to make it 28-7.

Another Ireland attacking lineout from a penalty saw replacement hooker Sean Cronin barrel over from a driving maul, with Carbery adding the conversion for 35-7.

Larmour then grabbed his second of the game, breaking through tackles from Braam Steyn and Sperandio to make it 40-7, with Ross Byrne converting.

Centre Bundee Aki's surging run and offload then created a score for Ringrose in the corner which Byrne converted for 49-7.

In the closing seconds, Larmour then capped his fine individual display with another solo run, weaving through the Italians to complete his treble.

RESULT

Ireland 54

Tries: Larmour 3, Beirne 2, McGrath, Cronin, Ringrose

Cons: Carbery 5, Byrne 2

Italy 7

Tries: Campagnaro

Cons: Canna

WALES vs SCOTLAND

Wales became the first winners of the Doddie Weir Cup as they beat Scotland 21-10 in Cardiff on Saturday.

Tries from George North and Jonathan Davies plus 11 points from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny were enough to secure Warren Gatland's men their second victory over Scotland this year.

Defeat left Scotland still searching for a first win over Wales in Cardiff since 2002.

Gregor Townsend's visitors could only manage a try courtesy of captain Stuart McInally and five points from the boot of Gavin Hastings in what was the opening November international for both Celtic nations.

"I think it's probably positive on reflection now, I think in the game itself it will be interesting to look at territory possession and what we didn't convert particularly in the first half," victorious Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones told the BBC.

"But there's a lot of character there, we've had a good two weeks together and I think the character came to the fore there," the lock added.

The fixture was being played in honour of former Scotland lock Weir, who is suffering from Motor Neurone Disease.

But after a public outcry when it emerged that none of the proceeds from the match would be going to his MND charity, the Welsh Rugby Union and their Scottish counterparts relented to pledge a joint six-figure sum.

Fullback Halfpenny opened the scoring with a successful kick after Ken Owens won the penalty.

Wales were given an early scare when inside centre Hadleigh Parkes fell off a tackle on his opposite number Alex Dunbar.

The Glasgow man surged forward into the Welsh 22 before the move came to an abrupt end when Hastings' grubber kick was safely covered by Halfpenny.

Gatland's side thought they had claimed the game's first try when North crossed in the corner after he gathered a well-executed cross kick from Gareth Anscombe.

But upon referral to the television match official, the 'try' was correctly disallowed due to the Ospreys wing's foot brushing the touchline.

Halfpenny extended his side's lead with two further penalties as Wales enjoyed the vast majority of territory and possession.

But Hastings responded by landing three points for the visitors after Nicky Smith was penalised at a scrum.

The hosts claimed their first try when North charged on to an Anscombe pass before brushing aside both Huw Jones and Dunbar to score.

After being awarded a penalty, Blair Kinghorn booted the ball into the Wales 22 giving his side some much needed territory.

The visitors set up a powerful driving maul with McInally eventually being forced over the line for a crucial try.

Hastings added the extras meaning Scotland turned around 14-10 behind at the interval.

Scotland enjoyed more possession in the early stages of the second half with some excellent tactical kicking from Ali Price and Hastings keeping their hosts under pressure.

But their attack lacked penetration and they eventually lost their field position when their scrum was shunted backwards by the Welsh eight.

Anscombe booted Wales deep into Scotland's half.

The ball was spun wide off the top of the line-out with Anscombe releasing Davies who ran straight through a weak tackle from Jones for his 14th international try.

Halfpenny converted for a commanding 11-point Welsh lead.

Wales' defence remained firm and McInally was held up over the line but Scotland continued to press with Jonny Gray powering his way over the line.

But after much deliberation the try was disallowed for a double movement.

Wales were reduced to 14 men when replacement hooker Elliot Dee was sent to the sin-bin for not rolling away after an accumulation of penalties.

Scotland had a second 'try' ruled out by the TMO when Peter Horne failed to gather a chip and Wales held out to get their November campaign off to a winning start.

RESULT

Wales

Tries: North, Davies

Cons: Halfpenny

Pens: Halfpenny 3

Scotland 10

Tries: McInally

Cons: Hastings

Pens: Hastings

ENGLAND vs SOUTH AFRICA

England co-captain Owen Farrell almost went from hero to villain as an injury-hit side came from behind to beat South Africa 12-11 in their opening November international at Twickenham on Saturday.

Farrell's penalty seven minutes from time, the third of four scored by an England team who didn't manage a try, nudged the hosts into a one-point lead.

There was drama right at the end when, with 80 minutes played, Australian referee Angus Gardner consulted the television match official to see if fly-half Farrell had committed a no-arm tackle on Springbok replacement Andre Esterhuizen.

But the officials decided Farrell had made enough of a legal challenge not to award a penalty that could have seen South Africa snatch victory.

Full match report here.

England 12

Pens: Farrell 3, Daly

South Africa 11

Tries:  Nkosi

Cons: Pollard 2

JAPAN vs NEW ZEALAND

Flyhalf Richie Mo'unga sparked a second-string All Blacks side to a 69-31 victory over plucky Japan in Tokyo on Saturday.

Mo'unga scored a try and went eight-from-nine with the boot in a sparkling 22-point display for the world champions, who ran in 10 tries against the 2019 World Cup hosts.

Ngani Laumape bagged a hat-trick of tries, while George Bridge marked his All Blacks debut with a pair after coming on at the start of the second half.

But New Zealand, resting their big-hitters for November Tests away to England, Ireland and Italy, were given a workout by Japan watched by a crowd of 43,000.

Full match report here.

Japan 31

Tries: Lafaele 2,Anise, Tui, Henry

Cons: Tamura 3

New Zealand 69

Tries: Laumape 3, Bridge ,2 Coles, Mounga, Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Naholo, Proctor

Cons: Mounga 7, Barrett 

Pens: Mounga