It’s time for our wrap of who has their name in lights at the moment… and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
They’re on fire!!
Italy: A historial day for the Azzurri with their 20-18 win over South Africa, who had threatened to run away with the contest after their two early tries. Italy’s pack however were outstanding, powering over for their first score and setting the platform for Giovanbattista Vendetti’s five-pointer to give Italy the lead. Sergio Parisse stressed how Italy have let these results slip away in the past, but not at Saturday. The stolen lineout with seconds left was a hell of a way to beat the Boks for the first time.
— sergio parisse (@sergioparisse) 19 November 2016
Beauden Barrett: Classy performance from the new Player of the Year, fizzing a cross-field kick to Malakai Fekitoa for the first try, while his pace was on show for his own try as New Zealand gained revenge over the side who defeated them two weeks ago in Chicago. Phenomenal offload too in the build-up to Fekitoa’s second score, but then we’ve seen plenty of those from him all year. There isn’t a better ten in the game today.
Greig Laidlaw and Sam Davies: Nerves of steel from the Scotland captain once again at Murrayfield, as Laidlaw knocked over the match-winning penalty in the 83rd minute to defeat Argentina. Davies meanwhile came good for Wales with a drop goal ten seconds from time to defeat Japan, sparking sighs of relief around the ground in Cardiff.
Tevita Kuridrani’s finish: Watch and enjoy. What an effort this is from the Wallabies centre in Paris.
England: Eleven wins unbeaten then under Eddie Jones (12 including the Rugby World Cup over Uruguay) and even with multiple changes England never looked troubled against Fiji, even when their intensity dropped and the visitors scored three tries. Next come Argentina.
Tadgh Furlong: Full-on Beast Mode from the Ireland tighthead here against the All Blacks, with Furlong in red-hot form over the last couple of weeks. A Lions bolter? Let us know in the comments.
— Three Red Kings (@threeredkings) 19 November 2016
South Korea: A first-ever appearance in this column for South Korea after their highly impressive 31-point turnaround against Chile, coming from 36-7 down to win 38-36 in Santiago. Chukahaeyo!
Wales and Japan: Winners against Japan, sure, but this was another worrying performance from Rob Howley’s side. Wales made several changes to the side but even so, there were seven British and Irish Lions in that starting XV. On the same note, it’s hard to criticise a Japan team still just starting out under Jamie Joseph for losing. Saturday was another reminder of how the Brave Blossoms, and with plenty of new faces in their XV, are gradually improving, and they were desperately unlucky not to even come away with a draw. Even though they lost, Japan should feel much happier than Wales.
Yetis are warmer than this lot…
Allister Coetzee: Not all the problems in South African rugby lie at Coetzee’s door, but his record as head coach is becoming difficult to defend after the Springboks’ latest humbling. His win record is dire, four out of 11 this year, including first-ever defeats to Ireland and Italy. Is he the right coach to either improve the Springboks technically or to inspire them with confidence? The answer appears to be no. Winning against Wales is now paramount.
Irish injuries: A trio of head injuries to Robbie Henshaw, CJ Stander and Rob Kearney plus Jonathan Sexton’s hamstring issue will leave Joe Schmidt sweating this week ahead of facing the Wallabies. Not the best news to go with Saturday’s loss to New Zealand.
Argentina: Another surprising defeat for los Pumas having impressed so often this year. Perhaps they have run out of steam after a long season for most of the squad in both Super Rugby and then internationals. Key errors have cost them in recent weeks and now winning at Twickenham looks like a tall order.
La Rochelle: Nilled away to Bordeaux-Bègles on Saturday in a concerning defeat, very much out of character for the side who were leading the table only a few weeks ago. Losing 28-0, even with some internationals away, shouldn’t be happening.
James Horwill’s finger: WARNING – Do not look at the below over your breakfast.
Hats off to the Wallaby lock for playing on against Leicester, and to the surgeon who swiftly straightened things up too.
— Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) 20 November 2016
— James Horwill (@JHorwill) 20 November 2016