Agustin Ormaechea helped end Uruguay’s 12-year wait for a Rugby World Cup try … and was later shown a red card. Los Teros’ scrum-half put Carlos Arboleya in for a try, sparking wild celebrations for the side, but was sin-binned and gave away a penalty-try three minutes later for a tackle on Levani Botia. He touched down in the second half before being shown another yellow when the teams squared up.
Since their loss to Japan, the Springboks have systematically demolished everyone in their path and such was their form in their thrashing of USA that we could be looking at a South Africa v Australia final. During the game Bryan Habana equalled Jonah Lomu’s World Cup try-scoring record with a hat-trick (and even fumbled a chance to break the record). While comparisons are difficult between the bulldozing Lomu and the more nimble Habana, it’s arguable that Habana is a more rounded player. And a gentleman to boot – he posted this:
While Uruguay scored their first ever RWC try, Namibia scored their first ever RWC point in their 16-17 loss to Georgia.The All Blacks got off to a shaky start with a series of handling errors but eventually opened their scoring against Tonga with some sublime offloading started and finished by Ben Smith.
A penalty try should have been awarded to Tonga for repeated infringements by the All Blacks 5m from their line but otherwise the Men in Black showed some improved form later in the game. Amongst the seven tries, Ma’a Nonu crossed on the occasion of his 100th Test.
Scotland scraped through an epic 36-33 encounter against Samoa, who threw everything, kitchen sink and all at Greig Laidlaw and co. The Scots were in trouble early on as they suffered through a Samoan onslaught, conceding three tries before the break. Scotland, though, matched the Samoan’s physicality in the second half and reaped the rewards as Samoa conceded a series of penalties. This allowed Scotland a stronger platform from which Laidlaw conceded and converted the pivotal try.
In the Pool A decider, Australia held out Wales for a dramatic ten-minute period with only 13 men on the pitch. The Wallabies weathered a Welsh storm through a mix of bad decision-making by the Welsh and some heroic defending.
England’s dead-rubber final game against Uruguayan farmers, vets and bankers was a potential banana skin for RWC didn’t end in complete disgrace as they ended strongly, although trying to speed the game up at every opportunity and a lack of control at the breakdown made for a scrappy first half against a determined Uruguay.
While England failed to set the City of Manchester stadium alight until Uruguay’s four-day turn-around began to take it’s toll, the experience of Nick Easter provided a much-needed rudder to proceedings as his Harlequins partnership with Danny Care shone through. It’s also safe to say we’d have liked to have seen more of the silky running and decision making of Henry Slade and the carrying of Jamie George.
On the final day of the group stages Ireland overcame France in the Pool D decider with some accurate plays and disciplined defending albeit with key players hobbling off during proceedings. The losses of captain Paul O’Connell with a nasty hamstring tear and Peter O’Mahony for the rest of the Tournament are big blows, while Jonny Sexton plodded off after a monster hit from Louis Picamoles.
Lastly, while they just missed out on profession from the group, Japan ended their astounding campaign with yet another triumph, this time over USA.
The quarter-finals then:
Wales v South Africa
Australia v Scotland
New Zealand v France
Argentina v Ireland
Hero of the weekend:
Bryan Habana. The fact he could still break the record in the knock-out stages speaks volumes.
Villain of the weekend:
Ormaechea, the only player to be red-carded so far in the Tournament, gets a mention but this week’s accolade goes to none other than Sam Burgess. Because apparently he’s to blame. For everything.
As well as England’s failing, the sensationally tongue-in-cheek #BlameBurgess Twitter campaign strings him up for everything from the introduction of the new 5p plastic bag ‘tax’ to strikes by Putin’s forces on US-backed Syrian Rebels. Hilarious.