The 2022 Rugby Championship got off to a thrilling start this past weekend with the Springboks thumping the Kiwis in Mbombela and the Wallabies outlasting the Pumas in Mendoza.
SA off to fantastic Rugby Championship start
The Springboks produced one of their most comprehensive displays under Jacques Nienaber to utterly dismantle New Zealand in a 26-10 win at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday. The Boks, spearheaded by the indefatigable Malcolm Marx, controlled the match from start to finish and scored tries through Kurt-Lee Arendse and Willie le Roux, while the boot of Handre Pollard added another 16-points to the side’s overall tally.
The Kiwis simply had no answer to the Boks’ aerial assault or their physicality in contact. This writer doesn’t profess to be any kind of rugby tactics guru, but it’s pretty clear to see how unclear Ian Foster’s side are in way of an actual game plan. The All Blacks will always be dangerous from broken field, as they proved several times again on the weekend, but their aimlessness with ball in hand is a big worry – especially with the sharks still circling a number of key individuals within the set up.
Nienaber, meanwhile, will be thrilled with the performance of his charges. While there remain questions surrounding the team’s overall variation on attack, their Plan A worked so well on Saturday that it mitigated that fact. One would expect them to produce a similar showing in this weekend’s rematch in Johannesburg, but they may yet require some refinements later down the line.
Big final quarter powers Aussies to win
Australia scored 24-points in the final quarter to record a 41-26 comeback victory over Argentina in Mendoza on Saturday. The Wallabies, who trailed 10-19 at the break, were under the cosh for large parts of the game but did well to hit back emphatically late on. The hosts looked impressive in patches and can take many positives into the second matchup but must become a more disciplined unit if they are to see games out.
Unfortunately for Dave Rennie, his injury woes just got significantly worse after a newly reinstated Quade Cooper ruptured his Achilles tendon at the Estadio Malvinas – an injury that typically means nine-months out of the game. With the World Cup kicking-off in September next year, it looks as though the Kiwi coach will have to back either Noah Lolesio or James O’Connor at flyhalf from here on out.
It’s massively disappointing for 34-year-old Quade, who was vital to the Aussies’ cause last year. Here’s to hoping we haven’t seen him in Wallaby gold for the final time.
Check out some of the best moments from round one of the Rugby Championship.
All quality from Malherbe
The fatties don’t often get much credit for their contributions in open field play, but Frans Malherbe’s efforts here are astounding for a 125+ kilogram tighthead prop. Say what you will, the Stormers man is a proper athlete.
Montoya bulldozes White
Los Pumas skipper Julian “don’t be a p@&$” Montoya absolutely steamrolls Wallaby scrumhalf Nic White here.
Masters of the Dark Arts
This wonderfully insightful video by Ek Rugby Analysis shows how effectively the Boks were able to disrupt New Zealand’s flow on Saturday.
Aussies finish off beauty
The Wallabies’ final try on Saturday was a proper gem and capped off a remarkable 20-minute period in which they scored 24-points.
Boks end off in style
Replacement Willie le Roux capped off a memorable Springbok display with a try late on to condemn the All Blacks to their joint third-heaviest ever defeat.
Willemse reels in Clarke
As far as try-saving tackles go, they don’t get much better than this from Damian Willemse on Caleb Clarke. The All Blacks may have scored a phase later, but the Bok fullback could do no more.
One of the all time best moments from any #RSAvNZL game in recent memory was when Damian Willemse chased down and tackled Caleb Clarke. What made this moment even better was the commentary by Grant Nisbet and Justin Marshall. Live commentary here. @Springboks @NZRugby pic.twitter.com/oXy556uYTW— observantfox (@observantfox1) August 8, 2022