The first weekend of international Tests for this June period produced many close encounters, with exciting series to come.
Georgia (16) defeat Tonga (15)
The first game of the weekend saw the Lelos take on the Ikale Tahi in Suva, Fiji.
The game was a physical affair, with both teams aiming to stamp their dominance early. The Tongans struggled with their handling and gave the ball away too much, which played right into the Georgians’ hands, whose dominance at scrum time proved a huge factor in the game, as they were easily able to progress down the field through penalties.
The Tongans showed what they could do in the last ten minutes, scoring twice, but it was too little too late, with the Georgians’ boring but effective play getting them the one-point win.
Fiji (24) defeat Samoa (22)
The Fijians were the better team for most of the match and looked like they were going to pull away when they went up 24-3 with about 30 minutes to play, but their ill-discipline (three yellow cards) let their opponents back in, with two tries in the last ten minutes.
Ben Volavola directed play well, while also slicing through the Samoan defence for a try of his own. On the Manu Samoan side, Melani Matavao’s energy and speed provided problems for the Fijian defence.
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New Zealand (52) defeat France (11)
The French looked like they would continue their habit of being the All Blacks’ bogey side, playing a great first 40 minutes, where they physically smashed the Kiwis and took their opportunities.
The second half was a different story.
A controversial yellow card in the 51st minute provided New Zealand the advantage they needed and they proceeded to run away with the game, their ability to score points on show. The home side’s bench was incredible, with Damian McKenzie the stand-out.
For the French, there were positive signs and while they can count themselves a little unlucky, they also completely shut down after the yellow card. Hopefully they can be back to their physical best next Saturday in Wellington.
Australia (18) defeat Ireland (9)
The Wallabies faced a physical, forward-dominant Irish side, but defended well and upped the tempo in the second half to get the win.
The one real area for improvement comes at lineout time, with debutant Brandon Paenga-Amosa struggling early in the game.
Ireland will be disappointed with their performance, having struggled in attack – they didn’t have the x-factor to break the strong Wallaby defence.
South Africa (42) defeat England (39)
The final game of the weekend was a high-scoring shootout, which suited the South Africans more than the structured English.
Engalnd amassed a 21-point lead inside 20 minutes before the Springboks found their groove and began to claw their way back, with halfback Faf de Klerk in everything for the home side.
The English also suffered from poor discipline, giving Handre Pollard too many opportunities at goal.
Questions surrounded the South African back three coming into the game, but S’busiso Nkosi and Aphiwe Dyantyi were standout performers, showing great pace and footwork, while Willie le Roux was at his best at the back.
Japan (34) defeat Italy (17)
Wales (23) defeat Argentina (10)