The November Autumn Internationals Round 2 produced plenty of excitement with some close matches, the odd upset and plenty of tries.
Most matches went according to predictions with Georgia and Romania recording upset wins at home against Canada and Tonga respectively. Only 18 percent of SuperBru tipsters picked Georgia to beat Canada, while 11 percent picked Romania to beat Tonga. The other eight results all went according to plan with most people picking them, although picking margins can be difficult.
The All Blacks victory over France was closer than expected with France making up for a poor 2013 so far with an inspired performance including some great offloads and some big Pacific Island players off the bench (something the All Blacks usually have) and some great scrummaging, although the scrums weren’t helped by ground conditions. Charles Piutau provided some brilliance to get the All Blacks home, but now with Julian Savea set to return and an impressive return from Cory Jane against France, leaves the All Blacks with too many options. It is amazing how the All Blacks unleashed Ben Smith on the world this year and now they have unleashed Piutau. Smith is now a lot quieter in the Number 13 jersey. Another talking point from the All Blacks vs France was why teams substitute their players no matter what. Dan Carter was playing well before being subbed off for Aaron Cruden. It seems that despite their age, both Dan Carter and Richie McCaw still have some life in them at test match rugby level. It was also a great kickoff time for fans in New Zealand, with the late start meaning a 9am kickoff in New Zealand.
Is it my imagination or do the All Blacks not play well when they are not wearing black? Also, is Ben Smith really the best centre the All Blacks have got? Although given the plethora of other outside backs then he may just have to battle on and continue to play centre.
There were some rather comfortable wins for Australia and England over Italy and Argentina respectively. England are looking good at home and this sets up a great match next week when England host the All Blacks at Twickenham. The Wallabies are an enigma with their ability to thrash some teams, but lose to others.
The Springboks downed Wales to show that there is still a gap between the Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere. Morne Steyn is definitely an underrated performer for the Springboks. Given that this was a strong welsh team who won the Six Nations and dominated the British and Irish Lions team then it must be concerning that they lost to the Springboks.
It was interesting to see the Maori All Blacks against USA and hear the rather biased commentary, although that is probably how some of New Zealand’s commentators come across to overseas viewers. The Maori All Blacks were made to work by the USA Eagles, although the hosts did struggle to contain the free running Maori players. New Zealand fans should get used to seeing their teams playing in the USA given the sponsorship deal that AIG has with the All Blacks brand and the amount of places that their brand was plastered all over the ground, posts and billboards. It looks like the All Blacks will be heading to the USA soon.
Fiji, Scotland and Ireland won by surprisingly high margins which were more than most people predicted. It is funny how some teams like Japan, Samoa, Tonga and Canada struggled away from home. It is difficult to know what to expect from these teams next week.
Georgia 19 – 15 Canada
Italy 20 – 50 Italy
England 31 – 12 Argentina
Scotland 42 – 17 Japan
Portugal 13 – 36 Fiji
Wales 15 – 24 South Africa
Romania 19 – 18 Tonga
Ireland 40 – 9 Samoa
France 19 – 26 All Blacks
USA 19 – 29 Maori All Blacks
Which team impressed you the most in The November Autumn Internationals Round 2? Who should start on the wings for the All Blacks vs England? Should inform players be subbed?