Autumn Internationals Roundup
As another thrilling Autumn of international test rugby comes to an end, we take a look at how accurate our predictions were throughout the month and review the performances of England, Wales and Scotland.
We predicted England to win all four matches, and they certainly delivered. Their 37-21 victory over Australia in their final game equalled the England record for most consecutive wins taking their tally to fourteen. Despite a sloppy start to the game, England fought back from 10-0 down and crossed the whitewash three times in the second half. They also defeated South Africa for the first time in a decade. Their opening game saw them run out 37-21 winners in what seemed to be an easy win against a lacklustre Springbok side. Eddie Jones made a few changes for the game against Fiji, and the replacements certainly made a mark. Semesa Rokoduguni was the pundit’s choice of man of the match with two tries in an emphatic 58-15 victory. In the third game, they locked horns with Argentina, and despite having Elliot Daly sent off in the opening five minutes, England were able to record a 27-14 win against the South Americans. An incredible work ethic, with character and resilience, made sure Jones’ men continued their winning streak. It was a very difficult choice for the player of the autumn series, and for that reason, we are going to name the outstanding players rather than the best. Courtney Lawes on his recall to the side had a very solid four games, with Joseph also scoring four tries he was certainly one of England’s best backs. Ben Youngs was awarded man of the match in the Australian game and made two tries in the South Africa encounter with some lovely sniping around the fringes of the ruck. Owen Farrell’s goal-kicking was as ever exemplary and was key in the Argentina game. He led from the front and was an integral part in their attack.
Wales were predicted to win three of their four games, losing to Australia in the other one. Once again, we predicted them all correctly. A very disappointing first game saw them lose 32-8 to Australia. They were completely outmuscled and were nowhere near as good as the Australian attack. The result marred their entire Autumn series. Close fought wins against Argentina (24-20), and Japan (33-30) set up an important final fixture versus South Africa. Rob Howley decided to rest players in their third game against Japan, which meant they were fresher in their final match. A comfortable 27-13 win versus the Springboks made it seem a little better for Wales, but the South Africans were hardly ever going to give them many headaches. They failed to win a single game on tour, which included drawing to the Barbarians and remarkably losing to Italy. Wales won’t look back on this autumn series with any great esteem or pride, they recorded results which you would expect of them, and once again failed versus an in-form southern hemisphere side. Leigh Halfpenny, who hadn’t featured for them for months on end, was the pick of the Wales players for us. Simply because his goal kicking was exceptional, and was very important in their wins over Argentina and Japan.
Scotland, as we said before the internationals began, showed how they are on the up as a nation. We thought they’d win their second and third game, but lose their opener, and we were spot on. Another defeat by just one point against Australia unearthed the agony again of their World Cup quarter-final loss to the Wallabies. A converted try in the final four minutes was enough to sink them in a gruelling encounter at Murrayfield. A narrow win over Argentina 19-16 offered little consolation, and a good 43-16 victory over Georgia was expected. Stuart Hogg was outstanding, particularly in their final game with a wonderful try. Hogg made it clear to us that he is the front-runner for the British and Irish Lions fullback position next year in New Zealand. As for their player of the series, it’s tied between three. Jonny Gray continued to impress fans with his very good game against Australia. Stuart Hogg, as he so often does, made the Scottish backs tick and added a whole lot of magic to them. And of course, skipper Greig Laidlaw once again led the side well and was crucial with the boot in the game versus Argentina.
There you have it. Another great autumn of international rugby. We cannot wait for what’s going to be an exciting Six Nations, which will, of course, include Ireland, who defeated the world champions New Zealand during the autumn.
Our predictions were 100% correct, eleven out of eleven. Forget Paul the Octopus for predicting results, just ask us next time.