It’s a victory each after two rounds in the 2022 Rugby Championship, which may yet turn out to be the closest edition of the tournament to date.
The Pumas and All Blacks flipped the script over the Wallabies and Springboks respectively, their victories coming in contrasting fashion in San Juan and Johannesburg at the weekend.
After passing up last week’s test in Mendoza, the Pumas on Saturday pulled away from the Wallabies after building a 16-point lead at half-time, Michael Cheika’s side recording their biggest win over Australia in a 47-game win. -16.
Earlier on Saturday at Ellis Park, the All Blacks, who were under fire, regained some pride in their jersey, and took some of the pressure off manager Ian Foster, with a thrilling 35-23 victory over South Africa.
Read on as we review some of the weekend’s big talking points.
REFEREE PEARCE CORRECTLY GAVE THE TWO BIG RULES
Is there a better spectacle in the world of rugby than a packed Ellis Park? If it’s not the most intimidating terrain in the game, then it’s certainly up there, and there wasn’t a seat available on Saturday night.
And the crowd of 61,519 was treated to a thrilling six-try encounter, the last two of which were scored by the visitors when they overcame replacement Beauden Barrett’s sin with 13 minutes to play.
That decision, which was one of many difficult decisions that English referee Luke Pearce had to make, was the right one.
Moments earlier, the All Blacks had given up possession thanks to a brilliant Ardie Savea steal, the No. 8 quickly snatching the ball away after a cutting run from Makazole Mapimpi. New Zealand then looked to distribute the ball inside their own 22, hoping to catch the Springboks on the jump with an unlikely counterattack.
As play broke on the other side of the pitch, the visitors switched the ball to block Sam Whitelock, who quickly bent over an unsuspecting Fletcher Newell, prop turf possession allowing Springboks scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse , pass it towards the All Blacks line.
Just as he did, Barrett eliminated Hendrikse, the All Blacks star robbing the South African of the opportunity to chase down his own kick and potentially retake possession or make a tackle on the New Zealand cover.
And that was coming in the form of Richie Mo’unga, who had roughly the same bouncing lead as Hendrikse.
“I’m not talking about a penalty attempt here because No. 10 is clearly behind; but he can’t do that, No. 22. He’s cynical, so I’m looking at a yellow card here, guys,” Pearce said while He consulted with his fellow officials.
Given Mo’unga’s proximity to the ball, there was more than enough doubt to suggest that Hendrikse would have been the first to arrive, or at least that Mo’unga would have arrived at the same time to have the opportunity to make a legal tackle. the Springboks No. 9.
It was by no means “likely” that Hendrikse would have scored, as written in World Rugby Law 8.3.
“A penalty try between the goal posts is awarded if foul play by the opposing team prevents a probable try from being scored, or from being scored in a more advantageous position. A player guilty of this must be cautioned and temporarily suspended or sent off .No conversion is attempted.”
However, Barrett fully deserved his yellow card, the All Blacks veteran forced to watch nervously from the sidelines as his side rallied to get past the world champions.
Earlier, South Africa had a five-point shot disallowed after an obstruction denied Sam Whitelock the opportunity to tackle a flying Lukhanyo Am.
The Springboks winger had looked to open up the All Blacks’ defense after receiving a deep pass inside his own 22-yard line. Seeing a scrambled group of players in front of him, Am charged through the middle and deep into the backfield, before to launch a sweep. spiral pass to Makazole Mapimpi who broke away to score.
In replays, however, it became clear that Hendrikse had twice crossed Whitelock’s path and denied him the opportunity to tackle Am.
One of the basic principles of rugby is that if you are in front of the ball, you are out of the game; like you’re on the ground, you’re out of the game.
Both times, and largely throughout the game, Pearce handled himself magnificently. And the result was an exciting test match in a storied rivalry that rarely fails.
Springboks fans have criticized a decision earlier in the match that saw Am deny a try due to an earlier knockout, disputing that Sam Whitelock had ripped the ball off. But the fact that New Zealand were playing ahead makes this moot; The visitors might not have moved the ball with such abandon inside their own half had they not had virtual free play.
I AM WORLD CLASS; ABS HAVE THEIR WHORE IN TAUKEI’AHO
There were several standout players at Ellis Park on Saturday night, with Ardie Savea, Sam Whitelock, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Makazole Mapimpi and Rieko Ioane among those who impressed.
But none better than Lukhanyo Am, who continually challenged the All Blacks defense in a superb performance that confirmed his position as one of the best centers in the world.
Am finished the match with 137 meters from eight runs, four clean breaks and five defeated defenders.
But it was the Springboks center’s final attempt for his five-point shot in the 37th minute that best underlined his quality. I’m charging down the right touchline, knocking down a weak tackle attempt from Caleb Clarke and then surviving the desperate clutches of the All Blacks to cover landing in the corner.
Am would also have had a try-assist had it not been for Hendrikse’s obstruction in the run up to Mapimpi’s disallowed try; although there may also be a question mark on the final pass in that move.
Still, it didn’t diminish the world-class performance of the Springboks outside centre, also proving that the world champions are anything but the ruthless box-kicking team they are often accused of being.
Meanwhile, Samisoni Taukei’aho appears to have established himself as New Zealand’s best hooker, following the nonchalant form of Codie Taylor and veteran Dane Coles.
Taukei’aho has been a powerhouse for the Chiefs of late and has finally been given the opportunity to show that he is a hooker who can handle test rugby.
On Saturday night at Ellis Park, Taukei’aho finished second only to the incomparable Ardie Savea in runs and was pretty solid from set pieces, save for a couple of wobbly throws at the lineout and an error from” foot break” at the beginning of the contest.
He is seen as a player with great potential for All Blacks manager Ian Foster, no matter how long he remains in the top job.
AGRICULTURAL TIME FOR CHEIKA
Argentina’s record win over Australia will not be forgotten for long, such was the onslaught that the Pumas unleashed on an injury-ravaged Wallabies, who had no answer for an aerial attack that reinforced their problems at fullback.
The seven-to-two win was legitimately celebrated in the San Juan stands, with Wallabies coach Dave Rennie refusing to use the team’s string of injuries as an excuse, declaring: “Big disappointment. good enough. You could see it there.” It was four attempts that were kicks behind us, they certainly dominated us in the collision area.
“We created a lot of opportunities, but we have to be patient. Rucks is not a disaster, we just weren’t clinical enough.”
“We lacked cohesion with some changes. We’ll look at the pictures, but we’re better than that. It’s a big disappointment. We want to earn the country’s respect and you don’t do it with performances like that.” “
And then there was Cougars coach Michael Cheika, who found himself in the same position as old foe Eddie Jones, by virtue of their standing as proud Australians.
But while Jones doesn’t often lament to some extent the success he’s built in his native country, the Pumas’ win on Saturday certainly made Cheika as happy as it was sad.
“I love these guys, they are my team now,” Cheika told reporters. “I was up on the last try, cheering. But then I started crying because I know I probably shouldn’t be doing this. It was a little confusing for me personally.”
“But now it’s my guys. That’s my team. I’ll do my best to help them be successful and enjoy rugby. I’m getting a lot of respect here and people believe in the things we’re doing.” I have to do everything I can to help them.”
The next step for the Cheika Pumas is a two-week slog in New Zealand. Rest assured, if you’re able to pull off a surprise in Christchurch or Hamilton, you won’t shed a single tear.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH CLEANING SHOES
Let’s be clear here, the decision to cancel James O’Connor’s attempt in the 20th minute had absolutely no impact on the final result: Australia were soundly beaten in San Juan.
And there was enough to suggest that O’Connor’s pass to Jordan Petaia or the winger’s return ball may have been forward.
But calling off the try due to Pablo Matera’s cleanup of James Slipper was a sham.
The Wallabies captain could have done little to execute a safer cleanup, the fact that Matera ended up in the air was as much his fault as it was Slipper’s as he was holding the tackled player and not the ball and the force of the move displaced your body weight from one leg to two.
In no way did Slipper attack the legs, wrap his arms or make contact with Matera’s head, which are actions that should be penalized.
There’s certainly an argument that Lachie Lonergan contributed to Matera’s awkward final body position, but if that was the case then he should have been singled out for a side tackle more than anything.
Players should certainly be protected on the break, and anyone who shouldered forward, slided at high speed or entered from an illegal angle and injured an opposition player should be penalized accordingly.
But this was a difficult decision for Slipper on what soon became an ugly night for Australian rugby.
Also, it was hard to see how there was no convincing evidence to overturn the on-field decision that denied Emiliano Boffelli a try at the end of the first half.
Fortunately, in any case, the decisions had no effect on the final result.