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Rugby: Bledisloe Cup 2018 – kick-off time for All Blacks and Wallabies first test

Rugby: Bledisloe Cup 2018 – kick-off time for All Blacks and Wallabies first test

Rugby: Bledisloe Cup 2018 – Late change in kick-off time for All Blacks and Wallabies first test

The kick-off for the first Bledisloe Cup test between the All Blacks and Wallabies has been brought forward.

The first match of the Rugby Championship, and the first of three Bledisloe Cup tests, will get underway at 9.45pm (NZT), 20 minutes earlier than initially publicised.

It is understood that the change was requested six weeks ago, but Sanzaar made the decision midweek. Rugby Australia were still reporting the game as getting underway at 10.05pm NZT earlier this week, while New Zealand Rugby were promoting the game as a 10.05pm kick-off on social media this week as well.

So, rugby fans be aware – make sure you don’t miss the first 20 minutes of the game when you tune in to watch on TV follow the New Zealand Herald’s stellar live coverage online.

The Black Ferns, who play beforehand, will still get underway at 7.15pm.

 

Wallabies vs All Blacks live stream: How to watch Bledisloe 1 online and on TV

 

The Wallabies have yet another chance to break their Bledisloe Cup drought when they host the All Blacks tonight in the first Test. This is The Roar’s guide to watching the game online and on TV.

The match is scheduled to begin at 7:45pm (AEST) tonight, August 18 at ANZ Stadium.

The Wallabies trimmed down their squad to 28 on Sunday, with captain Michael Hooper and senior players Scott Sio and Dane Haylett-Petty set to overcome fitness concerns for tonight’s clash.

And, if history is anything to go by, they will need the trio if they are to stand any chance of taking down the All Blacks.

While the Australians won the last meeting between the two sides, it was only their second victory in their last 19 matches against New Zealand.

The All Blacks travel to Sydney confident of overcoming the Wallabies having won seven of their last ten games at ANZ Stadium.

In preparation for the Bledisloe Cup opener, they played two 40-minute trial games, beating Otago 32-0 and Canterbury 40-5.

How to watch the match on TV

The match is being broadcast on TV in Australia through two networks.

The first option is Foxtel, who will be broadcasting every Wallabies international game this season.

Channel 501 will be covering Saturday night’s game, with a pre-game show beginning at 7pm (AEST), after the Wallaroos game finishes.

Coverage will wrap up at 10pm after a 30-minute post-game show.

For free-to-air viewers, Channel 10 will be broadcasting Saturday night’s match.

Their coverage also begins at 7pm and is scheduled to finish at 9:45pm.

The match can be viewed in high definition on Channels 13 and 210 for both free-to-air viewers and Foxtel customers.

Alternatively, you can catch the game in standard definition on Channels 10 and 110 respectively.

How to live stream the match online

If you wish to watch the clash online, there are two ways to do it.

The first is available to Foxtel subscribers. They can stream the coverage of the match through the Foxtel App. This app is free to download and can be used if you have a valid login.

Alternatively, if you are not an existing Foxtel customer, you can still watch the game online. You will need to use Foxtel Now instead. Foxtel Now is a streaming-only option, with subscription packages available for purchase.

You can also tune into the game on the Tenplay website, where you can stream the game for free.

Otherwise, you can always count on us. Here at The Roar we will have live scores and a blog of the match.

Wallabies vs All Blacks Bledisloe Cup Game 1 preview and prediction

It is roughly 9:45pm on the 3rd of August 2002.

(Most of) ANZ Stadium is standing, with bated breath, as Matt Burke stands over an 81st minute penalty. The siren has sounded, and his Wallabies are down by a point, 14-13.

If he kicks true, the Bledisloe Cup will be retained. True to script, the original Ice man steadies himself, before slotting the Bundaberg branded rugby ball straight through the middle of the posts.

Away from the ground, Prime Minister John Howard is elated, and quickly sets the alarm on his spanking new Sanyo SCP-5300 (the first ever flip phone with an in-built camera) for 7am, at which point he will wake up and go for a leisurely stroll, dressed head-to-toe in a Wallabies tracksuit.

All is well in the world.

Fast forward to the 18th of August 2018.

It has been more than 16 years since the Wallabies last held the Bledisloe aloft. In that time, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have all been invented. Australia has seen four Prime ministers come and go, and John Howard’s Sanyo hasn’t seen the light of day for more than a decade.

Every year, rugby fans around Australia entertain the thought of the Bledisloe returning to our shores.

It begs the question…

Could the 2018 Bledisloe be different?

Starting fast: Not an if, but a must
First and foremost, it is worth noting that Australia has won Game One of the Bledisloe only once in the last 10 years. It doesn’t take the most astute of observers to realise that it makes wrestling the cup back from the All Blacks awfully difficult if they fall behind 1-0 this evening.

It would appear that Michael Cheika has tipped his hat to this point. His internal trial at Leichardt Oval in the build-up was a more than useful hit out for his non-Waratahs squad members.

Whether it translates into a fast start come tonight remains to be seen. However, you’d be hard pressed to find any fan that didn’t like the concept.

The battle of the forwards
Cheika has gone all-in on the set piece with his selections 1 through 8. Izack Rodda and Adam Coleman start in the second row, and both are the lineout generals for their respective Super Rugby sides.

Rob Simmons, the caller for the Waratahs, has also won a spot on the bench.

The back row of Lukhan Tui, Michael Hooper and David Pocock is an interesting prospect. Pocock’s on-ball ability is undeniable, and it is a mobile trio.

With Pete Samu providing back-up from the bench, the battle at the breakdown will be extremely intriguing.

The questions arise in the front row.

Scott Sio’s shoulder niggle sees Tom Robertson start, alongside the returning Tatafu Polota-Nau and veteran Sekope Kepu.

Robertson was outstanding for the Waratahs in 2018, particularly in their finals run, and he thoroughly deserves his start.

However, his battle against Owen Franks is as tough as they come. It could be telling.

Taniela Tupou and Tolu Latu will be electric off the bench, expect decent minutes for both.

For the All Blacks, Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick are one of the best lock pairings in the world, whilst the evergreen Kieran Read returns from injury to skipper his side.

Desperation and suffocation in defence – the recipe for success
The Wallabies primary issue is not scoring points, it’s in not conceding them. Their attack is at its best, electric, and in Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale, they have two of the form attacking weapons in world rugby. The return of Will Genia should also be a timely boost.

However, if the Wallabies are to win, they need to approach Game One in Sydney with the defensive intensity and line speed they displayed in Game One against Ireland at Suncorp Stadium a couple of months ago.

On that occasion, David Pocock was immense at breakdown time, and the Irish had literally no answer to the ferocity of the wall that was the Wallabies defence that night.

For 80 minutes, Cheika’s men out-enthused, out-tackled, and out-thought a very impressive rugby outfit.

Anything short of that performance will spell defeat for the men in gold.

Why the Wallabies can win
Form. The last time the Wallabies clashed with the All Blacks, they came away victors.

While that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) translate to them starting as favourites in Game One as Steve Hansen facetiously suggested mid-week, it certainly should instil the belief in the Wallabies playing group that they have the ability to win, and win well.

Why the Wallabies can’t win
Form! The All Blacks are still the absolute gold standard in world rugby, and they have a scarcely believable record in recent years.

Since Steve Hansen took over from Graham Henry in 2012, they have won 76 games from 85 starts at a respectable 89.5 per cent win rate. Ridiculous.

They have a clinical, accurate forward pack, which so often lays a winning platform for an enigmatic and highly damaging backline.

Prediction
I think the All Blacks starting XV isa better-rounded and more complete side. However, Cheika’s bench has a few weapons, particularly in the front row. If used properly, it could make for a frenetic last 20 minutes when bodies start getting tired.

I think it will be an extremely close fixture, however the experience and X-Factor of the All Blacks should just be enough to get the job done at a bumper ANZ Stadium.

All Blacks by 8

 

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The 2018 State of Origin Series

The 2018 State of Origin Series

Welcome to The Roar‘s coverage of the 2018 State of Origin series, including news, previews, video, highlights and team announcements. We’ll be updating this page daily as the latest news breaks.

Click here Watch Now Live Coverage

 

In 2018, one game will be played in Melbourne, followed by games in Sydney and Brisbane.

New South Wales will head into the series with a new coach as Brad Fittler takes the reigns from Laurie Daley. Kevin Walters will again coach the Maroons after a successful 2017 series.

The Maroons have won 11 of the last 12 series, but will head into 2018 without stalwarts of that success Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk.

The fixtures for the 2018 State of Origin series were announced in November.

Date Time (AEDT) Home Away Venue
Game 1 Wed Jun 6 8:00 PM Queensland Maroons New South Wales Blues Melbourne Cricket Ground
Game 2 Sun Jun 24 8:00 PM New South Wales Blues Queensland Maroons ANZ Stadium, Homebush
Game 3 Wed Jul 11 8:00 PM Queensland Maroons New South Wales Blues Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

*Important note – most Origin games commence later than this time. The exact kick-off, after the Australian national anthem is performed, and TV specials are completed, is closer to 8:15pm.

2017 State of Origin series

In 2017, Queensland won the series making it 11 series wins in the last 12 years after taking a dominant 22-6 victory over NSW at Suncorp Stadium, with Valentine Holmes scoring three tries.

Holmes scored two tries in the first half of Game 3 to give Queensland a 12-0 advantage at half time. A Josh Dugan try brought it back to 12-6, but a third from Holmes and one from Jarrod Wallace saw Queensland run away with a 22-6 series-deciding victory.

Queensland’s Dane Gagai was awarded the Wally Lewis Medal for player of the series, becoming just the first winger in the history of Origin to take home the award.

Earlier in the series, the Blues cruised to a 28-4 Game 1 win in Brisbane before the Maroons hit back with a nailbiting 18-16 win in Game 2 in Sydney to set up the decider, courtesy of a last-gasp Johnathan Thurston conversion after Dane Gagai scored two tries in the second half.

History and format

Considered by many as the pinnacle of rugby league, State Of Origin is one of Australia’s premier sporting events, played in front of sold-out stadiums. The series itself is contested between New South Wales and Queensland, who have formed an epic rivalry that has resulted in some of the toughest and most skilful games ever.

Since its inception in 1980, the results between NSW and QLD had been extraordinarily even, contributing further to the competition’s success, until a 12-year streak in which Queensland have won 11 series. Overall the Maroons have won 24 series compared to the Blues’ 13.

In recent years, State of Origin has been played on Wednesday nights, spaced three weeks apart. In 2018 though, the second game of the series will be played as a stand alone game on Sunday night in Sydney. The first and third games will remain on Wednesday nights.

Year-by-year Origin history

2017 series

2017 Game 1: New South Wales made a positive start to the series, clinching a 28-4 victory away from home.

2017 Game 2: The Maroons returned the favour during Game 2 though, coming from behind in the second half to win 18-16.

2017 Game 3: The Blues never recovered as they travelled north for Game 3, looking like a shell of the team they were in the first game of the series, eventually going down 22-6 to lose another series.

2016 series

2016 Game 1: The first game of the series saw Queensland take a low-scoring 6-4 victory away from home.

2016 Game 2: Queensland wrapped up the series in straight sets. It was another tight affair, but more open with more points as the Maroons clinnched a 26-16 victory.

2016 Game 3: New South Wales picked up a consolation victory in Game 3, taking an 18-14 victory with a miracle try on the buzzer.

2015 series – how it happened

2015 Game 1: Queensland won the first match of the State of Origin series 11-10, at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

2015 Game 2: A record 91,514 fans packed the MCG in Melbourne. NSW won the match 26-18 thanks to a heroic performance from Michael Jennings, forcing a decider which was played in Brisbane.

2015 Game 3: 52,500 people were in Suncorp Stadium to witness a complete domination from the Maroons, who won 52-6. The 46-point win was the biggest winning margin in Queensland Origin history.

2014 series – how it happened

Game 1 of the 2014 series on May 28 saw the two teams take to Suncorp Stadium. The build-up was as tense, and when the teams took the park the action was ferocious.

Despite an early Darius Boyd try, New South Wales enjoyed the ascendency in the first half, with tries to Brett Morris and Jarryd Hayne seeing them take a 10-4 lead.

As the second half began, a penalty goal took the Blues to a 12-4 lead, but Darius Boyd’s second try brought the game back to life. The Blues however didn’t relent, and managed to hold off at fast-finishing Queensland to win 12-8.

Game 2 was competitive, controversial, and full of niggle, which made for a low-scoring contest. But NSW’s 6-4 win resulted in their first series victory over Queensland since 2005.

Queensland took two penalty goals either side of halftime through Johnathan Thurston. But Trent Hodkinson managed to convert pressure into points for the Blues, when after five consecutive sets attacking the Queensland line he slipped through the Maroons’ defence for the only try of the match.

There was a controversial moment at the end of the match, with the ball brushing Aaron Woods before going dead on the full, but the Blues were awarded a penalty, and held on for the win and the series victory.

Game 3 was a ‘dead rubber’ by name, but was still played with passion, pride and intensity. It showed the Queensland team of old, as the Maroons piled on five tries to thrash the Blues 32-8.

Although they only took a 6-2 lead into halftime, the win was built on the back of an opening half where NSW were forced to get through a mountain of defensive work. As a result, the Maroons managed four tries in a clinic of attacking play in the second half.

Tries to Aiden Guerra, Billy Slater, Darius Boyd and Cooper Cronk saw the Maroons home in a thrashing, but it didn’t stop Blues skipper Paul Gallen from holding aloft the shield after the match in front of 50,000 Queenslanders.

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Live: Australia vs England, Rugby League World Cup final in Brisbane

Live: Australia vs England, Rugby League World Cup final in Brisbane

AUSTRALIA will be hoping its Rugby League World Cup comes full circle when it plays England in the final at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

The Kangaroos defeated the Poms 18-4 in the tournament opener and coasted through its next four matches to reach the decider, conceding just 16 points along the way. There are rumours tonight could see the final appearance of Billy Slater and perhaps even Cameron Smith in the green and gold, and a win would provide them with the perfect send-off if they decide to hang up the boots.

England scraped through its semi-final against Tonga to book its place against the home side tonight. Wayne Bennett’s men won 20-18 after Andrew Fifita’s try in the dying seconds was disallowed because of a knock-on and they will be hoping fortune favours them again against the Kangaroos.

Kick-off is scheduled for 8pm AEDT.

 

 

Earlier former Australian forward Gorden Tallis said he didn’t think the home side’s pack could match it with England’s big men if Sam Burgess and James Graham fired, but ex-NSW prop Mark Geyer disagreed.

“No, I don’t think they (England) have (the edge in the forwards),” Geyer told Channel Seven.

“Australia’s strength has been their forwards, in particular (David) Klemmer and (Aaron) Woods and then on comes (Reagan) Campbell-Gillard and (Jordan) McLean, with (Cameron) Smith guiding the ship.

“Their forward back has been immense. Sam Burgess tonight as captain will lead from the front and will be inspiring tonight.”

The stage is set for stand-in England skipper Sam Burgess to dominate an inferior Kangaroos pack and inspire a boilover in the Rugby League World Cup final in Brisbane, Gorden Tallis says.

Former Kangaroos enforcer Tallis has rated Burgess as the greatest British forward to play in the NRL and believes the South Sydney talisman can prove the difference against overwhelming favourite Australia at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

England appeared to cop a huge blow before its first Cup final appearance in 22 years when captain Sean O’Loughlin ruled himself out with a quad injury on match eve.

But Tallis believes Burgess can still provide enough firepower to blow away what he considered a lesser Kangaroos pack.

“He is one of the best forwards I have ever seen,” Tallis told a Rugby League World Cup final function in Brisbane.

“He is the best English forward that has come out here to play, I think he is absolutely outstanding.”

Tallis believes Burgess could pack a one-two punch with England forward James Graham that could give the Australian forwards nightmares.

“If he and James Graham can play the way they do in the NRL, if they can play with that intimidation and ferocity I don’t think the Australian forward pack are as good as those guys,” Tallis said.

“Australia have a great back-row but if those two guys can light it up and play to the best of their ability I think they will give the Australian pack a real nightmare.”

Back-rower Burgess will replace O’Loughlin at lock, with Ben Currie starting on the edge and utility Jonny Lomax added to the bench.

O’Loughlin is the second key forward coach Wayne Bennett has lost in a week, following star hooker Josh Hodgson’s torn ACL in the semi-final win over Tonga.

England has not won a series involving Australia since 1972. And it last beat Australia at a World Cup in 1995.

But Burgess was daring to dream, even contemplating who would lift the trophy for England if Australia — undefeated at a World Cup since 2008 — was somehow denied.

“I don’t think it gets much better than the World Cup final and it will be a special moment, although it’s kind of bittersweet if I’m honest,” said Burgess who led England in last year’s Four Nations tournament.

“Sean has been captain the whole tournament and he’ll lift the trophy if we get to that situation.”

Laine Clark, AAP

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Australia Kangaroos vs England rugby Live Stream RLWC Final 2017 Dec 2

Australia Kangaroos vs England rugby Live Stream RLWC Final 2017 Dec 2

Australia smashes Fiji in Rugby League World Cup semi-final

kangaroos vs fiji

Kangaroos winger Valentine Holmes created history by scoring six tries in his side’s 54-6 World Cup semi-final win over Fiji on Friday night.

Just a week after registering five tries against Samoa, the Cronulla flyer showed that was no fluke. His 11 tries in two games gives him 12 tries for the tournament, overtaking the previous record of most tries at a World Cup held by Broncos legend Wendell Sailor (10).

It was a stunning display by the 22-year-old who only made his representative debut last year, and played Origin for the first time in 2017. But he clearly enjoys the big stage.

He slammed down two four-pointers in the first half and celebrated his hat-trick two minutes into the second stanza when he reeled in an intercept 10m out from his own line before running the length of the field to score.

Billy Slater stole the limelight from him briefly when he sliced through from a scrum but Holmes didn’t take long to make sure all eyes were back on him as some crisp ball movement saw him stroll over from close range when Josh Dugan drew his defender and passed to his unmarked teammate.

The NSW star set Holmes up again when he hit him on the chest even after stumbling from 10m out to make it five tries for the young gun. Keen to go one better than last week, he didn’t disappoint, racing 50m down the sideline to put the finishing touches on a memorable night.

Despite his individual effort, Holmes was quick to praise his teammates after the match.

“A big credit to the team. It is an unbelievable team I’m playing in — probably the best team I’ve played in. Some great players in there,” Holmes said. “And obviously myself, six tries.

“I’m loving the tournament so far and very happy we have made the final now and I just want to relax and soak it up and get ready for next week.”

Rugby league icons were in awe of what the winger served up.

“We’ll never see this again, surely,” Canberra great Gary Belcher said in commentary for Channel Seven. “Gobsmacked.”

“It’s unbelievable,” former Penrith enforcer Mark Geyer added. “If you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes, you wouldn’t believe it.

“I don’t think I’ll ever see that again in my lifetime.

“Valentine Holmes has burst on the rugby league scene like an asteroid from out of space. He is great to watch.”

Coach Mal Meninga voiced his displeasure at his team’s training standards this week but he needn’t have worried as Australia dominated the first half.

The Bati opened the scoring with a penalty goal but that’s all they had to smile about as the home side showed its class to race to a 22-2 lead at the break.

The game started with plenty of fire, Jarryd Hayne’s illegal shoulder charge on Slater sparking a wild melee. The hit sat Slater on his backside but his teammates took exception to Hayne’s methods and another Fijian defender showing the No. 1 some extra attention on the ground, jumping in to defend the Storm star.

Back-rower Matt Gillett bombed a certain try with only the fullback to beat when his low pass to his outside floated forward and evaded Dane Gagai’s grasp, spilling over the sideline.

But the hosts’ attack clicked after 15 minutes when five-eighth Michael Morgan slid across to the left and shrugged off an attempted tackle. Fiji’s right-side defence had rushed up and once Morgan was through, it was easy to find the unmarked Slater on his outside for the opening try.

Holmes made it 12-2 when Fijian flyer Suliasi Vunivalu misjudged a bomb, leaping too early and watching in horror as the ball landed safely in Holmes’ arms on the tryline.

The Aussie winger went in again when he was the beneficiary of an overlap after the ball went through the hands to the left.

Gagai then stepped twice off his right foot to beat two defenders and score a four-pointer when he received an early ball from Cooper Cronk 20m out from Fiji’s line.

80th min — FULL-TIME: AUS 54 FIJI 6

76th min — TRY: Valentine Holmes is making international rugby league look like the easiest thing in the world, scoring his sixth try of the semi-final. He received the ball on the halfway line and raced down the left touchline to plant the ball in the in-goal once more. AUS 54 FIJI 6

70th min — TRY: Billy Slater scored a try from a scrum earlier, this time he set one set. In an eerily similar play to the one that resulted in a four-pointer seven minutes after half-time, the fullback passed instead of dummying to allow Dane Gagai to muscle his through the defence and score his second try of the night. AUS 50 FIJI 6

66th min — TRY: Valentine Holmes has remarkably scored five tries in a game for the second consecutive week. Josh Dugan almost blew it when he held onto the ball and stumbled, but he was able to fling the ball to Holmes on the left wing where he crossed for his fifth. “We’ll never see this again, surely,” Canberra great Gary Belcher said in commentary for Channel Seven. “Gobsmacked.” Colleague Mark Braybrook said it was “unbelievable”. Australian winger Wendell Sailor held the record for most tries in a World Cup with 10, but Holmes’ recent blitz sees him overtake that with 11 for the tournament. AUS 46 FIJI 6

60th min — TRY: Fiji’s Akuila Uate made a line break but couldn’t beat Billy Slater, dragged down 30m out from Australia’s line. That wasn’t the end of Fiji’s hopes though, Kevin Naiqama passing to Suliasi Vunivalu who did an extraordinary job of picking the ball off his bootlaces, his momentum carrying him over the stripe as he struggled to stay on his feet. AUS 40 FIJI 6

52nd min — Valentine Holmes now has four tries for the match, showing the five he scored against Samoa last week was no fluke. Some crisp ball movement out to the left saw the ball in Josh Dugan’s hands and he drew and passed from two metres out to hand Holmes another four-pointer on a platter. AUS 40 FIJI 2

47th min — TRY: Bill Slater dumped more pain on Fiji when he scored from a scrum. He received the ball on a second-man play and shaped to pass himself but he didn’t need any help, turning on the afterburners to slice through the Fijian defence and extend Australia’s advantage to 32. AUS 34 FIJI 2

42nd min — TRY: A week after scoring five tries against Samoa in Darwin Valentine Holmes registered a hat-trick against Fiji with an opportunistic intercept. Fiji was on the attack and threatened Australia’s line after retrieving an unintentional charge-down on the halfway line, but when fullback Kevin Naiqama passed to his outside backs, he watched in despair as Holmes plucked the ball out of the air before running the length of the field to score. AUS 28 FIJI 2

40th min — HALF-TIME: Australia botched a late attacking raid but still went into the sheds with a comfortable lead. AUS 22 FIJI 2

38th min — NO TRY: Australia almost benefited from a Hail Mary play after Cameron Smith grubbered on the halfway line. Cooper Cronk was first to the ball and got his boot to it again, putting Billy Slater in a race with Fiji’s halfback Henry Raiwalui to claim the Steeden. They both made a play for it but the video referee correctly ruled Slater knocked it forward into Michael Morgan’s hands, preventing the five-eighth’s try from standing.

37th min — KNOCK-ON: Fiji showed some spark as it ventured into enemy territory, but couldn’t regather a bomb on the right wing, handing the ball back to the hosts.

32nd min — TRY: Dane Gagai joined in on Australia’s pointscoring act when he found himself with time and space after receiving early, clean ball from Cooper Cronk. The winger stepped off his right foot 20m out from the line to beat Akuila Uate then put a similar move on the fullback to score a meat pie. AUS 22 FIJI 2

29th min — Fiji made a rare foray into Australia’s half but some adlib footy on the last tackle didn’t come off and the referee ordered a changeover 30m out from the Kangaroos’ line.

26th min — TRY: Valentine Holmes crossed for his second try of the night after the home side enjoyed a slice of luck. Cameron Smith’s grubber rebounded off a Fijian player back into the Aussies’ possession, and when they shifted the ball through the hands to the left edge it was a simple matter of taking advantage of an overlap to gift the Kangaroos winger another try. AUS 16 FIJI 2

25th min — Josh Dugan screamed out in agony as he tried to crash over for a try metres out from the line, but he recovered well enough to play the ball and stay on the park.

20th min — Play came to a stop when Jacob Saifiti went down with what looked to be a knee injury, which forced him off the field.

16th min — TRY: The Kangaroos went in again when Fijian winger Suliasi Vunivalu leapt up to catch a cross-field kick on his tryline, only to watch it sail agonisingly over him and into the waiting arms of Valentine Holmes, who crossed for an easy four-pointer. AUS 12 FIJI 2

14th min — TRY: Australia drew first blood when Fiji’s right-side defence made a mess of stopping the men in green and gold. Pivot Michael Morgan angled towards the left as Fiji’s outside men rushed up. He shrugged off one tackle to break the line, leaving three unmarked teammates on his outside. He passed to Billy Slater for an easy touchdown and Cameron Smith converted. AUS 6 FIJI 2

13th min — Cooper Cronk forced a line dropout with a perfectly weighted kick into the corner early in the tackle count. Dane Gagai chased and tackled his opposite winger in the in-goal.

9th min — BOMBED TRY: Matt Gillett had a shocker when he bombed a certain try. He broke through the defensive line about 25m out from Fiji’s line and had two men on his outside with only the fullback in front of him. He passed to his right but it missed the mark by plenty, going down and forward to evade Dane Gagai and spill over the sideline.

7th min — PENALTY GOAL: Fiji opened the scoring by slotting a penalty goal. FIJI 2 AUS 0

5th min — KNOCK-ON: Aussie winger Valentine Holmes took a hit up close to his own line but lost the ball in contact with lock Tui Kamikamica.

2nd min — HAYNE SHOT IGNITES BIFF: A brawl erupted after Jarryd Hayne shoulder-charged Billy Slater. A teammate came in and gave Slater’s head some extra attention when he was on the ground, causing the Aussies to run in and defend their fullback.

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga admits Jarryd Hayne will have a point to prove when he spearheads the Bati in Friday’s Rugby League World Cup semi-final against Australia.

Four years after helping the Kangaroos crush Fiji at the same stage of the tournament, Hayne will now be Australia’s biggest threat following his omission from the green-and-gold this year.

Asked if Hayne had a point to prove against the Kangaroos, Meninga said: “He probably has from his point of view I guess.

“From our point of view, we’re happy with the squad and I’m really happy with the way all the individuals have been playing and bought into what we’re doing.”

Meninga’s comments on Thursday come three weeks after he criticised the code-hopper for his likely move from the Gold Coast after the tournament. It is widely tipped Hayne will reunite with Parramatta over the summer following reports he’s moved out of his home on the glitter strip.

Meninga identified Hayne, who has four try assists and two tries in the tournament, as the man to shut down at Suncorp Stadium.

“He’s their control man. Fiji’s getting through their sets and he’s putting a good kick in or controlling the ends of sets really well,” he said. “He can play anywhere Jarryd if he puts his mind to it. He can play one, he can play centre, wing — which he does at rep level — and six for Fiji. He’s that type of player.

“He’s a great individual, a great talent and he can play a number of positions. All those positions would suit him.”

Fiji coach Mick Potter said he couldn’t speak highly enough of Hayne’s contributions for the Bati, where he has led the team to a perfect four wins from four.

“I hadn’t watched him closely away but his contribution at six when he’s playing with us, he’s helping steer the team around the park,” Potter said. “He’s come up with really good kick plays, he’s come up with really good plays for his outside men. He knows the game. He’s been excellent. “I can’t speak highly enough of him as far as how he’s been helping us.”

AAP : newsapi.com.au

England rugby league

Rugby League World Cup: As it happened – Tonga vs England 18-20

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Rugby League World Cup: As it happened – Tonga vs England

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Rugby League World Cup: As it happened – Tonga vs England

FULLTIME: TONGA 18 ENGLAND 20: An incredible game of rugby league, just incredible. England looked for all money they were going to cruise to victory. Instead, Tonga made an inspired comeback led by their big guns. They came extremely close to grabbing the match-winning try, but it wasn’t meant to be. We’re set for an Australia v England final.

80mins: Drama here! Tonga had one last play and Fifita decided to go himself and the ball stripped, before picking it up and putting the ball down over the line. But the ref rules the ball to have gone forward and that’s it! England win, just!

78mins: TRY TONGA: Can you believe it?! They’ve got another! Taumalolo goes right through the English defence, avoiding two English tacklers before finding Lolohea on the inside who races away for the try. Conversion is good and England lead 20-18! Can Tonga complete a remarkable comeback?

75mins: TRY TONGA: They’re in again! Is there time for another? Siliva Havili goes right up in the middle, before stepping the last defender to go over for his side’s second try in 2 minutes.

73mins: TRY TONGA: Tevita Pangai Junior finally gets a try for Tonga! The reserve had to muscle his way through three English tacklers before reaching out and JUST touching the white line with the ball, with the TMO deeming the player to have not made a double movement. Conversion is good! Three scores in six minutes possible?

67mins: TRY ENGLAND: John Bateman is over and that should seal it! England went left off just the second tackle, ball went through the hands and Batemen did well to spin out of the tackle of Hopoate to score what should be the try that sends them to the final. They’ve been extremely clinical. Extras are good again and the score is 20-0 with just over 10 minutes to go.

67mins: England force the line dropout after a great kick Gale finds Hopoate in his own goal area, who actually did really well by fending off Gale, but re-inforcements come and England will have another set.

65mins: Tongo close once again! Jennings put the foot down, gliding through the English defence, but couldn’t find his winger out wide, with the ball instead going into touch. Been a case of so close, yet so far for the Tongans tonight.

62mins: Fusitu’a goes close! Hingano put the bomb up and you would have backed the winger to go up and get it, but the ball eludes him and the English defence. Tonga then guilty of trying to force the issue by attempting to pin the English in their own goal area, but instead, tackle the player in the air.

58mins: Between Whitehead, Sam and Tom Burgess, they have completely shut down the Tongan forwards. Taumalolo hasn’t been a massive feature, but hasn’t been on the field that much either. Tonga have the ball in great field position, only a few metres out from the English try line.

55mins: Tonga again make the error and another promising set ends with a costly mistake. The English are doing incredibly well to scramble on defence, but Tonga need to start making good of their sets, they need three scores.

50mins: PENALTY GOAL ENGLAND: Widdop puts England further in front with a penalty goal from about 35m out. The lead grows to 14-0. Looks like Tonga will need to produce another comeback win if they are to book their spot in the final.

46mins: Tupou blew a great chance for Tonga to hit back immediately after the break but couldn’t hang on! They tall winger found space but couldn’t hold onto the ball in what looked like a certain try.

42mins: And we’re underway for the second-half! Can Tonga take control of this game and make their chances count? Both teams have been superb on defence, but England have made the most of their opportunities. Early on and Tonga win the penalty.

HALFTIME: TONGA 0 ENGLAND 12: England have been the better side and the 12 points difference is pretty reflective of that. They have been far more clinical and have really fronted up well to the physicality of the Tongan players, in particular, Tom Burgess has been immense since coming onto the field. Tonga though can be proud of their performance on defence in the second 20, and should be confident heading into the break.

38mins: Errors starting to mount now from both teams. England almost go over yet again through the Burgess, Sam, but the ball touched a Tongan player and the Englishman couldn’t hang on. Tonga have really stepped up on defence since the first two scores.

36mins: Another chance for England ends in an error from a Tongan player right in front of their try line. Widdop put the kick through and the Tongans couldn’t contain it.

34mins: England had a great chance to score again, but an attempted pass from Graham to main man at the moment, Tom Burgess wasn’t good enough and Tonga win the scrum right in front of their own try line.

32mins: Fusitu’a saves the day for Tonga as the winger realised England had the overlap on the left and raced up to make the tackle before the final pass could be made.

30mins: Fifita goes close as he tried to take on several English players, but the ref rules the big man to have lost the ball in contact. Tonga making probing runs, but nothing to show for it yet.

28mins: Tonga win the penalty after a great run by Michael Jennings.  The centre found some space before forcing the English tackler to hold on for too long.

26mins: Oh my god. Burgess just put yet another Tongan down, this time, the Englishman had the ball. Looked for all money he was going to be smashed but instead the Tongan player is worse off and is actually in quite a bit of trouble.

24mins: Tom Burgess has only just come on the field and has already put in three HUGE shots to send the Tongan players backwards and on their bum. Tonga do win the penalty though, can they hit back?

20mins: Lolohea makes an error and kicks the ball dead. Was a promising set for the Tongans and they had a real chance to pin England back in their own goal area.

18mins: TRY ENGLAND: Widdop is have a stormer so far! The fullback goes over after the TMO deemed the Tongan player to have not completed his tackle just a metre out from the try line. There wasn’t much of a build-up really, Widdop got the ball out on the right, before going through a couple of really average Tongan tacklers. Conversion is good by that man again, Widdop and England lead 12-0.

16mins: Tonga go incredibly close! Wow! The Tongan backs put the ball through the hands out wide before Hurrell is put through a giant gap in the English defensive line. The ball went through several Tongan hands but the last pass is deemed to have gone forward with the men in red only inches from the try line! Hard luck after some great attacking play.

14mins: Taumalolo and Burgess have already had a couple of run ins. But this time the Cowboys powerhouse is penalised and England win another penalty. James Graham is currently down for the English.

12mins: TRY ENGLAND: Jermaine McGillvary goes over after England simply just put the ball through the hands before finding the winger out wide with nobody in front of him to score an easy try. Conversion is good and England lead 6-0.

11mins: Widdop goes right through! The Tongan defence parted like the red sea as the fullback broke the line but was eventually caught inside the Tongan 20m.

9mins: Fusitu’a finds some space out wide by is shut down well my several English players. They are keeping a very close eye on the star winger.

7mins: Lolohea puts the ball after a solid set from the Tongans, but Widdop takes it well and now England look to advance.

4mins: England go very close to scoring after some great enterprising play out wide, but an attempted pass out the back only finds a Tongan player.

2mins: Tonga kickoff and James Graham has the first hitup goes down quite anticlimatically. Tonga are pinged later on and England win the penalty.

6:07pm: Incredible cultural dance performed by Tonga. Noise and intensity similar to that of when they played Samoa in group play. Taumalolo once again leading.

6:02pm: Time for the anthems with England first up, shortly followed by Tonga. Loud, loud reception to the Tongan anthem! The crowd are certainly up for it!

6:00pm: So, here we are, semi-final number two! Who will play Australia for all the glory? Can Tonga keep their dream run alive? The stadium is just an absolute sea of red, which of course, is no surprise at all. Might be bit of a cliche, but the battle will surely be won up front. Taumalolo & Fifita up against Burgess brothers and James Graham. Going to be  a cracker!

Hello and welcome to live updates of the Rugby League World Cup semi-final clash between Tonga and England at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand.

We bring you live streaming written commentary, live action shots from the game and post-match video highlights after the final whistle.

Be sure to refresh your browser to keep up with the play.

Commentary will start from around 6:00 pm (NZT). In the meantime check out the video above as James Graham talks about the threat Tonga ahead of their semi-final showdown.

Lineups

Tonga

1. Will Hopoate, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3.Michael Jennings, 4. Konrad Hurrell, 5. David Fusitua, 6. Tuimoala Lolohea, 7. Ata Hingano, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 11. Manu Ma’u, 12. Sika Manu, 13. Jason Taumalolo

Interchange: 14. Sione Katoa, 15. Peni Terepo, 16. Tevita Pangai Junior, 17. Ben Murdoch-Masila

England

1. Gareth Widdop,  2. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. John Bateman, 5. Ryan Hall, 6. Kevin Brown, 7. Luke Gale, 8. Chris Hill, 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. James Graham,  11. Sam Burgess, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 10. Sean O’Loughlin

Interchange: 14. Alex Walmsley, 15. Thomas Burgess, 16. Ben Currie, 17. James Roby

Match stats and facts

Referee: Matt Cecchin

Sideline officials:  Chris Butler and Robert Hicks

Past meetings

Head to head: Played 2, Tonga 0, England 2

Match odds: Tonga $2.35, England $1.55

Pre match banter: England prop James Graham believes Tonga shouldn’t be referred to as a ‘tier-two team’

England prop James Graham doesn’t believe Tonga should be referred to a ‘tier-two’ team ahead of their Rugby League World Cup semi-final showdown in Auckland.

Tonga have been the team on everybody’s lips after a number of players opted to represent the island nation over the likes of New Zealand and Australia.

As a result, Tonga are now 80 minutes away from the grand final in Brisbane – all that stands in their way is the English.

During pool play, Tonga became the first tier-two team to trump a tier-one nation (Australia, New Zealand, England) when they beat the Kiwis 28-22 after trailing 16-2 at the break.

But speaking to the media, the Dragons-bound Graham said it is not fair to refer to them as a tier two nation after their success in the tournament.

“I wouldn’t be referring to them as a tier-two team,” Graham told reporters

“I am expecting the best Tonga team possible for them to play their best rugby league, better than the performance you saw against the Kiwis.

“That is what we are ready for and that is the way we have to approach this Test match.”

England have not been in a Rugby League World Cup final since 1995, and are hopeful of being the side to play against Australia or Fiji on December 2.

But first, they have to get past the unbeaten Tongans – and despite heading into the match as favourites, Graham knows Mate Ma’a Tonga will be no pushovers.

“It is going to be huge Test on the body physically, but my excitement levels are on the up.

“Only a few days out from a World Cup semi-final and the opportunity to go to Brisbane and playoff for the trophy is really exciting.

“It is always a big game when you play these kind of teams, Tonga and Samoa, in New Zealand and Australia.

“Every game, I have been a part of trying to stick with the philosophy that it takes 80 minutes, sometimes 90 minutes to win a game of rugby league but only a moment to lose it – so I think what I can presume will be a tight game, I think that is the best way of going about it, really.”

England have not been in New Zealand for long, having played the all their games so far in Australia.

Graham admitted he was surprised to see all the Tongan flags on vehicles in Auckland, and is expecting a massive sea of red at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday evening.

“We have only been in Auckland for a day and we can see how many Tongan flags are out in the cars and stuff.

“Our English supporters have been out in great numbers and very vocal for us which is great to see.

“It really feels like we are in a World Cup, and that atmosphere will help build no doubt a great occasion for rugby league, going forward.”

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Rugby League World Cup: England vs Tonga Live Coverage The Lions v Mate Ma’a get big boost for 2nd semi-final clash in Auckland

Rugby League World Cup: England vs Tonga Live Coverage The Lions v Mate Ma’a get big boost for 2nd semi-final clash in Auckland

England playmaker Kevin Brown and star forward Sam Burgess have both passed fitness tests and are right as rain for Saturday’s Rugby League World Cup semi- final against Tonga, assistant coach Denis Betts says.

The Warrington-based Brown, the beneficiary of linchpin Gareth Widdop’s fullback switch, suffered a head knock in last week’s 36-6 win over Papua New Guinea.

He was duly named in the matchday XVII for this weekend’s semi-final in Auckland, but needed to pass concussion protocols during the week.

Betts told reporters he had done so and would play against Mate Ma’a, while Burgess – named in the second row – had overcome an ankle issue.

“Kevin’s fit, he’s always been fit, never in doubt – just had to run through the protocols at this point. He’s been really good all week, and Sam’s been great – we’ve been really fortunate at the moment, got a full squad training,” Betts said.

“All the stuff we’ve put in place now that the game’s trying to protect people with, we’ve put (Brown) through those things, he’s got the all-clear.”

Betts backed the 33-year-old Brown to shine against a bustling Tonga, having coached the veteran stand-off and named him captain at Widnes.

Brown moved to Super League big guns Warrington for the start of the 2017 campaign, but couldn’t help the Cestrians finish higher than ninth.

He’ll join Castleford star Luke Gale in the halves for Saturday’s match, with his game management and experience to prove crucial.

“He’s had some ups and downs in his career and he’s been through the mill, in the international side, out of the side, fought his way back in,” Betts said.

“He’s always been a big player that can turn up in a big game and put big plays on.”

NZN

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Ireland v Argentina: live stream, kick off,Preview, head to head in focus: Five talking points ahead of Saturday’s clash

Ireland v Argentina: live stream, kick off,Preview, head to head in focus: Five talking points ahead of Saturday’s clash

Ireland v Argentina in focus: Five talking points ahead of Saturday’s clash

 

Ireland host Argentina on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Action, in their final autumn series Test.

Here’s a look at some of the major talking points ahead of the exciting clash…

Revenge for 2015?

The last time the two sides met was the quarter-final of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in perhaps the most disappointing day in Joe Schmidt’s reign.

Minus captain Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Jared Payne and Johnny Sexton to injury, along with Sean O’Brien to suspension, Ireland were well beaten by the Pumas 43-20.

ireland-dejected

Having headed into the tournament as back-to-back Six Nations winners, Ireland had been labelled one of the World Cup favourites and the defeat is one which still grates on supporters and players alike.

It meant Ireland extended their woeful record in rugby’s premier competition of never having made it past the quarter-final stage.

Just eight of the men involved that day in Cardiff will line out in the Aviva on Saturday, while three of those who were forced to sit and watch in O’Mahony, Sexton and O’Brien starting.

argentina-celebrate-ireland-

Injuries to Robbie Henshaw and Keith Earls mean they miss out but Rory Best, Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Conor Murray and Rob Kearney start again, while Devin Toner, Jack McGrath and Rhys Ruddock will likely feature off the bench.

Though they wouldn’t admit it publicly, you get the feeling this Test could be as personal as it gets for Schmidt and his players.

Argentina’s losing run

Argentina may have picked up a 31-15 victory in their last Test match against Italy in Florence, but they are on a lengthy run of defeats against sides ranked above them.

joaquin-tuculet-argentina

Indeed the Pumas have now lost 16 Tests in a row against sides ranked above them in world rugby, and with Argentina currently ninth in the world, that includes all Tier-1 nations apart from Italy.

England, New Zealand and Australia have all beaten Argentina four times in a row, while South Africa have won twice in addition to victories for Scotland and Wales.

You have to go back to August 2016 for the last time Argentina picked up a win against a side above them: A 26-24 victory over the Springboks in Salta.

Since then Argentina have only beaten Japan, Georgia and Italy on the Test stage. Could Ireland be the game to snap them out of their losing run?

The Pumas have never won in Ireland in seven attempts but have inflicted a world of pain on the men in green in the past. A positive record of 3-1 for the South Americans at Rugby World Cups tells you all you need to know about the history between the pair.

Big day for Byrne

Among Schmidt’s starting XV he has sprung one major shock with the inclusion of uncapped Leinster winger Adam Byrne on the right wing.

Despite Andrew Conway’s try scoring performance against South Africa and man of the match display over Fiji, he begins among the replacements, while fellow wingers Darren Sweetnam and Dave Kearney are left out altogether.

rugby-adam-byrne-leinster

Powerful in the air and quick along the ground, Byrne was given his provincial debut by Schmidt back in December 2012 before a string of injuries stemmed his development.

Having been in and out of the Leinster team, the 23-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance mixed with defensive frailties over the last couple of seasons and will be under pressure to perform against the Pumas.

His inclusion means that every fit member of Schmidt’s November squad will have featured on at least one occasion.

All change in the row

In the second row, 21-year-old Leinster lock James Ryan replaces the experienced Devin Toner to start alongside Iain Henderson in a big show of faith.

james-ryan-leinste

Toner has been a go-to man since the very beginning of Schmidt’s tenure, with his only high profile omission before now coming against England in March during the Six Nations when Donnacha Ryan and Henderson started together.

Like Conway, Toner starts on the bench, as no player within the Irish squad is called upon to start all three autumn Tests.

Having been an eye-catching U20 captain and achieved his first senior Irish cap before he had even appeared for Leinster, Ryan is rated extremely highly.

devin-toner-ireland

His impact off the bench against the Springboks was noteworthy and should they go well together, Henderson and Ryan could potentially form Ireland’s second row lineup for years to come.

How they fare at lineout time without the seasoned qualities and 6’11” frame of Toner will be fascinating to watch.

Physicality the key

Another key selection comes in Ireland’s midfield, where Robbie Henshaw’s hamstring strain hands Munster centre Chris Farrell a start in the 13 jersey.

Having only made his debut for Ireland against Fiji last time out, Farrell will look to strike an effective partnership with fellow one-cap international Bundee Aki, in a robust looking match-up.

chris-farrell-ireland

Physicality will be essential against the Pumas. Two years ago, Ireland lost the breakdown battle and were beaten up on the frontline, with the likes of backrow Pablo Matera almost animalistic.

Such aggression and physical dominance allowed Argentina’s backs to spring to life and hurt Ireland going forward.

skysports-pablo-matera

Forced to watch on that day, flankers O’Mahony and O’Brien are in from the start on Saturday and will look to dominate the breakdown and provide a platform for Ireland’s own backs and critical half-back pairing to flourish.

So often Test matches against Argentina become dogged and tight affairs. Whoever wins the physical battle will go a long way to clinching victory.

skysports-peter-omahony

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Chris Farrell,12 Bundee Aki,11 Jacob Stockdale,10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 1 Cian Healy, 2 Rory Best, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 James Ryan, 5 Iain Henderson, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 7 Sean O’Brien, 8 CJ Stander.

Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Andrew Conway.

Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo; 1 Santiago Garcia Botta, 2 Agustin Creevy (c), 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 4 Matias Alemanno, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Tomas Lezana.

Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere.

 

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Italy v South Africa: live stream, kick off,Preview, head to head and teams

Italy v South Africa: live stream, kick off,Preview, head to head and teams

Italy v South Africa: Springboks out to bury Azzurri demons

skysports-eben-etzebeth-springboks-south-africa-boks_4164774

South Africa return to Italy for the first time on Saturday since their historic defeat by the Azzurri in Florence last year, which coach Allister Coetzee called the darkest moment of his career.

The 54-year-old Coetzee knows that his future could depend on how the Springboks perform in the north-eastern city of Padua.

At the time of Italy’s historic 20-18 victory, it had looked that Coetzee would not see out 2016, but he survived and has rebuilt a squad which contains just five survivors from last year’s defeat to Italy.

The Springboks arrive in Italy after bouncing back from a record 38-3 drubbing by Ireland two weeks ago by edging France 18-17 in Paris last Saturday.

But Coetzee knows how motivated Italy will be to prove that last autumn’s victory was no fluke.

“We respect the Italian side, they are well coached and I know the,y will be up for the challenge,” said Coetzee. “However, we focus on ourselves and a disciplined and clinical performance is what is needed this weekend.

“It would be important for our pack to again create a good platform of which to play from and therefore our set piece will be key in the expected wet conditions,” said Coetzee, who has won just ten of 23 Tests since taking the helm in 2016.

Skipper Eben Etzebeth will again lead the Springboks after the giant lock shrugged off a lower leg injury, which he suffered in Paris.

Flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit returns from concussion suffered in the Ireland mauling as Bongi Mbonambi makes his first start after 12 caps off the bench in place of Malcolm Marx, who has a shoulder injury.

Chiliboy Ralepelle replaces Mbonambi on the bench with uncapped back Warrick Gelant preferred to Damian de Allende among the replacements.

Azzurri coach Conor O’Shea, architect of the famous victory in his first year in charge, said he was not dwelling on his side’s famous result last time out.

skysports-italy-south-africa-springboks-bok

“It’s part of our history,” said O’Shea. “I’m not interested in it. We are focused on our future and our future is South Africa on Saturday in Padua.

“It will be a very, very tough game. They are a better team than a year ago. But we are also ourselves.”

Italy ended a series of nine consecutive defeats going back to their win over South Africa by winning their opening November Test against Fiji 19-10 in Sicily but lost the second 31-15 in Florence to Argentina.

“I’m sure we can be very competitive on Saturday against the Springboks if our focus is the right one,” said the former Harlequins coach.

“The Springboks are a great team, a month ago they were about to beat the All Blacks. It is true that they have struggled a lot against Ireland but over the past week have defeated France.

“But, as always, we have to think about ourselves, our performance, and not the opponents: we have great players in every role, just like them. We will have to repeat the high-level performance last week, concretising in the right moments.

“We want to close this 2017 with a performance that will make our fans proud of this national team.”

Flanker Giovanni Licata will make his first start for Italy as O’Shea made two changes. Licata, who has won two caps off the bench, replaces Francesco Minto while the other change sees Angelo Esposito replace Leonardo Sarto on the right wing.

Under O’Shea they have won only four of 21 Tests and three of those were against tier-two nations.

Italy: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi; 1 Andrea Lovotti, 2 Luca Bigi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 4 Marco Fuser, 5 Dean Budd, 6 Giovanni Licata, 7 Abraham Steyn, 8 Sergio Parisse (c).

Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Francesco Minto, 20 Renato Giammarioli, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Matteo Minozzi.

South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ross Cronje; 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 3 Wilco Louw, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 6 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter Steph du Toit, 8 Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Dan du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Warrick Gelant.

Source: skysports

 

South Africa travel to Padua to meet Italy on Saturday in their penultimate fixture of this year’s outgoing tour.

Considering the quality of the opposition and their recent form, this is a match Allister Coetzee’s men would have been eyeing as the easiest of the tour, but if their shock defeat in Florence last year is anything to go by, nothing is a given.

Besides Saturday’s tight win against France in Paris, the visitors’ form has left a lot to be desired. That victory ended a five-game winless streak which included heavy defeats to New Zealand and Ireland.

The hosts, on the other hand are coming off a 31-15 home defeat at the hands of Argentina, a game which was preceded by a 19-10 victory against Fiji, their first win this year.

For these sides the last six games makes for sorry reading – both boasting just one win – with South Africa’s twin draws against Australia giving their record a bit of a glow compared to their opponents.

Head to head

Up until Italy’s shock 20-18 win in Florence last year, a Springbok defeat in a clash between these two sides was almost unthinkable. That was the hosts’ first win in 13 encounters against the Boks.

The man believed to have plotted the Boks’ demise, Brenden Venter has since switched camps and is working as the his home country’s defence coach, but the Italians still boast another South African in their ranks in Marius Goosen, their head coach.

The South Africans have inflicted heavy defeats on the Italians including their heaviest in history, where Nick Mallett’s then defending world champions racked up 101 unanswered points in June 1999.

The most points Italy have scored against South Africa were in a losing cause where they managed to run in 31 points, only for their opponents to double that tally.

Teams

Italy – TBA

South Africa: Andries Coetzee, Dillyn Leyds, Jesse Kriel, Francois Venter, Courtnall Skosan, Handre Pollard, Ross Cronje, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Francois Louw, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, Franco Mostert, Dan du Preez, Rudy Paige, Elton Jantjies, Warrick Gelant.

Kick off and live stream

Kick off is at 15:00 and the game will be broadcast on Supersport 1 (SS1).

Source: thesouthafrican

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Scotland vs Australia: Live Stream Coverage, start time and TV channel autumn international

Scotland vs Australia: Live Stream Coverage, start time and TV channel autumn international

Scotland vs Australia: What time is kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?

wallabies

What is it?

Scotland welcome the Wallabies to Murrayfield for what will be both teams’ final Test of the autumn series.

Both sides are hoping to bounce back from defeat after Scotland fell to an agonising defeat to the All Blacks, while Australia were comfortably beaten by England at Twickenham.

When is it?

Saturday, November 25.

What time is kick off?

The match is due to start at 2:30pm, but you can follow live build-up to the game with our live blog from 1:30pm.

Scotland welcome Australia to Murrayfield Credit: Reuters 

What TV channel is it on?

Coverage of the match begins from 2pm on BBC One.

What are they saying?

Gregor Townsend on Australia 

“It’s moving on – we play the current No 3 team in the world – arguably the best attacking team in the world.

“Australia beat New Zealand a few weeks ago. They were very good against Wales and had a lot of the game on a wet day against England, so we know we are playing one of the form teams in the world right now. If we drop our standards, we are not going to win.

“We’ve got to have the same endeavour [as the All Blacks game], the same mindset, the defensive performance in the first half especially, and what we did in the second half attack-wise – and then take it to another level.

“That’s the benefit of having another game this week. It is great for our guys that they get to go again. Yes, they are disappointed that they didn’t get the win, but we have another opportunity as a group to play a brilliant side and work to find a way to win.”

“They have improved a lot since then. They are a team on the up. The longer they have been together has helped them. They have excellent coaches. Michael Cheika being one, Stephen Larkham being another.

“Their fitness has improved a lot. I know that was something Southern Hemisphere commentators were talking about with Super Rugby. They look a very fit team. It’s the last game of their tour. They are probably hoping for dry weather given how wet it was last week [at Twickenham].

Cheika-SPORT_

“They play a similar brand of rugby and have a similar mindset every time they go into a game, which is moving the target. They kick the ball the least of any international team. Their back-line is put together with brilliant attacking players – I think there are three players of Fijian origin there. They’ve got outstanding half-backs and Kurtley Beale at full-back, so this is a quality outfit.

“One of the best forwards in the world in Michael Hooper and they’ve got an experienced front-row, so they are a top team. Against the current No 3 team in the world, we know it is going to require a better performance than we gave last week to win.”

“Fraser Brown and Sean Maitland come back in – these are experienced players who have played very well for Scotland and it’s great that they are available for such a big game.”

Michael Cheika when he asked if he called the Twickenham referee “a cheat” 

“No, I never said … what are you talking [about]?”

“Is that really what it’s coming down to? Don’t say you’re not. Have the respect for me to say, ‘I am doing that’ at least and I’m trying to fire it off. You know maybe I could’ve said something but if that’s the new thing, well yeah maybe I did swear.

“It happens sometimes in life. I’m sure you have as well, have you? Maybe the TV camera wasn’t on you at the time.

“They can replay whatever they like. If that’s what it’s come down to, that’s it. I’m trying to have an interview without getting stuck into that and you want to try to keep making it [about that].”

Team news

Scotland

Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), H Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Maitland (Saracens), Russell (Glasgow Warriors), Price (Glasgow Warriors), Marfo (Edinburgh), McInally (Edinburgh), Berghan (Edinburgh), Gilchrist (Edinburgh), J Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Barclay (Scarlets, capt), Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), Watson (Edinburgh).

Replacements: Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), Z Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Toolis (Edinburgh), Du Preez (Edinburgh), Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), Horne (Glasgow Warriors), McGuigan (Sale Sharks).

Australia are yet to name their starting XV

trans_Nv

Betting odds

Australia 8/5

Scotland 6/4

Draw 22/1

What’s our prediction?

Australia were unlucky to suffer such a heavy defeat at Twickenham and Michael Cheika’s men will be smarting. This one has all the makings of an incredibly tight Test match and the Murrayfield scoreboard should reflect that.

Prediction: Scotland 18-21 Australia 

Source : telegraph.co.uk

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Wales vs New Zealand: Live Stream Coverage, start time and TV channel autumn international

Wales vs New Zealand: Live Stream Coverage, start time and TV channel autumn international

Wales vs New Zealand, autumn international: TV channel, start time, team news and prediction

Wales vs New Zealand

What is it?

Wales take on the All Blacks at the Principality Stadium in their toughest game of the autumn internationals.

When is it?

The game is on Saturday evening, thats November 25.

What time is kick-off?

The whistle will go at 5.15pm.

What TV channel is it on?

Wales vs New Zealand will be shown live on BBC Two, and the coverage begins at 4.45 pm. Or of course, you can follow all the live action right here with us when this very page turns into our live blog. Just bookmark and return.

What is the team news?

Wales

Wales

Jamie Roberts returns to Wales’ match-day 23 after initially missing out on autumn Test squad selection.

The 31-year-old was then summoned as injury cover for Jonathan Davies, and he will offer Gatland considerable experience off the bench.

Tipuric, meanwhile, was sidelined from the Australia and Georgia Tests due to a thigh injury, but Gatland has opted to field Aaron Shingler and Josh Navidi as his flankers. Both had solid games against the Wallabies.

The loss of both British and Irish Lions Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies represents a huge double for Gatland, although Scott Williams is a seasoned international campaigner and Amos and his fellow wing Steff Evans have scored three tries between them in Wales’ last two games.

Wales: L Halfpenny (Scarlets); H Amos (Dragons), S Williams (Scarlets), O Williams (Gloucester), S Evans (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), R Webb (Ospreys); R Evans (Scarlets), K Owens (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), J Ball (Scarlets), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues), T Faletau (Bath).

Replacements: K Dacey (Cardiff Blues), W Jones (Scarlets), L Brown (Dragons), C Hill (Dragons), J Tipruic (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets), R Priestland (Bath), J Roberts (Harlequins).

New Zealand

New Zealand captain Kieran Read will miss the All Blacks’ clash against Wales in Cardiff.

The number eight, who has won more than 100 caps, is sidelined by a back injury.

Read is replaced in the back-row by Luke Whitelock, with lock Sam Whitelock skippering the side for the first time.

One other injury-enforced change from the team that beat Scotland at Murrayfield last weekend sees lock Patrick Tuipulotu taking over from Luke Romano.

Elsewhere, Liam Squire starts in the back-row as New Zealand chase a 30th successive victory over Wales.

New Zealand: D McKenzie; W Naholo, R Crotty, S B Williams, R Ioane; B Barrett, A Smith; K Hames, C Taylor, N Laulala, P Tuipulotu, S Whitelock (capt), L Squire, S Cane, L Whitelock.

Replacements: N Harris, W Crockett, O Tu’ungafasi, S Barrett, M Todd, TJ Perenara, L Sopoaga, A Lienert-Brown.

What are they saying?

Wales coach Warren Gatland:

“We have got a group of players who have had success, albeit in a different jersey.

“In the past there has been a fear factor of playing them, but familiarity means there isn’t that trepidation because players have played against them on a regular basis.

“The players appear calm and not so nervous and uptight as they have been in the past. We are encouraging our players to be confident and move the ball when the opportunities arise.

“People are saying things about the All Blacks at the moment. They are more dangerous than ever on Saturday because it is their last game on the tour.

“They know how to win, how to grind out performances. We are excited about the opportunity to play the best team in the world. If you can’t get up for that you shouldn’t be on the pitch.”

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen:

“There has been a real energy and buzz in the team this week as we prepare for the Test against Wales.

“The group has worked hard on its preparation, we’ve asked them to go bone deep and they are looking to deliver a performance we can all be proud of.

“History is a little bit like a drought.

“Every day you are one (day) closer to it raining, so every year they will be one closer to winning (against New Zealand).

“For us, we don’t talk about winning and losing, we talk about preparing and having a process that allows (us) to go out and play well or the best we can.”

What are the odds?

  • Wales 10/1
  • New Zealand 50/1
  • Draw 1/9

What is our prediction?

New Zealand to continue their dominance over Wales with 46-16 victory.

 

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