World Cup Semi-Finals
Australia 22 New Zealand 10
New Zealand were the favoured time here however the Australian side decided that this was on home
ground and they were not about to give in. They wanted to win and they did! In doing so, they became
the first defending champions to win through to a final.
A try by full back Muliaina for New Zealand was disallowed by the video ref for not being
grounded properly. Australia took the lead when Stirling Mortlock intercepted a Kiwi pass from fly
half Carlos Spencer and took it to the line to score. A try for the All Blacks by their skipper Reuben
Thorne did nothing to bring about a revival to their fortunes. The disappointment at the possibility of
losing a second semi final was beginning to show and the Aussies capitalised on it with the home crowd
roaring their side on.
At the end of the day Australia were the better side and deserved the win, New Zealand who had
seemed so powerful in previous matches failed to deliver. The pressure on the Kiwis saw them give away
penalties and fail to penetrate the Aussie defence. A sad ending to their World cup.
England 24 France 7
As the anthem played there was no disguising the pressure on the England side. Lawrence Dallalio
looked positively manic, pumped up and coiled as tight as any spring. The game against France was really
the one that England had prepared for; it was to be the last step to the final that they wanted so much.
On the day the weather looked more like an English November (or come to that any week end) rather
than what we expect for an Australian evening. Perhaps that was a good sign, although it has to be said
it rains in France quite often as Channel hopping holidaymakers will tell you. Still, there it was
bucketing down and we hoped upon hope that it was to be our day and reach the final for the first time
in 12 years.
The first half was dominated by England although a slight passing mishap found Serge Betsen with a
try after an age of agonising by the video ref. was it, wasn’t it? We all deliberated at home, but finally
it was given. Who could begrudge them one try, as after that their game disintegrated along with
Frances Michalak who became unable to find the spot to score from four penalties. Eventually he was
replaced and finished the game sitting on the bench wondering just how it had all gone so wrong after
showing such promise in the earlier games. The fabled Johnny Wilkinson wrapped it up with an
impressive three drop goals and five penalty kicks in appalling conditions with the wind blowing from all
angles throughout the game.
The result was not gained by poor French play or bad weather but by a passionate team led by a
determined captain leading the troops to victory. Its easy to say that it was Wilkinson who won the
match but that is to disregard the bulk of the play including the strong defence who refused to let the
scores in. Rugby is about the team and how they interact and support each other on the field and a win
is the result of cohesive play. England fought and won and they deserved it.
There were no league games this weekend in the Zurich Premiership as the sixth round of the
Powergen Cup was played. Standings therefore remain the same as those published in this column last week.
The results of the games played over Nov 14/15/16: Powergen Cup Sixth round: -
|Bristol||v||London Wasps||8 - 46|
|Rotherham||v||Newcastle ||10 - 38|
|Penzance & Newlyn||v|| Saracens ||20 - 30|
|Leicester||v||Sale Sharks ||28 - 43|
|Bath||v||Northampton ||42 - 13|
|Leeds Tykes||v|| NEC |
|13 - 6|
|Pertemps Bees||v|| Wakefield ||17 - 10|
|Gloucester||v|| London Irish ||29 - 35|