Monday’s Rugby News looks at the results from Super Rugby Australia and club rugby, the All Blacks squad for The Rugby Championship after North v South and the Force/Waratahs players named in a Wallabies train-on squad.
Super Rugby recap
There was still plenty to play for as Super Rugby Australia played its final round of the regular season.
To kick off Super Saturday, the Force were looking to end the finals dreams of the Rebels at McDonald’s Jones Stadium.
Needing to win by four or more, the Rebels looked certain to once again miss the finals after Force flanker Brynard Stander crossed in the 57th minute to push their lead out to 10 points.
However, the Rebels would find a way to score twice, including one in the last 60 minutes to secure a 34-30 victory, ensuring that they would qualify for the finals via point difference (that’s not a typo btw, a singular point was all that separated the Rebels and Waratahs on for and against.)
After the half-time entertainment of the North v South fixture, the Brumbies and Reds would close out the regular season with a (likely) grand final preview at Suncorp Stadium.
Like in their first encounter, the Reds would dominate the first 50 minutes, racing out to an 18-0 lead thanks to tries to Liam Wright and Chris Feauai-Sautia.
However this time, the home side’s impressive defence would hold strong as they cruised to a 26-7 victory, sending a major message to the Rebels/Brumbies.
“A job well done. All season the Brumbies have been the front-runners and respect to them,” Reds coach Brad Thorn said after the match.
“It was a tight contest which you’d expect from two good sides. There’s a bit of pride with these lads (Reds players) around our stadium – our house, to go undefeated, four-from-four was a goal that we had.
“Now it’s all about next Saturday (Qualifying Final). There’s another job to do.”
The Reds will be hoping to set up a rubber in the Grand Final when they host the Melbourne Rebels in the Qualifying Final at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday.
With the Super Rugby in its final weeks, all attention is set to turn to the club competitions of Australia.
In the Shute Shield, Manly won the ‘battle of the beaches’ 39-19 over Warringah as Western Sydney got the first victory of the season against Penrith (36-29) thanks to a hat-trick to prop Kalafi Pongi.
In other results, Gordon dominated Randwick 42-15, Easts pumped Southern Districts 57-19, Sydney Uni defeated West Harbour 50-29 and Norths outgunned Eastwood 41-38.
In the John I Dent Cup, Royals held off Uni Norths 16-10, Vikings cruised to a 40-21 over Queanbeyan whilst Gungahlin were narrow victors over Wests 42-36 thanks to some walk-on named Matt Giteau…
Up in Queensland, Bondi Uni were dominant victors over Souths 39-24 and Easts pumped Norths 31-7. Across the grounds and it was Queensland Uni that were narrow winners over GPS 29-26 and Wests held off Sunnybank 38-31.
The Coopers Premier in South Australia threw up some high scoring contests with Brighton (108-0 v Port Adelaide) and Onkaparinga (116-0 v Barossa) bringing up the century.
Meanwhile, Old Collegians molly whopped Woodville 86-5, Burnside were classy 99-6 victors over Elizabeth whilst Southern Surbubs cruised to victory over Adelaide Uni 55-10.
Finally in Perth, Cottesloe continued their unbeaten streak, raking up their 10th straight win with a 72-0 shutout win over Bayswater.
In other results, Coastal held off ARKs 31-26, Kalamunda outgunned Wanneroo 45-36, Nedlands held off UWA 33-25, Palmyra shut out Southern Lions 51-0 and Associates raised the bat over Curtin Uni 104-5.
All Blacks name squad
Just when Australian rugby fans start to feel good about a potential Bledisloe Cup upset, the All Blacks show why they are one of the greatest international sporting teams of the 21st century as the North and South islands of NZ faced off.
In what was essentially a glorified trial match on paper, the two teams produced one of the finest games of the year as they looked to impress new All Blacks coach Ian Foster.
In the end, it would be the South Island that would steal victory after the siren, with Crusaders winger/fullback Will Jordan latching onto a cross-field kick to seal a 38-35 win in the 86th minute.
When it came to naming the All Blacks squad for the upcoming Bledisloe/Rugby Championship on the following day, Jordan was naturally one of seven new faces named in the 35-man squad.
Blues standouts Caleb Clarke and Hoskins Sotutu were also rewarded for strong Super Rugby campaigns whilst Crusaders lock Alex Hodgman and Blues prop Quinten Strange the two surprise bolters.
“We’re hugely excited at the calibre of the players selected for this All Blacks squad of 2020. It’s been a great process working through the selections and I’ve really enjoyed working with ‘Plums’ (John Plumtree) as part of the new selectors group,” Foster said.
“The result is that we can now announce a team that is rich in experience and a little battle-hardened after the Rugby World Cup, but forward-looking with the inclusion of a number of new players.
“We’re delighted with the balance of the group and we look forward to whatever the challenges of 2020 throw at us.”
All Blacks squad: Hookers: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor. Props: Alex Hodgman, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Joe Moody, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi. Locks: Quinten Strange, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa’i, Sam Whitelock. Loose forwards: Sam Cane (captain), Shannon Frizell, Cullen Grace, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu. Halfbacks: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber. Five-eighths: Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga. Centres: Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown. Outside backs: Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Caleb Clarke, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece.
A combined Force
Impressive backrower Brynard Stander is one of three Western Force players that have been included in a 15-man Wallabies train-on squad that will assemble at NSW headquarters over the week.
Whilst Rennie will remain in Queensland as he oversees the Super Rugby AU finals, the group will continue to train and bond as the selectors look to put the final touches on the Wallabies squad, which will be announced at the end of the tournament.
Stander, a former Currie Cup-winning Sharks back-rower who has been with the Force since 2014, will remain in NSW alongside future Waratah centre Kyle Godwin and hooker Feleti Kaitu’u.
As for the Tahs, forwards Harry Johnson-Holmes, Tom Horton, Angus Bell, Ned Hanigan, Rob Simmons, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper and Jack Dempsey have got the nod, along with backs Jake Gordon, Will Harrison, James Ramm and Jack Maddocks.
The session will be overseen by new assistant and England’s mastermind Scott Wisemantel, who will travel to Sydney to run two sessions on Wednesday and Friday at the Waratahs’ Daceyville headquarters.
The Wallabies are planning to have all players assembled together at Sanctuary Cove in Queensland after the Super Rugby AU final on September 19, but plans continue to change as Argentina announced that up to half a dozen players had tested positive to coronavirus over the weekend.
“After completing a new batch of PCR tests, in order to minimise the risk of contagion and be able to start the health bubble, the results yielded six positive cases of Covid-19 in the campus,” Argentina Rugby said in a statement on Saturday.
“All of them [are] asymptomatic and already fulfilling preventive isolation. They are the players Juan Cruz Mallía, Emiliano Boffelli, Bautista Delguy, Rodrigo Fernández Criado, Bautista Pedemonte and Lucas Bur.”