Springboks win series, Dan Carter scores last-minute drop goal for New Zealand against Ireland, while late Australia penalty denies Wales.
International rugby union: Round-up of Saturday's action
South Africa 36 England 27
Ben Youngs said last night that England’s poor start had “killed” them as they slipped to a series defeat by losing the second Test against South Africa 36-27 in Johannesburg.
Willem Alberts, Bismarck du Plessis and Francois Hougaard claimed early tries for the Springboks as England were overrun at Coca-Cola Park yesterday.
Youngs crossed twice as England put themselves in sight of an unlikely victory after trailing 28-10, but a JP Pietersen try ended the comeback.
The Leicester scrum-half told Sky Sports: “The first 20 mins killed us unfortunately and we were always playing catch-up. Great spirit by the boys but at the end it didn’t count for much.
“Now we’ve lost the series but we’ve got one more big effort next week. It was a great effort and great heart from the boys but we can’t give them the first 20 minutes like that and be playing catch-up in a game like this.”
The scrum-half’s international and club teammate Toby Flood, who impressed on his recall to the fly-half position with a first-half try and five successful goal kicks, added on Sky Sports: “We need to make fewer errors.
“In the first half, every time we conceded we kicked off and then we’d be back in our own 22 via a penalty or a good kick that goes a few yards further at altitude.
“We need to control that better and we can’t make those errors, that’s simply what killed us.”
Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach, was “proud and frustrated” at the outcome. “It was tight. The boys are frustrated but we’ve got to bottle that frustration and take it into next week,” he said.
“We were disappointed with the start, to give them 12 points before we got going. We know we’ve got to be better in all the little details that make the difference in winning at international level.
“We got the try and that gave us the confidence, we were hanging on by our fingernails in the first half at times. But we grew, the scrum got better and we started to win the collisions and move the ball around.
“Before half time was the time when we needed to get a foothold in the game.”
The defeat was England’s ninth in succession to South Africa but, by preventing the landslide that looked possible early on, they can keep their heads high.
Australia 25 Wales 23
Berrick Barnes capped an emotional day dashing back from the birth of his first child to steer Australia to a series-clinching victory over Wales in Melbourne yesterday.
The fly-half arrived at the ground just over an hour before kick off after flying back to Sydney for the birth of his son, Archie, and then delivered a man-of-the-match performance in the 25-23 win over the Six Nations champions.
Barnes, 24, had rushed home late on Friday to be with his wife as she gave birth.
In Melbourne he set up with Wallabies’ only try just before half time when he dummied his way into the clear and sent Rob Horne racing away to score.
Barnes added 17 points through five penalties from six attempts and a conversion before being replaced by Mike Harris with seven minutes remaining. Harris went on to land the winning penalty kick after the final siren to clinch victory for the Wallabies.
Barnes said the baby arrived almost six weeks early.
“It’s exciting and I’m very proud,” he said. “It’s something that doesn’t happen very often in your life. It’s something I’ll remember. Just checking that they were both well gave me the peace of mind to come and play for my country.”
He added: “It’s emotionally draining. I reckon I was more tired this week than after playing two games last week, but the adrenalin gets you up. I love playing for my country, it’s a great honour.”
Robbie Deans, the Australia coach, said: “It was always going to be Berrick’s call but we had other plans in place if anything happened and he couldn’t make it in time.”
George North had barged over to put Wales ahead in the third minute of the second Test and the lead then changed nine times as Barnes and Leigh Halfpenny, the Wales fullback, traded kicks.
Australia lead the series 2-0 after winning 27-19 in the first Test at Brisbane last week. The final Test is in Sydney on June 23.
The Welsh displayed a lack of composure with two minutes remaining. “We’re hugely disappointed, having outscored Australia two tries to one, and our defensive effort was absolutely outstanding”.
Rob Howley, the coach, said. “But international rugby is those fine margins. If you give them the opportunity through lack of discipline in the last two minutes, then like any top side in world rugby, they’ll take them.”
New Zealand 22 Ireland 19
Daniel Carter kicked an 80th minute drop goal to give New Zealand a tense 22-19 victory over Ireland in Christchurch to wrap up their three-match series with a game to spare.
Ireland had never won a test against the All Blacks in their 25 previous encounters with a 10-10 draw in 1973 the closest they came in the 107 years they have been playing tests and the match at Rugby League Park was there for the taking.
Aaron Smith scored a try for the All Blacks while Carter added a conversion and kicked four penalties.
Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray scored an early try for the visitors while fly-half Jonathan Sexton also added a conversion and four penalties.
Scotland 37 Fiji 25
A late try from Dutch-born Tim Visser and a penalty by Greig Laidlaw saw Scotland ease to a 37-25 win over Fiji to remain unbeaten on their Southern Hemisphere tour.
Visser scored two tries on his debut while flyhalf Laidlaw, who scored all the points when Scotland defeated Australia 9-6 in heavy rain, finished with a match haul of 22 points in the hot Fiji conditions.
Scotland led 24-11 at half-time before Fiji made a gallant fightback to trail 25-27, with Laidlaw and Visser then putting the result beyond doubt. "It was hard work and the conditions were not what we're used to," said Visser who added he was "very happy to get the two tries in my debut match and I couldn't have hoped for more".
Fiji, who lack the international exposure of top tier sides like Scotland, surprised the Six-Nations team with a strong opening and led 6-0 after two early penalties by Jonetai Ralulu.
But as the speed and combinations of the Scots began to gel the tide turned with Laidlaw scoring and converting their first try to have the tourists up 7-6 and the Fijians never regained the lead. Scotland extended the scoreline with a penalty try when Fiji collapsed a scrum as they were being marched back towards their own line.
Fiji's first try was the result of poor defence by the Scots which allowed Josefa Domolailai to burst his way to the line before Scotland responded with a Laidlaw penalty and Visser's first try.
When Laidlaw extended the lead to 27-11 soon after the break with his second penalty, Fiji launched a strong fightback with Sevens stars Waisea Nayacalevu and Metuisela Talebula both scoring tries converted by Ralulu.
When the gap reduced to two points Scotland captain Ross Ford said his side had had the experience to rally again.
"The match was very physical and the Fijians were in our faces but we knew how to deal with that kind of pressure," he said. "We stuck to our game plan and we played attacking rugby which was very good at the end."
Scotland play Samoa next week.
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