Southern hemisphere Rugby’s premier competition is back for another go around the carousel.
In a year unlike any other, all four of the southern giants came into the tournament under immense scrutiny, having struggled to dismiss their Six Nations visitors in the July series.
New Zealand’s All Blacks in particular were under the pump having fallen to a historic 2-1 home series defeat at the hands of Ireland. Never in the history of the two nations had Ireland won in New Zealand. As such, their series victory has seen alarm bells ringing in the land of the long white cloud.
South Africa too suffered a historic victory slipping up in their second test against Wales, another nation that had never won on Springbok soil. Rebounding in the third test, the Boks clinched the series 2-1, relieving some of the pressure on head coach Jacques Nienaber.
On the other side of the draw, Argentina’s Los Pumas took their series against a weakened Scotland side 2-1.
Scottish head coach Gregor Townsend left star players Finn Russell and regular captain Stuart Hogg at home in a bid to develop squad depth. Despite this, it would take until the final few minutes for the Argentineans to clinch the series in dramatic fashion.
Australia’s Wallabies were on the receiving end of a rather comprehensive 2-1 series defeat to England.
Having won the first test, the Wallabies held their fate but could not close out England. The series loss was the second time in a row that Australia has lost a home series to England in recent years, as their tough record against the Red Roses continues.
In spite of this negativity, all four nations possess truly world class talent. A point we were reminded of in these five incredible plays.
Kurt-Lee Arendse – Well-Worked Try From Lukhanyp Am High-Ball Contest
Rugby Championship debutant Kurt-Lee Arendse got the Springboks underway early in their demolition job of the All Blacks in Round 1.
Filling in for the world class Cheslin Kolbe, the Blue Bulls flyer finished off a well-worked Springbok score. Like Kolbe, Arendse is a rather diminutive figure by Rugby standards, but despite his size, he was all over the All Blacks and looks set for a bright future in Green & Gold.
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) August 7, 2022
Pablo Matera – Beautiful Angle For Try Vs Wallabies
Hulking backrow Pablo Matera scored a perfectly worked try to get Los Pumas their first try in their clash with the Wallabies.
Involved from the off, Matera set the play in motion from the line-out, before shadowing the action for a number of plays. As the ball came from the ruck to flyhalf Santiago Carreras, Matera was lurking on his inside shoulder, before rumbling over untouched.
💪🐆 El ataque de #LosPumas asfixió la defense de Australia y Pablo Matera found el hueco para llegar a su try.
— ScrumRugby (@ScrumESPN) August 7, 2022
All Blacks Length-Of-Field Try Vs Springboks
A rare bright spot for the All Blacks in what was a real off night for the three-time world champions.
Constantly hassled by the Springboks rush defence, it took a moment of brilliance from winger Callum Clarke to break through.
Collecting a sloppy ball inside his own half, Clarke broke through two tackles, before sprinting to within a couple of meters of the tryline. As he was dragged down by Springbok fullback Damien Willemse, Clarke had the presence of mind to keep the ball alive before support arrived.
As Shannon Frizell went over, rugby fans were reminded that no matter how poor a performance the men in black put in, they have an uncanny ability to score from nothing.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 8, 2022
Jordan Petaia Barges Over To Bring Wallabies To Life
Starting like an uncharged Tesla, the Wallabies got off to a slow start in Mendoza, as Los Pumas ran out to an early 13-3 lead.
All this changed on the 17th minute, as Queensland Reds wing Jordan Petaia highlighted just why he is so highly touted. Receiving a long pass from Quade Cooper and faced with an onrushing cover defence, Petaia ghosted through the Pumas defense like it was a 100m sprint finish line. This score brought Dave Rennie’s men back into the contest and set them up for a well-earned victory.
🔥 Jordan Petaia powers over for our first try of the match!
— Wallabies (@wallabies) August 6, 2022
Folau Fainga’a – Bulldozing Drive To The Line
Another Wallabies score, which certainly is one for the front row union.
Much has been made of the Wallabies’ supposedly soft forward pack over the past five seasons. Struggling to match the physical packs of their Rugby Championship brothers, as well as being pushed around by the big European packs.
Scoring this fantastic try off the back of a strong driving maul, Fainga’a looked like Buffalo charging through a pack of Hyenas as he brushed off all comers. His combination with the Taniela Tupou “The Tongan Thor” and stand in captain James Slipper will be crucial to the Wallabies chances in the tournament and heading into next year’s World Cup.
💥 Explosive from Folau Fainga’a!
— Wallabies (@wallabies) August 6, 2022