Blog » Narrow miss in SA vs. New Zealand rugby

27 Aug 2005

Narrow miss in SA vs. New Zealand rugby

Filed under: Stuff — paulcook @ 3:57 am

I’ve just finished watching the second-last match of this year’s Tri-Nations rubgy tournament, over an excellent fry-up breakfast. And what a close match it was!

For those that live in rugby-deprived countries, the Tri-Nations is a yearly tournament between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. This makes it international rugby’s toughest tournament after the World Cup. South Africa won last year, after a few years of very poor performances, and had been looking good for winning it again this year. Before today we’d won all our matches, including a vital away win against Australia last week (I watched that one at Aventura Warmbaths, a great water theme-park and hydro, while spending a weekend away with some friends).

Anyway, today’s match was at the House of Pain stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand. It was a great match to watch, with some very exciting play from both sides, and both sides looked in control at different stages of the game. South Africa was significantly down midway through the first half, after a brilliant drive through three tackles by a New Zealand forward led to their second try, but we managed to come back by half time, and siezed the lead with ten minutes of the match left. Unfortunately we went on the defensive a little too soon, and New Zealand managed get the ball through our defenses after a extremely tense few minutes’ play right on our goal line. There wasn’t time for a reply, and New Zealand won 31-27.

South Africa’s team played well, and with the exception of some great runs by New Zealand’s Rokocoko, the defense held up well — it certainly looked more convincing than in last week’s match. However, our tries again came from breakaways and interceptions, rather than solid back-line running play. The backs once again had great trouble moving the ball cleanly down the line to the wings, even when they had overlaps, and at least one very good opportunity for a try was lost due to missed passes.

This leaves South Africa still ahead in the log, but the last match of the tournament is between New Zealand and Australia, in New Zealand, and it’s hard to see Australia winning it. Never mind the fact that they’ve yet to win a match in the tourament, they also have no fewer than fifteen of their top players injured — most of a team. If New Zealand wins, it’ll come down to bonus points, and New Zealand is ahead in those. So our chances are not looking too great at the moment. In the words of one of the after-match commentators, “I’m not going to enjoy it, but I’ll be supporting Australia next week”.

And yes, it’s been great to be able to watch some sport I understand, for a change.

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  1. “House of Pain stadium”… “fifteen of their top players injured”…

    And yet, for some reason, the Caltech Rugby players keep asking me to join their team. I’ll stick to the significantly less violent and dangerous Ultimate Frisbee, thank you very much (a sport that I understand).

    Comment by Adam — 27 Aug 2005 @ 2:13 pm

  2. Admittedly, Australia have been very unlucky to have so many injuries. Still, I tend to agree — though I love watching the game, I’d never play it seriously. Though, of course, my figure is also not so great for rugby either!

    Anyway, enjoy the Ultimate!

    Comment by paulcook — 28 Aug 2005 @ 2:04 pm

  3. What’s a “hydro”?

    More importantly, if .za has won all it’s matches but one, how can .nz take the cup (or whatever) by winning one (the last) game against .au? Surely they can’t also have won all their matches but one. That would mean .au has lost nearly twice as many matches as they’ve played! (Either that, or we’re working under a definition of “won” that means “did not earn last place” and that rugby is a three sided game). I take it point differentials matter as well and they’ve (almost adversarially) worked out to the detriment of .za?

    Comment by MDA — 28 Aug 2005 @ 3:10 pm

  4. Cunning arguments, MDA, except that the number of matches played undoes your conclusions. Each pair of teams only meet each other twice (one match at home, one away). Thus .za has beaten .au twice (to much merriment around the nation), and .nz has beaten .au once, and probably will next weekend. .za and .nz have each won once against the other of that pair. So after next weekend’s match, .za and .nz will quite likely be drawn on match wins.

    Bonus points will likely decide the result. One scores them for things like scoring four or more tries (touchdowns) in a match, or for losing by fewer than seven points. .nz is ahead in bonus points, thanks to a high-scoring win over .au. This sucks. I’m not sure what would, hypothetically, happen if bonus points didn’t break a tie. Perhaps point differentials, perhaps the trophy would be shared.

    Comment by paulcook — 28 Aug 2005 @ 3:20 pm

  5. Oh, and a hydro is a sort of like a spa. So hot (and I do mean hot) pools, with fountains and jets and stuff, both indoors and out. Apparently there are some natural hotsprings on the site. Anyway, it’s great for relaxing, and also the water theme park uses heated water on the water slides, which is a great invention — especially since it was (technically) still winter.

    Comment by paulcook — 28 Aug 2005 @ 3:22 pm

  6. aHa! Thanks for pointing me to my bad assumption: that more than two games are played by each pair.

    That does, indeed, change everything.

    Comment by MDA — 28 Aug 2005 @ 3:49 pm

  7. C’mon the Aussies!!!

    Yeah, don’t see them having any chance, but I’d love to see them win. Specially if an ex-South African Clyde Wrathbone can score some tries, ultimately assisting us in achieving victory.

    Anyways, I’d just like to say that we played well (could still improve on our handling) but we were a bit unlucky at times. But so be it, we were a bit lucky to win last year…

    Quite impressed with the rugby knowledge bud, keep it up!


    Comment by Charl — 30 Aug 2005 @ 1:20 am

  8. I would second the fact that it might be painful, but I might have to cheer very loudly for the Aussies too this coming weekend.

    Comment by minette — 30 Aug 2005 @ 1:37 pm

  9. Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
    Who’ll go a-waltzing Matilda with me
    la da di dum da
    dum di dum da da-di-dum
    (just getting into the whole Aussie spirit)

    Comment by Spleen — 2 Sep 2005 @ 12:32 pm

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