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Super Rugby Aotearoa, news: Super Rugby New Zealand, sport in NZ, Blues defeat Hurricanes, crowds, referees, results

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The big-name players were back, along with swollen grandstands, but the referees were in no mood to celebrate as Super Rugby completed its return in stop-start fashion.

A 30-20 victory for the Blues over the Hurricanes at a sold-out Eden Park on Sunday rounded out the inaugural weekend of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

It was a second result to delight home supporters after the Highlanders pipped the Chiefs 28-27 in Dunedin a night earlier – the first match since the country emerged from its COVID-19 lockdown.

Super Rugby returns! Watch every game of Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly

While the national sport’s return and presence of crowds was widely heralded, the influence of match officials soured both games and may prompt administrators to rethink their approach.

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Rugby: 14-man Wallabies claim series victory with thrilling win over France

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Taniela Tupou of the Wallabies celebrates victory over France. Photo / Getty

A 14-man Wallabies outfit has overcome the controversial send-off of Marika Koroibete to notch a 33-30 win against France and record an unlikely series victory.

It was the first time since the Wallabies’ series win over Les Bleus in 2014 that they had won a test series on home soil.

An 80th minute maul turnover from Darcy Swain sealed victory for the Wallabies just minutes after Noah Lolesio kicked a tough penalty to break a 30-30 deadlock to seal a famous win.

But it was the red card handed to Koroibete just five minutes into the match that was the talking point.

World Rugby’s crackdown on high tackles has come under fire after Wallabies winger Koroibete was handed a red card for a tackle on French captain Anthony Jelonch.

In what seemed a clear shoulder to shoulder clash, Koroibete was red carded after referee Ben O’Keeffe, on the advice of TMO Glenn Newman, ruled the tackle on the No 8 was direct contact to the head and neck, with no mitigation despite replays clearly showing the French captain’s body position dropping significantly in the moments just before contact.

Once that call was made – with O’Keeffe also noting speedster Koroibete had run from a distance to hit Jelonch with force – officials had no choice but to hand him a red card under rules introduced to protect players’ heads.

But the call came under immediate fire, with usually measured commentators Tim Horan and Andrew Mehrtens enormously critical.

“I’m all for the welfare of players in the game of rugby union but that’s a really poor call from the officials and Ben O’Keeffe,” Horan said.

All Blacks legend Mehrtens called it an “absolute travesty”.

“They’ve painted themselves into a corner by saying it’s foul play and saying there’s no mitigation and I think they’re wrong on both counts,” he said.

While Super Rugby introduced a rule this season that allowed a red carded player to re-enter the match after 20 minutes, it was rejected for international play, leaving the Wallabies with 14 men for 75 minutes of the match.

The decision seemed only to steel the Wallabies though, who played their best rugby of the series in front of a crowd of 34,164 who were whipped into a fury early and found plenty of voice.

When France scored through scrumhalf Baptiste Couillard just minutes later and then knocked through a penalty to go 10-0 up after just eight minutes, the Wallabies seemed in for a long night.

But in a magnificent fightback, the Wallabies hit back with a try to Tate McDermott that fired belief they could conjure a huge upset.

The teams were locked at 20-20 at halftime and while the French scored a magnificent long-range try just minutes after the break, the Wallabies refused to yield and kept alive their incredible winning run at Suncorp Stadium.

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, who made the key break that led to McDermott’s try, said he was “so proud” of his team.

“We love playing here, the crowd got us home so much,” Hooper said of a Suncorp Stadium winning streak that stretches back to 2016 against England.

While he missed a penalty to send his team ahead in the 58th minute, Lolesio slotted another two attempts inside the final 10 minutes for a personal haul of 23 points and was outstanding under pressure, as was Swain in the dying minutes.

Taniela Tupou was outstanding in 34 minutes off the bench, scoring a crucial try.

Koroibete’s red card was not the only early drama for the Wallabies, who lost Filipo Daugunu after just a minute to a suspected broken arm, while Lachlan Swinton limped off the field late in the match.

How the match unfolded:

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Live updates: Wallabies vs France, third and deciding international rugby union Test in Brisbane

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The Wallabies and France meet in the series decider at Lang Park, after both previous matches were settled by just two points.

Follow all the action in the third Test from Brisbane in our live blog. 

Live updates

By Simon Smale

Has Sonny Bill gone soft?

(Only joking Sonny Bill, please don’t come and find me…)

By Simon Smale

Keep your eyes on Koroibete

This is the reason why…

By Simon Smale

Small but vocal French support in the corner

There’s not many of them, but there is a section of French support in the south corner of the ground here at Lang Park, right by where the French team are warming up.

“Allez les Blues” is ringing out and tricolours are being waved.

The rest of the crowd? Clad in green and gold…

By Simon Smale

Stat time

The Wallabies have an eight-match winning streak at Lang Park, a record they just managed to hold on to after coming from behind in time added on to win the first match of the series 11 days ago.

The French won their first game against the Wallabies in Australia since 1990 with victory in Melbourne.

In the last 10 matches between the two teams, the Wallabies have won seven and lost three.

France have not beaten the Wallabies in Brisbane since a 15-16 win at Ballymore in June 1972.

Since then, the Wallabies have won seven matches in a row in Brisbane, three matches at Ballymore and four at Lang Park.

By Simon Smale

The French have had a little huddle before their final warm ups. (ABC News: Simon Smale)

By Simon Smale

By Simon Smale

Who is favourite tonight? 

Hi Simon

Which team do you think is in the best form to win tonight? And many thanks for the blog which is a welcome diversion from dealing with the lockdown here in Sydney.👍

-Mark from Sydney

Hi Mark, I hope you’re keeping well and safe in lockdown and that we can help to bring you some enjoyment this evening.

It’s a really tough one to call to be honest. Both teams have made a lot of changes, so it might take a bit of time for the teams to gel together again.

The Wallabies were guilty of a lot of silly mistakes in Melbourne, and the French punished them, but if they iron those out, I think they’re the stronger side, so I’ll say the Wallabies. Just.

By Simon Smale

The game will be won or lost at the breakdown

Wallabies scrum half Tate McDermott has been speaking to Stan Sport ahead of the match.

He said the breakdown will be key.

“The game will be won or lost in the breakdown  …. we’ve got to do better than we did last Tuesday,” he said.

“The biggest thing for me is sticking to my strengths running the ball but also directing the forward pack.

“My job is pretty simple to unleash the backs outside me.”

He’s pretty good at that, is McDermott, but when the Reds were without James O’Connor for a spell this Super Rugby season, McDermott became the attacking fulcrum for the Reds. I would not object to seeing him snipe around at the ruck and have a little go himself from time to time…

By Simon Smale

Who is the referee?

Ben O’Keeffe is who I have down as the referee tonight. Not sure about his assistants yet, but when I find out, I’ll let you know.

By Simon Smale

How good?! 

An ABC blog about the Rugby? What a time to be alive!

-Jeremy

Isn’t it just!

By Simon Smale

There’s a big shirt on the side of Lang Park

ABC News: Simon Smale

See? Told you.

I don’t know if I’m now obliged to tell you that other chocolate brands are available, but there are.

By Simon Smale

What’s the atmosphere like?

What’s the atmosphere like? I want to like vicariously through you this evening…

-Locked down Sydney

Hi, Locked down Sydney. 

I hope this blog can bring you some joy this evening.

The atmosphere is certainly building. I was a bit early to really soak it up outside, but there are people milling around and now they’re flooding into the stadium bowl, which is great.

Everyone is having to check in and wear a mask on their way in.

I’m sure it will continue to build until kick off…

By Simon Smale

France makes seven changes

The French have also made several changes to their lineup, including another four in the pack.

Props Sipili Falatea and Enzo Forletta will start, while Romain Taofifenua will pack down at lock and Dylan Cretin comes in as flanker.

Antoine Hastoy will steer the backline around at fly half, and centre Pierre-Louis Barassi also starts.

Headline winger Teddy Thomas will also see his first action on tour in the 11 shirt.

Six players will play their third Test in 11 days: Gatean Barlot, Baptiste Couilloud, Arthur Vincent, Damian Penaud, Melvyn Jaminet and captain Anthony Jelonch.

By Simon Smale

Wallabies ring the changes

How the teams were going to deal with the short turnaround between the second and third Tests was always going to be key, and the Wallabies have responded by making eight changes from the side that lost on Tuesday night.

Reds scrumhalf Tate McDermott is in, so too are Brumbies pair Len Ikitau and lock Darcy Swain.

Allan Alaalatoa comes back in at tight head, meaning Taniela Tupou can unleash himself from the bench as he did to help the Wallabies come from behind in the first Test. 

Lachie Swinton returns to the starting line up at flanker, while Isi Naisarani starts at number eight.

Ikitau comes into the centres and Filipo Daugunu replaces Tom Wright on the wing.

Jordan Uelese comes into the side, and Reece Hodge will play off the bench.

By Simon Smale

What time do the Wallabies kick off?

The game is set to start at 8:00pm AEST.

We’ll bring you all the build up until then though.

By Simon Smale

Check out all the stats from the game, here.

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All Blacks Rugby vs Fiji live stream: teams, kick-off time, how to watch 2nd test in Hamilton

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Steinlager Series Test 2021
  • Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we recommended

The All Blacks beat Fiji 57-23 in the first test last weekend but the scoreline was deceptive; hooker Dane Coles came off the bench to score four second-half tries and make the win seem more emphatic than it was. Everything here, All Blacks vs Fiji Steinlager Series Test game 2 in Saturday from FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, Waikato.

New Zealand vs Fiji Live Match Info

What: Steinlager Series Test Game 2
When: Saturday, July 17 at 7 PM (Local)
Where: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Watch Online: Click here to watch

his series is a showcase of talent. Fiji’s under-exposed stars get a rare double shot at taking the All Blacks, while Ian Foster and his coaching staff figure out what combination of players is ready to take on Australia in the Bledisloe Cup next month.

NZ All Blacks vs Fiji Preview

Fans have since expressed concern about the manner in which the Fiji team won the physical battle against New Zealand, outplaying the All Blacks at breakdowns where they won at least nine turnovers and several penalties. The level of physicality has been a recurring theme for the All Blacks in recent years, highlighted in their semifinal loss to England at the 2019 World Cup.

BREAKDOWN CHALLENGE

Fiji excelled at the breakdown last week in Dunedin and will be looking to edge the All Blacks again in this crucial area. It’s no secret that the All Blacks have been working hard during the week to improve their work at the breakdown and the addition of Ardie Savea to the starting line-up for the first time in 2021 will no doubt boost the All Blacks ability to compete in the tackle zone

Foster, previously an assistant to Steve Hansen, took over as head coach after the World Cup in Japan in what New Zealand Rugby has styled as a planned succession. The appointment divided opinion, with many All Blacks fans preferring Scott Robertson, who has now led the Christchurch-based Crusaders to five consecutive Super Rugby titles.

How to watch All Blacks vs Fiji Live stream from anywhere?

Sky Sports 1 will carry the games in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand And Channel 9 will cover in Australia. But if you do not want to go through the trouble of finding exact stream service where you can watch New Zealand vs Fiji Live stream Rugby today, we recommend PremiumTV for crystal-clear HD streams without the need for a VPN to stream from anywhere. New Zeland Rugby to deliver the Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa and Sky Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competitions, we are delighted to be doing the same for the Steinlager Series. Our streaming service offers rugby fans across the globe the chance to watch an epic festival of All Black Check the stream HERE

All Blacks Squad

1: George Bower (2) 2: Codie Taylor (57) 3: Nepo Laulala (30) 4: Scott Barrett (41) 5: Samuel Whitelock – captain (124) 6: Akira Ioane (3) 7: Ardie Savea (49) 8: Luke Jacobson (4) 9: Aaron Smith (98) 10: Richie Mo’unga (23) 11: Sevu Reece (9) 12: David Havili (4) 13: Anton Lienert-Brown (49) 14: Will Jordan (4) 15: Damian McKenzei (29)

Fiji Squad

1.Peni Ravai, 2. Samuel Matavesi, 3. Mesake Doge, 4. Temo Mayanavanua, 5. Leone Nakarawa (C), 6. Johnny Dyer, 7. Mesulame Kunavula, 8. Peceli Yato, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Ben Volavola, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 12. Eneriko Buliruarua, 13. Waisea Nayacalevu, 14. Setareki Tuicuvu, 15. Kini Murimurivalu.

However, he is also aware there are areas his team needs to improve on if they are to back-up their impressive showing at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Saturday’s re-match at FMG Stadium Waikato.

The Flying Fijians’ presence at the breakdown in last week’s 57-23 defeat has been a focal point all week leading into the second test in Hamilton, but Cotter, who is expecting the All Blacks set to come out firing after being outmuscled in the collision area last time round, said there is still room for improvement there.

  • Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we recommended

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