New South Wales secured a home Super 14 semifinal with an 18-11 win over Queensland in a derby match on Saturday that was short on attacking creativity or endeavour. The win, coupled with Wellington's loss to Auckland on Friday, ensured the Waratahs will host a semifinal in Sydney next weekend.
The Queensland Reds torpedoed the Western Force's play-off hopes with a 29-12 upset victory in an all-Australian Super 14 rugby match on Friday. The Reds bounced back from a troubled season for their third victory of the campaign, scoring three tries against the bumbling try-less Force.
The Stormers climbed off the bottom of the Super 14 rugby standings with an bonus-point 34-16 win over Australian strugglers Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Saturday. The Cape Town-based team played enterprising rugby to come away with four tries in their third straight win in Brisbane and the sixth win in their past 10 games in Australia.
Discarded All Black Ma'a Nonu scored the match-winning try as a second-half surge carried the Wellington Hurricanes to a 23-18 win over the Queensland Reds on Friday. Although unwanted for last year's World Cup campaign, Nonu proved he is still one of the most damaging outside backs in the business.
Last season's wooden spooners, the Queensland Reds, weathered a second-half fightback to cling on to a 22-16 Super 14 victory over New Zealand's Otago Highlanders on Friday. The Reds, who only won two games last year, opened their season under new coach Phil Mooney with a determined win after playing their best rugby in the first half to lead 12-3 at half-time.
Defending champions England again proved Australia's nemesis, dumping the match favourites out of the Rugby World Cup with a high-pressured 12-10 quarterfinal victory at Stade Velodrome in Marseilles on Saturday. England, who downed the Wallabies in the 2003 final in extra-time and in the 1995 quarterfinal, both with drop goals, handled the high stakes better.
The Wallabies claimed top spot in group B with a fitful 55-12 win over Fiji to lock up a quarterfinal place at the Rugby World Cup at Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier on Sunday. The Australians always had the game under control, but it was an unsatisfying, error-strewn performance against the second-string Fijians.
Two-time champions Australia beat Wales 32-20 in a bruising World Cup clash at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday to virtually make sure of avoiding South Africa in the last eight. The Wallabies, who had two players sin-binned late in the game, scored four tries but were pushed all the way by a spirited home side who had been on the ropes at 25-3 down at the break.
New Zealand and Australia scored a combined total of 167 points and 24 tries as the southern hemisphere giants ruthlessly exposed the huge gap in international rugby at the World Cup on Saturday. The All Blacks swept aside Italy, who had beaten both Wales and Scotland in the Six Nations this year, 76-14 while Australia crushed Japan 91-3.
Twice champions Australia showed they are starting to rediscover their best form at the perfect time by thrashing Japan 91-3 in their opening World Cup Pool B match on Saturday. Despite playing their first game in seven weeks, the Wallabies gave a brilliant display of open rugby to pile on 13 unanswered tries in their opening match of the tournament.
The great debate: Is this the Wallabies' A team? Or merely the Wallabies' A-frame team? That's the question controversial Australian rugby columnist Greg Growden ask in his Monday Maul. It is impossible to avoid the fact that the Australian World Cup campaign revolves around those on their last Test legs, rather than those at the peak of their careers.