New Zealand favourite for Rugby World Cup with Ireland following

Three times world champions New Zealand are favorites for 2019 Rugby World Cup. But they will have to keep close eye on Ireland. World number one ranked All Blacks had a seesaw year in 2018 with highs and lows. World No. ranked Irish side had defeated New Zealand 16-9 in Autumn Internationals 2018 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Steve Hansen’s All Blacks have now lost two out of three last games played against Joe Schmidt’s Irish team. Johnny Sexton, Ireland vice-captain played important role in the wins. Ireland have revealed that there are some weakness in New Zealand’s arsenal in a long while. This opens up the stacks for the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

New Zealand are Favourite for Rugby World Cup with Ireland following
New Zealand are Favourite for Rugby World Cup with Ireland following

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said: “As of now they are the number-one team in the world. So if you want to make them World Cup favourites, go ahead. I guess they are favourites.”

New Zealand top the World Rugby Rankings, closely followed by Ireland. While other top Rugby Union teams like Wales, England, South Africa, Australia and Scotland are trailing closely behind. It is hard to think of a World Cup like the 2015 edition, when all four semi-finalists came from the southern hemisphere.

This comes after All Blacks lost 34-36 against South Africa in September 2018 at Wellington, thus ending 15-match winning streak by New Zealand. It was first loss at home by All Blacks versus an international Rugby Union side since 2009, apart from defeat against British and Irish Lions in 2017. New Zealand are ruling the World Rugby scene since their third Rugby World Cup title win in 2015. All Blacks are double defending champions as they had won RWC edition at their home turf in 2011. New Zealand were also world champions of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said: “We’ve shown on the day when everything’s aligned and the guys are all in the same frame of mind, we can beat the All Blacks away and win a series against England”.

“It’s wide open,” he said of the World Cup. “I’ve been involved in World Cups since 1995, but really this one I couldn’t put money on who’s going to be in the semi-finals.”

Wales thrash Tonga in Autumn Internationals 2018

Wales convincingly defeated Tonga 74-24 in the 2018 Autumn Internationals match at Millennium Stadium (Principality Stadium) in Dublin. The competition between Welsh team and Tongans resulted in record win for home side. Wales beaten Ikali Tahi earning their biggest victory in terms of points difference since Namibia match in RWC 2015. Welsh side has now all three matches of the End Of Year Rugby Union Tests played so far. A win against South Africa in next round will result in clean sweep for Wales. Dan Biggar was main contributor for Welsh team and earned man of the match award for his performance. Wales have won their last eight matches. Tonga have lost in all nine matches played against Welsh team to date. This game offered preparations of Rugby World Cup 2019 for national rugby union teams of both Wales and Tonga.

Wales Vs Tonga Rugby - Autumn Internationals 2018
Wales Vs Tonga – Rugby Union – Autumn Internationals 2018

Wales attacked right from the match start with a 2′ penalty try. Dan Biggar hit a 5′ try, that he converted himself on 6′. Sonatane Takulua of Tonga opened account of his team with a 8′ penalty. Liam Williams smashed a 10′ try for Welsh team that Biggar converted on 11′. Dan Biggar upped the ante for Wales with 21′ penalty. Tongan player Leva Fifita responded with a penalty on 31′, that Takulua converted on 32′. Steve Mafi hit a 38′ penalty that Takulua converted on 39’. Wales were in front with 24-17 on half time and had controlled the first half in terms of possession and territory. Tonga had reduced the Welsh lead despite committing several errors and being one player short due to sin bin.

Tonga erased the Welsh lead quickly in the second half by a Sione Vailanu try on 42′, that Sonatane Takulua converted on 43′. Scorecard read 24-24 and Tonga hoped for maiden win over Wales for a brief time. But then Welsh side went on a rampage scoring 50 points in the second half. Steffan Evans kicked a 45′ penalty that Biggar converted on 46′. Dan Biggar hit a penalty on 55′. Tomos Williams smashed a try on 57′ that Biggar converted on 59′. Tyler Morgan joined the party with a 62′ try. Cory Hill and Aled Davies hit tries on 64′ and 69’; which Rhys Patchell successfully converted. Patchell kicked own try on 71′ that he also converted. Liam Williams hit his second and overall tenth try of Welsh side on 77′ with Patchell converting. Wales finished match with 74-24 score against Tonga, thus winning handsomely by 50 points. This victory boosted their confidence as Wales get plentiful preparation for RWC 2019 in Japan. World Rugby tier 2 team Tonga will have to improve the Tongan preparations for RWC 2019 by tweaking strategy and establishing team combinations.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: “We started off exceptionally well and then we had 20 minutes where we put ourselves in a bit of a hole. We dug ourselves out of it in the second half with some outstanding rugby. That group of players would have learned a lot from that experience. There were a couple of things we needed to tidy up at half time and we did that. We spoke at half-time that in previous games in the autumn we’ve started well against teams and allowed them to score points. That group of players did a fantastic job. We knew in Test match rugby sometimes it just does not happen. It can take 50 or 60 minutes to wear a side down and we were able to capitalise on that.”

Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu is confident that Tongan preparations for RWC 2019 are going in right direction. He said: “We’ve got potentially 16 to 18 people missing out of this group of 30. Out of this group of 30 I could see only five or 10 people going to the World Cup. We get our talent back and sufficient time to prepare, and those two things would hugely increase our chances at the World Cup.”

Wales Vs Tonga 74-24
17 November 2018 – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Wales: 74
Try: Penalty try (2′), Biggar (5′), L. Williams (10′, 77′), S. Evans (45′), T. Williams (57′), Morgan (62′), Hill (64′), A. Davies (69′), Patchell (71′)
Con: Biggar (6′, 11′, 46′, 59′), Patchell (65′, 70′, 72′, 78′)
Pen: Biggar (21′, 55′)
Tonga: 24
Try: Fifita (31′), Mafi (38′), Vailanu (42′)
Con: Takulua (32′, 39′, 43′)
Pen: Takulua (8′)

Wales defeat Australia 9-6 in Autumn Internationals 2018

Wales beat Australia 9-6 in the 2018 Autumn Internationals match at Millennium Stadium (Principality Stadium) in Cardiff. Welsh team finally ended 13 match losing streak against Wallabies. It is first win for Wales in a decade versus Australia. Stephen Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar scored for Welsh side. Australian team scored with Bernard Foley and Matthew Toomua. This game was important for national rugby teams of both Wales and Australia in their preparations of Rugby World Cup 2019.

Wales Vs Australia Rugby - Autumn Internationals 2018
Wales Vs Australia Rugby – Autumn Internationals 2018

Wales scored first in the match with Leigh Halfpenny hitting a penalty in 21’. Australia responded with Bernard Foley smashing a penalty on 33′. Halfpenny missed two penalties in the first half. Scoreline on break time was 3-3 with honours equal. Halfpenny put Wales in front with 67’ penalty in second round. But then Halfpenny had to leave pitch following a high tackle by Samu Kerevi which hit his head. Wallabies player Matthew Toomua equalized the score with 74′ penalty. Dan Biggar sealed the game for Welsh team with 76′ penalty. Wales have been victorious in two matches played in Autumn Internationals 2018 so far. This will serve good in Welsh preparation for RWC 2019. Both teams are scheduled to play in Japan 2019. Australia have lost eight matches of the last ten played recently. Wallabies coach and team will have to bring their End of Year Rugby Union Tests 2018 campaign on track. Australian preparation for RWC 2019 in Japan also needs a fresh start.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones said: “It has been a long time coming. Someone reminded me I was the sole survivor from the win in 2008 and that shows how old I am. This is sweeter. Dan is a competitive animal and he probably wouldn’t have wanted it any other way that for it to come down to the wire and then come on and do his job.”

Australia captain Michael Hooper said: “It has been a long-time jinx playing us and you could see how happy they were to get on top. It was a real grudge match. Congratulations to Wales, but it really hurts. We will re-group. We have got two more games to play on this trip and a hell of a lot to play for each week.”

Wales Vs Australia 9-6
10 November 2018 – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Wales: 9
Pen: Halfpenny (21′, 67’), Biggar (76′)
Australia: 6
Pen: Foley (33′), Toomua (74′)

Wales defeat Scotland 21-10 in Autumn Internationals 2018

Wales beaten Scotland 21-10 in the 2018 Autumn Internationals match at Principality Stadium (Millennium Stadium) in Cardiff, Wales. Stephen Leigh Halfpenny spearheaded much of the Welsh attack on Scottish side. Adam Hastings played a significant part in Scotland resistance. It is 10th victory in a row for Wales against regular opponents Scotland. Wales have won their opening match of End of Year Rugby Tests for the first time since defeating Romania 40-3 in Autumn Internationals 2002. This victory is perfect start for Wales national Rugby Union team preparations of Rugby World Cup 2019.

Wales Vs Scotland - Rugby Autumn Internationals 2018
Wales Vs Scotland – Rugby Autumn Internationals 2018

Wales full back Leigh Halfpenny scored 1st three penalties in first half. His hat-trick of penalties happened in 4′, 14′, 22′ respectively. Scottish fly half Adam Hastings scored a 25’ penalty. Welsh winger George North made a 29’ m try. Scotland captain Stuart McInally converted a driving line-out to grab a 34’ c try. Adam Hastings converted this to 36’ penalty. Wales were leading on 14-10 at the break time.

Welsh centre Jonathan Davies recorded a 47’ c try. Halfpenny was able to convert it on 48’ m. Scotland attacked continuously but Wales defence stopped their efforts. Scottish side could not score in the second half. Wales won the game 21-10 against Scotland. It was first opening win for Wales at the Millennium Stadium since defeating Samoa 50–6 in 2000. Wales national rugby team will look to carry this momentum in Welsh preparation for RWC in Japan.

Scotland team were heartbroken on the loss as it is setback to Scottish preparations for RWC 2019. Head Coach Gregor Townsend, said: “I think we didn’t start with the energy and the accuracy that is required in a game like this against a very good opponent. That was a game that we had enough pressure, territory and opportunities to win.”

Wales Vs Scotland 21-10
3 November 2018 – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales
Wales: 21
Try: North 29’ m, Davies 47′ c
Con: Halfpenny (1/2) 48′
Pen: Halfpenny (3/3) 4′, 14′, 22′
Scotland: 10
Try: McInally 34′ c
Con: Hastings (1/1) 36′
Pen: Hastings (1/1) 25′