World Cup snippets: Seething Cheika‚ testy Hansen‚ brilliant Uruguay
As Rugby World Cup 2019 heads to the end of the first fascinating week‚ we summarise the some of the main story lines.
*Uruguay cause upset of the tournament by beating Fiji
It wasn’t supposed happen.
Uruguay were expected to play their part and roll over against Fiji so that the islanders retained a chance of qualifying for the quarterfinals despite their opening loss to Australia last Saturday.
But no one told the South Americans about the part they had to play.
Uruguay‚ beaten 68-7 by Fiji last November‚ caused a stir with a dramatic 30-27 win in Kamaishi on Wednesday.
The result almost certainly means the end of Fiji’s play-off ambitions while Uruguay have achieved their goal of winning a RWC 2019 match.
It was their first RWC win for 16 years and it was based on organised and committed defence and the ability to snap up their chances.
Fiji squandered countless possession and were particularly poor in the first half with their casual approach that didn’t respect the old tenet of ‘earning the right to go wide’.
Uruguay thrived off Fiji errors for a major milestone day in their rugby history.
*Samoa up to old tricks
When it comes to physicality in rugby‚ Samoa would be a tier one nation.
But their love of tackling often goes too far and against Russia in their opening match of RWC 2019‚ Samoa were at their worst.
Centre Rey Lee-Lo and hooker Motu Matu’u both received yellow card for connecting with the heads of Russian players.
Despite the sight of meaty Samoan shoulders smashing into the faces of stunned Russian ball carriers‚ French referee Romain Poite did not issue red cards.
The official felt that as the Russian players were crouched‚ it didn’t meet the red card threshold.
Both Samoan players have subsequently been cited for acts of foul play and could face suspensions.
Samoa wing Ed Fidow‚ who scored two tries during the 34-9‚ was issued a Citing Commissioner’s warning for striking a player. Despite the result‚ it could be a costly win for Samoa.
*Hansen slams critics…again
An increasingly testy All Black coach Steve Hansen is clearly feeling the pressure despite his side’s 23-13 Pool B win over the Springboks last weekend.
After the match hundreds of social media posts circulated‚ showing clips of the numerous All Black infringements that went unpunished.
For most outside of NZ‚ it was further evidence of how the reigning world champions receive preferential treatment from match officials.
Hansen was having none of it: "You can go and get shots of anything you want and create something‚" Hansen told the media in Oita.
"There's a judicial system that's been in place for a long time in rugby... We're not judged by social media." Just as well for them…
*And Cheika is still at it too…
Wallaby coach Michael Cheika was left seething after Fiji‚ as they are entitled to do‚ laid an official complaint against Australia wing Reece Hodge for a dangerous tackle that went unpunished during their Pool D clash in Sapporo last Saturday.
Fiji flank Peceli Yato was left concussed as Hodge escaped punishment for what appeared to be a ‘no-arms’ tackle.
Fiji were leading 11-7 at the time and there was a case for a penalty try as Hodge was the only defender in Yato’s path metres from the tryline.
"To get a referral from them in the way it was referred‚ that was really disappointing‚" said Cheika.
"I'd prefer they come up to me and get upset with me if they're really upset about it‚ not to talk to me in that nice sort of friendly chat and go behind your back and put it in a referral."
Fiji coach John McKee said: "From our side we lost a player who was nearly the most influential player on the park at that time of the game‚ for the rest of the game‚ and because of the head injury he can't play in this game (Wednesday versus Uruguay) either.
"Maybe Michael Cheika's views of what's within the spirit of the game are slightly different to some other people‚ but it's not up to me to decide what exactly he meant by that comment.”
*Scotland battered and beaten
Scotland’s RWC 2019 is in mild disarray after losing 27-3 to Ireland in their Pool A opener.
It means they can’t afford losses to either Samoa or Japan if they hope to make it through to the quarterfinals.
To make matters worse they lost two of their most important players in scrumhalf Ali Price and flank Hamish Watson to tournament-ending injuries.
They meet Samoa next in a must-win game.
*Japan play mind games with Ireland
Hosts Japan are not expected to beat Ireland in their Pool A clash In Shizuoka on Saturday‚ but that didn’t stop them playing some mind games.
“Everyone will expect Ireland to win‚" Japan’s Tongan-born lock Uwe Helu said.
"But we're looking forward to it. All the pressure will be on them.
"They'll be looking down on us‚ that's for sure. We'll do everything we can when we get our chance."
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