Matt Giteau kicked Australia to a 28-14 victory over England and Jaque Fourie rescued world champion South Africa in a 14-10 come-from-behind triumph over Scotland in international rugby on Saturday.
New Zealand overcame an error-prone first half to defeat Ireland 22-3, France outplayed the Pacific Islanders 42-17 and Argentina ended a four-game losing streak with a 22-14 defeat of Italy.
The Wallabies’ victory at Twickenham was a satisfying one over Martin Johnson, who captained England to a World Cup final triumph over them in Sydney in 2003 and was hoping for a victory in his second game as the team’s manager.
Johnson, whose team led 14-12 early in the second half, watched England concede too many penalties and Australia punish them with Giteau kicking six and converting Adam Ashley-Cooper’s try 11 minutes from the end. Stirling Mortlock added a 48m shot.
Although Nick Easter went over for a try and Danny Cipriani kicked penalties and fullback Delon Armitage dropped a goal, England failed to take full advantage of its opportunities.
When Scotland led the Springboks 10-0 at halftime, a major surprise appeared to be looming at Murrayfield.
Even though Dan Parks missed two easy kicks, the Scots scored the only try of the first half through lock Nathan Hines, and Phil Godman kicked a penalty and a conversion.
The Springboks hit back strong in the second half, however, and dominated until the last few minutes.
Coach Peter de Villiers replaced off-form winger Bryan Habana with Fourie and, after Ruan Pienaar had cut the lead to four points with two penalties, the versatile back made the overlap for the go-ahead try.
New Zealand maintained its 22-match unbeaten run against Ireland, taking a decisive 10-3 lead in the final move of the first half at Croke Park. A penalty try was awarded against Tommy Bowe for slapping the ball into touch just as All Blacks captain Richie McCaw appeared ready to score.
Before that, a shaky Dan Carter had converted just one out of three penalty kicks, while Ireland’s Ronan O’Gara nailed his only attempt — a stunning 45m shot in the 38th minute — to make it 3-3.
SEALING THE WIN
But tries by Ma’a Nonu and Brad Thorn in the 48th and 53rd minutes put the result beyond reach of the Irish, who lacked attacking bite and who have failed to beat New Zealand since 1905.
“I’m looking forward to having one quiet Guinness,” New Zealand lock Ali Williams said.
Ireland tried to maintain a dogged, stingy defense and succeeded in the first half, as the All Blacks self-destructed with penalties and bobbled passes.
“In the first 30 minutes we allowed a lot of our own energy to be soaked up,” Ireland coach Declan Kidney said. “We spent too much time in our own half.”
O’Gara was given only one other chance to score with his foot, when All Blacks prop Tony Woodcook was yellow-carded for punching Rory Best in the face. But O’Gara’s 50m attempt hooked low and left in the 43rd.
France scored five tries and David Skrela kicked 17 points in an easy victory over the Pacific Islanders, who are made up of players from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.
On Friday, Wales beat Canada 34-13 at Cardiff.
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