Bath Rugby was once again proud to have several players on senior international duty over the weekend. Here is a round-up of how they got on…
An England front row replete with Dave Wilson and Rob Webber pushed New Zealand even closer than their first Test encounter, going down by a single point in Dunedin. Despite the 28-27 loss for Stuart Lancaster’s men – following the 25-20 defeat the previous weekend – the result underlined England’s credentials as genuine title challengers for the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil.
Webber (47 mins) and Wilson (76 mins) were again at the forefront of England’s dominant start to the match, which allowed them to take a four-point lead into half-time. They gained parity at the scrum and Webber’s lineout throwing was another area of strength for the tourists.
There is a strong likelihood both forwards will remain in the squad for the final Test in Waikato this Saturday, whilst Kyle Eastmond may be given another opportunity to shine after his convincing performance in the opening match of the tour.
Francois Louw proved to be the bane of the Welsh in Durban for the first of a two-Test series with the Springboks. The flanker’s urgency and dynamism at the breakdown proved too much for Wales to handle, and the result was a foregone conclusion by half-time, when the Boks led 28-9.
There might be grounds to call for Paul James to start the next Test on Saturday, the loosehead having come on as a replacement for Gethin Jenkins in the 38-16 humbling of Warren Gatland’s men. James is renowned for his scrummaging ability, and Wales desperately need a better platform in order to launch any meaningful attack against South Africa – the form side in world rugby right now.