2022 Argentina vs Scotland

SANZAAR Test Previews: Southern Hemisphere Looks To Continue Dominance

SANZAAR Test Previews: Southern Hemisphere Looks To Continue Dominance

Saturday kicked off a summer test series for some of the world's best national sides, and SANZAAR clubs went 4-0 in a dominant display.

Jul 5, 2022 by Briar Napier
SANZAAR Test Previews: Southern Hemisphere Looks To Continue Dominance

European rugby's top sides were not welcome in the Southern Hemisphere this weekend.

Saturday kicked off a summer test series for some of the world's best national sides, and as SANZAAR clubs went 4-0 in a dominant display, it shows that the visitors have some work to do over the next couple of weekends.

New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina look to keep their winning ways going this weekend against Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland, respectively, hoping to make a statement by saying that any side seeking an international trophy likely will have to go through at least one of them first. 

On the flip side, upcoming rematches offer a critical opportunity for each losing team from this past weekend to rebound or pick up the pieces, while hoping for a better result next time.

What's ahead as international test series continue next weekend for all of SANZAAR? Here's a peek at recaps of the past weekend's games - and a look at what's to come in the weekend's matches, which will be streamed live on FloRugby:

NOTE: All start times are listed in Eastern Time and are subject to change.

New Zealand Vs. Ireland | Rosters

Where: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand

The lowdown: There were thoughts before Ireland began its three-test series in New Zealand this summer that the visitors, who had stunningly won three of their prior five meetings against the All Blacks, could take the next step and defeat one of the world's most formidable rugby powers in their own backyard for the very first time. 

Instead, New Zealand kicked off the Ireland series by giving coach Andy Farrell's side a rude awakening. 

The All Blacks smashed Ireland on Saturday at Eden Park in Auckland, 42-19, with flanker Ardie Savea crossing the try line twice, as a run of 28 unanswered points in the first half from the hosts proved too much for the Irish to tame. 

To make matters worse for Ireland, captain Jonathan Sexton was subbed off with a head injury prior to halftime. Due to World Rugby's recent change in concussion protocol, in which a player who fails medical tests must be inactive for at least 12 days, Sexton's status for the second test in Dunedin is up in the air and dependent on if his recovery goes smoothly. 

The win additionally improved the All Blacks' record to 30-1-3 all-time against the Irish, making the score feel a bit too familiar to the visitors. 

Perhaps hoping to get New Zealand off-kilter at Eden Park, where the national team hasn't lost since 1994, was a bit ambitious from Ireland, and a more stable performance is ahead in this weekend's rubber match. If it isn't, however, Ireland's trip to the sunny South Pacific may quickly turn into a nightmare.

Australia Vs. England | Rosters

Where: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia

The lowdown: Twelve years after Australia last beat England in the Land Down Under, the Wallabies finally were able to celebrate victory over the English in front of a home crowd.

Ridding itself of the demons from prior matchups with the English, such as England's 2016 three-game sweep in Australia and their eight straight tests against them won overall, the Wallabies overcame injuries and a first-half red card from lock Darcy Swain to stun the English on Saturday at Perth Stadium, 30-28. 

A trio of tries in the final quarter from Jordan Petaia, Folau Fainga'a and Pete Samu saw the Wallabies go up 30-14 with just minutes to play, and though the English did score twice in three minutes in a furious comeback attempt, Australia held on until the final siren commenced. 

Celebrations in the Aussie camp were well-earned, but the tricky part will be repeating the feat next weekend in Brisbane, especially as fly-half Quade Cooper, fullback Tom Banks and prop Allan Alaalatoa all left Saturday's match due to injury. 

However, the three-match losing run England coach Eddie Jones is on (not counting the 52-21 defeat to the Barbarians last month) is his longest since a five-match stretch of defeats in 2018, with the 2019 Rugby World Cup runners-up needing a strong bounce-back performance in Brisbane to restore confidence. 

Being largely dominated by a 14-man Australia is not the main memory from this tour the English want to bring home, particularly as preparations for next year's Rugby World Cup in France are slowly getting into full gear.

South Africa Vs. Wales | Rosters

Where: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa

The lowdown: Saturday was a momentous occasion for South Africa as the defending world champions got to finally play in front of a full-capacity home crowd (as pandemic-related restrictions were lifted by the government) for the first time since winning the Webb Ellis Cup three years ago in Japan. 

No one told Wales it wasn't supposed to nearly spoil the party. 

Coach Wayne Pivac's side was stellar in Pretoria, with wing Louis Rees-Zammit scoring twice in the first half to give Wales an 18-3 lead at the intermission, but the Springboks fought back to improve to 11-0 at home against the Welsh in an epic 32-29 win, sealed with a game-winning penalty by Damian Willemse with the game's final kick in the 83rd minute. 

Despite the defeat, it was one of Wales' best performances in recent memory, something the team desperately needed after a humiliating loss to Italy in this year's Six Nations, and adds an interesting wrinkle to the middle match of the tour in Bloemfontein. 

Still, four Welsh yellow cards and two missed conversions from captain Dan Biggar proved vital as the tension of the game grew, with few sides able to make so many miscues against the No. 1-ranked Springboks and survive with a victory intact. 

Wales has the right to be encouraged from the first test of the series, however, and it could help it turn the tour into something historic. South Africa is the world's best at the moment for a reason. If Wales forgets that, it could be set up for a world of hurt.

Argentina Vs. Scotland | Rosters

Where: Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena, Salta, Argentina

The lowdown: SANZAAR sides officially ruled the weekend after Argentina won 26-18 against Scotland in San Salvador as part of their first meeting of three this month, with Los Pumas coach Michael Cheika finding himself victorious in his debut on the Argentine touchline. 

The hosts led 18-6 at halftime after taking advantage of a slow-starting Scotland, and though coach Gregor Townsend's team made things interesting with two second-half tries in five minutes from Mark Bennett and Rory Hutchinson, the Scots were held scoreless in the game's final quarter as a try from Gonzalo Bertranou and a penalty from Emiliano Boffelli, who plays club rugby with Scotland's Edinburgh, sealed the deal and put Los Pumas ahead for good. 

The result snapped a five-match winning run from Scotland in the series, as Argentina won against the Scots for the first time since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, also doubling as the visitors' first defeat in Argentina since 2008. 

Townsend's decision to not select seasoned stars Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg for the Argentina tour, citing rest, may prove to be costly as Scotland looked to lack a bite on the pitch for much of the afternoon. 

The second match in Salta may prove to be a defining point for both sides. If Argentina wins decisively again, is Cheika in the beginnings of a rugby revolution in the country? Or, if Scotland wins, does it prove that it can be a threat on the road despite the absence of its top players?