Rugby Union comment: In the second round of the autumn internationals it was only France that managed to get the better of southern hemisphere opposition, eventually winning 39-22 against Argentina.
It marked their second successive win of the series following an impressive 33-6 triumph over Australia last week thanks to some exceptional scrummaging — but no other northern side managed to follow their example.
England had enough opportunity to win against Australia but failed to take the chances offered to them.
Two kickable penalties in the final 20 minutes of this match should have been taken and coach Stuart Lancaster looked an extremely angry man when walking into the dressing room at full time in Twickenham.
Despite their missed chances to win, England displayed a distinct lack of precision and accuracy in their attacks.
They are now trying to play a kind of game that is beyond their combined level of skills.
The passing game will come to them in time but on Saturday they looked like a side who are trying to change their style of play without practising those changes on the training field.
Doubts still remain about some of the refereeing and TMO decisions at Twickenham.
Australia’s opening try was clearly a forward pass and England’s try by Manu Tuilagi was controversially given.
However, there were plus points for Lancaster’s side, with the timing of their substitution working well and providing them with renewed momentum that should have led to victory.
None of the British sides have won yet against the top four southern hemisphere touring sides, which does not augur well for the remainder of the series.
Wales face a difficult clash on Saturday with New Zealand — unbeaten now in 19 matches — before hosting Australia, who whitewashed the Dragons in their summer series down under.
On the evidence of their matches against Argentina and Samoa, interim head coach Rob Howley and co have plenty of work to do before Saturday.
The All Blacks have been rotating during their matches with Scotland and Italy Meanwhile but are expected to revert to their strongest side for their game with Wales.
Centre Jonathan Davies may return for the Dragons after recovering from a groin injury but, with hookers Richard Hibbard and Matthew Rees joining a lengthening injury list, it is difficult to see where
any Welsh improvement can come from after such abject displays against Samoa and Argentina.
Howley’s men have looked completely jaded and while they may have targeted beating Australia in this autumn campaign, they must first come through Saturday’s mammoth encounter with the All Blacks first.
Much has been said regarding the temporary loss of coach Warren Gatland for the first two matches of this series and whether this absence was necessary. Certainly, Wales’s record since Gatland’s summer accident and the end of the Grand Slam is one of consecutive defeat.
England build up to their encounter against New Zealand with a match against South Africa on Saturday.
A better all-round performance with a convincing passing game is more likely to bring rewards against the Springboks, who will have gained confidence from their successive wins against Ireland (16-12) and Scotland (21-10) and will look for three in a row of northern hemisphere scalps.
There is not a likelihood of New Zealand being beaten over the next two weeks so England’s need to conquer the Springboks is extremely significant.
Finally Scotland have also struggled during the series and will hope to bounce back against Tonga.
Andy Robinson’s men have shown flashes against both the Springboks and against a Dan Carter-inspired All Blacks, but will be hoping to show more cutting edge when Tonga visit Murrayfield.
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