Rugby Union comment: The first round of autumn internationals last weekend gave us much to ponder.
Wales disappointed their support on Saturday by showing little energy and vitality for the type of contest that ensued, while Argentina showed they are worthy southern hemisphere opponents and looked really well organised in both attack and defence.
Their performance was in stark contrast to that of their hosts who consistently tried to attack from the wrong areas and, while struggling to press forward from deep in their own half, looked one-paced.
Such an approach may have been successful against the Pumas of old but this current Argentina side got better as the match went on, coming into their own during the final quarter of the match to score two tries unchallenged.
As a result Wales will have to find something extraordinary to turn around their autumn series.
They face the physical Samoans on Friday night and will need all the guile available to unlock an aggressive defence and well-organised, if rather direct, attack.
Meanwhile New Zealand blew hot and cold on Sunday at Murrayfield. It’s normally the case of finding new superlatives for their style of game but, even though they took Scotland apart and scored six tries to three, there were errors in their game and they did look slightly undercooked.
Mercurial fly-half Dan Carter started by giving Scotland an interception pass and centre Matt Scott was glad to find Tim Visser on his left shoulder to finish off the try in style.
For the rest of the match Carter was incredible, running the show and playing a part in a number of their tries.
Scotland also took time to settle into their task.
It was late in the game when they threw the first line-out to the mammoth Richie Gray.
They were denied possession by the Kiwis, targeting Jim Hamilton in the middle of the line, yet refused to throw to Gray who could have dominated line-out possession from the front or back.
Nevertheless, despite their lack of accuracy and uncharacteristic handling errors, the All Blacks looked dangerous with the ball in their hands and can now score from anywhere on the field.
England were similarly dismissive of Fiji, finally winning 54-12 and scoring seven tries.
This was just the sort of preparation they needed before the more serious challenges ahead, with Australia first up on Saturday.
England host a Wallabies side still smarting from a comprehensive 6-33 defeat to France last Saturday.
The Aussie Achilles’ heel has in recent years been their scrum and they were completely overhauled in this respect at the Stade de France.
This flaw was the cause behind at least two of the French tries, as well as Australia’s inability to get going in this match.
And unfortunately for the Wallabies, their weakness is likely to be tested in every game, though perhaps not as brutally as by the French.
England scrum coach Graham Rowntree would have been watching on with interest to events in Paris and will believe that England can apply a similar pressure to the Australian front row.
Of course this is a four-week series for some of the countries and they will all build for their most important fixture.
All Black coach Steve Hansen has already decided that Wales, after their strong World Cup showing, are the side that he most wants to beat.
The All Blacks’ general standards of play and levels of support play are increasingly difficult to combat and only England, it seems after the initial weekend, have the wherewithal to stop them playing
for 80 minutes.
They may be fully cooked by then.
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