England are now up to second in the World Rugby Rankings following their 23-7 win over Australia in Melbourne on Saturday.
Superb defence kept the Wallabies at bay time and time again and England, now on a nine-match winning run – eight of them under Eddie Jones, will head to Sydney for the third and final test with an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
Captain Dylan Hartley and Owen Farrell, who also kicked 13 points, got the tries for England on a night when Australia simply couldn’t find a way through the white line of tacklers.
Australia captain Stephen Moore emulated Hartley in crashing over from close range but they were unable to add to their tally after the break despite dominating territory and possession.
The Wallabies drop to fourth in the rankings in defeat, with South Africa, who, at 19-3 down at half-time, looked destined to lose to Ireland for the second game in a row until powerful centre Damian de Allende blasted through some tired tackles to make sure of victory.
South Africa’s 32-26 win not only keeps the three-match series alive but also improves their rating points by 0.37. The Springboks are now on 86.03 points – nearly two adrift of England and 10 behind world champions New Zealand but six tenths ahead of Australia.
LES BLEUS MONDAY FOR FRANCE
Argentina’s 30-19 win over France in Tucuman means that Los Pumas stay fifth ahead of Wales, who went down to a brave 36-22 defeat to the All Blacks, while Ireland remain unmoved in seventh.
France, however, have lost eighth spot to Scotland, who came from behind to earn a hard-fought 26-13 win in their first ever test match in Japan. Les Bleus are now ninth, their lowest position since the World Rugby Rankings began in October 2003.
Fiji’s 26-16 win over Samoa saw them retain the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup and ensured they remain as one of the world’s top 10 ranked teams. With results from the competition over this year and next counting towards qualification for Rugby World Cup 2019, Fiji are now insurmountable favourites to take either of the two Oceania spots.
Tonga, who were narrowly beaten by Fiji the previous weekend, suffered a last-gasp 23-20 loss against Georgia, who backed up their RWC 2015 win over the ‘Ikale Tahi thanks to two tries from outside centre David Kacharava and 13 points from the boot of full-back Merab Kvirikashvili.
Tonga are replaced in 13th by Italy, who beat USA 24-20 in San Jose, California, to hand Conor O’Shea his first win in charge of the Azzurri. Italy’s hero was their hooker Ornel Gega, who scored a try either side of half-time, while fly-half Carlo Canna also impressed with a 14-point haul via three penalties, a conversion and a drop goal.
BRAGGING RIGHTS FOR CANADA
USA are overtaken in the rankings by neighbours Canada, who extended their winning record against Russia to 4-0. The Canucks’ 46-21 win over the Bears in Calgary was worth 0.95 of a rating point, which was enough to take them up to 17th. Russia, meanwhile, drop to 20th with Uruguay, 16-0 winners over Spain in the World Rugby Nations Cup on Saturday, taking 19th spot. Over the course of the week Spain lost just over two ratings points, and as a result they concede 22nd place to Hong Kong.
For Guyana and the Cayman Islands the dream of appearing at Japan 2019 is still alive following their respective victories in the Rugby Americas North Championship, which forms part of the regional Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification process.
Saturday’s 23-18 win over south zone rivals and defending champions Trinidad and Tobago means Guyana will contest the final, where they will play either Mexico or Caymans Islands, who face off for top spot in the north zone on 2 July. The Caymans maintained their interest with a 47-11 victory against Bermuda, outside centre Mike Wilson and winger Venasio Tokatokavanna grabbing a brace of tries apiece.
Both Guyana and the Cayman Islands enjoyed healthy rises to their rankings, with the Guyanese moving up nine places from 55th to an all-time high of 46th and the Caymans up three - climbing above Sweden, Luxembourg and Singapore - to 58th, on the back of a 0.59 rating point rise. Trinidad and Tobago and Bermuda both count the costs of defeats, falling to 48th and 71st respectively.
Jamaica’s match with Barbados did not go ahead as scheduled and tournament organisers confirmed it will not be rearranged.
KENYA SEAL LATE WIN
A late penalty by Darwin Mukidza saw Kenya complete an 18-17 victory over Brazil in Macapa. In doing so they became the first recipients of the newly-named Hemisphere Cup, a one-legged annual contest between the nations.
The Simbas also move up one place in the rankings to 26th at the expense of the Ukraine. The loss of 0.82 of a rating point sees Brazil fall one place to 36th with the Netherlands the beneficiaries.
Only one ranking place and just 0.19 of a rating point now separates Madagascar (42nd) and Senegal (43rd) after the Senegalese pulled off a stunning 30-24 win against their higher-ranked hosts in Antananarivo. The victory gained Senegal 1.28 rating points, enough to improve their ranking by five places.
Senegal will now go on to contest the Africa Cup Division 1B title as winners of Pool B. Fixtures have yet to be played in Pool A which features Tunisia, Botswana and the Ivory Coast.
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