The opening game in the group was between the home nation, England and the much-fancied Barbarians. It was an electric start for the Baa-Baas with Samisoni Viriviri bundling over the line in the opening ten seconds. The fast-paced action continued, with both teams getting on the scoresheet as the half progressed. Crowd favourite, Dan Norton brought the scores level but Barbarians captain Kyle Brown regained the lead for his side after some poor handling by England. Just as England seemed down and out, a late try on the stroke of the whistle brought the game level again, forcing the first one v one shootout.
Dan Norton comfortably outfoxed Luke Treharne in the opener but the Baa-Baas drew level through Lennox Anyanwu. Up next was England captain Richard De Carpentier but he couldn’t get past the strong Baa-Baa defence. With the game on the line, Jamie Barden was unable to prevent the towering Vatemo Ravouvou from going over and securing the Barbarian victory.
Final score England 30-30 Barbarians.
Next up in group A was Ireland against the Barbarians. Cormac Izuchukwu opened his RugbyX account going over the line for Ireland shortly after kickoff. Strong Irish defence forced uncharacteristic handling errors from the Baa-Baas, with Jack Daly going over in the corner late into the first half to make it 10-5 to the Irish. Izuchukwu added his second of the game with 3 minutes remaining but shortly afterwards Louis Lynagh recovered from losing his shorts to get an interception and score for the Barbarians. As the game drew to a close Greg O’Shea got his first try since an appearance on Love Island and Terry Kennedy scored with a clever faint off a scrum. It was too little too late for the Baa-baas, with Ireland running away with the victory.
Final score Ireland 25 – 20 Barbarians.
The final game in group A was England against Ireland. England struggled to get going in the match, with Ireland scoring through Aaron O’Sullivan a few minutes in. At the halfway stage, they had extended their lead to 15-5, with Billy Dardis making a fantastic try-saving tackle to win his side possession. With two minutes remaining, O’ Sullivan got his second of the game and they continued to ramp up the pressure on the home side. Izuchukwu bundled across the line just before England scored a consolation try, confirming Ireland as group A winners.
Final score England 10-30 Ireland.
Favourites USA finished bottom in group B with France finishing top and Argentina coming second. The USA started as everyone expected, the ‘fastest man in rugby’ Carlin Isles dotted down after just 30 seconds. However, the Pumas then scored two tries of their own in quick response. They then ran away with the match scoring 8 tries in total as the match finished 40-20.
The USA then came up against France with the French scoring three tries immediately. The eagles had a better performance this fixture, captain Danny Barrett making two vital turnovers. France played fluid, fast rugby and were too much in the end for USA, the final score 25-15 to France.
The final fixture was France vs Argentina, arguably the two strongest sides in the tournament. The two sides traded tries with each other throughout the 10 minute match. Silky, slick rugby was on show much to the crowd’s joy. The game ended 25-20 to France who emerged at the top of group B and the favourites going into this evening’s finals.
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