Australia return to second in rankings
Australia have bounced back to second in the latest IRB World Rankings after a comfortable 39-20 victory over South Africa in their Tri Nations opener, regaining the place they lost following a shock defeat by Samoa the previous weekend.
The Wallabies scored five tries – through Ben Alexander, Digby Ioane, James O’Connor, Stephen Moore and Adam Ashley-Cooper – at ANZ Stadium in Sydney to swap places again with the Springboks, although they still remain eight tenths below their pre-Samoa loss rating.
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South Africa’s loss means they now trail their conquerors by 1.31 points, although they still have a more than a two-point cushion over Ireland, the leading northern hemisphere nation, in fourth spot. The defeat also leaves them 7.95 points behind their next opponents New Zealand.
New Zealand were also victorious over the weekend, kicking off the 2011 campaign they hope will end in a second Rugby World Cup triumph with a 60-14 triumph over Fiji in a match raising funds for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.
The eight-try win, though, had no impact on the ranking of either side, a consequence of the 13 places and 21.67 rating points that separated the sides going into the match at Carisbrook in Dunedin on Friday.
There was one other match over the weekend which impacted the IRB World Rankings with Zimbabwe continuing their recent run of good form with a 26-21 victory over Kenya in their Victoria Cup encounter in Nairobi.
Zimbabwe had already secured the Victoria Cup title but their fifth win in the last seven weeks has resulted in a three-place climb to 35th, lifting them above Lithuania, Germany and Tunisia. Kenya remain 40th despite the loss, albeit slightly closer to Paraguay below them.
The latest victory for a resurgent Zimbabwe has lifted them to another new high in the IRB World Rankings and means that they have shot up 12 places in seven weeks, making them now the fourth highest ranked African side behind South Africa, Namibia and Morocco.