Saturday rugby union international reports: Wins for New Zealand and Ireland

Rugby Union
New Zealand eased to victory
New Zealand eased to victory

New Zealand eased to a 26-13 victory over France on Saturday while Ireland beat Australia 26-21 and there was also a win for Wales.

New Zealand 26-13 France

A Jordie Barrett brace inspired New Zealand to a 26-13 victory over 14-man France in Wellington which handed the All Blacks an unassailable 2-0 lead in their three-match series.

The tourists started brightly but lost their grip on the game when Benjamin Fall was sent off for dangerous challenge on Beauden Barrett in the 12th minute which resulted in the 27-year-old fly-half failing a head injury assessment.

Joe Moody and Ben Smith were also on the scoresheet for the hosts, while Cedate Gomes Sa scored France's only try just before the end.

France thought they had opened the scoring after six minutes when Geoffrey Doumayrou took the ball over the line but a TMO review showed he failed to ground it.

The visitors eventually got off the mark five minutes later through a Morgan Parra penalty but lost Fall to a red card shortly after and New Zealand capitalised, with Moody, Smith and Jordie Barrett all going over before the break.

Another Parra penalty had doubled France's score before the interval but the All Blacks went further ahead in the 58th minute when Barrett got his second try.

Gomes Sa got a consolation try in the closing stages, with Jules Plisson adding the conversion.

Argentina 12-30 Wales

Wales secured their first Test series victory in Argentina since 1999 with a 30-12 victory over the Pumas in Santa Fe.

Warren Gatland's side scored two tries, courtesy of Josh Adams and Hallam Amos, while Rhys Patchell contributed 20 points from the kicking tee.

Daniel Hourcade's woeful outfit crossed for two tries through Bautista Delguy and Julian Montoya - the second of which came after a red card for Wales' Ross Moriarty.

This impressive win means Wales have moved up to third in the world rankings, overtaking England - who lost to South Africa.

The tourists started the game strongly, putting Argentina under a huge amount of pressure in their own 22 and resulting in Rob Evans being held up over the line. Patchell nudged Wales into the lead after the hosts were deemed to be offside.

The Scarlets outside-half doubled Wales' lead five minutes later with a second penalty attempt.

The Pumas threatened for the first time when Delguy was put in space before kicking over the top of the Wales defence, forcing Patchell to race back under pressure.

Worcester winger Adams scored Wales' opening try with a stunning effort from inside his own half. With the visitors on the attack, a loose pass from Patchell was regathered by Adams, who beat three defenders before showing his pace to run in unopposed.

Gatland's side had a second try disallowed when Patchell chipped over the top of the defence for Owen Watkin to touch down. However, the Ospreys centre was denied his first international try when the touch judge informed the referee the player was in front of the ball.

Instead, Wales had to settle for three points as Patchell successfully kicked the penalty from in front of the posts.

Patchell further extended the visitors' lead from 35 metres out after Argentina had infringed at the breakdown.

Just when Wales seemed to be coasting to a comfortable victory Pumas lock Guido Petti beat Scott Williams on the outside before drawing his man to put Delguy over for a try, meaning the visitors led 19-5 at the interval.

Patchell extended Wales' lead straight after half-time with a successful penalty attempt from 45 metres out.

The Argentinian scrum was under pressure throughout the 80 minutes and cost them a further three points in the early stages of the second period.

Wales' may have won the physical battle, but their back line was also mightily impressive. Their class behind the scrum was evident when Amos crossed for their second try of the game.

With the men in red on the front foot, the ball was moved through the hands as Patchell, Williams, Amos and Moriarty showed great hands under pressure before releasing George North, who drew his man to put the Dragons full-back over.

To their credit Argentina refused to throw in the towel with their forwards carrying hard into the heart of the Wales defence - but they were turned over whenever they began to apply pressure.

However, the game finished on a sour note when Wales number eight Moriarty was sent off for dangerously putting Argentina fly-half Nicolas Sanchez in a headlock.

It resulted in the hosts grabbing a consolation try when replacement hooker Montoya crossed from short range, with Sanchez converting.

Australia 21-26 Ireland

Ireland's summer series in Australia will come down to a winner-takes-all finale in Sydney next week after the tourists secured a first away win in Australia in exactly 39 years.

With big hitters like Johnny Sexton and Tadhg Furlong back in the starting XV following the 18-9 first Test reversal, Joe Schmidt's Six Nations champions produced some of their best rugby of the season as they over-powered the Wallabies at the breakdown, where captain Peter O'Mahony was immense.

Both sides will count the cost of this bruising encounter in the coming days after a host of players were forced off injured, but they will have to do it again in seven days' time and Ireland have the wind in their sails after tries from Andrew Conway and Furlong and a 16-point haul from Sexton saw them home 26-21 in front of an attendance of 29,018.

Australia started like an express train in Melbourne and were ahead inside two minutes as Bernard Foley wrong-footed Dan Leavy and sent Kurtley Beale through a big gap. The centre rounded Rob Kearney to touch down under the posts.

Foley nailed the conversion but the momentum shifted back Ireland's way when winger Marika Koroibete was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Kearney.

Sexton put the ball in the corner for his forwards to maul and, after an initial shove, Conor Murray exploited the man advantage by floating it wide to Conway who scored in the corner.

Sexton levelled with the touchline conversion and added a penalty earned by a dominant scrum effort in front of the posts.

He added another after O'Mahony forced a breakdown infringement and also punished Caleb Timu's deliberate knock-to make it 16-7.

Having promised to fix their own discipline woes after the first Test, though, Ireland conceded three penalties in quick succession to allow Australia back into it.

Furlong went off his feet at an attacking ruck, before Devin Toner played an opponent in the air to allow Foley to kick to the corner. Once there, the Wallabies turned the screw and earned a penalty try as Cian Healy was shown a yellow card for his illegal attempts at stopping the maul.

Ireland survived their 10 minutes without Healy and might have even extended their lead if Furlong had spotted Garry Ringrose on his shoulder after making an impressive break, but they had to be content with a 16-14 lead at the interval.

A physical game saw both coaches go to their replacements early but Ireland handled the disruption better and went on the attack, with Keith Earls scything through the defence from a superb Sexton pass.

Jack McGrath and Earls were denied tries by marginal decisions, but both times play came back for Irish penalties and after Sexton kicked to the corner, they finally got their reward as Furlong powered through Nick Phipps' tackle to score.

Sexton converted but Ireland were made to sweat for their win as McGrath saw yellow and Taniela Tupou forced his way over from close range.

Foley converted to make it a five-point game with less than two minutes remaining but despite finishing with a makeshift team, the visitors held on.

Italy 25-22 Japan

Italy bounced back from last weekend's disappointing first-Test defeat against Japan with a 25-22 win in Kobe to level their two-match series.

First-half tries from Tommaso Benvenuti and Leonardo Ghiraldini gave the visitors a 12-3 half-time lead.

Italy then extended their advantage when Jake Polledri went over four minutes into the second half but Japan launched an impressive comeback, scoring two tries in quick succession to close the gap to two points.

Two Tommaso Allan penalties in as many minutes gave Italy breathing space before Kotaro Matsushima's late try cut their lead to just two points once again.

But Italy held on to level the series at 1-1.

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