Top 15 Tries of the Autumn Nations Series
25 November 2021
The best of the North and South wrapped up the Test season in style, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he selects the 15 best tries of the Autumn Nations Series.
Stars from both hemispheres produced some terrific tries in the 20 Tests that fell under the season-ending Autumn Nations Series umbrella from 30 October to this past weekend.
With no shortage of options, cherry-picking the finest five-pointers was not an easy task, but here are my top 15 tries of the end-of-year internationals:
15: Will and Grace
Some players have a grace about them that enables them to make the extraordinary look effortless. All Blacks wing Will Jordan is among that special group and he showed it once again when he swerved through a gab, chipped the ball over Josh Adams, and re-gathered to score one of his team’s seven tries as the Kiwis crushed Wales 54-16.
14: Rees Lightning
If ever there was evidence of the adage there’s no substitute for pure pace, this is it. Louis-Rees Zammit, the fourth fastest man in world rugby according to Ruck.co.uk, showed that scintillating speed when he flew past two Fijians and jotted down his kick for a try he had no right to score.
13: Lowe Blow
In a bit of bitter irony, it was New Zealand-born James Lowe’s try that kick-started Ireland’s 29-20 win over the All Blacks. The inspired Irish forwards did the hard yards to suck in defenders, where after perfect passes from Bundee Aki and Hugo Keenan saw Lowe produce a fantastic finish in a one-on-one situation with Jordie Barrett.
12: The Future is Now
Paired together in the 10-12 axis for the first time, Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell showed a glimpse of what the future holds for England as they combined to put Freddie Stewart into a gaping gap, with the fullback easily beating opposite number Kurtley Beale to score his first Test try.
11: Flying High
In a dance of the desperate, it was Argentina who wanted it more as this magical moment illustrated. Chasing an up-and-under, Emiliano Boffelli soared over Matteo Minozzi with superior determination and athleticism before offloading to Marcos Kremer, who had just enough pace to score, with the Pumas ultimately coming away with a 37-16 win.
10: Hot Hands
Cashing in on a turnover by Kwagga Smith, Damian de Allende attacked the space and sucked in three Scottish defenders before flicking an audacious offload to Makazole Mapimpi. The winger pulled off a tremendous one-handed take and hurried home for his second try of the afternoon to help the Springboks secure a 30-15 win.
9: The Pumas Pounce
Before the final match of the year turned into a Dublin disaster for the Pumas, they got off to a perfect start. Sublime offloads by forwarding duo Thomas Gallo and Santiago Grondona freed up Jeronimo de la Fuente, who found Mateo Carreras after pulling in James Lowe. Carreras cut inside in a flash, leaving two defenders for dead as he drew first blood.
8: Ultimate Ankle Breaker
There’s something special about one player beating another with fancy footwork to score. That’s exactly what Rufus McLean did to bank his second try on debut in Scotland’s 60-14 win over Tonga. Ideal lineout ball and a magic cut-out pass from Blair Kinghorn gave the rookie winger a world of space and he fried James Faiva with a wicked step off the left foot.
7: Winging It For The Win
Debutant Ewan Ashman ensured he made a lasting first impression as he produced a sensational effort to help propel Scotland to a 15-13 win over the Wallabies. The significance of the try was surpassed only by the splendour of the finish as the replacement hooker dove and dotted down in the corner despite Izaia Perese’s best efforts. He added a classic sound bite when asked about the try afterwards, saying, “I’m just a wing in a fat person’s body.”
6: Irish Eyes Are Smilling
In his milestone 100th Test, Johnny Sexton set the ball in motion for this beauty with a half-break and offload to Josh van der Flier, who kept the momentum going along with Tadhg Beirne before Bundee Aki was brought down. Quick ball for Jamison Gibson-Park saw the scrumhalf stab a great grubber through to Andrew Conway, who went over for his first of three tries on the day as the Irish romped to a 60-5 win over shell-shocked Japan.
5: Red Notice
Kurtley Beale harped back memories of his prime with this pearler of a play against Wales that sparked a comeback that nearly resulted in a famous win for a Wallabies team who was hit with a red card in the 15th minute. The veteran fullback burned Willis Halaholo with a stunning step, handed off Aaron Wainwright, and drew another defender before flinging the ball to Len Ikitau, who acted as the link man with Nic White showing great determination to dot down.
4: Hot Knife Through Butter
Trailing for the first time in the titanic Test against the Springboks, England regained the lead with an awe-inspiring blow from a lineout inside their half. A slick short ball by Henry Slade saw Joe Marchant slice through the usually impregnable centre pairing of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am. The flyer sucked in Jesse Kriel and fed Raffi Quirke, who cantered in for his first Test try.
3: Fijian Flair
The results were brutal but Fiji nevertheless put their stamp on the Autumn Nations Series with this scorcher against Wales, while being down to 14 men. Setariki Tuicuvu took a quick tap after fielding a nothing kick and blitzed a trio of would-be tacklers before offloading to Vilimoni Botitu. He drew his man and found his captain Waisea Nayacalevu, who took it to the house.
2: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie
Australia repeated the feat against Wales, who had a numerical advantage over the 14-man visitors. Hunter Paisami produced the spark with a hot-stepping break that took the Wallabies within six meters of the try line. From there, excellent decision-making and interplay by Lachlan Swinton, Rob Leota, Tom Wright, and Folau Fainga’a saw Filipo Daugunu finish in style to make it a one-point game.
1: Hurricane Reece
The attacking nature and unmatched synergy of the All Blacks contributed to this cracker during their runaway 54-16 win over Wales but what made and put this try over the top was Sevu Reece turning into a human hurricane. After showing superhuman speed, power, awareness, and skill, it was only fitting that the replacement wing was the man to touchdown.