5 Things we learned - Round 3 - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

5 Things we learned – Round 3

5 Things we learned – Round 3

What did we learn from this past week’s action?

1 The Reds & The Force took a step back.

Well, maybe the Reds marked time a bit but the Force certainly won’t be pleased. The boys from out west were second by a margin in most areas but will be especially dirty at their lack of bite in the tackle and general mongrel, an area where they usually do well.   To be fair, they were always going to be under the pump against an in form side with All Blacks right the way through it.  That said, they won’t be pleased.

The Reds didn’t do as bad but that performance suggests that getting out of the bottom three will be about all we can expect.  One the plus side, at least the scrum continued to function and they weren’t beaten up by the Clan’s pack elsewhere either.

Sanchez and Rabbits were ok (I remain convinced JOC’s an outside back and will be there when Quade is fit) but the kicking on display was not good. More on that later.


2 Don’t lose hope in Melbourne

I like what I am seeing this season from the Rebels and they gave the Brumbies a good fright. It wasn’t until Higgers went to the bin that they lost their shape and allowed the Ponies back into it.  Next hit out, the Rebs will want to lower the penalty count as this was a big part of why they lost. That said, cutting out penalties is coachable so it’ll be good to see it drop next time.

The Brumbies sure know how to grind out a win. I sensed they would keep trusting their systems and know that eventually they would be given the chance. Tevita is for sure the outside centre we have to take to the world cup. I, and most of us, will wince slightly with each bone jarring hit he makes until then.

While we’re in Melbourne, it was good to see the players adapt and keep the skill levels up in the rain. We might need this later in the year.

3 The scrums were again good

I’m not going say sorry for crapping on about the scrums again.  My pet peeve is talking about the latest flash back Australia produces while our scrum is a shambles.  Producing shit hot backs is what we do. It’s when Australia produces a pack that can scrum, not another winger, that the rest of the world get scared of us. So that’s why I was pleased the Reds were able to get some dominance here and why the team of the week features props who are giving the incumbents a tough time.

Let’s hope that next week we see in the Tuesday top 5 a pair of locks that dominate a lineout and smash some bodies at ruck time.

4 Good news on the coaches

Not much more to say here. I like the way Bernie might shape the attack and Nathan Grey is a fine defence coach.  I’d love to see Foley bought in to be forwards coach, or hell, even better, Laurie Fisher.  I don’t know if 8 games is enough to get the team humming but it’s a start.

It also interested me to see Cheika had Patrick Molihan appointed as team manager. If this avoids another disaster like that which caused Link to quit, all to the good. And if, as seems likely, Beale gets picked in the side, I hope this appointment can keep KB in the shirts he’s paid to wear and sending SMS’ only after due thought.

5 The Kicking Game – Not up to speed

For my money, one of the tools you have to have to beat top sides is a kicking game. The New Zealanders often play a formation that invites teams to kick at them, which is why running at them is a tactic that has its merits.  That said, we are going to have to kick and on what I’ve seen so far, we are behind our SANZAR friends here.

We’re not accurate enough in where the ball lands (by which I also mean the 10th row of seats) or in the chase.  The Force were bad here though they knew it afterwards but I was not too impressed with what the Reds kicked at Ben Smith either.

We just have to have the ability to stifle teams and to keep them in their own half, especially if we (and I mean the Wallabies) are not dominating possession and are having it done to us. With a scrum of steel and this sorted out, watch out!

Anyone who watched Ireland beat England this weekend just past will have noticed how much the Irish dominated this aspect and how, as a result, it strangled the English out of the game. We’re in the same pool as the English. You figure the rest out.

Bonus. We should not fear playing the Welsh.

Here’s a repeat of a comment I left on the 6 Nations article which i made after finding myself in the company of an Irishman, a Frenchman and several beers this weekend.

“I am so over Warren-Ball. I watched the Wales vs France game and there’s a reason we’ve beaten them (the Welsh) 10  times on the bounce. It’s ‘cos Warren Ball seems to think off the ball running, changing the point of attack, second phase runners & so forth are not needed as long as your back line are all 100kg plus and quick. As long as you can tackle hard & low, Warren Ball seems to run out of ideas The current french team would struggle to beat the Montferrandaise 2nd XV and Wales laboured past them. Sure there were some big hits. But Bastareaud is hardly a small target and Roberts et al seem to aim at him, rather than any gaps. There’s no reason in 6 months it ought not be the 11th. I do miss Shane Williams though”.

We should expect to win at RWC in Cardiff.

What did I miss??

  • Braveheart81

    Good analysis Skip. Hopefully the Aussie scrums continue to get better this year. We need a huge turnaround at Wallaby level to be competitive at the RWC.

  • Brendan Hume

    Nice write up – awfully hard to win a RWC without a good out of hand kicker to tighten the screws or relieve the pressure.
    The kicking in the Sharks Bulls game was amazing at times – sure it was at altitude but the variation between long, short and in between kicks was really a masterclass that our guys should try to learn from.
    Only realised an Aussie team doesn’t play a South African team till round 6 or 7. I think we’ll only get a better feel for where the Aussies are at by round 12 once we’ve played a few more of our neighbours.

  • Bill

    I don’t miss Shane Williams. I found him highly irritating. It wasn’t that he was a good player, but the number of times he was tackled and held, the tackler released him as they ought to, and he didn’t release the ball, instead, just got up and went again. And the idiot ref didn’t get it, just waltzed about blowing his own horn on the matter. Highly irritating…good player though.

    • PiratesRugby

      In that last game against the Wallabies he carried on like a soccer player after scoring a try while his team was being reamed. Sums the bloke up.

      • Bill

        I can’t reply to that because, evidently, what he did wasn’t enough to get a memory from me in that game. I just remember him being an absolute pain in the arse.

  • Swat

    “We should expect to win at RWC in Cardiff.

    What did I miss??”

    The fact that we play the Welsh at Twickenham…

  • RubberLegs

    ” Producing shit hot backs is what we do” – Last RWC, we used McCabe and AAC in the centres.
    Fourteen of the Reds played well and #10 JOC played like a winger; He should give the ball to Kerevi and Sautia more, particularly from the set piece.
    Walsh gave the Brumbys a big leg up with a few well timed harsh penalties; he likes to teach underdog teams a lesson. The Brumby performance was unconvincing.

    • Mike

      “Last RWC, we used McCabe and AAC in the centres.”

      Actually we used Ant Faingaa at 13 in the two crucial matches we lost – the pool match against Ireland and the semi against the All Blacks.

      So perhaps Deans would have been better to stick with the centres combination that did so well for him in the tri-nations just before – he played McCabe at 12 and AAC at 13, and we scored 11 tries in 4 matches and won the 3N for the first time in a long time .

      Actually I think Ant F might have got 13 jersey for one of those 3N matches. But regardless, the point still stands – McCabe and Two Fathers were a pretty successful centres combination for the post-Mortlock era.

      For all McCabe’s faults, the other candidates for 12 have had faults to match. And we have not had anyone better than AAC until Kuridrani learned to stop throwing cutesy passes and instead take the ball into contact like a 13 should.

      • Bill

        Uh, he may have done better to bring in a real number 7. That was way more of a knock on him than his centres. Though I admit McCabe was an issue, he was shit that world cup. I’m just glad to see McCabe get somewhere near what he could do before he had to hang up his boots. 2011, though, that was nowhere near. But like Benny, Pat was a victim of his coach’s ‘ideas’.

        • Mike

          I think you mean “bring in a real number 7 in addition to Pocock”?
          I have often heard that said, but those who say it usually have difficulty saying who Deans should have brought in. Really the only two contenders were Hodgson or Beau Robinson. Given the standard they were both at in late 2011, its pure speculation that they would have made any difference to the Ireland game – which was the only game Pocock missed.
          Robinson has never made an impact at test level, and Hodgson was not playing as well then as he is now. So the idea that they could have saved the Ireland game is fantasy. The only other game we lost was the semi vs New Zealand. The ABs effectively neutralised Pocock and I can’t see how any other 7 in Australia would have done better.
          So the idea that anything was lost by Deans not taking “an [extra] real number 7″ is hard to maintain.

    • Mike

      “Fourteen of the Reds played well…”

      It would be nice to think so. Reality however begs to differ.

  • RobC

    Thanks for an excellent review.

    I reckon Oz teams have lifted. Force being the exception, having reached maximum potential.

    Will be good to see how the Rebs and Reds hold up in the next few rounds.

    • PiratesRugby

      Yay scrums! I think the new rules are creating better contests and we’re getting better.

  • Masher

    How can it be “likely” that Beale is picked for the Wallabies? On current form he is at best 4th behind Toomua, Lealiifano and Burton and if JOC is allowed to play at 12 rather than 10 then he’ll drop to 5th.
    The guy is a liability who cares less about the team than he does himself and while he occasionally displays some good individual skills he has never displayed the team skills of the others mentioned.
    Don’t pick him and if he crys and goes elsewhere he won’t be missed.

  • Robson

    Thanks, the article contained some good points.

ACT Brumbies

G&GR’s chief economics and business reporter at large who is now allowed to write the odd match related article. A player who always preferred to social aspect of the game to training and was therefore a tragic loss to the professional ranks. Tweets can be seen at @skandahooligan

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