Australia v Argentina - Green and Gold Rugby
Argentina

Australia v Argentina

Australia v Argentina

Neither side can win the Rugby Championship but who gives a toss. This is still test match rugby! I think this will be close. Argentina have been managing 50-60 minutes of great rugby and then fading. The Wallabies have been hot and cold. Anything could happen!

The Match

1st half

Having just watched the All Blacks pick apart South Africa 50-0 I was looking forward to seeing another great contest. And it was a contest with Argentina taking a 13-10 lead at halftime but it wasn’t pretty rugby. In fact, it was bloody ugly. Argentina scored the first try bashing the ball up one out over and over until Creevy made a neat hole for Sanchez to flop through and score. But the Wallabies, in one of the few bright spots in the half, scored a long-range movement off a scrum in their own half and four great phases later Folau crossed in the corner.

Stupid penalties have cost the Wallabies points. I mean under 15 stupid penalties that professional rugby players shouldn’t give. And to their credit, Argentina dominated territory and possession and could easily capitalise on Australia’s mistakes.

2nd Half

Michael Cheika talked about urgency and aggression in his post-halftime interview and it looked like the players had listened to him. Australia had possession and territory after the break and from a ten metre scrum they picked and drove three times quickly and one of the few forwards holding their heads high after the first half, Sekope Kepu, scored the try. Almost immediately after Folau finished off a great team try which featured a great offload from Rob Simmons to create the overlap. Suddenly Australia lead 24-13.

Argentina came back and again bashed away at the Wallabies line but Australia maned up beautifully to keep them out. And work their way downfield and camp in Argentina’s 22 for what seemed like half an hour and called scrum after scrum until the Pumas lost a prop to the bin. From the next scrum, Genia picked up and ran an easy try in on the blind side. From there the result was never in doubt. Australia ran in two more tries and Argentina scored one to leave the final score at 45-20.

The second half was much better from the Wallabies while the Pumas faded badly once again in the final quarter. In the end a deserved win to Australia.

Another flawed performance from the Wallabies full of missed tackles and gifted penalties to the opposition.


The Game Changer

Michael Cheika’s half time talking to did the trick this week. The first half Wallabies were unrecognisable in the second. One wonders why they need a talking to or a thrashing to perform?

The G&GR MOTM

It may be unpopular to give the man of the match trophies to props but I’m handing it to Sekope Kepu. He ran hard and made metres, Tackled well, was part of a good scum and scored a try. More than enough for any prop.

Wallaby watch

Coleman was immense again do the hard work that no one but other tight forwards notices. Kuridrani attracted the defence all day but he never stopped going forward. Sean McMahon had a good game at the back of the scrum but is second half was much better than his first.


The Details

Crowd: 14,229 icecubes.

Score & Scorers

Australia: 45
Tries: Israel Folau 2, Sekope Kepu, Will Genia, Nick Phipps, Jordan Uelese
Conversions: Bernard Foley 5/5
Penalties: Bernard Foley 1/1
Argentina: 20
Tries: Martin Landajo, Matias Moroni
Conversions: Nicolas Sanchez 2/2
Penalties: Nicolas Sanchez 2/3 Emiliano Boffelli 0/1

Cards & citings

Enrique Pieretto (cheese)

 

  • Greg

    Thanks for such a quick write-up.

    Let’s get started…..
    Firstly… congrats to the wallabies. They kept going and improved through the game.

    I thought we were still soft up the middle of the rucks. There were a few busts where someone was half tacked and then kept going.

    Hodge and Beale took a lot of the kicks. Hooooray. Beale had a lot of time on a few occasions.

    Foley’s goal kicking was great but otherwise I don’t recall a lot of him. Was that because he was providing excellent service or?

    Folau seemed to run harder and straighter.

    Great to see our scrum do well. I will leave it to an expert to try and explain what was going on :-)

    • Moose

      +1 for scrum confusion

    • Pedro

      My read of the scrum was that there was that there was a lot of jiggery pokery. We were roughly dominant and therefore got the rub on some 50/50s.

    • Thought Foley was largely unimpressive but loved his goal kicking.

      • Andy

        His kicking in general play was average again but when they didn’t need to kick in the 2nd half (forwards started dominating) he was pretty good. He took it to the line well and his short passing was very good.

        • McWarren

          I think for Folau try he handled twice, nearly butchered it with his first pass to Beale delivered too early behind the gain line and his second pass was a pearler, out in front of Folau (I think) and timed perfectly. But if not for Beale’s acceleration into contact Foley would not have gotten the second chance.

        • Garry

          During a WB surge late in the match, he over-ran the ruck, luckily Sanchez had the foresight to cut him out, for a try in the corner. (Foley should be the one taking advantage of those situations).
          He had better touches tonight than his usual, but his game management is still poor. That backline will do fantastically under a better 10. Perhaps Foley is more suited to 12?

        • Who?

          Please don’t be a Cheika. “Foley’s not working at 10, what should I do? I know, I’ll get Quade to play 10, and stick Foley at 12…”
          Either Foley’s at 10 (because that’s where it’s been decided he plays), or he’s nowhere. We’ve got plenty of better options at 12. He’s not required to be in the team by Tah birthright.

        • Garry

          He broadcast’s his inside passes by looking that way too early, too long. Fools know one, easy pickings for covering defense. How many times attempted v successful?

        • Andy

          Not sure. You tell me. I thought he did ok in that department

      • Who?

        Apparently, according to 10, he was MOTM… And Cheik loved his second half (but Cheik loved all of McMahon’s game).

        • Greg

          Perhaps they ,meany the blue 10?

          The goals were an undoubted contribution. Taking few kicks in general play possibly as significant a contribution.

        • idiot savant

          And so he should. When our number 7 (with 8 on his back) plays well we are a different kettle of fish. Just like in Dunedin, and just like when Pocock has a blinder in the same position.

        • Who?

          My point was that Cheik rated McMahon ahead of Foley for MOTM. He certainly ran hard tonight.
          We still didn’t own that breakdown in the first half, though……..

        • idiot savant

          Yes thats right and that told on the scoreboard.

      • onlinesideline

        he kicks like he is using a sand wedge out of the bunker.
        OTOH – the pumas kicker – silkyyyy

    • Twoilms

      Beale’s out of hand kicking was absolutely horrendous. Worse than Foleys without a doubt. I think he shanked at least 3.

  • Moose

    Thanks for the quick write-up Sully. Don’t know how you guys do it.
    Scrum battle was unexpected, thought we’d get towelled. I don;t pretend to understand these things.
    Nick Phipps: first pass of the game straight at the receiver’s knees like a laser. Seconds later, goes over for a try. Rubbish passing, or genius?

    • BigNickHartman
      • Moose

        As I thought.

    • I write during all the boring bits. Like when the rugby players give it to the backs to play with.

    • Who?

      Think we were lucky the ref didn’t go to the TMO for Phipps’ try – tackled, held, regained his feet without releasing the ball before scoring. We more than had the rub of the green tonight.

      • Greg

        I had a close look at that and think it was fine. You are allowed to place the ball in any direction in the tackle.

        He did lunge forward but people were rolling and crawling the tackle all night. If the interpretation there was that they were not held you couldn’t really change it for the try.

        • Who?

          You’re allowed to place the ball, not lunge driving off your feet.
          Crawling did happen all night, but that happens every night. It’s only ever penalized in the event of a try, so penalizing it in that instance wouldn’t have been inconsistent. I’d argue not using the TMO more was a greater inconsistency – he used the TMO what, once..?

      • SuckerForRed

        I thpught he did actually go to the TMO just didn’t think therr wad an issue. Or was that another time? Either way I agree with you Who. No try.

  • Bobas

    Great write up Sully. The turning point for me was Reece Hodge deciding he was going to read defenders and play by instinct, the team bought into that and the second half was what the whole match should have been. A proud team beaten by a superior one.

  • Pedro

    Thanks Sully,
    I thought his was the first game where Cheika’s commando tactics payed dividends, when the ball was kept in play the Argies got less and less comfortable.

    We could’ve played smarter at times, but it feels good to get a comfortable win against a solid opposition, for the first time, in a long time.

    • idiot savant

      Good point. Holding the ball appears to make the Pumas anxious. We couldn’t get enough of it in the first half.

      When we held on to it, we could play our game. Unlike against the Boks where they forced us to play their game because we didn’t have the breakdown ability to hold it for long enough. I thought our clean outs were so much better tonight.

  • I don’t like to bag referee’s in blog posts, but I found his style very annoying. What’s his name so I know for next time?

    • Moose

      John Lacey

      • Thanks.

        • dru

          Yes he was annoying, no bias at all, but certainly annoying.

    • Garry

      Yes, please leave criticisms of the ref to our coach. Wait, he’s uncharacteristically silent this time. Carry on.

      • Who?

        That’s because we got the rub of the green, and a little more…

  • Andy

    Terrible first half, really good 2nd. In the pack, Hooper was brilliant closely followed by McMahon for me.

    Backs all look threatening when they had the ball. Also amazing how much better Foley looks when our pack is going forward. Just unfortunate when they are not he completely loses it.

    Also thought Ulese was very good coming off the bench. He looks some player..

  • Hoss

    Don’t cry for me Argentina.

    We’ve played some cracking halves in the RC, but not the full 80.

    The more I see the more I believe it’s just the ‘grey matter’ that’s holding us back – fox even showed an interesting stat at pre match that we get over the advantage line more than any other in the RC, the ingredients are there.

    Loved the work of the Bench tonite, on early and upped the intensity – I am developing a man crush on Uelese, the kids a potential superstar. Koribette looked at home and a 25 point win against noted street muggers, I’ll take that.

    • Who?

      Uelese did look good off the pine. Dempsey, off the pine, more than outshone Hanigan. But that has to be tempered by the fact he didn’t have to face the starting Puma pack (especially Creevy, where I think Uelese did).
      Really thought we got the rub of the green tonight. Forward pass call against Argentina in the first half when they were hot on attack (still not sure it was), missing Hanigan’s knock on and awarding the scrum to Australia which led directly to Kepu’s try, Phipps’ try not being reviewed (he was held on the ground, then played on without releasing)… Argentina arguably deserved a few more points at half time, and we didn’t earn EVERY point we gained in the second half. And the scrum was inconsistent, except on his punishment of teams when the scrumhalf just didn’t feed a steady scrum – both teams got done on that one (FK against Australia first half, Penalty against Pumas second half). But it was only the margin, not the result.
      Our first try was created by the missed pass by the lock (didn’t pick if it was Simmons or Coleman) to Hanigan, which created confusion. That was luck, not skill. And it was the second time that Hooper and Hanigan had changed direction just as their lock threw a pass to them, which they then missed. I’d define that as good luck, not good work. We really didn’t do ANYTHING in that first half – we didn’t secure our own ruck, we played 73% of the game on our own side of halfway (because our kicking was poor – no change there).
      Cheik said he didn’t rev the team at half time, the team spoke to themselves. And they worked a lot harder at the breakdown in the second half. Uelese really contributed there – his first act being to earn a penalty for not releasing. But I’m not sure that our backline did that much more… The pack was really responsible for the turn around, the fact that they upped the intensity. Our best play wasn’t necessarily slick interplay between backs or between forwards and backs. It wasn’t necessarily individual brilliance. It was closer to Cheika’s plan for forward dominance – think Kepu’s try, Uelese’s try, even Folau’s second try, set up by front foot ball exploited by Simmons’ run and offload. It’s good to see the forwards when they can dominate, but I still want to see something that works for us when they can’t. Because reality is that no team can dominate the contact 100% of the time.
      But nice to get a win.

      • idiot savant

        The scrum was the best Ive seen it this season.

        • Who?

          Pumas wanted to play too many games, but they weren’t good enough to make them pay off. So many of the collapses were because they didn’t want to work the mark at the engagement.
          But we have to be honest, the Pumas aren’t a great benchmark for the scrum anymore, especially their replacement front row.

      • Twoilms

        On the Phipps point, you are allowed to place the ball once in any direction at the point of being tackled. He was definitely tackled but he can place it anywhere. If it took two shots then it’s double movement. Different to league where you can’t make the one initial placement.

        • Who?

          You’re allowed to place the ball, but you’re not allowed to regain your feet. He had been on the ground wrapped, then pushed himself forward to reach a place where he could reach the tryline. If he’d released and regathered the ball, it would’ve been fine. If he’d simply reached out – without driving forward, regaining his feet – he’d have been short of the line. I know the law, I didn’t say he had a double movement, I said he played the ball without releasing it.

        • SuckerForRed

          You can’t “promote” yourself using your legs. He did.

      • Hoss

        Agree with above mate although I won’t lose sleep over Phipps try and was no less a try than Sanchez try when Creevy illegally blocked Hanigan so swings and round-about. 40 minutes of insipid rugby and 40 minutes of high octane rugby – we honestly aren’t too far away from clicking and when it happens it will be a quantum, sustained leap that will be great to behold.

        ‘A bright golden haze on the meadow’

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate I agree on the grey matter 100%. The team can play well and have the skills but they just make poor decisions under pressure. Interesting the AB’s credit the work done on mental skills as one of the big changes from losing the Qtr Final in Wales to today. I think it’s something that the Wallabies should look at.

      • onlinesideline

        Wales or Paris ?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Wales. For us that was the big game changer. Up until then it was all based on players and their rugby skills and just trying to make them better. After that it became all about head space and developing a team culture with the assumption that the skill sets were already there and taking them to the next level couldn’t be done through a physical approach so something else was needed.

      • Hoss

        Spot on mate, I have noted same. When there is no pressure and we get a reasonable bounce of the ball we seem clear and understand the roles, but when it’s there to be had there is a real absence of collective leadership. Obviously the ABs are the marque, but roles reserved could you see the ABs blowing the Dunedin game or drawing in Perth – no they find a way to win – belief, structure, clarity, habit – call it what you will, but they win because of the 6 inches from ear to ear.

  • idiot savant

    Im not sure it was clearly a game of two halves. Yes we were more intense in the second half and the finishers maintained it, but the Argies played with a lot of urgency in the first 40, which they were again unable to maintain. So our first 40 wasn’t so bad. We defended well and kept in the game when the Argies were charging and offloading in tight. Then we took advantage when they tired as we should have.

    Those poor old Pumas. They can play, but they can’t play to win.

    • From NooZealand

      Maybe no longer pumas, just old cats.

  • Fatflanker

    A comfortable win with some promising aspects but so frustrating. Did it really take 60 minutes to win a turnover or did I miss something? Never mind the back row, no-one was having a go at even slowing Argie ball.

    There must be a reason Foley is taking the clearance kicks but I just can’t understand it. Surely we’d be getting a good 10-15m more from Hodge?

    • Twoilms

      Foley took far less of them but he’ll always take at least a few otherwise the opposition will know he won’t ever receive the ball to clear.

      Also, the reason we didn’t get many turnovers is because we aren’t trying to. Cheika has clearly decided to have more players in the defensive line rather than hitting ruck and slowing it/poaching. It may be in part because Pocock is unavailable but it is also being reffed much harsher these days.

      • Who?

        I don’t believe that Cheika’s philosophy ever was to have a fetcher. Who was the fetcher in 2014? Did he immediately pick Pocock in 2015 (in spite of his obvious form and excellence)? I believe Cheika’s philosophy is to win the contact in the air, before the tackle gets to ground. If you don’t turn it over there – by winning the contact then driving past the ball carrier – then you don’t win it, under most of Cheika’s teams.

        • Andy

          He had 2 fetchers in 2015. Fardy and Pocock. So having Hooper as .5 led to us being very good on the fooor. This year we’ve got McMahon and Hooper, none of which is great at this. But neither are terrible either. Pretty sure Hooper pinched 2 tonight.

        • Who?

          But I don’t think that was his original concept, and his continued denial of Fardy’s pre-eminence over Mumm shows he didn’t value the fetching and disrupting skills Fardy brought to the table. And what’s he selecting this year? Three loose forwards who want to win the battle in the air more than on the ground.
          Think Hooper got one, and Uelese got the other…

        • Andy

          Agree, I don’t think he see’s it as a pre requisite to have pure fetchers. He definitely values attack way more than defence.

        • first time long time

          How is Hooper not terrible at the breakdown up until halftime last night (I fell asleep during the break) he has won one turnover (a penalty last week) in the last 3.5 games. He is obismal at the breakdown.
          I know the argument that it is not his role in the team but others are compromising their effectiveness at their primary role to pick up his slack.
          Bench weapon for the last 30min is where he should be.

        • thehunters

          Hooper is one of the most consistent performers on several measures. I think a lot of people don’t realise how much he contributes for the full 80, including his reads of the play when we’re in defence.

        • Andy

          Noted….

        • Adrian

          Who,…I agree that it wasn’t his philosophy, but he was “converted” by Pocock’s form when he returned from injury in 2015,…. leading to the Pooper being created. I think Larkham convinced him on Fardy, and only did so because Fardy could also jump

        • Who?

          I’m not sure that Bernie convinced Cheika about Fardy, given that Fardy was continually left out for Mumm.
          And Pocock, I think that Pocock did convert him, but converted him as a ‘special skillset player’, an ‘x factor’ player, rather than as a role specialist who should be duplicated in every team. If that makes sense?
          Too many antihistamines, I’m off to bed… :-(

        • onlinesideline

          I bet you, you check in again :)

        • Who?

          Was always going to check in again, but after those antihistamines wore off (and were replaced by the ‘wake up’ type of antihistamines). :-)

    • Adrian

      Clearance kicks shared with Beale and Hodge tonight I thought.

      About 4 of Beale’s kicks looked like duds to me, but 3 were good. He’s usually good at this, so I’m not too worried

      • joy

        No comment here.

  • onlinesideline

    how catching the ball on 77th minute in Dunedin and putting foot on throat last week against Boks could have made such a difference re our season this year. With the Boks going down 57-0 today, makes our draw look even worse.

    Are we getting there or not ? – I tend to think we are.

    Would love to see Quade and Beale together but in saying that I just couldnt stomach Quades brainfarts even though I love the good stuff.

    Coleman just has the niggle down perfectly doesnt he ? – luvvvv it. These Argies forwards and French forwards for that matter need to be take out every so often to remind them they’re in the Anglo world now motherfreakers. Thats why I will always support the ABs as well when playing these blokes.

    PS I havent written Cheika off yet, I was close I tell ya BUT…..

  • joy

    Why make comments when your friend has the ansers??

  • onlinesideline

    winning in SA with bokke backs to the wall, now after hiding today will require the near perfect game from us – or playing well in both halves – if we can do that we are formidable.

  • Gottsy

    Another shithouse crowd in Canberra. Bit of a shame to see so many empty seats this year so far :(

    • Tommy Brady

      It has to be of considerable worry that poor crowd numbers have been a feature of Australian rugby now for several seasons. Feels the material for a deep dive project that investigates why interest to attend suburban club rugby in Sydney is so vibrant, yet the interest to attend NRC, Super Rugby and test match rugby is so poor. Why have only 32,000 people in the past 2 weeks attended test matches in 2 venues the Wallabies seldom play in? Perth I partially get with the whole Western Force affair, but Canberra last night?

      I guess rugby is not alone. Interesting that across the play off matches last weekend the AFL had total attendance of 235,000, the NRL 75,000. Despite fabulous TV coverage everywhere, one sport motivates fans to get along to the ground to watch, 2 others cannot. And people wonder why a 5th professional rugby franchise was cut. Adjusting downwards to live within your means is seldom an enjoyable exercise. Those who want a 5th team know what they must do.

      • Who?

        Talk to any AFL fan and they’ll tell you that even with the biggest home tv screen you can buy, you can’t match the viewing experience – let alone the atmosphere – of being at an AFL game. Because the contest moves so broadly, and because there’s always work both in front of and behind the ball. Whereas the Rugby codes (and the NFL) are much easier to telecast accurately, as there’s less work at the width. There’s more in Rugby than League or Gridiron, but way less than AFL.

        • Tommy Brady

          Very fair points Who. I always enjoy watching rugby live at the ground and actually follow different players (versus the ball) to get a better appreciation of what they are doing on and off the ball. The AFL is certainly unique from that perspective although if you’re like me at the MCG – when play is across the other side of the arena, I find my attention gets directed towards the big screen.

          How do you think rugby could make itself a better spectacle to motivate people to come to the ground?

        • Who?

          I’m the same with Rugby at the ground – if it’s at the other end, then there’s a good chance I’ll be watching the screen.
          I’m not sure how to improve the spectacle for Rugby. Because I don’t know that the issue is the spectacle. Maybe some of it’s the atmosphere – AFL clubs have a much better go at creating atmosphere than the Rugby codes in Australia. I’d love to see us bring some of the atmosphere from places like the Millennium Stadium, Aviva, Murrayfield and Twickers down here, but that’s not easy to transplant either.
          I can’t even actually say that AFL’s exactly as I’ve described from personal experience. I’ve only got that info from other people, who are mad fans (people who travel to Melbourne whenever their team makes a final), and who insist that there’s nothing like watching it live. Whereas, for our game, it’s still awesome to watch on TV, and, if I manage to get time to go to a game, I’ll still often try to watch the replay/recording (because it brings a different perspective).
          But the fact that the AFL is MILES in front… I think that, given the circumstances we’ve got around Rugby at the moment, 32k at two smaller facilities against 75k across four fields for the NRL isn’t great, but it’s not the cause of all our problems. And 75k compared to 235k for the same number of games is a much more worrying statistic. But one that’s understandable if only because rectangular codes with offside lines are such great tv product. I don’t watch League (watched one half of a Friday game this year, so boring, haven’t watched anything else for years!), but I’ll be checking out how the Packers and Falcons go tomorrow… I find it frustrating that I can watch three NFL matches live each week in Australia, but can only see one – maybe – live game of Rugby on FTA. :-

        • Tommy Brady

          It is a dilemma for the Rugby codes for sure – but rugby has a better product to offer than rugby league so should be working harder at efforts to get people to the ground.

          Arguably though the bigger question has to be A Rod vs Matty Ice tomorrow. Big game in the Falcons new barn. Who goes 2-0 early? Who’s your team?

        • Who?

          I think Rugby’s the best product full stop. TV, at the ground, wherever. A great game of Rugby trumps a great game of whatever other sport you want to mention. But I don’t know how to get people to turn out – especially when my inclination is to spend as little as is possible, and enjoy the comforts of home!
          Tomorrow….
          There’s no rhyme or reason why I should have any team, but I enjoy watching a QB who’s not afraid of taking a hit, not afraid of taking a run, and likes to keep the play alive. So I like watching Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and Rodgers.
          Haven’t seen enough of the Falcons, to be honest, in spite of watching the last SB. Where I actually blame the Falcons’ offence for the loss. How can you blame the defence for failing to win it when they had to play SOOOO many minutes..? It’s gridiron, not Rugby. In Rugby, you can play a winning defensive game by controlling territory. Because attacking requires even more effort (in making the play), and you can’t manage fatigue (it’s the same guys whether you’re attacking and defending, and there’s no easy time outs). In gridiron, if the other team has lots of possession, sure, it might mean your offence is clinical, but eventually your defence is going to tire. The Falcons offence did nothing in the second half (don’t think they got more than one first down in the entire half!), so it’s their fault the defence got tired.
          But tomorrow… Really wouldn’t surprise if the Falcons come up trumps, their head coach’s history of defence with Seattle under Pete Carroll (love watching him, the way he rides a game and works the officials) and using Rugby tackling techniques is fantastic. Even if they got tired in February! But I can hope it goes the other way. Big challenge for the Packers offence to come up against two brilliant defences like the Seahawks and the similar Falcons in the first two weeks. Much bigger challenge for their defence this week (given the Seahawks are now post-Beast Mode).
          But wouldn’t it be awesome to have a home stadium even a quarter as good as MB Stadium?! Have to admit, I get jealous of Forsyth Barr – it’s a town barely bigger than my home town, and it has a facility that can seat fully a quarter of the population. That’s just ridiculously brilliant!
          Nick Bishop loves a good NFL chat. He’s a massive Bellichick fan. I get Bill, he’s sort of Wayne Bennett (doesn’t make him great to watch), but can’t stand Brady……..
          Now, do we get kicked off here..? :-P

        • Tommy Brady

          Haha – great thoughts. We’ll end it here before being terminated. Ex. the brilliance of the great QB’s such as Rodgers, Brady, Wilson, Newton, Bree’s etc my greatest love of the NFL is the unbelievable athleticism of such big men and just the knowledge, science and analytics of the great coaches.

          Oh and a move to end the rolling maul in rugby would be a great step to making the game more attractive to the on-ground spectator. How a player at the back of a maul can lean on players in front of him who do not get penalized for obstruction and/or Shepparding is simply beyond me. A huge blight on the game. Just my opinion.

        • Who?

          Hang on, that opens new topics rugby-related…
          The vision of the great QB’s and ability to execute their skills under pressure is something we see massively analysed. But we don’t see it analysed half as well when it comes to Rugby 9’s and 10’s. A Rugby 9 has the same role – exactly – as a QB. With much tougher time constraints, and many fewer protections. But where an NFL QB will cop it if he under/overthrows to a receiver with no time before being crunched, we’ll settle for sloppy passing from the back of the ruck.
          Similarly, we don’t analyse our 10s and their ability to read the play. I think there’s probably a lot of sports science done to train QB’s on how to read the field that could be applied to 9’s and 10’s in Rugby, given their sole purpose should be to identify space and determine how to get the ball into that space.
          The maul, I think we just have to enforce proper binding, and perhaps also ban ‘string’ mauls, where the maul is a series of individuals bound in series. How are you supposed to drive through the maul if there’s no bond to break? If you attack the side of the player in the front of the chain/string, then you’re swimming up the side. If you pull him off the maul, you’re also unbound. If you bring him down, you’re collapsing the maul. The only bind to break is the one behind him, so that, to me, is unfair.
          But the bigger issue in Rugby, for mine, is forwards pre-binding when carrying the ball or supporting ball runners. That’s the cavalry charge/flying wedge, and has been illegal for donkeys’ years. Yet it happens in every other game.

        • Tommy Brady

          Interesting perspectives… How often do you hear an analyst talk about QB’s “going through their progressions” or being “able to see the whole field”. The great one’s have that ability – the average one’s do not. (Note: I’ll exclude the great trait of always having time which is synonymous with every great athlete). It is no different to the great rugby No. 10’s. The great one’s dissect a defense and force defensive shifts before the defense can undo him. They probe the weak points and exploit deficiencies.

          I also think few sportsmen / teams do a finer job of evolving than the NFL players / teams. What worked last season will unlikely work this season because analytics allows a great ability to study for weaknesses and attack them (see Cam Newton 2016 vs 2015). I believe Quade Cooper is a fine example of a once great player who did not evolve. Opposition teams worked out his strengths and weaknesses and nullified his strengths and exploited his weaknesses. He did not evolve and as we all know, players who ain’t progressing are by default going backwards.

          Your points on the rolling maul are spot on. It is not a feature of the game that is a fair contest and therefore should be dramatically reviewed. Note though the lack of tries coming now from lineout driven mauls? Defenses have finally adapted. Evolution?

        • Who?

          That development is what I think we lack. We going back to setting our players into somewhat typical formations, which is good. Because it gives everyone a ‘home’ to work from, and a pattern to follow until such time as opportunities are created by the pattern and a defence looking to force the play. But we don’t necessarily yet have the skills for all our 9’s and 10’s to go through the progressions. Last week against the Boks, Foley and Beale called the ball the wrong way a few times…
          I don’t fully agree with your analysis of Cooper. Because I think there’s a major error in coaching in all our teams. I watched some of the Highlanders/Reds game earlier this year. The Aussie commentators bagged Cooper. The Kiwi commentators bagged his runners. “Why are they all so shallow, why is no one running hard onto the ball to give him an option?” So I don’t think that it’s the decision maker who’s necessarily been worked out, it’s actually the playbook and the receiving options aren’t anywhere near useful. My philosophy on a 10’s role in a backline is that they shouldn’t have to tell players where to run. They should know where to run. How big was the playbook that Hayne had to memorize when he went to the 49er’s? And when he shifted off his line two steps early in a game, he was castigated!
          Rugby’s not that hard, but there’s a few basic concepts that few of our backs understand. They’re all consistently far too shallow, too flat, so no one can run onto the ball. So get the ball runners into good patterns and positions, and then let the 10 figure out which one of them is best positioned to beat his man. Which then is down to your 10’s vision and passing skills. Given equal backlines and defensive structures, I’d back Quade to pick the right runner more often than any other 10. I’d back Cruden to do it more often than Barrett. What makes Barrett special is his pace and desperation to get a second touch. I don’t know that he’s a great 10 – I think he’s the Michael Hooper of 10’s. I say that, in spite of the fact I’m a massive, massive fan. I think he’s a fantastic rugby player (just like Hooper), but I don’t know that he ticks my KPI’s for his position (just like Hooper).
          We saw two tries off the rolling maul last weekend. I don’t think we’ve adapted, I just don’t think there’s been many opportunities. If we’d adapted, we’d see teams trying not to compete on a semi-regular basis, rather than giving away penalties like the Wallabies did in the 78th minute in Perthfontein. I don’t think it’s a dead tactic, I think it’s just that it wasn’t as well executed as previously and there are other focuses. Everything goes in and out of style… This year, it’s about faking the drive, then having a ball runner swing around off the back of the drive (a la Hooper/McMahon). Pretty sure the ABs are doing that, too.

        • Tommy Brady

          Some high quality thoughts Who – thank you.

          I believe the biggest change we have seen in rugby in past 15-20 years has been the trend towards controlling the gain line. It’s why modern players are so much bigger than previous generations because every player is asked to dominate at the gain line (on attack and defense). As you correctly point out, asking players to operate with reduced time and space tests fundamentals (why so many college QB’s fail in the NFL) however those are coached and without good coaching players cannot transition to higher levels.

          Some players make it to test match level because they have the fundamentals to perform at that level. Some make it to test match level because they are the best available player in that position. There is a difference. It can be seen.

          Enjoyable chat. Here’s hoping A Rod plays well tomorrow and my New York Football Giants deliver me a win against the Lions in MNF. Why do I not feel hopeful?!

        • idiot savant

          I apologise for being the gooseberry here but I have enjoyed your conversation immensely! The comparison with NFL is a great way to contemplate the many issues in our game.

          To go back to where you started (I think) I believe the biggest problem with the crowds is the lack of tribalism, particularly with super rugby. Which makes the decision to cut the Force and keep the rebels even more curious. That and the ‘class issue in Australia (which NZ doesn’t have) where rugby is played mostly in the private schools and league in NSW and Qld is played in the state schools.

          I have always thought that rugby should market the playbook idea. I have not seen in any football game anything that can match the majesty of a brilliantly executed set move in rugby. But alas to your point about gain line Tommy, since the majority of forwards stopped getting involved in rucks, theres just no space for great plays now except off set piece. And that also lessens the spectacle particularly for women. Add in the endless resets of scrums and a lot of people question the value for money of their ticket.

          Our game is dominated at the administrative level by ex players who don’t give a toss about the public which doesn’t help either.

        • Tommy Brady

          Yes indeed to so much of that. Remember the playbook of set scrum moves the 1984 Grand Slam Wallabies had involving Farr-Jones, Tuynman, Poidevin and Jeff Miller! Brilliant – plus the backline moves involving the Ella’s, Hawker, Slack and Campese.

          The modern day 9’s and 10’s are now hammered with “structures” and “systems” and too often have spontaneity Coached out of them. Aren’t the great NFL QB’s labeled “Game Winners” whilst the average QB’s are labeled “Game Managers”. Rugby is no different. People pay money to watch game winners. The sport should never forget that.

        • idiot savant

          Ah the Slam tour! It will be interesting to see if Jones can dredge up some exciting plays for the Babas in a a months time.

          I think the Foley, Beale, Folau partnership is a potential game winner that is worth paying money for. It also has the potential to be the key to the next RWC for the Wallabies, if the forwards develop into a go forward pack.

          Barrett of course is worth the price of admission.

        • Tommy Brady

          Excellent thoughts. I agree on Foley, Beale and Folau. I sense though Foley can get worked out by opposition coaches – we have seen some evidence of that already. Can he evolve and modify his game in the coming 2 years? Yes – i think he can, but as you rightly say, having a good pack of forwards in front of him will be critical. People pay money to watch skillful players, it never changes.

        • idiot savant

          Hes also held back by Cheka’s dictates. He could for example develop a short kicking game (like Barrett) because he is very quick over 5 metres (as is Beale), but Cheka insists on ball in hand so thats one less option for keeping the defence guessing. Ironically Cheka allows him a long kicking game for which he has little ability!

        • onlinesideline

          Maybe its the bunched – upness of the union players that makes it a challenge to view live. In AFL you only have to look at a small amount of players where the action is, where the ball is. Its like reading a book in big print, its far easier on the eyes. And as a result one can handle a bigger field. But other than what the obvious goal is, to kick the ball through the sticks, I have absolutellllly no idea about the rules, player positions, good plays, bad plays. I just dont get it (I know- my fault..but)
          And those shorts – ickkkk – cant handle it.

        • Who?

          Maybe? But at least it’s a smaller ground than AFL? If I’m choosing the big screen over the field when the players are at the far end (povvo tickets are the norm for me – behind the sticks), then it must be worse at AFL.
          And at least the swarming of players around the ball makes it obvious where the ball is in Rugby – players only swarm at AFL stoppages, and once they’re clear…

  • Human

    How good were the Puma loosies in the first half.

    • onlinesideline

      ULYSEEEES it is then

  • SuckerForRed

    Thank you Sully

  • idiot savant

    Yes Cheka said after the game that Coleman had been playing injured.

    Im not convinced Pocock will be an automatic selection when he gets back. I think he will keep McMahon at 8 if he’s still eligible. But the fact that Cheka has been so fulsome in his praise for McMahon a few times now gives me hope that he might continue to pick someone who can persistently contest the breakdown.

    The only issue with McMahon, as was made evident by the Boks last week, is his size. The Boks just moved him off the ball so easily. And that will be the big test again in Bloemfontein. That said, I cant believe how impotent the Boks backs are at the moment. Its hard to see how they can score points anywhere except through the forwards.

  • Brumby Runner

    No reason to get over-optimistic after this win, good though it is on the scoreboard. Remember, the Argies are ranked No 10 in the world. They also had the better of the first half when fitness, tiredness wasn’t yet a factor. They were still in the game at the 70 minutemark when they lost their prop/No 7 to the sin bin for the remainder of the game. IIRC the Wallabies scored three of their tries against the depleted side.

    Of concern, was that the shuffling around in defense was again in evidence. Beale sometimes on the left wing, and at other times on the right. Foley often on the wing but sometimes in centre field. Speight spent long periods at 13.

    It will be a different story in SA next game, despite the humbling the Saffas got at the hands of the ABs.

    On the plus side, Folau looked much improved on last week. The scrum had better results, but how much does that rely on the particular referee’s interpretation? There looks to be a continuing improvement in basic skills, like support play and passing and catching. Maybe the benefits are starting to flow from having Byrne’s involvement?

    Not much else to write home about.

    • Human

      I have to agree BR. this win, combined with Dunedin, the second half in Sydney and not losing in Perth, probably has some in the Wallaby camp believing that everything is okay…like you, I am not yet convinced. Our attack is pedestrian, there is no genuine speed, decision making seems poor, exits are still a concern and the defence is too easily broken. Yes, the scramble has been good lately but WHY are they having to scramble? The score line flattered us last night.

  • Big Ted

    Thought Dempsey showed more in his 20mins than Hannigan has in 5 games

    • onlinesideline

      I actually like Dempsey, mystified why he didnt bet first crack over Ned

      • Big Ted

        I think Cheika likes him too. Was he injured again at end of Super Rugby.

        • onlinesideline

          I think he has had some injury trouble

        • Timbo

          He was injured for most, of not all of Super Rugby. I think he played maybe 2 games? What mystifies me is picking players who have nearly no exposure at int level or no seasoning during the domestic season. Hannigan is all heart, but no presence. Dempsey is a great backrow cover. can play both sides of the scrum and 8 at a stretch. are we going for a Jack of all trades, master of none type bench? Utility all the way? I hope not.

  • rhi no

    I’m not convinced.Mostly in regards to our pack.The hannigan thing,well there’s a general consensus on that..Will kepu be around for the world cup?If not then the scrum truly gonna be screwed without him come then..no depth. Weres the charging loosey chiming in running wider off the ten or something.All we do is shift wide through the backs to the wings,and against the better sides is so predictable.These little short passes the forwards do to each other of the ruck are crap, you’d be better getting a full head of steam and actually dropping body height and farking actually running…the number of times I’ve seen the chance for a good counter ruck could be on and we just pillar up pisses me off…
    We never counter ruck..and I honestly think genias delivery is too slow..you compare him and opposition scrum half next time.If he dosent run the ball,which is his best attribute..then….lose the rose coloured glasses.

  • onlinesideline

    Robertson the prop seems to have slipped under the GGR’s radar. No-one seems to comment about him, yet he is becoming a fixture in the team, steathily accepted as central to the finishers. He came on in 60th minute in Dunedin in a very tight and potentially historic win in NZ AND again against Boks and Argies. He seems to ahve bulked up a bit but is he really the best of the best in OZ, who can deliver in a world cup match if he has to go on after 10 mins from say a starters injury ?

    • Rob Malcolm

      He’s still very young. And he’s a thinker. He reminds me of Link.
      Along with Sio, Alaatoa, (and now Ulese) Cheika is building a front row for the next 2 World Cups.
      So Tahpass? No.

      • onlinesideline

        he seems like a great kid, dependable and serious.Im pretty impressed with him to be honest, but its just the size thing again. It didnt stop Benn Robinson popping a couple of saffa props in his hey day though. Sometimes I get impression that a short but strong prop throws the normal size prop a bit because he has less to lean on if that makes sense and ends up poppable by the short prop because the short prop can get underneath.Im no piggy officianado though.

        • Who?

          Agreed – I don’t have an issue with short props, provided they’re on the LH side. So I’m actually quite pleased he’s been converted by the Wallabies from being a THP (as he was at the Tahs). That was a good tactical move (guessing that was Ledesma).
          Is he the finished article? Absolutely not! I don’t think he’ll hold that bench spot through until the RWC. But he’s got a lot of years ahead of him, and he’s going to rack up a lot of caps over time.

        • Greg

          he is also juggling graduate medcine at Sydney Uni in there somewhere. That’s certainly an added challenge.

  • Greg

    good not to find (almost) any discussion re the ref.

    There was a good article in the SMH during the week re the leaguies during the week. The coaches have been very boorish in complaining about the refs and some big fines handed out.

    The gist of the article was…. hang on the player try and con the ref at every chance – strips, dives…. – and then you complain when he gets it wrong? The players are the problem, not the refs. I thought it was an interesting perspective.

    The same sort of logic can probably be applied to rugby scrums.

    It has been very noticeable in the past few games that if the ball looks like it will come out, the ref has lost interest in the other shenanigans.

    • I’ve always tried to keep the ref out of my match reports. But sometimes I can’t help myself.

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@Only1Sully

Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to http://www.onesully.com.au

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