This friday offers the next juicy Aussie derby and it gets more intriguing and less predictable as the days go by.
How the mighty have fallen – in just two weeks. On the strength on one loss (albiet a dicking at home) and a week to stew on it, the Brumbies have gone from well oiled machine, to full backline re-construction case. It’s tempting to call this an over-reaction, but it looks more like Andy Friend is making the tough decisions.
One long pass aside, the galloping Mortlock hasn’t had the zip or spark at 12 to make up for Lealiifano in attack, and he has looked exposed defensively (as he has for the Wallabies) which we rarley if ever saw of him when outside. A happy byproduct then is that Tyrone Smith is getting more time at 12 and Mortlock goes back to what he does better than anyone in the world – 13.
AAC has gone looking for a spot therefore, which thankfully has boned Rathbone, rather than turning Australia’s performing fullback (Gerrard) into Australia’s slowest winger. But the backline changes don’t stop there. The nuggety Phibbs has been arsed for the more attacking Holmes as the ponies seek to find ways of getting go forward that don’t rely solely on Mortlock. To this end Salvi has also made way for the heavier weight Kimlin.
In all, these changes do make sense to me, but such a deep sweep out of the backs does make it hard to predict how they’ll run. It also doesn’t fix the problem at 1o.
As for the Tahs, there was only one piece of news that mattered this week and that was fitness of Wycliff Palu – so much does the game plan of NSW currently revolve around him. It looks like he’ll probably play on Saturday and this is what keeps it interesting. Without him and I think the Tahs are done.
Tahu get’s a run at 12. Hickey probably figures it’s mungo on mungo here, I’d wager we would have seen Carter starting if Mortlock stayed in. Interestingly Hickey has also started talking about SNK “throwing long passes at second reciever” and playing more of a distributor role even though slotted at 15. A vote of no-confidence in Beale?
Prediction wise I have splinters in my arse, such are the question marks hanging over both sides. So I’m going with the numbers. The two games the Brumbies have won were only by a couple, plus a spanking, whereas the Tahs are well and truly on roll, despite some obvious deficiencies. They also have a good recent record vs the Canberrans, having won 3 out of their last 4 match ups.
Prediction: Gagger says Tahs by 8 (without a lot of conviction).