It's taken me a while to recover from the unseemly spat between His Ancientness Lee Grant and The Right Seniorable Bruce Ross at the SFS last Saturday, so I'll proffer my apologies first for the lateness of this report. I'd also like to provide a dose of reality before the Tahs tackle the Tribe this afternoon. That was a much-needed win against the Sharks; a loss could've/would've been the end of 2012 for the Tahs. They did some things very well but there's still a shitload of things didn't do well or did very poorly. Defence and tackle On a macro level the defence was passable to good, and on occasions very good especially when the Sharks hammered our line in the second half, but there's room for much improvement. However, on a micro level we didn't put nearly enough pressure on the ball carrier in each tackle; there were many instances when the Tahs tacklers outnumbered the Sharks attackers but we emerged without the pill or the putin at a subsequent scrum. Les Kiss's tactics for Ireland at RWC 2011 came to mind: why didn't we aim to hold up the Sharks' ball-carrier if we had the numbers? If we ever outnumber attackers at any tackle we simply must treat these opportunities as game-changing occasions. Rucking and mauling The Sharks were much more committed in this area until they ran out of petrol towards the end. I remarked to The Right Seniorable Bruce Ross the Tahs forwards weren't pushing the Sharks pigs back in the collisions during the match. The Tahs fatties also showed the deplorable Australian forwards' habit of lining up in sprint-start fashion for the next ruck/maul/tackle. What about getting stuck into this one, boys? I see this Australian disease at schoolboys, colts and grade matches and don't understand why it isn't eradicated at Super and Test level. But, more concerningly, the vaunted Tahs forwards were attacked in the mauls and were found to be wanting: twice the Sharks pigs used their skill to pressure weak points in the Tahs maul and score tries. Weren't we suppposed to have one of the best Super forward packs? Backline play The Sharks started the game so well with their quick, wide play, it was lovely to watch some accurate running rugby. And they were rightly rewarded with Mvovo's early try. When the Tahs backs tried to reciprocate the ball went high, or low, or behind the intended recipient. Although McKibbin to his credit never wavered in an attempt to get the Tahs backs moving, and they eventually got the hang of it. Australia used to be the pinnacle of skilled backline play but at the moment the Kiwis and Saffers are putting us to shame here. When did you last see an ensemble backline movement by an Australian team where the winger ended up with the pill in space? Another thing I see at club level: endless bashing up of the ball by the inside backs. And too many forwards cluttering up the backline. Support play There were, what, three penalties against us for not releasing in the tackle. In every instance the ball-carrier was isolated and not supported by team-mates. And on another three occasions Tahs attackers made breaks and died with the ball: Carter in the first half and Palu and Mumm in the second. Why weren't there Tahs players in numbers supporting the tackled or breakout player? I just don't see the Tahs busting a gut to get into position to support their team-mates when needed. This is one thing Kiwi backrowers do superbly and is a major ingredient in their continued success. McKibbin A wonderful game and deserved MotM. His first instinct is to pass the pill, and he passes it very well, certainly quicker than Pretorious. And Brendan persisted with his passing practice after the first few fumbling attempts by his fellow backs. In time they worked out what to do and looked much better as the match progressed. But, most importantly, he's a deadeye dick kicker. This win compared to the losses against the Reds and the Clan prove how valuable a reliable kicker is; look how the Reds have crumbled since Harris was injured. We should NEVER go into a match without a reliable kicker. Dennis Hasn't DD performed well this year? A note to the Tahs management: for Chrissake's don't do another Mowen. Mumm Dean hasn't played well this season and would've more than likely not racked up the game time he has if others were available. And giving away all those penalties this year isn't a good look. But I sincerely hope that wonderful face-palming run late in the game to set up the match-winning try gives him a lot of confidence and ignites him for the rest of the year. Please prove me right, Mummie. Kingston Apart from a few defensive misreads isn't this kid coming along well? I suggested to TRS Bruce Ross he'd be a hell of a winger with another 5kg, Bruce reckons that extra 5kg would make him into an outstanding outside-centre. Personally I don't care which one. Carter Tom did what Tom does well, and no more. Yes, he did straighten up the attack, yes, he did stiffen up the inside back defence. And yes, he didn't pass the pill (once all game by my count), gee it'd be nice to watch him put a fellow back through a gap occasionally. Opponents see you bash the ball up so many times they aim for you when you get it, why don't you surprise them and pass it one day? I live in permanent hope, Tom. Kepu, Palu and Horne Are these three carrying some sort of niggling injuries? Ah yes, they'd be permanent niggling injuries in their cases. They don't seem to be playing as well as they can, any of them. Well, there're a few things for you to work on, Michael and Alan. Sorry about the lack of time before the Tribe match (that's why I'm not a professional journo as I couldn't've knocked this out without a few days' cogitation). Another thing: SANZAR, more afternoon games in Sydney please. If Saturday afternoons clash with school and club rugby I'd be more than happy to go on Sunday afternoons.