Bob Dwyer reviews the 2014 Super Rugby semi finals
ACT Brumbies

Dwyer’s view: playing the cards you’re dealt

Dwyer’s view: playing the cards you’re dealt

We had two super rugby semi finals on the weekend and the imbalance in terms of possession and field position was quite pronounced and similar in each game.

The Crusaders enjoyed a huge territory and possession advantage over the Sharks and managed to win quite handsomely. The Brumbies enjoyed similar advantages over the Waratahs, but managed to lose decisively. So there’s got to be a story in there somewhere. It’s fair to say also that the Brumbies played pretty well, but the Sharks played poorly.

Potgieter sprints_Glenn Nicholls

Potgieter sprints_Glenn Nicholls

Where all this analysis leads us is that the Waratahs were able to overcome some serious disadvantages that would have put paid to most teams. I’ve said before that the Waratahs have made good teams look ordinary at times this season – this wasn’t one of these occasions because the Brumbies didn’t look ordinary. Certainly though, the Waratahs managed to convert the smallest opportunity into scores.

It’s stating the obvious but this was certainly a win based on defence. You would have to say that Nathan Grey has to take a bow not only for this game but the whole season.

There were many heroes in defence for the Tahs but surely none bigger than Nick Phipps. Two try saving tackles in the space of 20 seconds on either touch line! While some if his half back play wasn’t up to standard, he could have even got my man of the match with the huge amount of work that he did.


I was a bit concerned when I saw Jaco Peyper had ben assigned the match. He is seriously not a good referee. Does he suffer from faulty eyesight? Even the most obvious things he missed until an assistant referee alerted him. Skelton’s high tackle, the decision to penalise Bernard Foley for not releasing Jessie Mogg was nothing short of ludicrous – the penalty should have been the other way. That decision and two more gave an important 3 points to the Brumbies.

We can say after this game that the Waratahs definitely deserve to be in the final.

Where do we go from here?

My only real concern is that for the first time in a long time Kane Douglas was strangely ineffective – no telling tackles, ineffective in the lineout and ball carry. Is he carrying an injury? When they were going to take Potgeiter off I was fully dismayed until he did his u-turn and it was indeed Douglas being replaced.

People will say that the Brumbies were able to keep Folau under control but such were the lack of territory and field position for the Waratahs had very few opportunities. He had a couple of neat touches making space for support runners but he certainly wasn’t as dominant as we’ve come to expect.

I left the ground thinking that the Waratahs will find it difficult to take the Crusaders, but having re-watched both matches I’ve revised that. I thought the Sharks were very poor. I’d echo Bismark’s words when he said they were extremely disappointed with their performance on the night. Loads of their problems were self inflicted – dropping balls, failing to find touch with penalties, kicks out on the full – a very ordinary display.

I wouldn’t say the Tahs will go in favourites but they certainly are a chance. I also thought the Brumbies were a very resilient and determined beaten team. They never did anything other than remain positive and try and save – first of all the game  – and then some pride. Full credit to the way they fought back.

Last week I commented how easy points can’t be missed with penalty kicks and the early one in the second half was surely a turning point missed.

This was a very, very difficult game for the Waratahs to win but on the scoreboard they won it handsomely. They may not have constructed too many of their own tries, but they put the other team on extreme pressure.

You’ve got the play the cards your dealt – although I wouldn’t want to play these cards two weeks in a row.

  • Graeme

    I thought the Brumbies played very, very well which makes the ‘tahs win even more impressive. I didn’t see the Crusaders match but it sounds like they are up to their usual trick of peaking just around about finals time. Should be a great match next week!

  • Hawko

    Although Phipps had a great game with his cover tackles, I thought his service, particularly in the first half, was too slow and put us under a lot of pressure. Whereas he has been clearing off the deck last night he was running two steps. He needs a clip over the ear to remind him that our speed totally depends on his delivery.

    • david baldwin

      I don’t think that Phipps’ problems with service were always of his own making. The Brumbies put more pressure on the breakdown than I have seen all year, no wonder he struggled to get clean ball. I thought he generally played ok and was very good in defence.

      Interestingly I noticed that the one time that Phipps ran, albeit from a breakdown in structure, the Brumbies were not ready for it at all and he made good ground. I would like to see Phipps have a dart late in the 1st half against the crusaders because they will certainly not be expecting it.

      • AJ

        Well now they are.

    • Braveheart81

      His service could have been better but we would have lost that game if Phipps hadn’t had such a great overall game. It could have gone to one of a few players but he was well deserving of winning the Waratahs’ players’ player award.

  • Touko

    Well done to the Brumbies. Great performances for the last three weeks, but the better team won last night, so they can’t be too unhappy with that.

    And luckily Peyper’s performance didn’t stop the better team from winning, but was bad enough that he surely can’t be reffing the final…

  • Tony H

    Surely Craig Joubert will referee Saturday’s final. Nuff said!

  • Robson

    The old saying the “you can only play as well as your opposition lets you” was never more abundantly in evidence in the Crusaders win on Saturday evening. The Sharks had a “dog’s breakfast” of a game, so the Crusaders were able to show off their polished skills to the glee of the Canterbury faithful. But make no mistake, errors will be severely punished in the final; whoever makes them. I wouldn’t try to predicit the outcome of next Saturday’s game, but I have a feeling that the Crusaders won’t be quite as clinical away from home.

  • GD

    Having front row seats right behind the southern posts it was a bonus for us the Brumbies were attacking all the time. Being so close we could see AND hear the strength of the Tahs defence -outstanding. Obviously the lack of points from set pieces and is a concern as I’d expect the Crusaders will bring a bit more to the table than the Brumbies so the Tahs will need to rely on more than defence and scoring off broken play to win the final.

    On another note we had a great evening at the LIVE SCG watching the Crusaders-Sharks game before going into Alliance. Only complaint was the queues – hopefully they can get this sorted for the next game.

    Overall it was a fabulous family rugby evening – the atmosphere behind the posts was awesome and I look forward to this Saturday and the Bledisloe – bring it on.

  • bad ass

    I think the tahs played a cracker and deserve a place, but to say the better team won belittles the brumbies effort. The teams were both playing very well in different ways. The tahs were certainly able to defend better (I consider this a winning team’s most important attribute). The Brumbies only flaw was to have no decent penalty kicker. With all that possession and field advantage, surely any one could see that a couple of successful penalty kicks would have changed the way the tahs were defending on the line. Once a team can’t kick their penalties, it becomes a free for all at the breakdown. I hope the tahs can defend as well against the saders without getting penalised. They have been more consistent than the brumbies of late and they have the momentum. They are our best chance against the saders.

  • Bill

    I guess Bob’s tipping the scum.. oh oh, the red and black scum.

  • first time long time

    Agree totally with Jaco P not being up to scratch but there were 3 other Ref’s involved in that game including Joubert and they couldn’t keep either team on side at the breakdown.
    He definitely was not alone but Hooper stood out as being off side at many breakdowns, limiting the opposing half backs options and was not penalised once.

    Are the Ref’s blind, incompetent or being directed to not police this area.
    It is ruining many games

  • Davorder

    I agree with Bad Ass. Seldom has a game been so clearly decided on missed and not-taken penatlies, that all the other analysis just feels academic to me. After being a perfect goalkicker against the Lions last year – and thereby keeping Aust in the hunt – Lealifano has lost all form, and it affected his, and his team’s, all-round game & decision-making too. (The All Blacks had similar problems in the WC final in 2011 when Weepu missed everything – their whole points-scoring machinery seized up and they were lucky not to lose). The Crusaders will bring a much better goalkicker (Carter’s a bit awry at the moment but he can fix it by the weekend) and a vastly superior setpiece. I think Bob is overstating the Sharks’ poor performance; the reality was the Crusaders’ forwards gave a masterclass. Frankly, the only thing the Tahs have going for them now is home advantage (and they’ve ceded that somewhat by going to Homebush). It is possible Beale & Folau could perform a miracle but I doubt it. And I believe Potgeiter will be revealed as a massive show-pony when it all unravels. Sorry Bob – unusually for you, your analysis is wistful, being based as it is mainly on a desperate desire to see your beloved Tahs finally win the comp. It’ll end in tears, believe me.

ACT Brumbies

If you don't know Bob Dwyer is the world cup winning coach of the 1991 Wallabies, then give yourself an uppercut. He did a load in between, but he now runs Bob Dwyer's Rugby Workshops, which you can read more about on his site.

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