Round 4 brought the perfect scenario for Players to get one over their opposite numbers in the local Derby’s. How did it pan out?
REBELS V BRUMBIES
The Rebels clawed back a 19-3 deficit at half time to beat the Brumbies 29-26 on Friday night at AAMI Park, Melbourne.
Dave Wessels, the Rebels coach opted to rotate his front row around with a new combination of Matt Gibbon, Robbie Abel and Sam Talakai to start the game off which was a bold move against the established Scott Sio, Folau Fainga’a and Alan Alaalatoa. Gibbon’s starting at loosehead for the Rebels is a great story considering he was invited into the Rebels squad to train through pre-season and upon asking when his flights would be booked to go home, was asked to stay on with the team. This shows that Wessels believes in his new Loosehead prop to start Gibbon ahead of the reliable Tetera Faulkner.
The scrum count was 4 scrums to the Rebels, compared to 8 scrums to the Brumbies with the first scrum from Talakai turning the screws on Sio. The scrum was reset and Sio settled into the game to maintain good shape in what was a good contest with Talakai. Gibbon had a great game in the scrum considering the limited amount he’s played. He maintained really positive body shape throughout the game and at times his second attempt at putting the squeeze on Alaalatoa was noticeable albeit well handled from the Wallaby Tighthead. Considering he was up against the Wallaby front row, I think Gibbon would benefit from continued exposure and hope Wessels opts to select him in future games. Bar the yellow card for coming in the side of a rolling maul, I thought he had an excellent game.
The Brumbies also utilised their scrum well throughout the 1st half with a solid scrum at the 17 minute mark allowing David Pocock to feed the ball to Joe Powell, hitting Henry Speight to tip toe down the touch line to score.
In the 2nd half, scrums played an important role in each team scoring some important tries. Starting with a strong scrum from the new front row of Gibbon, Rangi and Faulkner, the strong set piece setup the platform for Genia to hit Jack Maddocks with a perfectly timed pass on the wing to score. The Brumbies at the 59 minute mark, and with James Slipper now on, had the most dominant scrum of the night. The Brumbies clearly won their race to the middle of the scrum and were lucky not to be called for an early shove. The scrum sunk and drove straight through the Rebels pack with Pete Samu picking from the back of the scrum, being dragged down for Valetini to pick and go over for the try. A great example of the space given to a no.8 when his scrum is going forward and to me shows Slipper brings that slight edge over Sio.
Unfortunately later in the game Alaalatoa was injured and Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin came on as a replacement and consecutively collapsed the scrum 4 times. This gave the Rebels much needed penalties, the first being a quick tap from Genia at the back of the scrum that ran in a try. As Makin continued to hinge at his hips and collapse the scrum, the Rebels continued to use the scrum to their advantage opting to use it as opposed to kicking for the lineout and ran the clock down.
There was also a good contest in the lineouts with the Rebels winning 14 to the Brumbies 15 lineouts won. The Rebels opted to hit Coleman for the majority of the game and was surprised that the Brumbies didn’t pick up on it and man up right next to him. Later in the game when Coleman failed the HIA, the Rebels started to utilise all of their lifters with another good throwing game from Abel and Rangi as did Folau Fainga’a for the Brumbies. Coleman also made the Brumbies work for all of their balls upsetting an early lineout from the Brumbies but the Brumbies utilised their lineout extremely well by throwing between Arnold, Carter and Cusack. Again the Brumbies rely on their strength in the maul which resulted in Fainga’a scoring his 4th try in 4 games.
Matt Gibbon was yellow carded and Tetera Faulkner had to come on with Leota being sidelined, which resulted in Tom English packing in on the side of Faulkner. Genia feeds the ball and bounces back through for a Tighthead to the Brumbies but as the pressure is applied and Alaalatoa and Faulkner come up, English is holding onto the shin of Faulkner, then continues to drive Faulkner under his hip into the scrum as his head comes up. Far out, I thought these backs had half an idea on where to get a bind, but funny nevertheless.
NSW WARATAHS V QUEENSLAND REDS
Back at the SCG for the highly anticipated Waratahs v Reds and there was a build-up leading into the game regarding the heritage and the biffo that occurred in the past but I found this game to be a disappointment. It lacked intensity and the opportunity to get one over on your opposite number considering it is a World Cup year.Then there is the playing surface that ripped up upon every scrum and maul but did this really effect the ball being fed in and used?
The front rows of the Waratahs consisted of Harry Johnson-Holmes, Damien Fitzpatrick and Sekope Kepu butting heads with JP Smith, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Taniela Tupou for the Reds. From the 1st scrum at the 10 minute mark, the surface started to lift up with the pressure being exerted from the scrums. I understand this is Super Rugby and we’re in the professional era expecting professional playing surfaces but you need to play to the conditions that are presented, whether it’s wet, muddy or the surface is rock hard. I don’t think the surface tearing up was the reason for specific scrums collapsing or for referee Glen Jackson making his decisions.
The game consisted of 6 scrum wins to the Waratahs and only 2 scrum wins to the Reds. You would have to be frustrated as a Reds supporter when Jackson made the decision to re-set scrums once or twice when clearly on camera you could see the Waratahs loosehead prop Johnson-Holmes elbow pointing towards the ground prior to collapsing. On the 3rd set, the Reds would be penalised for an early push, which was correct but the AR is not picking up on the first two collapses which could have resulted in a penalty to the Reds. I counted 4 times a penalty could have been called against the Waratahs for elbows pointing down before pulling the scrum down or shoulders going to ground with Tupou’s body in good shape after the collapse. The Reds were unlucky but Jackson was managing the opposite side of the scrum so it’s hard to know what was occurring on his side for the re-sets.
For the Waratahs, Johnson-Holmes did well staying on the field for 80 minutes and is consistent around the ground but needs to improve on keeping his side of the scrum up. The first 4 scrums resulted in his side collapsing which could be a result of trying to match Tupou’s height in the scrum but needs to work on getting his elbow up. Kepu looks like he’s battling through every game and regardless of scrumming well is dropping a lot of balls. Kepu’s ball handling will have to improve dramatically to be considered for the Wallabies. It was great to see Tatafu Polota-Nau back at hooker and could see the stability he brought to the scrum as well as his tackling around the field. It did look like he had forgotten how to throw the ball in the first two lineouts but this could be the result of learning new lineouts in a couple of days.
For the Reds, Tupou looked like he had good body shape in the scrum but couldn’t get any buy in with the surface pulling up. I also feel that Tupou hasn’t reached his potential with breaking out in the open yet. Whenever he punches through the line he gets ankle tapped or he can’t shake the last defender and I think with a little bit of room, maybe next to Kerevi, he could run as an option like Rodzilla used to punching holes in the backline.
There was a substantial amount of lineouts in this game with the Waratahs winning 8 to the Reds 24. The Waratahs threw all of their lineouts in straight with the Reds having one overthrow in the 1st half and Alex Mafi, the replacement hooker, not throwing in straight on his second throw.
The Waratahs played some great set piece rugby from the lineout with Fitzpatrick hitting Ned Hanigan, bringing the ball down and shifting it to a rampaging Holloway doing what he does best in crashing over the advantage line. The ball was recycled well with Gordon picking up and hitting Hanigan who crashes over the line in one of Hanigan’s best games in a long time.
The Reds replicated the Waratahs try when Paenga-Amosa throws to Harry Hocking in the line out bringing it down into a maul. The maul is defended well by the Waratahs, dismantling the set-up, with Liam Wright making good meters up the middle. Sorovi passes to Scott Higginbotham who inches forward, Sorovi hitting a rampaging Tupou and Samu Kerevi runs in for a pick and drive scoring a fantastic try from the set piece.
The Reds Coach Brad Thorn commented on using their big pack to out scrum the Waratahs and was disappointed in the SCG surface but this needs to be managed within the game. The Waratahs managed it better with Jake Gordon feeding the ball and sweeping as soon as the ball was available. The Waratahs brought more intensity to the game and their defence at times looked impenetrable being the better team on the day. If the Waratahs can get the likes of Simmons, Holloway, Hanigan, Hooper & Dempsey firing with the quality they have in the backline they are a real threat but there’s a long way to go in this season.
There was a great scrum from the Waratahs around the 29 minute mark with the Reds halfback Moses Sorovi feeding the ball into the Reds side of the scrum, but the ball bounces of a leg (I believe it was Paenga-Amosa trying to get his leg up to hook) and the ball sits dead in the middle of the scrum with no one able to left their leg of the ground due to the pressure being applied. This resulted in a penalty kick to the Waratahs for a no hook.
PROPS TO YOU
Considering the SCG didn’t allow for much of a contest and the Brumbies were consistent again in the scrum I would have to give Props to Matt Gibbon from the Rebels for his game against the Brumbies. Don’t worry about the yellow card (these things happen) but the shape he maintained throughout the night was excellent. Gibbon’s hips didn’t flare out; he wasn’t angling in, just a solid game from a Loosehead Prop.