Finding Front Rowers: Super Rugby Scrum Scrutiny 8 - Green and Gold Rugby
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Finding Front Rowers: Super Rugby Scrum Scrutiny 8

Finding Front Rowers: Super Rugby Scrum Scrutiny 8

Plenty of Aussie content this weekend and a hell of a lot of Wallaby contenders. So let’s get to it.

REDS VS STORMERS

JP Smith came out earlier this week in the media saying the South Africans consider the Aussies soft. This was clever in getting the Reds primed for a physical battle against the Stormers as well as selling their own branded Bros-Braai Sausages throughout Suncorp stadium, the stage was set for a must win for the Reds and win they did with the score-line 24 to 12.

The Reds front row consisted off JP Smith, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Ruan Smith up against the Stormers front row of Corne Fourie, Siyabonga Ntubeni and Frans Malherbe with the Reds winning 9 scrums to the Stormers 8 scrum wins.

The 1st half of the game consisted of some interesting scrums with BPA hooking the ball initially but was unable to get a second strike with the pressure of the Stormers scrum. No players were willing to lift their foot to hook the ball back with the possibility of releasing the pressure causing the scrum to retreat. The first occurrence was around the 13.00 minute mark with Liam Wright having to hook the ball back with his knee whilst trying to maintain his pressure on his side of the scrum. The scrum lasted for 20 seconds which is a long time to maintain pressure in the front row but resulted in Scott Higginbotham pulling the ball out to Tate McDermott who finds a gap and makes excellent yards down the blind before being pulled down. Higginbotham follows up as half back hitting Samu Kerevi on the inside with a strong carry of the ball, followed by McDermott box kicking for a gain of around 60 meters. This was a good result from a ball that was trapped in the scrum.

The second occurrence was in the 35th minute with BPA just clipping the ball, however the Stormers had set strong body shape and you can see the tighthead Malherbe from the Stormers squeezing JP Smiths arm down closing off BPA’s view to the ball, applying pressure in case BPA’s foot comes up again for another strike. Wright again has to knee the ball back but the Stormers Looshead Fourie smells an opportunity and drives through his side of the scrum with the ball spitting out the back with the result being messy ball for the Reds.

The third occurrence was in the 36th minute when BPA gets a better strike but the ball gets stuck underneath the locks knees and without the locks being able to kick it backwards, Higginbotham goes digging to pull the ball back and retrieves it successfully. The Reds were fortunate and a better team would have made them pay for this but the Reds managed it without incident.

The Reds scrummed operated well throughout the game until in the 2nd half the Stormers Looshead replacement Steven Kitshoff was brought on and drove straight through a fatigued Ruan Smith who had been very busy throughout the game. The Reds made the change of Taniela Tupou immediately and with an immediate scrum locked down his side showing his capabilities and the benefit of bringing on a fresh impact player. Tupous body height is excellent at scrum time as showed when he came on but was penalised for knees collapsing to the grass shortly after but this is the result of having your knees inches from the ground.

The Reds lineout operated well in this game with 15 lineout wins & one steal against the Stormers 12 lineout wins but was not without its challenge’s. The Reds showed the intention of pushing the pace in this game throwing their lineouts as quick as possible upon set-up not allowing the Stormers to catch their breath. I thought their defence was also positive when the Stormers managed to get a rolling maul going up the field, the Reds really fought all the way until there was an accidental knock on. There was one moment earlier in the game when players were getting knocked off the Reds rolling maul but the intent to get up and re-attach was good to watch.

Areas of improvement include ensuring they are putting up a jumper to compete instead of trying to mirror the opposition lineout and missing the lift altogether. I would like to see the Reds get a jumper up in front regardless applying this pressure to the thrower. There was also a lineout from the Reds with McDermott having to cut back inside and run it as the Stormers players had come straight through the gap in the lineout shutting down his options. The Reds need to ensure these gaps are filled to allow McDermott to feed the ball out.

I thought the back 5 were excellent getting through a tonne of work. Special mention to Salakaia-Loto with 12 runs 8 tackles seemed to be presenting himself to carry the ball at every opportunity. Higginbotham was much better tonight and again showed his capabilities with ball in hand with 28 meters gained from 3 runs only.

The replacements of Alex Mafi and Harry Hoopert also delivered for the Reds with Mafi cutting the 125kg Kitshoff in half with a tackle that had to be reviewed. Upon review the tackle was deemed legal and the game continued. Hoopert also showed his running capabilities with a great fend off down the wing, but a little offload to Jack Hardy on the wing could have resulted in a further 5 points.

OUTSTANDING SCRUM

At the 71 minute mark the Stormers had a 5 meter scrum that was annihilated by the Reds with the ball spitting out the back of the scrum resulting in the Reds turning the ball over and getting out of the Red zone. Excellent scrum at the correct time!

via GIPHY

CRUSADERS V BRUMBIES

The Crusaders hosted the Brumbies at Christchurch Stadium in what was the Crusaders tighthead prop, Owen Franks 150th Super Rugby Game which is an impressive achievement for a fellow front rower. Franks celebrated with a yellow card and the Crusaders getting the win 36-14.

The Brumbies are digging deep into their reserve tanks but still managed to start the game with the reliable James Slipper, Josh Mann-Rea and Alan Alaalatoa with the Crusaders starting with the formidable Joe Moody, Ben Funnell and Owen Franks. There wasn’t  a lot of scrums in this game with each team winning 4 scrums a piece but a number of others resulted in penalties and free kicks. Slipper and Alaalatoa needed to step up as leaders in this game which they did with Slipper having 5 runs and making 8 tackles and Alaalatoa getting through a mass of work with 11 runs and 7 tackles. Mann-Rea also contributed with 4 runs and 7 tackles. He was consistent with his throwing in the lineout but his discipline can occasionally let him down.

The match up of Slipper/ Franks and Alaalatoa / Moody was also of interest with the scrums relatively even through the 1st half. Slipper and Franks were evenly matched and in my opinion shows that Slipper is one of Australia’s best Looseheads this season against one of the best in Franks. The other side was also matched well but there were occasions when Moody got the upper hand turning it up a notch on Alaalatoa getting penalised for popping up out of the scrum under pressure. On the flip-side Moody also got penalised for his knees on the ground so all was not perfect for Moody.

In the 50th minute the Crusaders had a knock on over the line resulting in a Brumbies 5 meter defensive scrum. There were 2 collapses upon the set call with Franks subbing himself off because of safety (shoulder injury) and Michael Alaalatoa coming on. The 3rd re-set resulted in the ball getting to McCaffrey’s feet and I’m unsure on why the ball was not picked up but the scrum wheeled around with the referee re-setting again. The 4th scrum resulted in penalty which was deemed to be because of the Brumbies front row all collapsing handing the ball over to the Crusaders in the red zone. Michael Alaalatoa did a good job on Slipper on the next scrum getting the tighthead side up with the Crusaders scoring in the corner and Pulu getting a yellow card for a high tackle. The result was the Brumbies handed over possession, a try and ended up down a man from poor execution.

The lineouts were contested well in this game with the Crusaders winning 11 lineouts but stealing 3 Brumbies throws with the Brumbies winning 12 lineouts and stealing 1 Crusaders throw. The Brumbies did extremely well to keep the Crusaders scoreless in the 1st half especially when they were defending an attacking Crusaders lineout from 5m out and disassembled a rolling maul that could have given the 5 points to the home team. In attack for the Brumbies it was evident that the weapon utilizing the driving maul was missing the leadership of Arnold to get it moving along. The Crusaders managed this well in this game and nullified any scoring opportunities utilising the driving maul.

The starting Debut of Darcy Swain caught my eye immediately because he didn’t look out of place in any regards playing an experienced Crusaders pack and notching up a healthy work rate of 7 runs and 9 out of 13 tackles but his physicality is what I observed most and Swain did not look out of place in Super Rugby. Swain put himself into good position in the 1st half with Simone receiving a ball down the blind from Powell. Swain was outside Simone and switched inside receiving a pop pass finding himself in space. Swain then grubber kicked the ball and if it rolled towards the touch line there’s a possibility Powell could have scored but it didn’t and the result at the end of the play was the Crusaders 50 meters up the field. This could have been better utilised without kicking away but had the potential, correct bounce pending, for points.

BLUES V WARATAHS

The Waratahs travelled to Auckland to take on the Blues at Eden Park with the Blues holding on to the win 32 to 29. The Blues started with Alex Hodgman, James Parsons and Sione Mafileo with the Waratahs consistent line-up of Harry Johnson-Holmes, Damien Fitzpatrick and Sekope Kepu. There weren’t a lot of scrums in this game with 3 scrum wins to the Blues and 4 scrum wins to the Waratahs but there were a couple of observations.

The 1st Waratahs scrum set call, HJH had missed his bind and bound very low on Mafileo resulting in his elbow pointing to the ground. The Waratahs apply pressure and you will notice in the video (which I slowed up) the small steps HJH takes forward and one big step for Mafileo before turning HJH elbow down and collapsing the scrum. Good scrum from HJH but needs to work on getting the bind and elbow up but unlucky not to win the penalty.

via GIPHY

The scrum that set up the 3rd Waratahs try was set up with a solid platform. The Blues look to have a crack at upsetting the scrum but Waratahs scrum work hard to stay square. The play that resulted from the backline looked like an Under 12’s team, missing 3 passes that hit the ground, a knock on from the Blues and somehow Alex Newsome gets a try. If it isn’t for Kepu diving onto the ball and scooping it up to Phipps coming around the corner it could have been the ugliest piece of play seen this year bar the scrum.

The 4th try for the Waratahs was from a scrum with Talakai on in place of Kepu works hard on his side of the scrum to allow the half back Gordon to snipe down the blind and go over for a try to bring the scores to 32-29. The importance of this is if the blindside flanker doesn’t maintain his bind and pressure, the scrum will continue to retreat and this allows the halfback to take advantage of the extra space.

The lineout looked out of sorts early in the game with a couple of mistimed lifts resulting in the ball going over the jumper and confusion between lifters and jumpers. Luckily for the Waratahs the ball was cleaned up at the back of the lineout and Waratahs maintained possession.

Around the 25 minute mark the Waratahs had a lineout in attack with a rolling maul. The Waratahs were given an advantage penalty with the Blues coming in from the side when Foley tried another cross field kick with Cam Clark receiving but somehow managed to balls it up with Folau too flat on the inside getting bundled over the touch line when Clark offloaded.

As the lineouts improved the Waratahs opted to utilise the driving maul when awarded penalties which resulted in their second try. Fitzpatrick throws to Simmons who transfers to Staniforth taking the defensive pressure away from Simmons and driving through the Blues with Will Miller getting the points. A well-executed lineout that resulted in points to the Waratahs.

HJH had an excellent game and its usually one moment in a game that can change momentum and it came when he drove the Blues Flyhalf Otera Black back in a tackle. HJH got back onto his feet and drove over the ball with Jack Dempsey coming in and scooping up the ball resulting in a turnover. This tackle resulted in the Waratahs setting themselves up in the Blues 22. After a couple of lineouts and an advantage called resulted in the cross field kick for Folau to score getting the Waratahs back in the game from 17-0 down. An Important moment in the game that changed momentum for the Waratahs.

Tom Staniforth was a standout in this game and I’m unsure how he hasn’t had more of a look in with his work rate. Against a physical Blues pack he managed 20 from 20 tackles with the commentators mentioning his name numerous times due to his physicality around the ground. Staniforth also had 11 runs and was a contributor in the lineout that scored one of the Waratahs tries. I would expect he starts next week the way he played, I would suggest his earned it!

OUTSTANDING SCRUM

The outstanding scrum was Talakai coming on inplace of Kepu and driving the tighthead side of the scrum up to allow extra room for Gordon to score a crucial try.

via GIPHY

REBELS v SUNWOLVES

The Rebels took care of the Sunwolves at Aami Park winning the game 42 to 15. The Rebels started with a Front Row of Tetera Faulkner, Anaru Rangi and Jermaine Ainsley against the Sunwolves Pauliasi Manu, Jaba Bregvadze and Jiwon Koo. The Rebels won 8 scrums to the Sunwolves 9 scrum wins but the most pleasing thing about this game was the 3 tries resulting from scrums that laid the foundation for the backline to attack and score from 1st phase.

An example was just before the 1st half ended, the Rebels had a scrum feed and Faulkner worked hard to get the loosehead side of the scrum up to prevent Dan Pryor, the Sunwolves no.7 from having any involvement in the defence. This resulted in an excellent backline move seeing Billy Meakes cutting through the line with Quade Cooper receiving the final pass from Reece Hodge to score a well-executed backline move. This was a clever piece of scrumming at the correct time and credit to be given to Faulkner for getting his side of the scrum up.

The Rebels won 17 lineouts to the Sunwolves 6 but it’s the defence from the Rebels must be noted stealing 6 lineouts from the Sunwolves in a mammoth effort for the night. The Rebels have a good mix of options and are continuing to deliver week after week including an excellent driving maul that gained around 10 meters out from their own 22, gaining good yards for the Rebels in defence.

A fourth try was scored from a lineout from 1st phase after Hugh Roach came on throwing a bullseye perfect throw to Luke Jones at the back of the lineout. The Sunwolves did well in getting up a jumper to compete, Jones hits Genia who finds a hole around the corner and runs another try in. This was superb throwing from Roach contributing to this try.

It was the rebels reserve front row that impressed me in this game with game with Hugh Roach coming on an enforcing a good tackle on the Sunwolves Luke Thompson.  I’ve said in the past that the Rebels have great depth at Hooker and Roach has to deliver and deliver he did with pin point lineout throwing, high tackle rate and looking to carry the ball at every opportunity. Again I was impressed with Pone Fa’amausaili coming on to add bulk to the scrum at 140+kg but he’s mobility around the ground is excellent. See below the stats for starting FR and reserve FR:

  1. Faulkner 48 min 1 Runs & 2 Tackles
  2. Rangi 48 min 4 Runs & 3 Tackles
  3. Ainsley 48 min 3 Runs & 6 Tackles
  4. Roach 32 min 4 Runs & 8 Tackles
  5. Gibbon 32 min 0 Runs & 7 Tackles
  6. Fa’amausili 32 min 1 Runs & 9 Tackles

The Rebels are building some solid depth in the front row with Sam Talakai and Robbie Abel missing this game but clearly there were no passengers amongst the selected team members. A special mention to Jermaine Ainsley who had a great game with 3 runs and 6 Tackles and Isi Naisarini was busy again with 11 runs and 8 tackles.

OUTSTANDING SCRUM

The outstanding scrum of the game was Tetera Faulkner getting his side of the scrum up to allow Genia to deliver crisp ball to the backline in what resulted in an excellent 1st phase try.

via GIPHY

PROPS TO YOU

It’s a tough place for Aussies to win at Eden Park and when your 17 points down and being physically assaulted all across the field someone needs to stand up and Harry Johnson-Holmes crushed Otera Black resulting in a momentum changer that eventuated in points to the Waratahs and a reduced score-line. Scrummed efficiently, strong carries of the ball and enforced game changing tackles. Props to HJH.

  • Nutta

    Thanks for the article

    HJH has struggled a bit this year – to be expected for a young scrummer – but he had a really solid scrummage game so props where due. Regarding your scrum-in-focus, I recall both Fat Cat Robbo and Bill Young both liked to reach long on the TH underneath the belly a bit and then pull back to lever through. The pull from that long would drag the TH hips down and so levering up and through would force the TH torso to tilt up. Good tactic when you can get away with it.

    Huge thumbs up to Talakai for his work on the Gordon try. I doubt folk who don’t play upfront would ever quite understand the physical forces created for a TH to go up like that. The ‘head spins’ that can come with that level of force are something else.

    The physical power and lovely body-height of Tupou has to be acknowledged in that not only did he go up and through a bloody handy scrummer like Kitsoff, Tupou also made Kitsoff adjust his feet back/right prior to pushing through. Tupou didn’t spin him out, he dragged Kitsoff around and still went through. That’s pretty impressive.

    But my accolades (for what they are worth) this week go to Slipper for not just good work, but for good work on a bloody good opponent.

    • Patrick

      Yes lots of good scrummaging, but that Tupou effort on Kitshoff really stood out for me.

      Massive personal victory for a still very young prop.

    • Huw Tindall

      What are you’re thoughts on Tupou’s game outside the scrum? It seems he hasn’t been that effective when starting this year and his running in tight hasn’t been block buster. Seems to work better off the bench and in the wider channels where he can work up his pace. He is still young and a lot to learn so I’d rather a crafty old head in the run on who won’t fall for the dark arts and set the tone in scrums (and with the ref!). Then bring on power in the second half.

      • Nutta

        A couple of thoughts there:

        1) Defences are aware of his running now and are on him quick. That said, try as they might, they still can’t handle his pick & drive.

        2) Whilst around the ground is important, he has clearly been told to get his scrummage squared away so that’s his focus.

        3) He’s playing in a struggling team so the opportunities and surrounding 1%ers that come when you’re up by 10pts and surrounded by a half dozen All Blacks that then allow someone to truely cut loose are not there right now.

        4) It’s no longer schoolboys. He is in big boys world now. As he gets older he will rediscover running-form again but founded in knowledge/experience rather than simply being the biggest unit out there running at wingers.

        • Huw Tindall

          Excellent thoughts Nutta. I was probably a bit harsh on him but the expectations were so high. He hasn’t disappointed and I guess he wasn’t going to be a world leading LHP in by 21 years of age.

        • T.edge

          Tupou without doubt has X Factor. As he continues to improve locking down his side of the scrum the rest will follow as we know he has that ability.

        • Mica

          Especially when you’re playing THP…. ;-)

  • Bernie Chan

    As a former scrumhalf, the dark arts of the scrum escape me…for those in the know, do we too often underrate the role of the guys providing the push from behind ie. the locks and backrow? Are props only as good as the guys behind them allow then to be? It sure annoys me to see flankers raise their heads and stop pushing…

    • T.edge

      Yes, the role of the back five plays a massive part. When there’s sixteen feet on the ground and one foot comes up or is pushing in another direction, this affects the entire scrum. Without seeing overhead footage,etc it makes it hard to analyse but yes this is a good point.

    • Nutta

      Hello BC. The role of prop is to deflect the opponent force and channel your own sides. For me, a good back 5 will generate coordinated and combined power forward (essentially). It’s my job to channel it in concert with my 2 colleagues to either hold ground or take it. Simultaneously, as a LH I am trying to get inside the shoulder line of their TH to allow my pressure to collapse him in. Conversely as a TH my challenge is basically to balance their LH outside my right shoulder whilst I channel between 1&2 to split their scrum. All things being equal, if either LH gets ‘inside’ the TH’s shoulder, then it’s over.

      • Bernie Chan

        Cheers gents…thanks!
        Always suspected as much but didn’t “know”…
        In regards to T.e’s comment about overhead footage, every time it is shown it seems to illustrate that often (not always…) the Ref is almost guessing as the video doesn’t support the rationale for the decision made. Confirmation bias…?
        Appears to me that sometimes the Oz scrums are perceived to be a weakness based on the touch up by the ENG pack several years ago at Twickers….

        • T.edge

          BC, the Wallabies are still trying to get over that complete dismantling of our scrum. That game is what came to mind when I said overhead camera as it shows 8 players all doing different things with England driving straight through. Mario Ledesma really tightened the Wallabies and am confident we’ll be able to hold our own but and a big but is the Australian Media and Australian public is doing a good job of putting pressure on our team. That pressure needs to be directed towards the likes of England with a #scrumstraightjoe campaign which in my eyes highlighted to the ref that Joe Marler was always boring in and with resulting penalties.

        • Nutta

          Good comments all.

          BC – our dismantling was the outcome of fkn years of neglect going all the way back to the mid 00’s when we really took our eye off the pie. We had never really been great scrummers but had ‘got by’ off the back of occasional exceptional players (Topo, Lawton, Link, Blades etc) and then we reaped 10yrs of grief from about ’05 because we had systematically tried to turn rugby into league by squeezing the fat backrowers into imposter frontrow jersies. The Bill Cups of 07 & 11 in-particular were fkn disgraceful as a result.

          Overhead cams – it’s funny how O/H cams don’t seem to be commonly available now for Wobbly matches after the Twickers World Cup experience showed the gamesmanship of the Filth scrum in full glory. Full glory to Matt and the GGR-led campaign there.

          Refs guessing: KRL is a Ref so he will get upset at me now, but most refs are ex 7’s and 9’s. So it’s a case of “You know nothing John Snow.” They know not what they look at compared to someone who has been bangin-in since the 1970’s. How can they? That said the principles and presumptions they are reffing to are much clearer these days then in yore. I also think there is an argument for the non-feeding touchie to be directly involved (provided they are qualified) so as to ref both sides of the scrum. There’s no doubt the gamesmanship now is nowhere near as blatant and direct as in yesteryear. It’s far more subtle now given the micro-management of the engagement and the number of cameras.

        • Who?

          KRL was a 7.
          Glen Jackson was a 10. He’s arguably the worst scrummaging ref going around. At least 9’s are used to standing around scrums, and might glean some useful knowledge in the change rooms. “What happened at that scrum..?” “Well, he did this, I did this, then that, and this was the outcome… Next time, help me out by feeding sooner/later.”

        • Bernie Chan

          It’s that ‘perception’ thing isn’t it…since that game, Refs seem to adjudicate scrums with an idea that the Oz scrums are weak and fail to judge each scrum on it’s merits. Marler got away with a hell of a lot…

      • Who?

        Given what you’re saying, Nutta, and the depth we’re seeing in locking stocks, it’s pretty clear to me that we don’t actually have any locks with significant shortcomings at scrum time anymore. There was a time where you could tell who wasn’t pushing (generally, whichever side Simmons wasn’t on), that’s – happily – no longer true. Most times now a scrum buckling, twisting, or retreating is because one side’s won the battle to channel that power in the front row, rather than a lack of grunt from the middle.

        • Patrick

          Ironically Skelton and Hooper were the biggest liability at scrum time.

        • Nutta

          Yep. Meercat from SK8R and just shit body-shape from Willie. that said, they have both redressed their ways in the last 2yrs or so.

        • Patrick

          Well Skelton was only ever going to improve in the NH.

          Bit embarrassing for the NSW and Wallabies forwards coaches really.

        • Nutta

          Through the 00’s into the early teens we had that idiotic 4-part call. That meant it used to be all about winning the engagement collision. Back5 being locked on were critical for that. But we no-longer have that enormous bang-crash these days. What’s becoming more important these days is the 2nd shove – either in doing it or defending it. God-forbid we are almost returning to the 80’s. Breakaways in-particular who Meercat will cost penalties as you see smart opposing 9’s looking for it and calling for a 2nd shove because one of the props arses will be by-definition exposed to a pop-out.

          From a Locks perspective, the essentials haven’t changed too much except I get concerned about ensuring Locks bind well on props to prevent splintering and then let the 8 worry about locking together the locks (which was why they were originally called Locks but anyway…). Big, strong, taught good body shape and dynamics (why Skelton sucked) and be happy to use their strength. That makes me smile.

          What we do need to do now though – for the good of the game – is stop these ridiculous 3min conferences before scrums and lineouts. Refs need to blow time-wasting penalties and get on with it. Managing fatigue is a measure of character. Get on with it.

        • Who?

          CTPE was crazy. Chibba Hanson told me he’d never experienced a hit like the ones he copped playing for the Reds against the Lions in 2013 – they were coming from a metre away, and it wrecked his neck. I’m very pleased that they went back to an 80’s-style emphasis on the drive, rather than the hit. The hit not actually being written into law anywhere… It’s so much safer, and more even a contest.
          .
          So the issue was about props managing to fluke a bind on the hit, and then having power from the locks behind to hold their ground. Skelton had terrible body shape, but even Dougy and Horwill weren’t as strong on the drive as Simmons. It got to a point that Simmons was shuffled from side to side in the scrum to support whoever appeared to be in the most trouble at the scrum.
          .
          Completely agree about the pointless conferences, too. There’s no justification for it, other than a player being with the trainers. But there’s no reason they can’t blow time off for those instances.
          When you talk about managing fatigue, there was vision of Luke Jones in the second half of the Rebels game standing in a lineout inside his own 22. He looked like he was about to collapse, he was dragging in the big, deep breaths. But he wasn’t holding up the game. He looked terrible – if I were the Wolves’ 9, I’d have been getting the ball in, feeding a prop opposite him and driving through him, to find out how much he had left in the tank. But credit to Jones for not holding up the game.

  • Huw Tindall

    I was wondering what Tim Horan was smoking when at the start of the season he called out HJH as one of his 4 players to watch in Super Rugby. Very happy to be proven wrong.

    With HJH at THP and Tupou at LHP we have two young very promising players. 7As is only 25 but already a top shelf THP then there is the old man of the pack Kepu who potentially has one last tilt at the big time this year before bowing out after a stellar career. The second coming of Slipper adds depth to LHP and let’s not forget Sio. All in all that’s a very good lineup of 6 props to take to RWC later this year.

    • T.edge

      I tend to agree, however 7A’s seems to be in the better now with Kepu building into the season and improving every game. It also gives that good balance of a few rotations throughout the pool stages in the RWC and or back up if any injuries are picked up.

      • Nutta

        I still reckon Kepu will be there when its time. All things equal, give me a +30 TH over a -30 TH anyday. Old-Man strength and experience is priceless when the pressure really comes on.

        • T.edge

          The old blood capsule.

        • Nutta

          … Hello darkness my old friend…

          Just don’t do a bloody great cheesy smirk whilst walking off…

        • Howard

          Totally agree. I don’t see Kepu in the best game day 23 behind AAAA, Thor, Slipper and Sio, but he’s got the experience which is invaluable at World Cups. Does he play both sides of the scrum?

        • Nutta

          He can. But when in-doubt always take a TH over a LH because going from TH to LH is far far easier than moving from LH to TH.

        • Brumby Runner

          And Keps actually resurrected his Wallaby career this year by playing at LH in the early tests.

    • Mica

      Wrong way around I think.
      HJH is LHP and Tupou is THP
      Still the potential is there as you say.

  • Christopher

    +1 re jumping at 2 in defence. I don’t know why teams at the least go up quickly at 2, forcing the team to go (At least to 4) and put pressure on the throw. Such a simple tactic c.f. running back and forth trying to guess the jump.

  • Reinforce

    Your weekly feature on props is a great read. I find myself engaged in scrums in far more detailed and appreciative manner. You are shining a light on a dark art. I suspect our SR props read your weekly review. Cheers

Analysis

Western Sydney born, raised in South Australia, now residing in Western Australia clinging to the hopes of Australian Rugby clawing its way back to bring home Bill or at least dominate in the scrums!

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