MONDAY’S RUGBY NEWS
It’s Monday! Let’s have a look at what happened around the rugby world over the weekend. We’ve got Super Rugby, Provincial rugby, Premier rugby, Sevens and the new Director of Rugby weighs in on a few topics.
Super Rugby Round 13
Auckland hosted Wellington on Friday night. Despite applying huge amounts of pressure during the first half, the Blues were trailing at the break as the Hurricanes grabbed any chance they were given to score points. The second 40 started a little better for the home side after capitalised on a one-man advantage to draw within 2 before a Jordie (correction: Beauden, thanks Brunby Runner for pointing out the error) Barrett intercept made sure of the result.
Melbourne welcomed Queensland for their second meeting this year. The Reds were the first on the board through a penalty but the Rebels got into gear and only had themselves to blame they didn’t go into oranges with a bigger lead. To their credit, the young Reds side kept finding their way back into the contest and will rue the indiscipline as the Rebels won 30-24.
Loftus was the scene of a massacre as the Bulls proved hapless against the visiting Crusaders. A brace to Mo’unga and a hat-trick to Reece only accounted for five of the Crusaders’ seven tries as they obliterated the home side 45-13. The home crowd had to wait until the 57th minute when Odendaal finally gave them something to cheer about.
In Dunedin the Highlanders were looking in command at 26-13 after 40minutes. The Jaguares only try was a long-range effort topped off with a nearly perfectly weighted kick. Rugby is a game of clichés and of two halves. The second stanza saw Otago add only the two penalty goals meanwhile the Jaguares were full of running adding two converted tries. The locals had already done enough as they hung tough, 32-26.
The weekend went from bad to worse for SA fans. The Sharks held a 6-point lead with 12 minutes to play before conceding a try, their lead only saved by a missed conversion. From the ensuing restart the Chiefs managed to go 80metres in one phase to put them up 29-23. The Sharks held the ball for numerous phases after the siren but were unable to score and will be cursing their momentary lapses that ultimately cost them the match.
Joberg was the setting for the Lions and Waratahs. The teams were almost inseparable on the stats sheet and on the field. After an enterprising first half, each team running in three tries, the second half saw only a try apiece and a lone penalty goal being the only scoring. Speaking of the sides being inseparable and of penalties, there was one stat where the teams differed greatly. The 11-2 penalty count to the home side left a few scratching their heads. Final score, 29-28.
With a tribute to their mothers on their back the Brumbies did them (and all their supporters) proud. The Sunwolves were competitive early and the TMO was needed to decide if the visitors were to be first on the board. They weren’t to be. After the early exchanges the Brumbies got into top gear. Perhaps stinging after the recent criticism of their play the home side piled on 5 unanswered tried to run 33-0 winners and take top spot in the Aussie conference.
Premier and Provincial* Wrap-Up
Firstly, to Hong Kong.
The Force played their final match of the Asia Showcase leg of Global Rapid Rugby. The South China Tigers made the Force work for it, pulling back an early try by the Force to eek out a narrow lead late in the first half.
It was a different story in the second half as the Force added four tries to their tally and held the Tigers out. Final score, 40-16. The win sees the Force remain undefeated this year.
In the *other* Newcastle (not Sydney’s Ipswich) Will Skelton’s Saracens came from behind to defeat Scott Fardy’s Leinster to win the European Champions Cup. (yes yes, they aren’t technically Skelton’s nor Fardy’s…)
To more local results-
QLD’s Hospital Cup played its round 7
The Filth defeated UQ 48-20
Norths mauled Easts 47-13
Wests got the job done on Bond 40-27
GPS were too good for Sunnybank 33-21
Shute Shield was incredibly tight with only 16 points difference in total.
Norths fell to Uni at home 24-29
Eastern Suburbs travelled to Eastwood and came home with a W 29-27
Southern Districts hosted Western Sydney and it was the visitors winning 25-24
West Harbour and Gordon played out a 23-all draw
And Warringah THUMPED (in the context of the round) Randwick 35-27.
South Australia’s premier grade’s round 3 was a little more lop-sided.
Onkaparinga were too good for Brighton 39-16
Burnside edged Old Collegians 31-27
Southern Suburbs crushed Adelaide University 65-5
Port Adelaide even more so crushed Elizabeth 65-0
Woodville pumped Barossa 63-13
ACT’s round 6 saw-
Queanbeyan knocked off Wests, 34-26
Uni-Norths demolished Easts 48-12
Gungahlin prevailed in a tight affair over Vikings 26-25
Footscray were outclassed by Box Hill 50-22
Melbourne proved much too strong for Melbourne uni 38-13
Power House did away with Endeavour Hills 53-19
Harlequins put Moorabbin to the sword 71-14.
Over in the west-
Cottesloe travelled to Kalamunda and got the choccies, 29-25
Wests won away against Bayswater 68-12
Uni (UWA) went down to Nedlands 29-26
Wanneroo scraped past Palmyra 13-10
ARKs defeated Cavaliers 18-8
Associates dismantled Joondalup 42-0
Southern Lions mauled Curtin Uni 65-5.
(*look, I didn’t know where to put these results in.)
Our Gold Medal-winning ladies got through day one in Canada undefeated.
A huge win in their opening pool game saw them dispatch Ireland 33-5. All of the Aussie big names contributed with Quirk, Dick, Caslick, Petite and Green all getting their names on the score sheet. The only blemish- late try to green team.
Facing Brazil in their second match the Aussies quickly fell behind with the South Americans nabbing a try in the opening minute. From that point it was all one-way traffic with the Aussies running in 7 tries and adding Paki, Sykes and Meakes to their list of try-scorers.
The team’s third and final pool match was against much stiffer competition. Sitting in second place overall, boosted by their win in Kitakyushu and playing in front of their home crowd Canada came to play. The home side crossed for their first try in the opening minute but it was the Aussies that had the better of the first half, scoring well after the 7th minute to take 14-7 lead into the rest. The Canadians were first to score in the second half to pull back level before the Aussies crept away again through Green, Tonegato and a second to Green to round out their pool matches with a 29-14 victory.
Facing pool B’s Russia in the Cup quarter final the Aussies again found themselves on the back foot early. A third-minute try had them trailing but a flurry of points in the 5th, 7th and 9th minutes got them back in front before Russia got one back, it was as close as the Ruskies would get as the Aussies got over the white line another two times to win 31-12 and set up a semi-final with France.
France were the semi-final opponents and for the first time in a few matches the Aussies were on the board first with Samantha Treherne getting over the chalk. The French then got themselves on the scorer’s sheet before a brace to the seven’s series latest centurion, Emma Tonegato got Australia out to a 14-point lead with 5 minutes to play. A dashing run from turnover ball saw France claw themselves back within a converted try in the dying stages. A late forced penalty at the breakdown saved Australia’s skin and they now face New Zealand in the Cup final.
Aussies not to Emulate Kiwis
New Zealand sets some wonderful examples for the rest of the world. Those couple of islands off the east coast of Australia are home to spectacular natural features, politicians that make you feel good and damned brilliant rugby players.
Part of their success in rugby has been put down to their centralised system. Australia, however, under the guidance of their new Director of Rugby, Scott Johnson, shan’t be pursuing such a system.
Johnson has ideas across of a range of topics but bringing together all the provinces under a central plan seemed to be dismissed. Rather, the differences each location brings to the table should make us stronger. Or so we’re told.
Speaking on Fox Johnson said,
“We like the point of differences that the provincial teams bring. I do believe we should have an aligned system. One stick doesn’t make that much damage but if you put them all together it’s a pretty good weapon.
“I think we have four really good provincial teams, and if we start working and working together, we can be pretty strong and formidable.
“The four-stick concept is important and we’re going to tap into it.
“I quite like the differences in rugby, I like to bring the skill of that. Because a maul is important in rugby, especially against the northern hemisphere sides. Dan (Brumbies’ coach, Dan McKellar) is a really good coach of that. We would be silly to not discuss that with him.”
Aside from the Brumbies’ clear advantage at the maul one wonders what other strengths the individual franchises bring to the table. The Reds’ scrum, as formidable as it was last year, has come back to the pack this year, New South Wales’ ability to link play between their forwards and back, while impressive, isn’t exactly unique in world rugby.
Interesting times ahead for Aussie rugby. Something needs to change. And soon.