Super Rugby Round 4 Review - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

Super Rugby Round 4 Review

Super Rugby Round 4 Review

Round 4 was yet another tough round for Aussie rugby fans, with only a solitary draw to show for three sides’ work. That said, there were still a number of positives from the weekend — chiefly, the form of the two predicted Aussie cellar-dwellers, the Force and Rebels. Both played with skill and determination against far more fancied opposition, and both had the game taken from them at the death. Sadly, the same could not be said for the boys from the ACT, who now resemble Spanish fourth division cellar-dwellers Unión Criptanese far more than they do Real Madrid.

Team of the Round:

15 Mark Gerrard – REBELS

Ever wondered what it would look like if Shrek and the Hulk had a child?

14 Lachie Mitchell – REBELS
13 Stirling Mortlock – REBELS
12 Gene Fairbanks – FORCE
11 David Smith – FORCE
10 James O’Connor – FORCE
9 Nick Phipps – REBELS
8 Ben McCalman – FORCE
7 Matt Hodgson – FORCE
6 Richard Brown – FORCE
5 Nathan Sharpe – FORCE
4 Sam Wykes – FORCE
3 Dan Palmer – BRUMBIES
2 Ged Robinson – REBELS
1 Pek Cowan – FORCE

As you might expect the team is dominated by Force players, with a smattering of Rebels and just a solitary Brumby. That Brumby is Dan Palmer, who put in a sterling scrummaging performance against a Crusaders pack that had the Waratahs on toast the previous week. With a good impact around the field he is starting to stand out in a position that is wide open in a World Cup year. The only Rebel in the pack is Kiwi hooker Ged Robinson, who was once again a standout in tight for the Mexicans.

After their powerful effort against the Blues, the Force forwards make up the bulk of the pack. Pek Cowan stepped up after the late withdrawal of Tim Fairbrother and led a good Force front row effort, gaining valuable metres with ball in hand. The performance of the Force ‘back 5’ was the highlight of the evening, though. The locking combination of Nathan Sharpe and Sam Wykes worked a treat, with the old man putting in yet another outstanding effort in all aspects of the game. Wykes was also good, and threw a good last pass for Cummins’s try.

The back row’s performance left one wondering where David Pocock will fit in when he returns. Each of them played superbly, and they easily outshone their much-vaunted opposition of Kaino, Braid and Lowrey. There were a few other forwards worth mentioning, namely Colby Faingaa and Jarrod Saffy, both of whom were MoTM contenders in losing sides. Hugh Pyle also stood out when brought in late for Kevin O’Neill.

Revealed: JOC's brilliance is all due to Nathan 'Puppet Master' Sharpe shouting instructions from behind play

The backline threw up a few more selection conundrums. Nick Phipps was the only real halfback standout, so he gets the nod for a good effort on Friday. Despite a good performance from Danny Cipriani, you just can’t go past James O’Connor at 10. The youngster is surely the form five-eighth at the moment, and his kicking and ballplay were second to none. We have an ex-Brumby combo in the centres, namely Gene Fairbanks and Stirling Mortlock.

Gene put in yet another hard-as-nails effort, and Morty turned back the clock and got those thunder thighs working again. Hopefully this is just the start of his push for a World Cup spot. I must give an honourable mention to Robbie Coleman, who had a few classy turns in the face of SBW; however, not enough to get him over Mean Gene at 12. Mitchell and Smith make up the wings, with Mafi and Vuna not far behind. Mark Gerrard has yet another week in the side, with Shep and McCabe not really having had the opportunity to show their wares this week.

Player of the Round:

There are a few clear standouts this week. For the Brumbies, it was all Colby Faingaa, who was the only Brumbies player to really make an impact against the Crusaders. Dan Palmer and Ita Vaea also got a few mentions, but the vast majority of votes flowed to the young No. 7. For the Rebels the clear winner was Jarrod Saffy, who put in a great all-round effort in only his third run-on start since converting from League. Stirling Mortlock, Greg Sommerville and Ged Robinson were also mentioned in dispatches.

Yet again for the Force it was James O’Connor, who took the Western Australians within an inch of a famous victory. The remaining votes were spread between Sharpe, McCalman, Hodgson and Brown.


Try of the Round:

In a round with only a few tries scored, there was one clear standout — Danny ‘googleme’ Cipriani’s individual effort against the Sharks. He dummied, he stepped, he went left, he went right, he put the foot down, and he went in under the sticks. Great stuff, and if there had been a roof at AAMI Park I reckon the Melburnians would have just about lifted it off after that try. There were a few more good tries in the Rebels game, with Cooper Vuna scoring a cracker after great lead-up work from Mark Gerrard. Have a look at both for yourself:



Moment of the Round:

There were a few moments that stood out for their significance this weekend. Sadly, none of them are particularly heartwarming. Josh Valentine had a penalty shot from right in front to take the score to 13-16 with just a few minutes to play in the first half. He missed, the Crusaders scored, and the rest is history. Danny Cipriani’s wild pass to no one in his own in-goal, which resulted in the easiest of tries to the Sharks, was another lowlight.

But the big one for me came in the 70th minute of the Force game. The Westerners are all over the Blues, and have a penalty on halfway about ten in from touch. They are ten points up, and have the game at their mercy. However, instead of putting the ball into touch and pushing for the match-winning try, they throw the ball to Rabbit O’Connor to take a low-percentage shot that’s clearly out of range. Even the commentators knew it. JO’C’s kick fell well short, and the Blues ran it back to halfway. That phase gave them much-needed momentum, and a minute later they were camped on the Force line. That decision to take the shot at goal signified the Force’s negative mindset in the last ten minutes, and it was one that cost them dearly in the end.


What was your moment of the round?

  • rolandw

    I hope this habbit of losing at the death isn’t creeping back into australian rugby. Thought we got rid of it in Honkers last year

  • Bobas

    One Brumby in a team made out of Force and Rebels.. fair enough call after i watched that shit game.

    New rule Brumbies, ‘Forwards get to the ruck, backs pass to each other’. There were no forwards in the Saders backline stuffing around. Sure the brumbies forwards can catch but they dont need to prove it everytime the ball goes wide.

    Cant believe how different 2009 s14 form was from 2010, and now 2011 is even more different.

    Its so hard to pick a wallaby backline at the moment with normally consistent players out of form and so many positional changes necessary.

    Does Genia and AAC hold their spots? Does Beale or JOC move inside to put a Gerrard or McCabe in the team? Does Sharpe keep a lock spot despite the pressure from Chis, Horwill, et al.?

    Time will tell and hopefully we keep fit

    • Alan

      Chis should never be allowed to put on another wallaby jersey. The guy is F*cking massive yet he never, ever makes any significant impact or contribution

      • Scrummie

        Good comment mate, last year, during the EOYT tour I thought the backline was definite. AAC with his monster palm was a sure thing for OC. Quade Cooper with his lethal attacking abilities. Beale with his complete ingenuity and ball handling skills. But this year? Especially this year with the RWC. Gonna be some hard decisions for Robbie Deans.

        With the Reds dominating the backline positions last year, I wonder how everything’s going to go down. I think the battle for the Number 10 jersey will be an interesting one. The double edged sword that is Quade, with his mediocre tackling, the solid and steady Berrick Barnes and then there’s the immense potential that James O’ Connor brings. Exciting start to a new year, fantastic stuff.

  • chuntsah

    Barbarian, spot on with the Force decision to take the shot on goal. It was certainly a turning point. Momentum is so important the Force allowed it to be taken away from them with that shot. Shame.

    I agree that Pek Cowan has an epic work-rate and is second only to TPN for his impact in defense but has anyone noticed how he has a tendency to drop the ball in contact? It worries me.

    I think though, seeing Morgan Sturtlock (or Stirlo) burst through the Sharks centres brought a tear to my eye. Long may it continue.

    • Patrick

      Mortlock hasn’t missed a tackle all year that I’ve seen, it’s awesome watching him line up a show pony like Beale and then thump him…but this week he really added a bit more carry than he was able to get through in previous weeks.

      • Bones

        Patrick – to win this years 3N and then the WC we have to pick a centre pairing who can match it with SBW, Fruean, Nonu and or Smith. A truly fit and rampaging Stirlo would be a great 50 min 13 and would have them thinking. Perhaps Digby but I am yet to really be convinced.

  • Who Needs Melon

    I like the look of the Force. Despite the momentum turning against them, they NEVER gave up and played awesome match-winning defense in the last 10. Well… Almost match winning.

  • MattyP

    Did you know Union Criptanese off the top of your head or did you have to look it up?

    • Barbarian

      Of course I knew them. Rugby is just something I watch when the Spanish Fourth Division isn’t on. Criptanese are struglling at the moment with an unfamiliar formation, but once club legend Cecilio Baredo Valverde returns from injury they should get their attacking mojo back. Hopefully the same can be said of the Brumbies and Rocky.

  • Conor

    I thought a better momentg of the round was the rebels with 3 minutes to go, instead of going for the penalty shot and earning 1 bonus point the had the gutso to kick for touch and get a try and earn 2 bonus points! and they did!

    Thats a positive mindset!

  • Robson

    I want to see Quade play another match before I get too luke warm about his 2011 performance, but it seems at the moment that the opposition have got him worked out. We’ll see over the forthcoming weeks.

    O’Connor is offering something very different and I think he is well and truly in the frame to make a monster takeover of the No. 10 job for the WBs. Gits won’t be too enamoured with JOC’s kicking form either, because it’s enough for him to keep the WBs kicker’s job for a while. At this rate Gits isn’t going to get the job back. Hell, at this rate Gits won’t even be on the bench come the TNs.

    It’s good to see Morty starting to come back on beam. I think everyone expected far too much of him in his first couple of appearances. He’s been off the paddock for a fair while so it will take him some good game time to recover his best form; which may not be his best ever form, but may just be better than anyone else. AAC certainly hasn’t been setting the place on fire, but I always thought he was a much better fullback than a 13.

    So where might that leave Beale? I would like to see him given a run at 12 for the Tahs once Berrick gets back on the paddock, but I don’t know when that is scheduled to take place. Having said that I’m not sure that Beale is a natural 12 because I’ve never seen him play there, but his defence has certainly picked up which it would need to for him to play either 12 or 13.

    • Mad Dog

      IMHO playing Beale anywhere other than fullback for the Wallabies would be stupid, as would playing anyone else there. The bloke is deadly as a ‘pop up anywhere’ wildcard, and his defence is now great, courtesy, I expect, of his close contact with Matt Burke, his kicking coach, and fullback play mentor.

      • Robson

        In other words his defence is ideal for a 12.

        And it would be stupid playing AAC at fullback would it?

  • Muffy

    A fat lame props opinion about the WB Backs …

    JOC – 10
    BB – 12
    Morty – 13
    DM – 14
    Smith/ Rocket Rod – 11
    KB – 15

    Bench –
    AAC (a big fan but his form is not there could swop with Morty)

    As for Chis, we have too many other options now, Jim H, Mowen, Macalman, Van the man, Higgers, stocks are raw, but there….

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