The Tuesday Top 5

Hugh Cavill March 12, 2013 48

No GravatarWe’re back again, and it’s like we never left. Here are five servings of rugby wisdom for your consideration:

 


5. Do we have to talk about the Tahs?

The Tahs are fast becoming the Barry Dunnett of Super Rugby

Waratahs:the Barry Dunnett of Super Rugby?

Yes, yes we do. As much as Tahs fans (such as myself) would probably prefer to shy away from the events of Saturday night, I feel like I need to now show a degree of maturity that has previously eluded me. And I also need to break my rule about not discussing Waratah conquerors, only two weeks after I created it.

You can moan about lack of Tah creativity or skill all you like, but that was not why we lost on Saturday. It wasn’t the dropped balls, static attack or stunted execution that did us in. We were just beaten by a bigger, stronger opposition. It was physical dominance on a level I have not seen since the RWC semi-final (although it reminded me a bit of watching Sydney Uni in the Shute Shield). And when you are faced with such a dominant opponent, all the slick moves in the world aren’t going to save you. Tah forwards charged at the line, but were knocked back by bigger and bigger tackles. This was exhilarating to watch as a rugby fan, having sat through 80 minutes of Leaguies droning on about the ‘physicality’ of their game compared to Rugby on Thursday night (I don’t understand their need to constantly tout the superiority of their game over others. We have a convert in Folau playing and they have barely mentioned his AFL/League past in commentary, or how much ‘tougher’ rugby is).

This is a worrying sign for the Tahs as it used to be us that was the dominant side. And it’s great for the Brumbies who can now stand a chance of beating the Saffers at their own game and strangling the better Kiwi sides. They say defence wins championships, and theirs is pretty fucking good.


4. Wallaby Watch #54029

It seems that every minute of every game is now viewed through the prism of Wallaby selections. I think everybody needs to chill out a little bit and allow for patterns to emerge before screaming for player X to be picked. And there is one thing everybody needs to consider when discussing potential debutants- they are going to need to put forward a consistent 8-10 weeks of great form to even be considered for selection. This is the Lions, and when it comes down to it debutants are going to have to be absolutely belting down the door to get a jersey. Jesse Mogg and Hugh Pyle are playing well now, but they will need to keep that form going. They can’t rely on performances in the first three rounds- they mean very little when push comes to shove. I am not for one second saying they can’t keep this form going though, and I very much hope they do.

One thing we can now identify is established players who are well and truly off the boil. Dave Dennis, Sekope Kepu and Nick Cummins are three that immediately spring to mind. Each have been rather anonymous in losing sides. They have time to find the form that won them Wallaby selection, and let’s hope they do.


3. Kings are killing it… sort of

This would have been a way better logo though

This would have been a way better logo though

Far from being the embarrassing easybeats everyone thought they would be, the Kings are actually doing pretty well. And to prove I am not just some skylarking 7s fan who hates Saffa derbies, I found the tryless game between the Kings and Sharks a really absorbing contest. The Sharks threw everything they had at the Kings (and were far more enterprising than last week), but the home side’s defence was just too good. According to one report the Kings attempted 108 tackles and completed 107. They don’t have that much to offer in attack, but if you can tackle like that then you don’t really need to. And they are playing to crowds of 40,000+. So you would have to call the new side a big success so far, although it is a long season and a lot can change in that time.


 2. Reds vs Rebels? Meh…

I thought the Reds/Rebels game was fairly unremarkable. Not a bad game, not a particularly good one either. As expected the Rebels flew out of the gates but were mown down in the finishing straight by a fitter, stronger, better Reds outfit. To my eye the Rebels are playing a style of rugby that resembles rugby league- forward runners coming onto the ball from depth with little subtlety, before the ball is given to backs who either spread the ball acrossfield or put in an attacking kick. Now that is a little bit simplistic but you get the picture. No deception, no need for defenders to make decisions.

Nic who?

Nic who?

The guys who I will give a rap to are the Rebels front row. In pre-season we identified the front 3 as a major weakness for the Rebels, but they have held up well under stern examination from the other Aussie sides.  Laurie Weekes is regaining some of his old spark, while Nic Henderson has to be the most underrated player in Australian rugby.

As for the Reds, well they plough on mercilessly. If they beat the Force this week they will be 4-1, which will be as good as they could have hoped for I reckon. They will obviously face sterner tests later in the season, but as they say- winners are grinners. Look at the scoreboard. Numbers don’t lie. Don’t fear the reaper. The first cut is the deepest. You get the picture.


1. Closest season ever?

Maybe. The Chiefs are the front-runners at the moment you would say, but they aren’t too far ahead of a bunch of sides. The Blues were looking red hot in the opening rounds but were bested by a good-looking Bulls side at home (although they were undermanned). The Stormers lost to the Sharks but then came out and beat the aforementioned Chiefs. The Brumbies look good but will suffer during the Lions period and have also yet to face foreign opposition. The Reds, Sharks and Highlanders have all looked good in parts and poor in others. Then you have the Cheetahs, Crusaders, Waratahs, Hurricanes and Rebels who will be stern opposition for any team, and the Kings and Force who are both no easybeats by any means. This promises to be a great season.

For me? I’m tipping a Chiefs/Brumbies final in New Zealand. Who will win? Well you will just have to tune in next week, for yet another exhilarating journey through the land of the Tuesday Top 5.

My readership?

My readership?

 

Load up your weapons, fools, and hit me with your best shot…

 

Discussion

  • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/ Matt Rowley

    Completely agree with your point about early calls for Wallabies, except about Jesse Mogg. SLATE HIM NOW

    • Barbarian

      Although I’m sure that comment will get a tonne of likes (and frankly I think that is what you are going for, you dirty populist), I am not joining the Jesse Mogg for Wallabies fan club just yet.

      I want to see him come through a test against a side like the Bulls or Stormers where he is peppered with high balls and made to work in defence. So far no Aussie side has tested him in this way, and you’d better believe that is what the Lions are going to do to him.

      When he comes through a game like that I will sign on the dotted line. Until then I will reserve my judgement as to whether he can cut it at the very top level. My gut feeling is he still might be 6 months to a year away.

      • Richo

        100% agree. He’s absolutely scintillating in attack, so far, but he hasn’t really been tested defensively. Perhaps his defense has taken the leap this year, but we just don’t know. Certainly the Tahs were unable to ask questions. It will be very, very interesting to see how he goes against the Sharks, Stormers and Bulls over the next three weeks. If his defense holds up — or is at least not a liability — then pressure for his selection will really start to mount, methinks.

      • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/ Matt Rowley

        EAT MY LIKES

      • SuckerForRed

        You make some good points. But which 15 would be ahead of him at the moment?

        • Barbarian

          I’d play JOC, Beale and Barnes ar 15 over Mogg. And maybe AAC as well. I think his immediate test future is on the wing.

        • bill

          Barnes! Great tryer but seriously? I’d rather see Folau there. Mogg, Morahan, Cooper, O’Connor, Beale, Lialifano, Tumou, Nic White, Harris…Ben Alexander, anyone but Barnes.

    • Gibbo

      Rowley, like-whoring…… Shameless

  • Moose

    “The Brumbies look good but will suffer during the Lions period…”

    I’m afraid this may be incorrect. While the Wallabies team should, based on current form, be primarily made up of Brumbies, Robbie Deans seems opposed to selecting them.

    I really don’t know what they have to do!

    • http://www.facebook.com/DoctorDbx Ian Daley

      If Deans sticks true to form the only team that will really suffer will be the Waratahs… and well… they can’t get any worse can they?

      • BloodRed

        That just made me throw up in my mouth a little.

    • Richo

      In hindsight — and at the time, too, I suppose — it’s clear that Deans erred by not blooding players from the Brumbies last year when they were showing so much potential. Pretty tough to make your debut against the Lions, which is what would await, say, Mogg, Lilo and Mowen.

      I’m guessing that we’ll see a few players with experience and no form get selected and vice-versa.

      Still, it’s a long way to go and if some of those Brumbies keep firing they will be very hard to ignore.

      • Barbarian

        Very easy comment to make in hindsight. At the time of the Wales series there were no obvious standouts from the Brumbies that were ignored- Palmer, Tomane and Hooper all made their Wallaby debuts, but was there anyone else? Mowen maybe, but his form was not nearly as good as it was now. Mogg wasn’t a serious candidate for selection either. Lilo was injured.

  • yourmatesam

    Great to see Hendo getting some wraps again. From memory he was selected as a Wallaby in 2006 and fell off the radar after that. He’ll never be a world beater, but he is consistent and reliable.

  • Patrick

    If the Tahs aren’t careful they may be a lot less than stiff opposition for many teams. Based on their performance against the Brumbies I am shuddering at the thought of their Republic tour, the South Africans will just kick it out and maul it up, including from within their own tryzone.

    Otherwise really good write up!

  • Pedro

    Why does a newcomer need to belt down the door? Who in the wallabies was so dominant in the last year or two that they demand selection ahead of anyone else? Pocock? yeah well he’s injured. Stephen Moore is perhaps the only name that is cemented on the team sheet (or should be), many of the rest seem past their best or are coming back from long term injuries. I really think anyone that can prove the best in their position should be a chance to play, regardless of how many caps they have.

    I’m not trying to plead a case for Mogg or any other dark horse, I feel just that you are making the Lions tour into something more than it is. In reality, like any year, the wallabies are a team made up of the best rugby players from Australia, not people who one might feel deserve some historical honour. Pick the best players, experience counts, but so does the brashness of youth and the oppositions fear of the unknown.

    • Barbarian

      I think it is just a reality that Deans will be less likely to pick debutants for the Lions. They are the toughest opposition in world rugby, but more importantly we go into the series without a lead-up game. So it is logical to assume he will stick with tried and tested players and combinations in most cases.

      • Moose

        We can all pretty much guarantee that he’ll do this. But he probably won’t pick George Smith either, the best openside running around in Australia/the World. Makes you wonder.

        • Barbarian

          Well there are plenty of other reasons why he can’t pick Smith. And it’s not like Gill and Hooper are undeserving anyway.

        • bill

          I’m pretty sure Smith will be discussed. I don’t necessarily agree that he is currently the best openside. I would agree he’s the best we have or ever will see. Let’s just see how things play out. George could get injured.

          While I can see the sense of the ARU’s eligibility rules, if ever there was going to be dispensation George has earned it.

          Once more into the breach dear friiends etc.

          If he measures up what a tale it would be.

      • BloodRed

        The Lions haven’t won a series since last century so at best that just makes them the toughest northern hemisphere opposition. Nothing logical about sticking with tried tested and FAILED players but then again there’s never been anything logical about Dingo’s selections.

        • Barbarian

          Who are these failed players you speak of, and who is your suggested alternative? Put your money where your mouth is.

        • BloodRed

          Easy.

          Out goes Timani – poor work rate, injury prone, rarely finishes a game
          In goes any other lock from Reds, Brumbies or Rebels

          Out Dave Dennis – honest toiler but way out of his depth at international level, struggling to be up to superXV level this year.
          In – Kimlin, Schatz, Quirk, Jones, Mowen, Higginbotham. Take your pick

          Out Palu – injury prone, occasional big moment doesn’t make up for lack of input the rest of the time, past his best. Maybe retain on bench
          In – Mowen, Higgers, Schatz
          Out Phipps – poor pass
          In – as back up half, White (should have been given the gig last year), Frisby (if form continues). Genia is obvious starter.
          Out Barnes – one good game followed by umpteen crap, stands too deep, over reliant on poor quality kicking when under pressure, still has dreadful pass to his right, bench player at best
          In – Cooper, Toomua, Lealiifano, Tapuai, my left nut
          Out Mitchell – a tragedy but hasn’t been able to get back to pre-injury form
          In – too many choices to bother writing them all down
          Others who we have been spared because they have been injured include Ben McAllman and Pat McAbe (at 12).

        • Barbarian

          OK fair enough, I don’t disagree with a lot of that. But in reality a full-strength XV (in my view) has only one of those players- Palu. I think you have completely mis-characterised him in your analysis. The stats show that he has one of the highest work rates of all Aussie forwards, and again it is the case at Super level in 2013. So really the numbers don’t support this ‘lack of input’.

        • BloodRed

          I’ll let you have Palu so long as he is fit but that is the elephant in his bedroom. It always feels as if he is one week away from breaking down again.

        • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/ Matt Rowley

          THERE’S AN ELEPHANT IN WHO’S BEDROOM???

        • Barbarian

          True. If only we had more depth at 8 and we could afford to keep him on the sidelines when he is 50/50. Higgers and Schatz are not test 8s. Mowen may be.

      • Rex Munday

        Except Izzy, of course.

      • Pedro

        I would suggest it’s illogical to do the same thing and expect different results.

        Also are you writing an opinion piece or what you think Deans will do? Because I’m just stating what I think should happen.

        • Barbarian

          Well short of selecting a whole new 15 I’m not sure what we can do. Ultimately you have to pick your best 15 players, and yes with one or two exceptions they are going to be the same guys that played for the Wallabies last year. So on your first point I am not sure what you really mean.

          As for your second point, a little of both really. I don’t see any debutants starting in the backline (injuries may change that), and maybe one in the pack (Mowen on the blindside, maybe). Can you see anyone else legitimately contending for a starting spot?

          It’s not like we have countless brash young players banging down the door here.

        • Pedro

          Lealiifano has to be an option, Pyle, mogg and Speight also. But my point wasn’t so much that there are so many players that deserve a start, more that the current squad contains plenty that haven’t done enough to shut the door. Dennis, Simmons, timani, palu, Mitchell, Barnes, Harris, phipps are all either yet to prove their worth or haven’t played to their potential for a while. Mccabe, joc, quade and. genia are All coming back from serious injuries. I think it’s more open than you insist.

      • SuckerForRed

        I would actually say that the AB’s shit all over the Lions as ‘toughest opposition in world rugby’. As for picking tried & tested players – where has that got us in Dean’s tenure?
        What is the saying – The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over & expecting the result to be different.

        • Barbarian

          OK so do we pick Will Genia then? Because we have lost plenty of games with him at 9. What about JOC? He hasn’t ever won us a Bledisloe. Same with Digby. Do we pick these three guys or will that just be stupidity?

        • SuckerForRed

          My point is that we need to pick form players. Something that has not happened in the past. And no, we shouldn’t pick Genia if he is not the in form scrum half. The same goes with the other two.
          The only priviso that I would have with that is that I see the selection of 9/10 should be a combination that works well together. The thing is that when Genia is on song he can work with QC, JOC, Beale, Barnes, Harris & probably even Lilo in the 10 jumper. However if you put QC in the 10 jumper you are really required to pick Genia in the 9.
          The Wallabies are in a position where we seem to have a shit load of players that can play from 10 – 15. Possibly with the exception of outside centre I am sure there is justification for at least 5 in each position. But just because a player can play in a position should he? Would you see the AB’s putting DC in at 15 just to get him on the field?

        • Barbarian

          I will throw your AB example right back at you, but in relation to the question of form. Conrad Smith rarely sets the world alight in Super Rugby. Robbie Frueun was unquestionably the form NZ 13 last season. But when push came to shove the ABs picked Smith and he was great at international level. The lesson? Form is temporary, class is permanent. (See also Brad Thorn, Tony Woodcock, even Richie McCaw. All grew a leg when they put on a black jersey). Certain Wallaby players have so much class that unless their form is horrendous they should be picked. I am talking JOC, Genia, Digby, Pocock, Moore. Maybe AAC as well.

          That’s why I never agree the Wallabies should be picked on form alone.

        • SuckerForRed

          You have a point. I would suggest that centres are also two positions that need to regarded as a combination selection, i.e. two players that compliment each other. On the Wallaby frount, BB is one player that rarely sets the Super Rugby world alight but each time he has played in the Wallabies he has generally done well. There are any number of players that have been selected to play internationally and have not replicated their Super/club form, good or bad. There are examples to support each side of the arguement.
          No, selections should not be on form alone, but neither should a player not be selected because there is an incumbant in the position. Neither should to much consideration be made of which club they are playing at. Will Mogg be any good at international level? We don’t know until he is tried. I also think that he has done enough this year and last year to earn a spot in the squad, and all going well perhaps a go. Even off the bench. I also think he makes a good 15 who can play wing. Like JOC is a good 12 who can play 15 & 14.
          The issue that I, and others, have suggested here is that the current selections don’t seem to be working. How do we fix that? Is not trying some of the other obviously talented players a viable option?

        • Barbarian

          I agree with much of what you say here. We shouldn’t be too afraid to try new things (within reason), but I still think we should err on the side of caution against the Lions. As for fixing something that isn’t working, I’d suggest the names on the team sheet are only part of the problem. We made plenty of selection changes last season and it didn’t make much difference. Issue is with the bloke in the coaches box I reckon.

        • SuckerForRed

          Amen to that. And then we are back to doing the same thing but expecting a different outcome. Or is he changing what is happening to often so that the players don’t know what they are doing.

  • Piggy

    Can’t agree with the call on Henderson, he appears to be our very own Tony Woodcock. In just about every scrum I saw against the Reds he was using his hand on the ground to stabilise himself. If, and it would appear to be a big if these days, scrums were managed to the rules he’d be penalised each time. You’ve got to do your primary job correctly before he rest of your came comes into play.
    Tahs could probably do with having to write three things to improve the team… whatever is affecting them, it must be contagious as Hooper doesn’t look the same player as last year – could be second year syndrome though.

  • Scott Allen

    Your are kidding with your admiration for Nic Henderson – he is the worst prop in the Australian teams – he has his hand on the ground in 2/3 scrums he packs because his technique is so ordinary (actually ordinary doesn’t properly describe how poor it is).

    If the Assistant Referees were doing their job the Rebels would be penalised at so many more scrums – the Referee cannot be expected to watch that.

    • JimmyC

      Completely agree Scott. His body position after the engage is terrible. He gets buckled nearly every scrum. Sorry Barbarian usually we are on the same page but you’re on your own with this one.

      • Nutta

        Agree. Feet, hips and shoulders all wrong. Leads to weak engage shape and thus hand-to-ground. I’m actually puzzled why – with the plethora of coaches available – it hasn’t been fixed over the last few seasons. Would rather see him then Palmer (FFS what mungo-watching ex-back limp-wristed fairy-arsed ARU toss-bag was responsible for letting him go to France?) go to France for a spell and come back corrected.

    • Barbarian

      You know me Scott, I rarely joke around with these things. Yes he may have technical flaws, but at the moment he is getting away with it and the Rebels scrum is largely holding up. Now he may not continue to get away with it, but for now he seems to be doing OK.

      I’m not saying he’s a dominant player, just the fact that for a 100+ game player he is still widely unknown.

      • Nutta

        You are right in that bit – he is getting away with it – and he’s played 100+ more games of Suuper then I ever did. So maybe Matt Burke was right

        But that’s where the Super domestic conference idea helps a bit – weak Oz scrums vs weak Oz scrums more often then not. So he keeps getting away with it. It was/is my biggest reservation about the way Super is structured. As such the Kiwi’s keep their dumb lineouts, Saffas keep kicking and we keep scrumming like mungos – so the GAME doesn’t go forward

      • Scott Allen

        He’s underrated for a reason – because he has technical flaws which lead to his poor scrummaging and therefore no-one considers him worthy of mention when props are discussed.

  • Parra

    Lions, Lions, Lions.. such a lot of talk. I’m am still far more interested in the 4Ns, and especially, as ever, the old Bledisloe.

    I’m sure most people have seen this but it’s worth watching again, especially the part from around 1:00 min.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv4wOkW-evg&feature=player_embedded

    Can Brian O’Driscoll still step around us? I think the Bledisloe encounters will be far more enthralling (or down right catastrophic).

    BTW, I think the dropped balls, lost line-outs and general poor executtion was a large part of the Waratahs loss. You can do that in week one but with 4 weeks down I think they’ve already blown another year.

  • spankee

    A fair assessment of the Reds v. Rabble game, but instead of focusing on a Rebel’s front row that haven’t been as crap as you expected, how about some Mogg like hype for Nic Frisby? Another performance like that and surely everyone on this forum will be agitating for his inclusion in the Wallabies.

    • bill

      Great game, but it was his first complete/consistent game, gotta see if he can keep that level of performance, otherwise Nic White is a better bet at this stage of Frisby’s development. Frisby has more to his bow but White has got a world class tactical kicking game.

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