The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby

The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

Rugby. Rugby, rugby, rugby. That is what we are here to talk about, and that is ALL we will talk about. Enough of all the extra-curricular rubbish. Just rugby.
You’re welcome.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good – It was good to see two of our centres  having an impact this week. TK has been fairly quiet this season, but on Saturday night he was damaging. Kerevi also put in some good runs, he was the best of a poor side, and his running through the defence for his second try was a highlight.

Bad – News came out Monday morning that Damien McKenzie was out of the world Cup with a knee injury. I know he’s a Kiwi, but I hate to see players ruled out of things like this with injuries. It will be interesting to see who the selectors go with, plenty of pundits are putting their money on 21-year-old Will Jordan, who is having an outstanding year with the Crusaders.

Ugly – 44%. Good if it’s how much you are saving on your favourite rugby jersey. Bad if it’s your team’s win percentage at the end of the year. Ugly if it’s the tackle success rate of a Super Rugby Game. Yes, on Friday night the Rebels were only successful in 44% of their tackles. I cannot emphasise enough how bad this is. It’s beyond bad, obviously, it’s ugly. (stats via espn.com.au)

Report Card

Rebels D-: The Rebels were tested for the first time on Aussie soil, and what a test it was. The Stormers came prepared to defend their butts off, and they did just that. The Rebels had no answer to the relentless defence, for the most part they were just unable to break the line. There was no plan B, they kept trying the same things that weren’t working. The tackle rate enough was good reason to grade them this low, but add in the poor handling, repeated turnovers and the fact that they had 68% of the possession and 74% of the territory just tops it off.

There are 13 Rebels players in this frame. No wonder their attack wasn't working. Look familiar?

There are 13 Rebels players in this frame. No wonder their attack wasn’t working. Look familiar?

There are just about as many under 10's in this frame.

There are just about as many under 10’s in this frame.

Brumbies B: It was far from a perfect match, dropped ball and poor kicks could have prevented an even higher score, but it was still a good win for the Brumbies. They ran when needed, kicked with more smarts than we have seen in the recent past and best of all, didn’t go heads down in the second half. It could easily have happened with the li0ns scoring soon after half time, but this time the brumbies had their heads on right and stuck with it.

Reds D: They were never really in this match, and the score actually makes it look closer than the match really was, thanks to the two late tries from Kerevi. Those players who stood out last week and had people listing them in their Wallaby squads failed to fire and the big stars struggled to have much of an impact.

Wallaby RDO’s

This week saw Tevita Kuridrani play yet another full 80 minutes, meaning he has played more minutes than any other Wallaby. I can only assume that he will be rested during one of the South African games. Kerevi comes close, having missed just 5 minutes this season.

So who stood out? I though Kuridrani had a good game, adding a bit of a step to his usual tactic of trying to just break through the defenders. He looked a lot better when he had a bit of space on the wing than when he was running up the centres. Folau Fiangaa had another good game and showed us a whole new skillset! Genia didn’t have his usual impact, but is still a mile ahead of his closest rival. Joe Powell had a very good game too, returning to some of the form that saw him included in the wallabies last year.

As for those hoping to push their way into the squad, two of the big names I keep going back to are McCaffrey and Slipper. McCaffrey is a workhorse, a beast at the breakdown, good passing game and tough as in defence. Slipper really adds to the Brumbies scrum when he comes on and his work around the field is outstanding. I’ve seen his name popping up on a few different “team of the week” lists, not bad for a player who came off the bench in the second half.

Cooper had a poor one this week, struggling to cope when the pressure was really put on. He made a few errors, poor passes and dropped balls. 3 tackles, 4 missed tackles and 3 turnovers committed – I’m not writing him off, but it shows that he is still susceptible to the same issues he had before.

Our Picks

Just a few for you this week.

Tries of the week: The Blues, Chiefs and Brumbies all put in some pretty special efforts this week. Love the offloads in the Chiefs and Blues tires!

Kick of the week: It’s impossible to go past Folau Fiangaa’s punt in the Brumbies v Lions match which led to the try above. Pretty sweet skills for a hooker! Here it is again.

via GIPHY

Outrageous Stats of the week: There are a few stats within this one. In the Pro 14 Glasgow played Leinster. Glasgow won the match with 35% possession. While they were in possession, they managed to score 5 tries. While they were defending (which appears to be for most of the match), they had a tackle success rate of 91%. Impressive, right? Well it gets better, when you realise that the number of tackles was 331. Yes, 331 tackles, 91% of them successful. It gets better again, lock Jonny Gray made a massive 43 tackles and missed none. Yes, you read that right. 43 tackles made, none missed. Bloody impressive, right? So impressive that since Opta started tracking these stats however many years ago, there has never been a player in any of the top leagues in either the Northern or Southern Hemispheres who have made more than 34 tackles. Oh, and for all the tackling and defending, they only gave away 7 penalties.

Turning our heads to the North …

With the regular seasons winding up in the Top 14, Pro 14 and Gallagher Premiership I thought we would do a quick check in and see what they have been up to up there.

Over in France Toulouse is leading the way, two wins clear of Clermont in second place. The big surprise to those who haven’t been following the comp this year is Toulon who are currently 10th on the ladder. I can’t recall when they were last placed so far down. If they stay where they are they may miss out on automatic qualification for next year’s champions Cup. There are four round left, Toulouse are favourites to keep on winning, while it looks like it will be a fight between Pau, Agen and Grenoble for the relegation playoffs, with it looking likely that Perpignan, with just 2 wins from their 22 matches are definitely in the relegation zone.

The Gallagher Premiership has three rounds remaining and Nic White’s Exeter Chiefs are sitting on top of the table with a handy 9-point lead over last years’ champions, Saracens. They don’t have the easiest of runs home however, playing the teams in 2nd (Saracens), 4th (Harlequins) and 6th (Saints). The fight to avoid relegation is well and truly on, with Newcastle sitting on the bottom of the ladder, but just 7 points behind Worcester and 8 points behind Leicester. Leicester did themselves a huge favour on the weekend, defeating Newcastle 27-22 and giving them the edge in the relegation fight.

The Pro 14 has just one round left before the finals. Glasgow and Leinster are topping their respective pools on 76 and 75 points. Pool A is much tighter than Pool B, with Munster in 2nd on 73 and Connacht on 61. Pool B has Ulster in 2nd on 52 and Benetton in 3rd on 52. With the to three teams from each conference gong through to the finals it looks like the only spot still up for grabs is third in Pool B, with Glasgow, Munster, Connacht, Leinster and Ulster all confirmed for the finals. Benetton (52 points), Edinburgh (51 points) or Scarlets (50 points) all have a chance of making the playoffs. It will likely come down to Scarlets or Benetton, as they are both playing the teams on the bottom of the pools, while Edinburgh is playing top placed Glasgow. But as we know, in rugby anything can happen.

  • juswal

    The Faingaa kick is remarkable. Decision, speed and accuracy all spot-on.

    Jonny Gray, nah. The clock shows a six-minute gap between tackles 37 and 38. Total passenger.

    • Who?

      Maybe we need a kicking XV..? So far, we’ve got Folau Fainga’a, one of the Smith brothers (can’t remember whether it was Ruan or JP the other week?)… Liam F****** Gill would have to be the openside.
      .
      The Ulster and Stormers wins show something important. Possession and Territory mean nothing when you’re not asking questions of the defence. Because the Rebels ran slow ruck ball and flat runners (slow ball meaning the runners were static), they didn’t really ask many questions of the Stormers’ defence other than to make the tackle.
      And a lack of possession doesn’t mean you can’t score points. Remember the 2004 Wallabies/England test in Brisbane – we had 29% of possession, but won 51-15.
      I criticised the Rebels’ handling the last two weeks, and their defence should’ve been better, but reality is the loss was about tactics needing variation, and execution being off (too flat). I’ve also seen lots of people scapegoating Cooper for the loss, saying he cost them with missed tackles (but his misses weren’t ever the first miss in the sequence), but he stuck to the game plan (even though playing deeper would’ve been advantageous, especially a few second man plays), and he created 3 tries (even if Tupou bombed one of them).

  • Nutta

    Hey Hoss! Is Carol1956 you?

    • Who?

      She and her friends seem to have discovered G&GR today… She posted on the news article, and her friends found Monday’s news, too.

      • Nutta

        I reckon it’s Hoss.

    • Hoss

      Ok, i’ll bite What’s a ‘Carol1956’ ???

      • Nutta

        There were ads popping up proffering some quite … specific yet broad … services by nubile young ladies in scant attire. Carol1956 was quite forward in implied nature!

        • Hoss

          I’ve consulted the 13 voices that inhabit my cranial region and we are nearly certain Carol1956 is not one of ours. However there is a consensus that we would like to meet her !

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks MST, another great read. Love the picture showing how close the Rebels play to an under 10 team. That’s gold and needs to be shown to the players. No issues with the marks given this week and like you I was pleased to see Kuridrani step up finally. let’s hope he shows some consistency on this.

  • OnTheBurst

    Would this be the Glasgow coached by the same Head Coach who took the Chiefs to two Super Rugby championships at his first go… and is now spoken of as a prime target for Wallabies coach post RWC?

    Where do we sign?!

  • RedAnt

    Thanks, MST(s). Always enjoy getting some stats and analysis to filter the very subjective views we all have of the games.

  • Huw Tindall

    Lovely work again MST!

    For the first time the Rebels were tested against a demanding defense and they were found out. This has been posited before in the press and the forums. Playing super flat is great if you have go forward but they didn’t on the weekend and it showed. Even Hodge said at half time they play 14 man defensive line so we need to kick in behind. That didn’t happen in the second half. I’ll give them some leeway as Phillip and Rangi weren’t playing both of who, especially Phillip, were key in getting front foot ball. Learning lesson for the Rebels.

    The loss does mean the Aussie conference is getting tight which bodes well for an exciting second half of the season. If they can roll the Tahs this week (which they should with the whole Folau distraction) then that’ll go a long way to securing the top spot as they’ve already beaten the Brumbies twice but for now it’s game on.

    In addition to Slipper and McCaffrey as players to watch I’d like to throw Reece Hodge in there. He is a points magnet. Scores tries wherever he is playing and didn’t look out of place at 15 this last couple of weeks including a great cover tackle to save a try against the Stormers. I reckon his best games have been at wing for the Wallabies and in the absence of any obvious first choice wingers (we have a lot of OK options) I’d think we can find a spot for him. Maybe even a DHP, Banks, Hodge back 3? I don’t like playing guys out of position but our wingers haven’t really stood up this year other than Maddocks maybe but he has benefited from Genia/Cooper feeding him points. Maddocks defensive work hasn’t been first rate. Along with 2 and 6 I think the whole back 3 is just as much up for grabs.

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Brumbies first, then for the love of the game. "It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right." —Moliere

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