The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby
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The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

Welcome to yet another Tuesday and another Top 5. This week we look at the good, bad and ugly from the weekend, grade the teams, check out the Wallaby happenings then just get a bit random with some weird stuff that came to our attention. We finish it up with some of our picks of the action from the weekend.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good – The brumbies forwards and the Waratahs backs. Put them together and we might have a good team!

Bad – None of the Aussie teams are really putting in what I would call a complete performance. We saw the brumbies forwards dominate, but the backs didn’t do much. The Waratahs backs looked really dangerous, but their forwards were poor. The Rebels forwards actually did ok, but they were let down in other areas (defence mostly) and the Reds … well they are just still hit and miss.

Ugly Another injury (to another bloody Brumby!). This time it was Rory Arnold who left the match early hobbling off on what looked to be an ankle injury. As yet there hasn’t been an update on how serious, but considering the form he has been in I hope it isn’t bad!

Rory Arnold gets into full stride

Rory Arnold gets into full stride

 

Report Card

Reds C: If I looked at this game based on the stats I would expect to see that the Reds were winners, and BIG winners. They had 66% possession, 68% territory, 14 clean breaks and 38 defenders beaten. Oh yeah, and the Sunwolves were given four yellow cards and a red card. So what happened? The Reds had the advantage in nearly every way, but they only came away with a 6-point win. I agree with many comments I have seen that the Reds didn’t win that match, the Sunwolves lost it. In fact, it wasn’t until the 71st minute, when the Sunwolves had just 13 men on the field to the Reds 15, that the Reds scored the try that would eventually win them the match.

Scott Higginbotham is run down after taking an intercept

Scott Higginbotham is run down after taking an intercept

Rebels D: If they had actually defended in the first 20 it could be a different story. Missed tackles, or even worse, just watching the Canes players run past them cost them big time. A tackle rate of 67% killed them, you can’t let a team like the Canes run through you that easily. They did well to come back, words like gutsy are getting thrown around, but they truth of the matter is they shouldn’t have put themselves in a position where they were so far behind. It did look like the Canes switched off after the first 20, though the Rebels controlled a lot of the game from that point and didn’t give them the opportunities they had early on in the match, 79% territory in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.

Brumbies B-: It was far from a complete performance from the Brumbies, and in some circles they are copping a lot of flack for the way in which they won (I bet those same people would be over the moon if we won a World Cup through tries scored off rolling mauls if our backs weren’t firing) but they did what they had to, played to their strengths and got the win. If not for a terrible pass from Lealiifano that was picked off way too easily, it could have been a very different scorecard. Considering that the Brumbies just returned from a difficult road trip, had limited training and were facing a Blues team that was coming off a bye, they didn’t have a whole lot going for them.

Waratahs C: The Waratahs had the opposite issue to the Brumbies. Their forward pack was absolutely monstered by the Bulls, but their backs outplayed the opposition. They looked dangerous every single time they started to play the loose, offloading attack and it caused the Bulls a lot of problems. Unfortunately, with lots of offloading comes the inevitable knock on, which gave the advantage back to the Bulls. If the Waratahs scrum wasn’t absolutely rubbish I would have given them a higher grade, but then they also would likely have won the match.

 

Wallaby RDO’s

 

Who stood out: Kurtley Beale had some great moments this week, he has played better in the past couple of weeks than I have seen in a while. Samu Kerevi had another good game, as did Rodda. Folau Fiangaa is continuing to show that he should be the Wallaby hooker, while Allan Alaalatoa was strong in the scrum and with ball in hand, but it was his defence that made him stand out. 14 tackles, none missed and he won 2 turnovers.

Raised questions: I don’t know if this is the first time I have mentioned Marika Koroibete, but I have had my doubts for a while and this match confirmed every one of them. While he can run when he gets the ball, he was a total liability in defence, making 5 tackles but missing 3. And that isn’t accounting for when an attacking player just ran around him.

Blotted his copy book: This is always a contentious one, but I’m going to throw Michael Hooper in this category. He wasn’t the effective ball runner that we are used to, with 5 carries for 12 metres and he was turned over a few times. But my big gripe with him was how ineffective he was in the scrum. At one point he was barely engaged while the Bulls kept shoving. Basically leaving your team a man short in a scrum against 8 fired up Bulls players is not doing your team any favours.

Sekope Kepu Michael Hooper support the ruck Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

 

General observations:

We are starting to see a few cracks showing in certain areas. Everyone talked up the Rebels backs in the first half of the season, but they are still yet to really get it together. Many of the names in that backline are high on the Wallabies watch-list, but not quite living up to the pre-season hype.

I don’t know that we have seen any real bolters that have played consistently enough to be a serious part of the conversation yet. People have brought up Tate McDermott from the Reds, and yes he has had a few solid games recently, but remember this is a World Cup and is a few solid games enough to be selected on? Matt Philip has been consistently good, as has James Slipper and Rory Arnold. Lachlan McCaffrey is another consistently good player who should be on the radar.

Some Random Tidbits

So this round threw up some very interesting results. Two draws, both involving Kiwi teams. On Saturday night the Chiefs and Highlanders drew SCORE. This came after the Crusaders and Sharks drew on Friday night. Did you know that Friday’s match was Kieran Read’s 150th Super Rugby match? In an odd coincidence, when Read played his 100th game for the All Blacks, in the third test against the British and Irish Lions, it was also a draw.

Talking about draws, the Crusaders, in their draw with the Sharks, got 3 competition points. How? While they only got a draw, they actually scored 3 tries to 0, so got a bonus point. I don’t know how often a match has finished in a draw where one team has scored three more tries than their opposition. I’m still waiting on the losing team to get a try scoring bonus point!

Speaking of the Kiwi’s, when was the last time that all five of their teams played but only one team got the win? Sure, only one team lost as well, but just 1 out of 5 teams winning …… is this the decline of NZ rugby we have all been hoping for?

Cards. Cards, cards, cards. And more cards. We all saw what happened on Friday night. 4 yellow cards and 2 red cards handed out in a single match. The Sunwolves played 40 mins with 14 men, 10 mins with 13 & 5 mins with just 12 on the field. And they still got a losing bonus point!

Angus Gardner shows Semisi Masirewa a red card

Angus Gardner shows Semisi Masirewa a red card

Depending on who you follow on Twitter, you may have missed this interesting series of events from Canada. Over in Nova Scotia, on May 2nd (Canada time), the Nova Scotia School Sports Federation cancelled all High School rugby in the province of Nova Scotia under claims of lack of safety, effective immediately despite the season already beginning. A memo sent to schools stated “After a thorough review of incident report data provided by the School Insurance Program, the board has decided to take this action. Student safety remains the top priority of the federation.” Understandably there was a pretty huge outcry. Apart from apparently no one involved in making the decision actually looked at injury statistics, it is the only full contact team sport available to girls there, so there was a big impact of the effect of girls in sport. Fun fact – apparently far more schools had girls rugby than boys rugby in Nova Scotia.

Thankfully common sense took over and less than 24 hours later Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill ordered high school rugby to be reinstated across the province, referencing a number of medical professionals who also wanted the ban reversed based on actual data. It turns out the decision was made without the proper consultation and didn’t inform the Education Department about what it was going to do, breaching a whole lot of Departmental type things in the process.

Tut-tut.

Our Picks

Try of the week: This try from the Tahs showed the skills we know they are capable of, and some we didn’t!

More forwards who think they are backs: This week we saw a couple of big back rowers taking intercepts and running like they were backs. One made it all the way to the try line, while the other gave up a lovely offload to set up the try.

Backs don’t maul: The forwards at the Reds need to take the backs aside and either teach them how to join in a rolling maul, or tell them to stay away from it!

via GIPHY

Or do they? Or maybe they could show then this clip of how backs should join in the maul! (though to be fair, the Reds backs did join in another maul towards the end of the game and did get it right!)

  • Steve

    Another round, yet more inconsistency from the Aus teams, although I do believe we are seeing more bright spots than recent years.

    I do think it’s a bit unfair to say that the Brumbies had the opposite problem to the Tahs…The Brumbies backs actually made some good metres over the game, outside of a certain pass from CLL. The Tahs forwards just sucked ass the whole game.

    I’m a little concerned that the Rebels backline is suffering from a bit of Wallabies-itis…Lots of big names but been stuttering pretty badly recently.
    I’m hoping that the same thing doesn’t happen for the Wallabies this year.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Morning MST and fellow GAGR’s. A lot of key points in this one. Here we go:
    – Well I think KRL is right, you cant lose, and lose that badly and get a C. Maybe it should be like school grades E and F are the failing grades.
    – That being the case both the Tahs and the Rebs get an E in my book. The Rebs for that first 20 min brain fart, and the Tahs for just appalling execution.
    – Whilst on the Tahs Hooper gets marked down for his scrummaging, but where he really needs to be marked down in on his on field leadership. This is our national captain, and he cant even lead the Tahs! His on field performance coupled with the fact that his players were letting him down and he was not able to pull together a team that has some very experienced players with lots of international caps! Speaking of Caps, how Phipps keeps earning them is a mystery to me. He performance was appalling.
    – The Rebs failure in the first 20 mins, was an individual failure. Players out of position, and slipping off tackles. Not good. Once Genia and Sauce gave them a really revving thy started to get back into it. And they improved in the second quarter, and then in the second half they were fairly dominant. Their backs in attack were pretty good. Their scrum was excellent, and they were very unlucky to not get a yellow given to the Canes.
    – The injury toll is going to hurt us this year. Hopefully Arnold is back soon. But seeing the Kiwi’s lose Ben smith, we are not the only ones cursed.
    Over all a very mixed bag of a round! Over to you GAGR’s!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Ben Smith will be OK mate. I’m not even going to bother with Phipps and Hooper. TBF I think some players are holding back for Japan and that is affecting their play to an extent. I think individual performance this year is hard to pick and that’s why I think Cheika will go for his love children

      • Brisneyland Local

        I am hoping Ben smith is ok. A brilliant player to watch. Yeah I know you are 100% right on Cheika and his love children.

    • Who?

      I agree the Rebels’ failure in the first 20 was an individual failure. Three of the four tries were simply very poor defensive reads, with a strong emphasis on Koroibete on the end of the defensive line. They were defending tight, overcommitting on the front line decoy runners who were running hard unders lines, and not communicating enough to cover the second man plays.
      .
      Given that, given the comeback (after singular individuals forgot their bye had ended until 20 minutes into the game), I’d argue the Rebs should be more like a C, even a B-. They dominated territory and possession for 50 minutes in NZ, and had parity across another 10 minutes. They didn’t manage to find enough rhythm in attack until Meakes came on – he made a significant difference to the cohesion of the team. English to the wing, Hodge to 13, Meakes at 12, Koro gone? They also had issues with the ref blowing his whistle constantly. Berry blew pretty well as many penalties as Gardner and Murphy, was as consistently blowing against on team, but was the only one who didn’t issue a card, in spite of the two warnings. One of those warning pays off, and there’s a very good chance it’s even tighter… Who knows?
      .
      If I’m saying the Rebs should be a C, then I’m also saying the Brumbies should be a B+. That result, coming home from Africa against a team fresh off the bye, was worthy of a higher score than that. They dominated that game. And I thought Ikitau had a great debut!

      • Brisneyland Local

        Who 100% agree if we are scoring halves! Maybe I am a bit binary. A loss is a fail. A very close loss I would grudgingly give a D-.
        But apparently I am old school according to my kids! ;-)

        • disqus_NMX

          I agree with Who?, the Rebs deserve a much better score if you take into account the quality of opposition and an away game. Giving up 26-0 in the opening stanza is an F, but to regroup, and dominate, and put on 19-0 to a team like the Hurricanes (who have only lost to the Crusaders so far this year) in Wellington is an A+++.

          And the Reds were shit, Imagine how much the Rebs or Brumbies would have put on the Sunwolves with all those cards!

        • Brisneyland Local

          I would have worried with all those cards that half of my beloved Rebs would have been on the naughty chair/s as well.

        • disqus_NMX

          Ha ha true!

        • Who?

          A loss is a fail, but I think that by most metrics, the Rebels outplayed the Reds this week, hence why I’m saying they should have an equal rating. The Reds had a man advantage for a half, and more than a man advantage for almost another half, but barely scraped a win against the bottom team in the comp. The Rebels didn’t receive that man advantage (in spite of a heap of penalties against their opponents in their own 22), scored more points against 15 than the Reds did (the Reds barely had an opportunity to score against 15!), and it was away, too.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Dont get me wrong I agree with every point. But in my mind a loss is still a fail by its very nature.

      • Brumby Runner

        Agree WHO that Ikitau had an outstanding debut. Looks like being a good player for the future.

        • Who?

          I haven’t seen enough comment on those lines. I don’t think he had a dud touch, and he had plenty of very strong involvements.
          Gotta give the young man some credit!

  • IIPA

    I’m not sure I’d go with Cooper is definitely playing better. His highs are higher and I’m not sure his lows are any lower but all the criticisms of Foley: defence, easy missed kicks, poor general field kicking, going missing for chunks of the game I think we’ve seen in the past couple of Rebels matches too.

    Not sure CLL doing much better. Brums backs sure aren’t scoring tries except for occasional bursts of Banks pace. But he might be the safest option.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Yeah mate I think there’s bugger all in it and a 3rd option is needed

    • disqus_NMX

      QC isn’t lighting up the world at the moment, but he is clearly the best we have, and has the best combo with our best HB, so to pick anything other than Genia and QC would be sheer stupidity. But it’s Cheika, so we’ve come to expect sheer stupidity.

  • RoffsChoice

    It’s not under the new BP rules, but the Brumbies have got two points from a loss (Bulls away in 2012), and drawn a game where the opposition got a try BP (Kings at home in 2013)!

    Nobody should be shocked that the Rebels are problematic. There is so much more to teambuilding than signing the best players, and trying to merge the cores of two existing teams is not a workable strategy. They will not truly function as a team until most of at least one of those cores is gone.

  • Brumby Runner

    Thanks again MSTs. One question, which was the one winning NZ team this weekend? As far as I can see, the Blues lost and all the others were drawn matches. Extremely unusual.

    I am concerned by the form of the Rebels’ backline. They are not looking too good in recent games, and I think it coincides with a drop in form from Quade. And I’m not sure if that is caused by opposition sides paying more attention to him, or if the game plan has him operating under too much pressure by being just too flat in attack, but I’m sure there is a connection.

    • Brisneyland Local

      I think the form of QC is directly proportional to the quick ball of Genia. The slower the ball from Willy G the more compression is put onto the 10.
      In the Canes game, when Wily G got quick ball the Rebs attacked very well.
      So to me it looks like a forwards problem, but hey I am not expert.

    • Who?

      That’s funny mate – “Who was the NZ team who won?” Followed by a comment on the Rebels (who were beaten by the Canes). :-)

    • MST

      The Hurricanes

      • Brumby Runner

        A true sign of dementia creeping in. Sorry for my brain fade MST.

    • John Tynan

      Don’t underestimate the Meakes combo, I reckon.

  • Thanks MST’s. Just want to point out you clip from the Brumbies with their backs joining a maul the right way should have been pulled up for a penalty,
    Both players joined on Folau Fiangaa and the slid past him and infront of him while he disconnected and joined back on behind them putting everyone in front of him offside.

    Just saying maybe the Brumbies forwards should take them aside a teach them ruck and maul laws.

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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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