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

The Tuesday Top 5

Family crisis now dealt with! Hi all and welcome to the late, late edition of the top 5.  But it’s still Tuesday, so it still counts! This week we go through all the usual things, good, bad and ugly, hand out our dodgy grades, wonder how our Wallabies favourites are  going, ramble about a whole lot of stuff and pick our favourite moments from the weekend in rugby.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good – The Aussie Under 20’s storming home to beat Ireland and take the lead in their Pool was a highlight of the weekend.

Bad – The warning bells have to be ringing off the back of the U20’s performances. Have we got that emerging talent wrapped up and will they have the pathways they require to develop?

Ugly – The Rebels result was one of the ugliest of the season. It may not have been their best line-up, but those missing players still weren’t worth 66 points. I have mentioned a few times about the team Wessel has down there in Melbourne, the playing roster should be capable of winning. In fact before the season began they were pretty much outright faves to take out not only the Aussie conference, but many were saying they could go the same way. Well based on recent performances, they are a heck of a long way from that! When you look at the team who took the field on Saturday, there were 7 players who have played for the Wallabies, plus at least two who had been Aussie U 20’s. Add to that 2 Wallabies on the bench and they should have had the firepower to score at least 5 points.

 Richard Hardwick, Marika Korobiete congratulate Reece Hodge Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

Report Card

Reds C+: Yes, the Reds finally beat a team from across the ditch. It was far from convincing, a 77th minute try was needed to get the win. But to their credit, they didn’t drop their heads, instead chasing it all the way and getting over the line when it really counted.

Rebels F: It’s funny, I have only given one F before. And that was to the Brumbies when they lost to the Reds earlier this year with an absolutely abysmal performance (when I also pretty much thought their season was a write off). But even then, they scored 2 tries. Yes, the Crusaders are a mighty team, but 66-0 is horrendous (and it could have been worse, the Crusaders botched 2 tries). Poor defence, no idea in attack and what is with Ruru kicking the ball away after the half time siren? All it achieved was another 7 points to the Crusaders.

Brumbies B-: The first half was great, if they had played that way for the entire match it would have been an A+. But in the second half they seemed to revert to the one up running at the defence, there was none of the creativity we had seen from the backs in the first half. If the game had been 10 minutes longer we might have seen a different result.

Waratahs D: If they had taken it to the Brumbies in the first half the way they did in the second it would have been a totally different result. In the first half there were missed tackled, poor kicks that either went nowhere or into the oppositions legs, knock ons in the act of scoring … they really didn’t put up much of a fight as the Brumbies scored 4 unanswered tries. Thankfully they showed up in the second half and put a lot more pressure on the Brumbies, coming back hard towards the end of the match.

KMP-G&G-SR-Waratahs-Brumbies-3247

WALLABY RDO’S

Who stood out: This is a tough one this week. For the Reds, Rodda and Kerevi did well, putting in a huge amount of work. When we look at the Brumbies, Waratahs game, the standouts were the Brumbies forwards. Slipper, Alaalatoa and Fainga’a are becoming a very formidable front row. Rory Arnold had another very good game and surely has to be getting Cheika’s attention.

Raised questions: Where is Adam Coleman’s head at? Has he checked out or has his form genuinely dropped? This year he has been nothing like the Coleman we saw in 2017/18. Coming into this year he was pretty much a lock for one of the lock’s positions having pushed Arnold out of the way last year. But now he looks a shadow of that player, he isn’t having anywhere near the impact he had previously and at this rate would be lucky to make the bench for the Wallabies.

Blotted his copy book: DHP. He hasn’t had a great run of games lately, some poor kicking and bad read in defence haven’t helped his case. Actually, many of the Rebels Wallabies have been underperforming recently. I said a few weeks ago that Hodge isn’t much more than a utility player with a big boot. Banks is proving his boot is handy too, so just how necessary is Hodge to the Wallabies set up? Maddocks showed early in the year that he knows how to run on to the ball and find the line, but lately he hasn’t been presented with easy ball and has shown that unless a gap opens up for him, he isn’t much trouble for the defence.

General observations: Once again we had a few players come up against each other in direct competition for Wallaby spots. So how did they go?

Kepu and Robertson v Alaalatoa and Slipper: The Brumbies duo definitely came out on top here. Cheika surely must be looking at Slipper’s performances this year, he has been one of the stand outs for the brumbies – to the point where Wallaby Scott Sio has been coming off the bench in recent games because Slipper is starting.

Phipps v Powell: The race for the backup scrum half position in a close one. This match I give it to Powell. He and Phipps had very similar stats and were hard to separate, but some of Powell’s involvements had a bigger impact on the match, such as a try saving tackle and helping Pulu hold up another potential over the line.

Ashley-Cooper v Kuridrani: AAC had a big night. He was pretty much on par with TK, so it’s a tough one.

Beale v Banks: This is the one people were watching with interest. With no incumbent fullback right now, these two are high up on the list, especially with DHP fading in recent weeks. They both had their pros and cons, Beal looked to be more involved, but a lot of his running was sideways and didn’t lead to much. Banks didn’t break the line as easily he has been doing recently but his kicking for touch, as it was last week, was outstanding and gave the Brumbies a big advantage. I’d probably give it to Banks for that reason.

 

Tom Banks switched on the afterburners to score the game first try.

Tom Banks switched on the afterburners to score the game first try.

What do you make of it?

I love this time of the season. Coming in to the last week of the Super Rugby rounds and watching where all the teams ended up.  Speculating on who will make the Wallabies squad (yeah, I know, it’s more of a wishful thinking thing). As an extra bonus we are getting a pretty active “silly season,” transfers with lots of movement.

So, has your team met or exceeded your expectations or just disappointed (again)? I have to say that in reality the Aussie teams all still need to step up. Take the Brumbies. Even though they are now locked in to the finals they still have an issue with the second half of games. Do they just need to stop McKellar talking to them at half time? It’s an issue that has plagued them most of the season and it’s lurking in the background. The Tahs; they still look good at times but they are  just a bit lacking for the right cattle to help them finish the job. The Reds again will be judged with the “work in progress” standards.  But come next year unless they start banking some serious points it will be another QRU funded failed project. The Rebels; I am still sifting through the ashes on this one with a hope that something will be salvageable, and we may even get lucky that it might be something of value.

Samu Kerevi and Scott Malolua

Samu Kerevi and Scott Malolua

What do you think about the player movements thus far? What or who does your team need? Who needs to be ditched? Which team is looking best positioned for next year? It’s not often we see so many key players move so its going to be interesting next year. If I could pick one current player to move in a team to make it click who would it be?

We are close as Wallabies selections are not far off so who are you putting your money on to get a run? Will it be a big squad with some experimenting or will it be the main 23 working on solidifying the game play and getting the combinations, right?

With Super Rugby over for at least 2 teams next week and just over 5 weeks until we see the Wallabies play it’s time to start polishing up your arguments, excuses, justifications and predictions as it’s that time of the year when game is played both on the field as well as off it. And for the latter you all get a jersey (I know, just like every player get an invite to Wallaby camp!).

Our picks

Our pick for try of the week this week comes from the Crusaders v Rebels match. Sevu Reece with a fantastic kick down the sideline that had the defence completely befuddled.

How’s this for a try? Aussie Under 20’s lock (and Brumbies recruit) Nick Frost scoring from the kickoff.

And to finish up, here are World Rugby’s picks for the top five tries from the latest round in the under 20s.

  • Steve

    You made Tuesday easily here in the UK MST!

    Thanks for the writeup – Mostly agree with your thoughts and ratings here.
    I’d add to the matchups Leali’ifano vs. Foley – Lilo bossed this one. Controlled the game and distributed far better than Foley, but agree he went to sleep a bit with the rest of the Brumbies once the game was supposedly won.

    Rory Arnold had another very good game and surely has to be getting Cheika’s attention.

    Some classic understatement here – I hope he’s done a bit more than that by now!

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    How is AAC even in the conversation? Even in the pro-Tah propaganda bubble of Fox and RA I was shocked to hear Drew MItchell talking about AAC as being in contention. He has had a totally invisible season (one cannot even call it horrendous or poor, as he simply hasn’t done anything). He’s so far past it that he can’t be criticised, he is simply an old man playing a younger man’s sport.

    Crazy that he is in the conversation. Tom English, among others, has had it over him all year.

    • Who?

      Completely agree. Except it’s obvious why Drew was talking up Swoops – they’re best mates!!

    • Max Graham

      Tom English?? Come on. AAC is smart and very strong at the ruck/tackle. He’s 10 times the player that Hodge will ever be and is a better utility option that most. I’d be happy to have him in the squad.

      • Who?

        He’s ancient. He’s not done much this year, in a team that’s not making finals. We’ve got TK, the potential for Petaia to come back, Kerevi who can move out, we don’t need him.
        So, guaranteed Cheika will pick him… :-(

        • Max Graham

          He’s almost as old as McCaw was when he won his second RWC. AAC is in form, has been so for a couple of months, and has rarely had a bad game in gold. The Rebels’ backs missed more tackles on the weekend than he has in his life. We mightn’t need AAC this year or even this year; however I would take him over the likes of Maddocks and Hodge in a heartbeat.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Not really, he hasn’t done anything. Hodge has been far better over the season, as has Maddocks. Although I find it odd you’re comparing Maddocks with AAC. I wouldn’t have Maddocks in the squad either.

          AAC is so slow, it is like he moves in slow motion. His passing has improved marginally but nowhere near enough to compensate for how slow he is.

          So we would be picking a slow old man without a distribution game who is at this point a decent defender.

          Comparing him to McCaw mate… Come on….

        • Who?

          McCaw’s positional requirements are very different to AAC’s. AAC’s in a position where you need to have pace. McCaw had to be canny and attack the right breakdowns – mental speed can make up for a loss in physical speed there. It can’t at 13.
          Ma’a’s a year older than AAC, I’d take him to the RWC. But he seems to have lost less pace than AAC…
          .
          And I’ve said previously, the try to Rona against the Rebels? That’s a black mark against AAC in my book. Because he tried to run around the outside of his defender (something you don’t do when you’re older and slower – first option should’ve been to stand up his defender – which he did – then run over/through the defender), he didn’t call his winger infield on a switch until he was just about over the sideline, and he threw a panic pass to avoid taking the ball into touch (which, luckily for him, came off, but could so easily have gone the other way). If I were coaching, he’d have copped it for that behaviour, just as I’d be very grumpy with an Under 10’s player who did the same thing.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        He was 5 years ago. Now, no….

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Agree he’s a better 13 than Hodge but then I don’t think Hodge is a good 13 anyway, he’s a much better 15 and TBH not good enough for a run on spot. I still wouldn’t have AAC in my team, too slow and easily nullified by a good team

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I don’t think he is anymore though. Still not a strong passer and his defence isn’t as strong as Hodge’s anymore in my opinion, because he’s slower.

          AAC better at the breakdown though.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I agree mate. AAC might offer a bit as a mentor but to say he should be in the starting 23 for a big game is a stretch. He has a lot of experience but for me his experience at losing is bigger than his experience at winning.

  • Hoss

    Evening MST, trust the family are all ok mate and thanks for the TT5.

    Agree with all you say and I reckon it will be combinations that determine the ‘close calls, like Bastards v Gilbert Powell v The Bovine Sprinkler and Coleman v Rodda/Simmons/ FKA/ Jones etc.

    As a dyed in the wool Tah’s fan I simply can’t see Spanners, Gilbert or Two -Dads in a starting XV. Spanners will get in the 30 as back-up, Gilbert on the pine as cover, that makes sense to me. Two-Dads, maybe as a water runner and helping get messages onto the field – maybe he’s the attack coach, but his current form doesn’t warrant him a spot in the 31 for mine. His services and skills of the past have been truly outstanding and over many a year perhaps the most dependable, reliable and consistent wallaby of the last 10 years, but time has caught up. His true value lies in being around the squad and mentoring and leading in a supporting capacity. So, you heard it here – attack coach.

    I think if it’s Powell and Lilo in the 23 it’s Bastards to start at 15. Arnold and Simmons to lock the scrum. Holloway at 8. Dempsey at 6 and Lee Magors at 7. That gives you 4 line out options. Any combo of Jones, Rodda, FKA and Coleman as cover. Probably in that order.

    One thing not getting much traction is the advantage of the cup being in Nipponville and essentially our time zone is that I reckon there will be 7-8 players with training and skills programmes on call back in Oz to allow for the attrition rates. So while 31 might travel, the squad will be near 40.

    Do I expect to win the cup – no. But I am excited by the sum of our parts and truly believe we will be competitive, World Cup final competitive. My 6,7 & 8 above won’t win many friends, but I am liking the combinations we are starting to see all across the Oz sides. Crystal ball stuff I know, but I’d love Petaia to be in the mix and Nic White and obviously a fit Brian wouldn’t hurt either. It’s really exciting times and I like the way we are heading. At some point we have to let go of 2016-2018 and trust that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and our future is in our hands.

    • Who?

      Man I wish Holloway had some game time at 8…… While Naisarani and Valentini are getting press, Jed and Higgers would be great options to have playing there this year (and last year). Big blokes, great in the lineout, both have learned to play tighter but still capable of playing the wider game…
      .
      Isn’t Gits the odds on favourite to be the attack coach?

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I can’t agree about Holloway. Has one fantastic contribution then does nothing for 10 mins. Like Timu, his workrate is too low for test rugby.

        • Mart

          Needs more time at 8 his natural position

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          His work rate is worse at 8 than lock

        • Who?

          Having been asked to play tighter, it may actually have improved his workrate at 8. But we can’t know that unless he’s sent back to 8.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Even when he played a bit there this season it wasn’t great

        • Max Graham

          Timu never looks fit.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Yeah but I bet Spanners, Gilbert and 2 Dads all not only make the team but also the run on 15 for the RC. Two Dads as attack coach – Wow! that’s so out there I’d almost put money on it. I don’t think Cheika likes Banks and I think he’s have DHP there just for that reason

  • Packy

    Love the Higgers photo and loved watching him play. Think he’s the best combo of physicality + speed + natural ball handling talent I can remember for an aussie forward. Remember seeing him chip kick over a winger and regather at full speed. Alarming to watch at pace
    Don’t understand why he wasn’t chosen more for the Wallas
    Those Robbie Deans days with all the young talent that came through look pretty good from 2019

    • Parker

      Yeah, Cheika’s a tonk.

    • Max Graham

      Higgers’ weakness is his presence at the ruck. An 8 and 6 need to move bodies and Higgers isn’t as accurate as he could be. This is where Palu was particularly good. However I’m a fan of Higgers and would have him in there ahead of most.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I don’t think taht’s a requirement of an 8 always. 8s usually play wider, looser roles. Your two flankers need to be excellent at the breakdown.

        Palu wasn’t really an 8. He played really tight, was slow and couldn’t link well with the backs. He was more of a natural 6 than an 8.

        McCaffrey at 6 and Higgers at 8 could work.

        • Max Graham

          Sounds like Totai Kefu was also a 6 playing out of position.

          I’d be happy with McCaffery and Higgers – two most skillful forwards in the country. I’d personally Valetini over either of them.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Kefu could link with the backs, run in the wider channels and consistently make meters in tight as well. They’re three things that Palu, whatever his other attributes, didn’t do.

          Valetini has barely played in two years and is endlessly injured at super level. Playing him or Petaia at international level would just be threatening their longterm careers, neither has grown into their bodies sufficiently yet.

        • Max Graham

          If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Horan and Little won a World Cup before their 16th birthday. Pocock was playing soup rugby in primary school. Valetini makes my pants especially tight – if he stays fit I back him to be the 6 by the end of the RC.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Nah, you can’t compare an amateur sport to a professional one. Look at tennis, 15-20 years ago teens were winning grand slams and in the top 2-3 players in the world. As the physical requirements of the sport have become more rigorous it too has become an older man’s game.

          Horan and Little were lucky enough to play in the amateur era. Also, Horan and Little were 21 when the Wallabies won the world cup in 1991?

        • Max Graham

          How about we look at Pocock? Force wanted permission to play him as a 17 year old. How about we look at karmichael Hunt who played for the Broncos as a 17 year old. Jordan Petaia is eligible for the u20’s next year and he was good enough for the Wallabies last year. I can go on, but I think I’ve proved the point.

      • Jason

        Funny that we have two of the most ruck dominant forwards in world Rugby at the moment… If you can tell me a better fit than Pocock, Hooper and Higgers I’ll be amazed!

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Hooper has improved hugely at the ruck, but wouldn’t quite call him one of the most ruck dominant forwards in the game.

        • Jason

          Yeah, fair.

        • Max Graham

          I don’t think Hooper would be in the Top 100 ruck dominant forwards. It’s not his game, but he’s very good at what he does. Agree that Higgers suits Pocock – those two with the likes of Valetini or Farva might be very good, but I suspect a backrow that has Higgers and Hooper will struggle.

        • Who?

          Higgers and Hooper are almost the same player, except Higgers is bigger with a better kicking game, and Hooper’s motor is bigger. But the things they do that make the highlights reels look very, very similar.

        • Max Graham

          Higgers’ is on one of the most skillful forwards anywhere. Hooper is a freak who has an amazing engine and work rate. Other than the fact they’re both quick and both attack as the ‘1’ in the 3,1,3,1 system (hence the tries scored out wide on the highlights reels) I don’t think they’re similar at all.
          If I had to compare them to others, I’d say Higgers is Keiran Read lite and Hooper is half cattle dog.

    • juswal

      Has anyone asked for Drew Mitchell’s opinion of Higgers?

      • Who?

        Didn’t he share it on Super Rugby Extra Time the other day..? “I can’t figure out why he hasn’t got more caps…”

  • Pearcewreck

    Looks like young Snowman might be a good signing for the Brumbies

  • Pearcewreck

    Hope all is well on the Home Front, MST?

  • adastra32

    On the evidence of being ‘live’ at the weekend’s ‘Tahs game, the team was incapable of the creativity required to unlock a determined, physical, quick and organised D. Thus, a creative broken field player like Beale just ran into brick walls consistently. Add in a ropy, porous back line, and you get the result. What this means for the WBs? Obvious, innit?

  • ForceFan

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Adam Coleman didn’t “check-out” after the January Wallabies camp. Evidently he was only one of four attendees who actually met the fitness criteria set by Cheika before the Christmas break. Coleman was reportedly totally pi$$ed off with the remainder and gave them a spray about lack of commitment in a RWC year. Maybe it didn’t go down so well with the broader player group. We all know how Cheika responded, as he has so often before, by breaking a few on the sand hills as punishment. All a bit it disappointing but explains a lot about the form, or lack of, that we’ve seen from so many of the Wallabies player group this year.

    • Who?

      Cheika responded by breaking the four who were fit..? Coleman, Phipps, Haylett Petty and Pocock..?
      Maybe getting broken whilst being fit has seen him lose motivation?
      Interesting, ForceFan…

    • Geoffro

      Brings to light McCaffreys comments.I don’t care if Coleman is a 110 % superfit and committed trainer if he can’t bring it on the field (which he doesn’t a lot of the time) A bit of a pussy I reckon.

  • Beale running sideways is an interesting conundrum. I watched Exeter v Saracens, one of the best (and most high scoring) Premiership finals in years. Until Nowell, playing at 15, went off injured (in about the 70th minute) I noticed that on about 3 occasions he ran sideways, or in arcing runs that started sideways and then turned the corner. At least one led to a try within one phase.

    I can’t help thinking someone has seen Beale run sideways on a few occasions for someone, Wasps maybe, and whoever it was, they conjured a try at a high frequency. They missed out the fact, this was a surprise tactic, and said “do that more.”

    The thing is, I might have missed a couple more mostly sideways runs from Nowell but it was rare. When it’s used sparingly, and at the right time, it’s a good tactic. For Beale, it’s the default tactic, and if you know the player’s going to do that, it’s easy to defend, as well as taking out a load of other players’ options far too often.

    I don’t know if I’m blaming the right coach, but I bet he picks him to play in green and gold in Japan…

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks MST, hope the family is ok mate. Double thanks for managing this on top of that. Your article is always one of my favourites. Pretty bang on today, I was at the Brumbies vs Tahs game and you summed it up well. One turning point for me was late in the first half Hooper had the ball with a 5 on 2 and instead of the draw and pass he ran the angle, cramped up the other 4, provided an easy target for the defence and killed the play. Even my brother in law, not a rugby guy, was saying WTF, and all the Tah supporters around us were really pissed. It just confirms to me that a lot of the issues are head space issues more than physical skills.

    I like your point of difference between Banks and Beale. I thought both were pretty shit in attack with the ball in hand but Banks kicking was much better and his support play was also better. TK was quiet but made a difference when he did get the ball. I didn’t see that much between Phipps and Powell mainly because I value speed of pass over anything else from a halfback and Powell is quite slow and that creates issues for lilo. Phipps sprays a bit, but he is way faster than Powell in the speed of his pass.

  • Jason

    I feel like the Report Card really should take into account the actual team that is playing… more than just the outright result. The Rebels flogging the Sunwolves isn’t a good performance, the Reds beating just about anyone is a pretty stand up job.

    This is because the Reds and Rebels are different teams at different stages of development. The Rebels are (if not close to) the finished product, the Reds on the other hand are a work in progress. It’s hardly fair to judge a 4th grader by their scores on the year 12 final exams… So why always judge the Reds by the same criteria as the Brumbies?

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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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