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

The Tuesday Top 5

Welcome to the Top 5. I feel a bit drained after the roller coaster of a week, between weather, cancelled matches and watching an absolute cracker of a match on Sunday night, it’s all been a bit much and I need a few days off. This week we look at how teams finished up and where to next, look at how the Wallabies fared during the pool stage of the Cup, check in with the NRC, look at the good, bad and ugly from the weekend and indulge ourselves a bit with some good rugby.

POOL TIME IS OVER

The pools stage is over and its down to the business end of proceedings. All four pools were topped by an undefeated team, however only two teams are going through to the quarter finals with four wins under their belt, Wales and Japan. New Zealand and England both have a draw recorded due to the typhoon, so while they are undefeated, have won one less game.

Here’s how the pools looked after the final match was played on Sunday night.

Pool A

P W D L PF PA +/- B PTS
Japan (Q) 4 4 0 0 115 62 +53 3 19
Ireland (Q) 4 3 0 1 121 27 +94 4 16
Scotland 4 2 0 2 119 55 +64 3 11
Samoa 4 1 0 3 58 128 -70 1 5
Russia 4 0 0 4 19 160 -141 0 0

 

Pool B

P W D L PF PA +/- B PTS
New Zealand (Q) 4 3 1 0 157 22 +135 2 16
South Africa (Q) 4 3 0 1 185 36 +149 3 15
Italy 4 2 1 1 98 78 +20 2 12
Namibia 4 0 1 3 34 175 -141 0 2
Canada 4 0 1 3 14 177 -163 0 2

 

Pool C

P W L D PF PA +/- BP PTS
England (Q) 4 3 1 0 119 20 +99 3 17
France (Q) 4 3 1 0 79 51 +28 1 15
Argentina 4 2 0 2 106 91 +15 3 11
Tonga 4 1 0 3 67 105 -38 2 6
USA 4 0 0 4 52 156 -104 0 0

 

Pool D

P W L D PF PA +/- BP PTS
Wales (Q) 4 4 0 0 136 69 +67 3 19
Australia (Q) 4 3 0 1 136 68 +68 4 16
Fiji 4 1 0 3 110 108 +2 3 7
Georgia 4 1 0 3 65 122 -57 1 5
Uruguay 4 1 0 3 60 140 -80 0 4

 

Looking back at the records from all previous World Cups, the Cup has never been won by a team who has lost a match during the pool stage. Is this the year when that record is broken? Can South Africa, France, Ireland or Australia make it all the way? Of all of those teams, I see South Africa to be the most likely, followed by Ireland (which is a tough ask as they play New Zealand this weekend).

Or will one of the teams who went through undefeated win? New Zealand and England are both playing well, Wales haven’t been as convincing, and who knows just what Japan can do. They have shown they have the skills and desire – is it really likely that they could do it?

Saturday 19 Oct

6:15PM – England vs Australia

9:15PM – New Zealand vs Ireland

Sunday 20 Oct

6:15PM – Wales vs France

9:15PM – Japan vs South Africa

** Times are in AEDT

What happens after that? Well there are a few possibilities. The winners of England vs Australia and New Zealand vs Ireland will play off, as will the winners of Wales vs France and Japan vs South Africa.

So in Semi 1 we could have England v New Zealand, England v Ireland, Australia v New Zealand or Australia v Ireland.

In Semi 2 we could have Wales v Japan, Wales v South Africa, France v Japan or France v South Africa.

It is unfortunate that England, Ireland and New Zealand are all on the same side of the finals draw as I think they are three of the top teams. South Africa, if they get past Japan, should then go on to make the final on their side as it appears to be an easier side of the ladder.

My prediction? This weekend the winners will be England, New Zealand, Wales and South Africa. 

England win

WALLABIES BY THE NUMBERS

With all the line-up changes it’s always going to be hard to get a good read on how a team is really performing. The stats numbers are always only an indicator, but it does give us some clues as to how the Wallabies are performing.

Wallaby pool stats

Looking at the Wallabies stats at the end of the pool stage, the stats look pretty good overall. Run metres, clean breaks and defenders beaten all look pretty healthy. But the numbers do suggest that maybe we should have more reward for the work being done. A long-standing issue that seems to haunt the Wallabies attack is the amount of work for little return.

The stats from the Wales game best illustrate the point. We are on the positive side of the ledger for possession and territory, run metres, clean breaks and defenders beaten but looking at the return on the scoreboard the work does not seem to translate to points.  The other numbers that support this are that the Wallabies are ranked 3rd in scoring 7 tries less than the South Africa (and 2 behind the Kiwis who have played one less game) but we lead total runs comfortably by nearly 60 over Ireland and 143 more runs than top points scorers South Africa.

Turnovers conceded gives an indication of where the problems start.  Wales turned us over 11 times with the majority of them in the Wallabies half. The Welsh also used their kicking far more effectively gaining an extra 260 meters off the boot compared to the Wallabies.

On defence our tackle success seems fairly decent but the turnovers are a real concern noting that aside from Wales the other teams should not have been putting too much pressure on us to force that amount of errors, so I would suggest that the the majority of errors are of our making.

Looking at some of the other numbers:

Dane Haylett-Petty is out top scorer with 15 followed by Christian Lealiifano.

Pocock leads the tackle count with 29, Followed by Salakaia-Loto on 22, then Toomua, Rodda and Coleman all on 21 tackles.

The Wallabies are currently ranked 3rd for points scored and tries behind South Africa and New Zealand.

The Wallabies are also in are joint second in the yellow card stats.

WAL016

NRC Wrap

Well, didn’t that last round of the NRC throw us a bit of a curve ball! Two teams that looked like they were going to make the top four dropped out of the finals, replaced by two teams which seemed less likely to feature in the finals.

The Force and the Vikings were clearly the top two teams, with the Force only dropping one match all season, to the Eagles. They are a tough opponent, and it will be tough for any team to topple them in the finals.

The Vikings lost twice, to the Force and Queensland Country. They are hard to beat at home, where they didn’t drop a game this season. They confirmed second place on the ladder with a convincing win over the Eagles. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they didn’t get a single point out of the match. If they had scored one more converted try, they would have got a losing bonus point and their for and against would have put them above Brisbane City.

The Drua needed to beat Queensland Country to make it into the top four, and they left it as late as they could to do so. A last-minute try saw them beat Queensland, and while Country got a bonus point it wasn’t enough to keep them in the top four.

Last week I said Brisbane City needed other results to go their way to make the finals. Well those other results did go their way. The Eagles losing without a BP and Queensland Country losing to the Drua meant that City jumped both of them, right into fourth place.

So this weekend we have our semi-finals. On Saturday the Force will host Brisbane City. Their previous meeting was a close game, with the Force winning by just two points. On Sunday, the Vikings will play the Drua for the second time at Viking Park. Last time they met, the Vikings won convincingly, 41-28.

Saturday 19 Oct 3:00PM – Force vs Brisbane City

Sunday 20 Oct 3:00PM – Canberra Vikings vs Fijian Drua

 ** Times are in AEDT

Photo Credit Delphy

Photo Credit Delphy

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good – We have a few things in the good column this week.

First off, I bet there weren’t too many rugby fans outside of Scotland who didn’t have a big smile on their face on Sunday night (to be fair, I have seen a lot of Scottish fans on Social media praising the Japanese so they are taking it pretty well). Not only was it history making for Japan – the first time they have ever made it past the pool stages – but how pretty was the rugby they played? The passing, offloading, running, kicking … it was so good to watch. They showed skills that I would love to see the Wallabies play with.

While the cancellation of the Canada v Namibia game doesn’t fit in the ‘good’ category, this was great to see from the Canadian team. Their match was cancelled, but instead of staying at the hotel or heading home early, they decided to pitch in and help with the clean-up in the aftermath of the storm.

 

Finally, we have heard so much negative stuff about the refereeing this World Cup. Admittedly, it hasn’t been fantastic, even World Rugby has said it was below par. But it was good to see a lot of positive comments about Aussie ref Nick Berry during and after the Ireland v Samoa match. He controlled the game well, was getting himself into good positions on the field and communicated really clearly with the players. Lots of calls on social media for him to take charge of one of the knockout matches – we will have to wait and see if he does.

Bad Well don’t say we didn’t warn you. A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about what would happen in the unlikely event that a typhoon hit during the World Cup. At the time I really didn’t think it would actually happen, but it did and it was a bad one. Really bad. Yes, we were all a bit upset that matches were cancelled, but in the bigger picture there are things far worse than a few cancelled rugby matches.

Ugly With all of the focus on head high shots, the multiple cards dished out and the near constant talk of the “framework” I have to wonder how this was missed in Sunday night’s match. Does it not count as a high shot because the player is lying down? It wasn’t a tackle, so is that a mitigating factor? It was only shown briefly during the telecast, with maybe one or two replays, so I don’t know if the officials just didn’t see it.  

Just because

Because it made us smile, was awesome to watch and … well because I wanted to.

From this

To this!

  • I’m not sure how the elbow to the head was missed. I’m going to assume the citing commissioner will look, and unless he declares it’s insufficient force to merit a RC (IMO a pity call on Scotland going home in the pool stages) that’s a ban – and potentially longer than the 6 weeks reduced for good behaviour because in a tackle it’s all dynamic, when the player is lying on the floor, that’s just an attempt to injure someone.

    Overall, I thought the officials had a good game. They shouldn’t have missed that, but it’s off the ball and it’s low and people make mistakes. Honestly I hope the starting point is about 12 weeks and the citing commissioner says no but given how well the rest of the game went from the officials, I’ll say I hope they all improve based on their mistake rather than get pilloried for it.

    I too know some Scotland fans, and they’re pretty sanguine. They were delighted the match was on. They feel they went out fair and square, the team wasn’t good enough and although that’s not exactly easy to accept, it’s better than going out to the weather… those same fans when they realise “Typhoon is just the same as a hurricane, just it starts in the pacific instead of the Caribbean” soon shut up about “it’s just some rain and wind, we can play in that” in fairness. Up in the British Isles we don’t really hear about typhoons so much so the fans didn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about, and the media really didn’t help.

  • Fatflanker

    Good wrap MST – Wallabies are doing OK statistically – hopefully it come together on Saturday.

    Jeez Ricky Stuart ‘helping’ the English is a bit shabby. I’m pretty sure this is just more EJ mind games TBH but it’s a bad look…why would an ex-Wallaby even be seen to help the Poms? Not as if they need it.

    • Who?

      Sticky’s not ‘helping’ – he’s there to learn. And the trip was organized months ago, apparently. If Cheika had done what Aussies (therefore likely Sticky and maybe Eddie) expected and beat Wales, no one would’ve batted an eyelid, because it would’ve been England/Wales.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks MST. TBH I was one of the people hoping the Scots got kicked out after the way their management whinged about the Typhoon. Agree most of their fans are awesome but about time their management faced up to the fact that under their poor leadership Scotland is now a tier 2 team. I hope that 7 gets cited although having heard nothing about it yet it appears to have been missed. He can piss off too.
    NRC was great. Good to see defence playing its part at this end of the season as some at the start was very poor.
    I’m with you, yes Australia could beat England but I doubt it’ll happen. Rock on the post Cheika era for me

    • Missing Link

      The Scots lost me at 2015, the amount of vitriol against Craig Joubert and the Wallabies was disgraceful. fucking whingers.
      They were lucky to even make the quarters thanks to some dubious refereeing decisions in their favour, I don’t feel an ounce of remorse for them.

      • NickAJW

        I was at that game, wearing a kilt and a wallabies shirt as a proud supporter of both teams sitting on the fence, it was a great occasion. There was of course a lot of anger after the game, however in the mind of a lot of people, the game was decided by an incorrect refereeing blunder. When will the Kiwis (admittedly not the good ones on this forum) stop complaining about Barnes and forward passes?

    • That poor leadership includes the new Wallabies manager?

    • juswal

      Did Scotland’s management whinge about the typhoon? Really?

      • AllyOz

        They threatened to sue World Rugby if the game didn’t go ahead and no contingency was made for playing a make up game. Not exactly whinging but at least a little self-focused.

    • AllyOz

      I think they are aware of their true status, which is why they don’t want promotion and relegation in the 6 nations.

    • Brendan Hume

      The Scottish 7 was a grub for much of the match – I was surprised he wasn’t punished for his knee to Tamura which nearly turned ugly.

    • Greg

      Blue 7 played some good rugby but needs to learn to zip it up and behave when things don’t go his way. In the old days he would have worn a smack in the chops and it would have done him some good.He was a dick.

    • laurence king

      Now that’s what I call a silver lining

    • NickAJW

      I have Aussie parents but was born and raised in Scotland, i support the shit out of both Scotland and the Wallabies, I’m surprised, but for once I kind of disagree with you a bit KRL. I don’t think having a bad tournament makes Scotland a T2 team, and I don’t think their recent performances (Ireland aside) bear that out either although I do agree that they have regressed under Townsend.

      It didn’t make Wales T2 when they were knocked out in the pools in 2007, or England in 2015 in spite of a run similar to Scotland’s going into this RWC. Italy are (I believe) still considered tier 1, regardless of how many times they finish bottom of the pile in the 6n and never getting out of the pool at RWC. Scotland’s most recent showing against the AB’s was a 5 point loss I believe, last game against the Boks was a narrow loss, England a draw and the Wobs have lost fhe last 2 vs them?

      Japan have played as a T1 side this tournament, which is fantastic for them, but when analysing Scotland everyone seems to forget they beat Ireland who were world ranked 1 last month!

      As for the anger about the game potentially not being played – imagine a scenario where the ABs had lost to the Boks in the first game (not impossible) and the Boks had then lost to Italy (unlikely, but has actually happened before, unlike Ireland Japan). When that game was endangered by the Typhoon do you think the ABs would’ve been happy with potentially going out without a game? I don’t believe the legal threat (which was completely ridiculous) came from Townsed or the coaching team, more someone from the SRU.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mate I certainly don’t blame the players or team but the SRU were acting poorly. I’m actually pretty sure that if NZ had been in the need of a game to get points and couldn’t because of that typhoon then they would have accepted it and blamed their earlier loss that put them in that situation. 2 world cups ago, probably not so much but now yes. Absolutely not happy about it but certainly accepting of it.

        • NickAJW

          Fair point…..But this is the problem with you damn reasonable Kiwis on GAGR, why can’t you be more like the Churr Bros who I have to deal with all the time here in London, would make it much easier to dislike the ABs for being so damn good.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          We’ve all got our trolls mate.

  • AllyOz

    It’s always tempting to try and squeeze more juice from the lemon but I wonder if a knockout comp, like a Plate competition, could be held for the remaining sides that are left. Expenses no doubt prevent it but there were some tier two nations that put in really good performances and it would be interesting to see how they did against more sides who are closer to their level.

    • Patrick

      I’d love that, you could have a plate for the 3rd finished teams and a bowl for the 4th ranked teams

      • AllyOz

        The only issue I could see is that someone might officially come stone motherless last. Being last in your pool, you can always say, “yeah but we would have beaten Namibia (insert other name) if we had of played them”. Like Haz says below it would increase the content and give mid week games.

        We have the World’s attention at the moment and we only have games on the weekend.

        It would also give those other teams experience of knock-out football.

        • Patrick

          One approach would be to only have the 3rd and 4th play off.
          Or like European soccer and have the 2rd and 4th ranked teams play their own “plate” finals.

          Not sure the 5th ranked teams would often be up to another round of matches!

    • Haz

      Couldn’t agree more with this.

      Would also give us some more mid week rugby too!

  • Greg

    I was impressed by the spirit in which the Japan team played.

    The rugby was good, hard, clean.
    The prop who came of early with (I guess) a broken rib was in tears at letting down his team.
    The small bows from players as they left the field were fantastic and came before waving to the crowd.

    The Japanese fans were polite and well-behaved. Quite a few sported both Japanese and Scottish flags on their cheeks. How good is that!

  • Patrick

    And the ugliest of all:

    Match officials for Rugby World Cup quarter-finals

    England v Australia
    Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
    Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Mathieu Raynal (France)
    TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

    • MST

      eek!

    • Greg

      Mr Skeen….. what can I say?

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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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