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

The Tuesday Top 5

Welcome back to another Tuesday top 5. This week we look at some promising young talent, reflect on some particularly dumb decision and strange tactics, look at who is rising to the top so far and check in on the Six nations.

Rising star

With a fair bit of talk about who will take on the number 10 spot for each of the teams, there is one young player who is looking to cement his spot. Noah Lolesio, at 20 years old, was thrown in the deep end against the Reds and performed well. Nothing flashy, obvious areas to improve, but he did enough to earn a second start against the Rebels. While he is far from the finished product, on Friday night in Canberra some of the things he did during the game showed that he has skills, but also thinks about the game. He threw a fantastic little pass to set up the Brumbies second try and put through a lovely grubber kick for Kata to score. Both of these assists showed some of his skills. But then there was the field goal, which showed he was thinking about the game as well, in an interview afterwards he said that the Brumbies were struggling to get to the line so he kicked the goal to get the points and reset. With time, some work on his kicking, particularly at goal, and game management (which will come with time) he is definitely looking like a good prospect in the 10 jersey.

Noah Lolesio Canberra Vikings v QLD Country NRC 2019

Decision making … ?

One moment had me really scratching my head during the Waratahs v Blues match. Well to be honest I found a lot of things the Waratahs did a little confusing, but this one thing more so than the others. Am I the only one who watched the scrums and in no way saw that the Waratahs were dominating? They may have got the odd penalty, but I don’t recall them really pushing the Blues around in the scrum. So what on Earth was Captain Rob Simmons thinking when he elected for a scrum after the Blues were penalised close to their line? Right in front of the goals I might add. I can understand captains making this call if they had a dominant scrum, if they were pretty sure they could either score a push over try or draw repeated penalties out of the opposition resulting in a penalty try … but I saw nothing in the match to make me think either of those were likely. As it was, the Tahs were then penalised and the ball went back to the Blues, taking away a prime opportunity for the Tahs to get points – even if only three.

David Pocock's face reveals how much effort is involved in scrumming.

Reds lack of maul defence

Speaking of interesting decisions, the Reds made one that proved to be pretty costly. This one has already caused some debate around the laws, and I am sure there will be more to come. It isn’t a new tactic, we have seen teams do it before. But it isn’t that often that we see teams stand off the maul when the opposition are in such a good attacking position close to the line. Were the Reds hoping for a call of obstruction? Well because the ball had not been passed to the back of the maul, there wasn’t a player obstructing. In fact, it wasn’t technically a maul as no Reds player bound on.

An interesting example of this was seen back in 2017 not long after the rules regarding the maul had been changed, in a game in France.

In this situation, the defending team did not bind on, therefore there was no maul. The attacking team did not pass the ball back and did not move from where the lineout took place, therefore technically the lineout was not over. So basically, if the jumper transfers the ball to the next guy in the lineout is over and the red team can go around and grab the ball carrier.  If the “maul” moves forward then the lineout is over, so the red team can go around as well. Also because there are two players in front of the ball carrier it does become obstruction if they move. By not moving and not transferring the ball, we are at a stalemate. In the case of the Lions, they did move forward giving the reds the option to go around and grab the ball carrier, but they didn’t. The problem is, by doing what they did, the Reds put the ball in the Lions’ court, so to speak, and the Lions were the one’s who decided how that play would go. With such limited space before the line, it didn’t leave the Reds much time or space to adjust and react. I’m guessing that is why we usually see those sorts of tactics from defending teams nearer to the middle of the field.

The “Other” conferences

Last week we were left wondering who the top dogs would be in the other conferences. I predicted it could be the Crusaders, but on the weekend the Chiefs came out firing, showing that they will not be left out of finals talk. They had the measure of the Crusaders in their match, leaving the reigning champs without even a losing bonus point. Are the Chiefs now favourites to top the NZ table? The sensible answer is “It’s only round two, don’t ask such stupid questions!” But you have to admit, the Chiefs are looking pretty good under new coach Warren Gatland, and the return of Aaron Cruden doesn’t seem to be hurting them either.

Aaron Cruden goes for goal

Aaron Cruden goes for goal

Meanwhile over in South Africa, the Stormers put in another dominant performance, this time over the Bulls. The interesting thing about the Stormers is in the first two rounds they have defeated the Hurricanes 27-0 and the Bulls 13-0. Yep that’s right. They have not had a single point scored against them in the competition so far. Given the up and down nature of the Jaguares, it is beginning to look like the Stormers are the ones to watch in South Africa, while the Sharks are not far behind, also winning both of their opening matches.

Six Nations

Last week I said that Wales and France could be the teams to fight it out, but now it looks like Ireland have put themselves back in the running. After a narrow win over Scotland in week one, the Irish defeated Wales over the weekend 24-14, leaving my tipping in a shambles! England got back into the winners’ circle after defeating Scotland in a rather less-than-enthralling affair in dire conditions, with the final score 13-6. Considering the score at the 65-minute mark was 3-3, the last 15 minutes actually had a bit of action! While in the final match of the weekend Italy continued on their losing way, going down 35-22 to France, making Les Blues the only undefeated team after the first two rounds and drawing out Italy’s losing streak to 22. Although one of my highlights of the weekend came from this match …

via GIPHY

The next round of the Six Nations is on the weekend of the 23/24 of February, in two weeks’ time. The first match has Italy hosting Scotland, with some Scots fans feeling concerned that Italy might finally get another win. Following that match Wales plays France, then in the final match England play Ireland.

 

  • Wonky Donkey

    Why arent nsw people going to tahs games? Are people boycotting it? I always thought club rugby in sydney was packed, yet tahs games are empty…

    • Patrick

      It’s the rugby version of the ice bucket challenge

    • Howard

      Are you aware of the weather in NSW over the weekend?

    • Crescent

      Call it a mix. Somewhat adverse weather on the weekend would have been a big contributor. Expect a small crowd in the Gong too. I am planning on going, but will be under the pump to make the kickoff with the match starting earlier, and on a Friday night, having to get out of Sydney after work.

      Then look at Hoss’ comments about attending the match on the weekend. Spend some money on decent seats, get reamed if you want to eat and/or drink whilst being served up a turgid performance by the home team – this season really is one for the masochists amongst us.

      Finally – personally speaking – where is the marketing and promotion around these matches? I used to get emails etc, now nothing. Nothing in the mail. No advertising on media that I see. Nothing in my inbox. Google knows how much time I spend here, yet even Google ads aren’t there promoting attendance. They are asleep at the wheel in terms of pushing matches this year as far as I am concerned. Sure, as a tragic, I am seeking out the info. But you won’t get a fence sitter to give the match a go if they don’t know when you are playing and where.

      • Keith Butler

        Saw the Sunwolves play the Tahs there last season and met up with Hoss in the Foghorn Brewhouse. Great beers and great company. planning a repeat for the FISM game in September.

        • Crescent

          And I expect the crowds will be big for the Wallabies match in Newcastle for sure. The attraction of going to the Gong match for me is the chance to watch some rugby with a mate down there because good company covers a multitude of sins. Also planning to see the match at Bankwest, but that is local for me.

        • John Tynan

          “..good company covers a multitude of sins..”
          Love it.

        • Yowie

          So no coverage for the Loig boys when they commit a multitude of sins out on the town.

        • Mart

          The Gong game against chiefs should be good

      • Wonky Donkey

        I see, all still same issues of price and promotion.
        The weather of course effects attendence, but the weekend weather in sydney is a bit of a once in a decade occurance.

        I was just checking to see if there was something going on over there I’d missed. All seems to be standard.

        Its a shame to see empty stadiums on tv.

    • Mart

      We don’t have a home ground and it rained 300ml over the weekend so there’s that

  • Steve

    thanks MST.

    Another interesting 6 nations weekend.

    Ireland v Wales – Actually surprisingly awesome. Ireland looked tactically past-it last week but found intensity and creativity from somewhere during the week. Wales were themselves solid but comprehensively outplayed in the end. Side note – I’ve started dating a new Irish girl who at one point got so excited she was jumping on the sofa. Might be a keeper. Until June anyway.

    Scotland v England – Oh who gives a crap. 3-3 at 65 minutes and played in torrential rain. England probably deserved to win in the end but I lost interest long before that.

    France v Italy – France were noticeably worse than last week but mostly the defence, in attack they looked great. Shaun Edwards got more to work on, France often looked out of alignment on defence and the Italians were actually good enough to take advantage.
    So France get the bikkies but the Irish and Welsh would have taken notice of what they saw.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      She sounds like a keeper mate.

    • I’m kind of hoping that Wales’ main issues are bedding in with the new coaches. They looked way out of sorts and players were making silly mistakes that you don’t normally see from them – so I’m guessing some muddled thinking from “what do I do next” as the new attack and defence patterns settle in.

      I’m sure that’s the case for France too, and I’m hoping that the players are smart enough to see that too and work hard in the next two weeks and that the FFR don’t send them back to the Top 14 this weekend.

      • Steve

        Yeah look I didn’t see Wales as being particularly poor but I’m sure they won’t be happy with the result.

        I thought they were particularly unlucky with the disallowed touch down as well which could have changed the complexion of the game completely. But the error rates are definitely a place they will want to pick up.

        I’m just hoping that this new era from France finally gets some consistency into the game, sadly ‘mercurial’ doesn’t even begin to describe the culture they have had in the team for a long period of time. But I have faith that Edwards will really get positive attitude and consistency towards their defence, and we know they won’t be short of attacking strength with the players that they have.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks MST. Love your work.
    Penney must be pulling his hair out with some of the poor decision making and lack of intensity at the Tahs. They really were poor on Saturday. I actually like Harrison and just with Beale would piss off and let him play. He gets a lot more pressure than Lolesio and so is making more mistakes, however if he’s left to learn he’s also got a lot of vision and makes some good decisions. I’d like to see both him and Lolesio given time and I think they are certainly the future.
    I think both the Reds and Rebels are suffering from coach indecision around player selection (and game plans). The Rebels change Players far to often and WTF was Thorn thinking putting JOC at 10? He was awful there. I think he’s a 12 but would accept him also at 15 as he’s played there before.

    • Mart

      Has the ship sailed for Hamish Stewart and Mack Mason?
      i reckon it has

  • Ireland are also unbeaten btw, much though it pains me to say it.

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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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