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

The Tuesday Top 5

Welcome to another Tuesday Top 5. I would love to say I had the enthusiasm I had last week, but after two pretty dire matches it was hard to put the word “Top” in the title. But as always, there were still some positives to come out of the weekend, here and across the ditch. Hopefully the game quality was just a blip and next week we be full of praise once again!

Week 2 Summary

After the positivity surrounding last week’s matches, I think I just came thumping back down to Earth. Last week I was willing to put some of the errors down to rustiness. Well this week I suppose the weather played a part, especially on Friday night. It was definitely wet weather football.

But let’s just look at a couple of things that stood out. The line-out. Both teams on Friday were absolutely horrendous. Neither team won more than 66% of their throws. And you know what? They kept trying the same thing! I don’t recall many short lineouts, I would have thought common sense says that in wet conditions, when things aren’t working, go short and try to make it easier for yourselves!

The next night wasn’t much better, with the Force also only winning 66% of their throws. Looks like the hooker spot for the Wallabies is wide open.

All in all, this week’s matches were hard to watch.

So what were the positives? Well it was great to see the Force back in Super Rugby. And for a while there they looked like they would take the win, but the Tahs found a way back. Jono Lance slotted back into the Force well, and with none of the other “established” 10’s doing much to impress, will he get a look in come selection time? I am not Hooper’s biggest fan, but it was good to see him getting turnovers at the breakdown. He was a lot more involved in trying to turn the ball over than I recall him being in recent years – I wonder if that is down to a new Wallabies coach who is looking for a certain skill set in a number 7?

Across the ditch

Talk about a contrast, how good was the Crusaders v Blues match? The Crusaders firmed up as favourites by defeating the Blues 26-15. The match was pretty close for much of it, but the Blues didn’t help themselves with 12 penalties, compared to the Crusaders’ 6. The turning point came at around the 55 minute mark when the Blues scored a try off a contentious call for a 5 metre scrum to the Blues despite it looking like they knocked on. For the first time in I don’t know how long, we saw a conversion attempt charged down. From there Richie Mo’unga kicked off with a grubber kick, which he regathered and that seemed to fire the Crusaders up. They went on to score 2 unanswered tries for the win.

The other match between the Hurricanes and Highlanders started off with to disallowed tries, one to each team, both for obstruction. The first actual try was scored by Perenara after a beautiful dummy that completely fooled Aaron Smith. TJ didn’t look too impressed with the whole things though.

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From there the Hurricanes pretty much dominated, not giving the Highlanders too many opportunities. The Hurricanes took the match 17-11.

Still over in New Zealand …

It takes a brave person to rick annoying a rugby player mid-game. Brave … or stupid. I think this guy might be the latter.

Yes, someone decided to streak during the Crusaders v Blues match. Sadly there is no footage that I could find of the actual incident, but the streaker pushed their luck a little too far when deciding to face up to Braydon Ennor.

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I think a radio commentator put it best – “Oh, wow. A streaker has just been taken out by Braydon Ennor,”

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Not long after this Ennor was the player who charged down the conversion attempt, so maybe it helped fire him up.

New Laws – convince me!

Because as it stands, I am far from convinced that they add to the game.

What have we learnt so far? Well line drop-out is a bit meh. I don’t mind that it rewards the defending team for holding up a try, but there are other teams where it seems to put the attacking team at a disadvantage.

Super time – in theory I think it sounds like a great idea. Golden point type extra time works well in a number of other sports. But it depends on whether the teams will play to win, or play to not lose. On Friday we saw option 2. Both teams looked too afraid of trying to get the ball within a kickable distance that it turned into a game of forcing-back. Dull, and a total waste of 10 minutes when we could have just had a draw at the end of 80.

The new kicking laws – my least favourite of the changes. In Saturday night’s match I wanted to hurl the nearest object at the TV! Sure, Hunt managed to pull off 2 50/22 kicks (neither entirely without controversary – the first looked like the ball was taken back into the 50 before the kick, while the other was initially called outside the 22 and play restarted before being brought back) but how many terrible kicks straight to one of the opposition did we have to sit through for those 2 times where it was of benefit? Even the Tahs fans at the match sounded like they were over it. Don’t get me wrong, tactical kicking definitely plays a part in the game. But watching the ball get kicked backwards and forwards for minutes on end isn’t my idea of good rugby. (To be fair I will admit that there may have been more kicking than usual due to the weather. That doesn’t account for the poor kicking though. If you are going to kick the ball, do not make it easy for the other team by kicking straight to one of their back three!)

Meanwhile, the breakdown has players falling all over it, hands everywhere and players coming in from all directions. The scrum is still a mess, things that are being called penalties in one match are resets in another. I know which areas of the game I would prefer we focus on.

On a final note, when watching the new laws here compared to matches in New Zealand, I have found this. In the Super Rugby Aotearoa matches, when the whistle is blown at the breakdown it is easier to tell what it is being blown for. Because the laws are being reffed more tightly, the penalties are clearer. When watching Super Rugby AU there is confusion around whether a kick went out in the right spot, if a mark can be called, if it is a line drop out or a 22 restart and scrum and breakdown penalties are still a little … well inexplicable at times. Hopefully it will all clear up as the season goes on.

Top Tries AU and Aotearoa

When I went searching to see what those in the “know” put as their top try in Super Rugby AU I found this one.

I didn’t entirely agree. I thought that this try from the Reds was better, especially given how important it was in the scheme of the match.

And from the Hurricanes v Highlanders match …

  • Nutta

    Good enthusiasm Mst. Good effort. I really think the whole Force Returns should have attracted more noise and accolade, but the Powers That Be couldn’t be seen to do that so I guess one must be realistic.

  • Reds Revival

    It’s a tough week to be positive, but I thought it was interesting that with all of the criticism around Australia’s lineouts, the New Zealanders don’t fare that much better.

    • 100% agree. All the lineouts are pretty poor, although the Kiwis are slowly improving. Hopefully they will in Australia too.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Welcome back MST great to read your posts even if the rugby was a bit crap. But lets face it even crap is better than none. I think the refereeing is a big part of why the NZ games look so much better and I wish our guys would follow up on this. I personally think the kicking changes just allow aimless kicks because the kicker is now not being punished so much for shit work. Toomua in particular is pretty aimless and he was a big reason the no mark is there. It shows in his lack of accuracy and the lack of pressure from any of his chasers. I hate the line goal drop out, we’re not fucken mungo ball so lets keep what we have. Maybe I’m just old fashioned but I’m not a fan at all and I’d rather the game just concentrated on enforcing the rules.
    One thing I would like to see is the call of ball out from a referee when a halfback is pissing around. That’d see him move fast.

    • Brumby Runner

      Haven’t yet formed an opinion on any of the law variations, but if the line dropout is thought to be too close to League (and it probably is) then I’d really like to see the fedd for the 5m scrum go to the defending side if they’ve held the attack up over the line. Good defense should be rewarded. The way it is now, the team in possession just keeps hammering away until either an opening appears in the line or the ref gets sick of it and YCs some poor sod for not getting back on side after 20+ phases.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        I like that idea too. Reward defence

      • Who?

        That would be WAY more logical. Because, effectively, you’re saying that ‘held up’ is a failed maul. It’s consistent with the existing laws of the game.

        However, given it matches other existing laws (removing a minor quirk – because, let’s be honest, the held up thing? It’s not really that big an issue), and because it’s logical, it’ll never happen. Sorry BR. :-(

  • Brumby Runner

    Lineouts were atrocious, as you point out MST. The worst imo was at the end of the game between the Rebels and Reds (if my memory serves me). Rebels had a lineout near the Reds 22m line with an opportunity to win possession and maybe win the game. But after a sequence of losses when throwing to the middle or back, they tried it again with the same result.

  • I was willing to give the new law variations in SR Australia a go and see what I think at the end of the season.

    So far, I like the goal-line drop out for held up, in combination with the “I think a try has been scored” default question we seem to be getting. There’s an offensive bias there, so rewarding good defence, I think is good. Anyone who watched either of the SR Aotearoa games can’t tell me good defence against a willing attack doesn’t make a compelling game, it’s not all about racking up the score.

    I don’t think we’ve really seen the 50/22 and 22/50 used often enough to judge yet. We haven’t seen teams adjust tactically in attack or defence. If we don’t by the end of the contest, then bin it, because it’s not achieving its goal.

    SR Aotearoa is definitely leading the way on breakdown law interpretation. Their breakdowns are clean, brutal and fast. Not everyone has fully adjusted, but even as a fan for 40+ years I feel like I clearly understand pretty much every time the whistle is blown and I agree with every decision at the breakdown. There are one or two over the course of the two NZ games where I feel the law is harsh, maybe one or two where I feel advantage might have been played, but those are minor quibbles that don’t affect the blood pressure!

    The Super Time – honestly, if there was a match to assess it, the Rebels v Reds was the worst of them. That was a depressing match with an even more depressing extra 10 minutes. It looked like no-one wanted to be there, and they resented having to give us 90 minutes for 80 minutes pay. I hope there’s a good contest, later in the season where we see it come up again, where the sides use the time to try and win…

Rugby

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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