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

The Tuesday Top 5

Yep, it’s Tuesday again. It’s starting to roll around fast hey? Another week gone, another round under our belt and another top 5 for your enjoyment (yes, I know that ‘enjoyment’ may be pushing it a little too far). But for whatever reason you’re reading this … here’s the Tuesday Top 5.

Super Rugby AU wrap

This weekend we finally saw a successful conclusion to a Super Time, and it still felt like a letdown. The last time we had a game tied after 80, when the Reds and Rebels slugged it out, Super Time as a bid ole snooze-fest with nothing but kicking and people were asking what the point was. Well this time Super Time lasted a matter of minutes before the Rebels scored and people were again asking what the point was, the thinking being if we were going to get extra time then we should get to see them play more than a couple of minutes worth. But a fumbled kick-off was all it took for the rebels to shove their way to the line and take the win. I agree with others who felt that a team who had tied at 80 minutes deserved to get more than a single losing bonus point, when in the past it would have been 2 points for a tie.

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The other game was just as tight as once again the Brumbies stole a win after the siren. As a Brumbies fan I love that they have chased the win right till the end, and it has paid off for them twice this season. The Reds showed us how threatening they can be on attack, especially when they quickly spread the ball to the wings. The Brumbies didn’t look as comfortable with ball in hand this week, often going backwards when in attack. Both teams still have things to work on and the return match could be an absolute cracker.

An abridged look at the numbers

In fact, the Reds and the Brumbies are very closely matched. I didn’t realise just how close until I had another look at the stats for all teams for the Super Rugby AU season so far.

Tries Metres Carries Clean Breaks Defenders Beaten Offloads Passes Turnovers Won Turnovers Conceded
Reds 12 1850 535 38 96 30 659 27 59
Brumbies 16 1682 531 36 114 23 652 25 59

 

There really isn’t that much to split the teams, and in all bar 2 of those categories they are the top 2 teams (turnovers won and turnovers conceded are both topped by the Force). Both have very similar attacking stats which is interesting considering on the surface it looks as though they have very different styles of play. Like I said above, the next time they meet should be a cracker of a match.

Super Rugby Aotearoa

This week started with the Crusaders defeating the Chiefs 32-19 in Hamilton. The Chiefs were right in the match, trailing 20-19 at the 60 minute mark, when there was a controversial try awarded to Sevu Reece after what looked like a knock-on. From there the Chiefs just weren’t able to get back in it and the Crusaders ran away with it.

The other match, between the Highlanders and Blues, was a bit back and forth with both teams showing moments of dominance followed by errors. The Blues outscored the Highlanders 5 tries to 2 and their defence was tough to break. It wasn’t until the final 5-10 minutes when the Highlanders looked to kick it up an gear and really looked dangerous. Unfortunately it was too late, the Blues go the win and moved to just 2 points behind the Crusaders.

With just 2 rounds left and no finals, let’s see what has to happen for different teams to hope to take out the title.

The Crusaders really only need to win one of their remaining 2 matches. They currently have 24 points, but the Blues, who are behind them on 22, have a bye to come. That means the Blues can get a maximum total of 27 points, a win to the Crusaders will surpass that.

If the Highlanders beat the Crusaders this weekend, it means that the match at Eden Park the following week between the blues and Crusaders could effectively be a final with the winner taking the title.

There is a very slim and mathematically convoluted way thet the hurricanes could win it, but it’s too complicated for me to try and make sense of right now and probably won’t happen anyway. It involves the Highlanders beating the Crusaders, the Blues beating the Crusaders with no bonus point, the Hurricanes beating the Chiefs and Highlanders with bonus points in both games and even then they would need to rely on points differential. See, complicated!

Speaking of the Super Rugby Aotearoa, have you seen the trophy?

Embed from Getty Images

It is called Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa, which translates to Stand As One New Zealand. Carved out of totara, the Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa base represents an upturned waka. The traditional pounamu mere mounted on top signifies the strength and unity rugby has shown to create Super Rugby Aotearoa and bring the rugby community back together. You can read more about it here.

Game management?

It isn’t often I find myself in agreement with Rod Kafer, but on Friday night there was a period of time where I agreed with everything he said. I even made a comment about what I thought should be happening and moments later Kafe said nearly the exact same thing.

At around the 50-minute mark in the Rebels v Force match, Thrush received a yellow card (the clock actually read 49:57). There was a bit of discussion in the commentary box about what to do, Kafer said they should elect to take a penalty shot. The rationale being that they could take an easy 3, receive the kick off and be back down the end again quickly, possibly scoring again. But the Rebels elected to take a scrum. In that scrum they dominated the Force and earned a penalty. Now it took 1 minute for the scrum to take place. By the time the ball went wide, Lomani went out, the penalty called back and the players to get back to the mark another 30 seconds had gone by. That doesn’t sound like much … yet.

Given that the Rebels were so dominant in the previous scrum, I assumed they would again scrum and go for a potential pushover/penalty try. Kafer was thinking along the same lines. But instead, the Rebels elected to take a penalty shot. By the time the kick was taken, Thrush had been in the bin for 2 and a half minutes. A quarter of the time in the bin. This raised the question of why not take the penalty in the first place? They ended up in the same spot, just 2 minutes later.

By the time the ball is kicked off again Thrush has been in the bin for 3 minutes and 10 seconds. Granted, part of that was down to the Force wandering slowly back to take the kick.

Then, from the kick off, the Rebels receive the ball and proceed to kick it. Not once, but twice. They managed to regather the first kick, but not the second. I’m no coach or expert in rugby tactics, but when you have a man up, isn’t it better to have the ball in hand knowing the other team is down a defender? Anyway, they failed to regather the second kick, the Force get the ball, kick it back (again, I would have thought not giving the opposition the ball when they had a man advantage was better), rebels knock on and there’s a scrum to the Force with 4 minutes left for Thrush in the bin. From there the Force go on to score a try. Then, with 40 seconds left in the Bin, the Rebels finally manage to get the ball back down their end and score a try of their own.

There were numerous decisions in that 10 minute period that left me wondering … but like I said. I’m not a tactician or coach, just a casual observer.

Tries of the week

  • ATrain

    “It isn’t often I find myself in agreement with Rod Kafer, but on Friday night there was a period of time where I agreed with everything he said. I even made a comment about what I thought should be happening and moments later Kafe said nearly the exact same thing.”

    It happened to me on Saturday night but I just put it down to drinking. If you keep drinking through it then you start disagreeing with him again – in vino veritas perhaps

    • Yowie

      The “broken clock correct twice a day” thing might also be a factor.

    • UTG

      Kafe’s much less value now that Fox have reduced the amount of technical analysis presented. His chalkboard segments used to have some good insights and his sideline comments used to be more sparing yet better targeted.

      As a regular NRL watcher I have also noticed the amount of technical analysis decline in NRL matches and shows. It seems to me like a blanket push from Fox management to simplify the games for the lay viewer but all it’s done is reduce the quality of the broadcast.

      • Yowie

        What? Murdoch press quality decline and targeted appeal to the dumbest consumers?

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c6e0b3c22285e76457bd3385a14988b369f2f9478afbc45bba3f7ea613feea18.jpg

        • ATrain

          Yes the real reason James Murdoch has resigned his position on the board wasn’t about climate change denial in the Oz but because they removed Kafe’s Chalkboard

        • Gun

          The climates changing at my place, fucking snowed all day.

        • Yowie

          An under-rated very funny comment in my opinion.

      • Mica

        The technical analysis in the NRL takes away valuable time that needs to be used for pushing betting during the telecast. It’s beyond a joke now and I hope it goes the way of cigarette advertising.

        • Hoss

          I just saw Bet365 had you at $2.58:1 to say that. Ive cashed in.

        • Mica

          Happy to help Hoss though I thought the odds would’ve been longer……

        • ATrain

          betting advertising is technical analysis surely…all those numbers and percentages and stuff

        • Yowie

          According to the advertising, sports betting more about:

          (a) being a dead-set legend with your mates at the pub with your “big multi” (in a too-loud League bogan sounding voice); or

          (b) some blond lady doing a piece-to-camera while sitting on a purple couch in a pool for some reason.

        • Mica

          Good to see you’ve drunk the Koolaid ATrain….. :)

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks MST, some good rugby in the weekend and those try’s were pretty good. I don;’t agree with some of the comments here about the difference in intensity between the Australian games and the New Zealand games but I have noticed a couple of things. The New Zealand players tend to run onto passes more often than the Australian players. Far too many receivers in the Australian conference are receiving the ball standing still and this makes it easier for the defence to close them down. In fact if you loo at the good runs of play, it’s when the players are running onto the ball that seems to be creating the space. I also think the referees in NZ are applying the law a lot stricter in most cases and this is stopping the side entry, falling on the ball and off side which is a lot more prevalent over here. I do agree that individually the NZ players seem to have a higher level of skill overall and make better decisions under pressure but other than that I’m not sure there’s a lot more difference.

    • Crescent

      Have to agree the breakdown in Super AU are a mess. Plenty of players are leaving their feet to effectively flop on the player on the ground – or in the case of the Reds final penalty conceded to the Brumbies, the tackler was trapped in position by the first arriving player flopping on him to trap him in place. This used to be a penalty for leaving your feet, but that seems to have vanished from the vocabulary. It strikes me as lazy technique in one area of our game that needs a lot of work. We still leave the ball carrier too isolated, then hit the breakdown late and in a state of desperation – so the work tends to be inaccurate and sloppy. It is one of my pet peeves, so maybe I am paying too much attention to it.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        No I think you’re right. The support is often just that little bit too late and so have to go in illegally to try and be effective

    • Hoss

      I think having ‘full houses’ at the Sheep Shagger Derbies gives the perception the quality is somehow superior. The crowd noise, reaction and engagement certainly makes it more of a spectacle, but at its core there aint a lot of difference – again the Livestock Lovers have been at it a few weeks more than us too.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        That’s probably fair on the crowd. I’m not so sure on the playing longer. The teams over here are playing enough that the few extra weeks in NZ shouldn’t make much of a difference

      • Yowie

        Must be a real shock to the Reds, Waratahs, Brumbies, Rebels to not have the noise of a capacity crowd cheering them on.

        Now, will Force fans be dirty that I have excluded them because of East-coast bias, or appreciate that I assume their GRR crowds are good and have therefore excluded them from my sarcastic little list? See Sportsbet for the odds either way.

      • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

        Absolutely, the crowd definitely hides how baaaaaaaad the kiwi games actually are.

    • idiot savant

      You’re right. Aside from being better rugby players there’s not much difference really…

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Hahahaha I really don’t think they are. I think they’re trained better that’s all

  • RedAnt

    Thanks MST. Among your usual insights, interesting to read about the Aotearoa trophy. Geez, it was bad enough NZ spanking us at rugby, now they’re bloody spanking us at life too.

    • Yowie

      Nah, they can’t even afford a shiny metal cup. Must be on the bones of their arses even affording the internal comp.

      • RedAnt

        Maybe I should consider donating my ‘World’s Best Dad’ trophy?

        • Yowie

          WTF!?

          I tender into evidence a coffee mug that proves that I am in fact the ‘World’s Best Dad’.

        • RedAnt

          Sorry, mate, you’ve been duped

        • Yowie

          That’s it. Little Mate’s lego and drawings are all going in the bin. I’ll show him what being “not the best dad” is about.

        • ATrain

          I wonder how sales of “World’s Second Best Dad” trophies and cups go. Or how about t-shirts with the “My Dad is Mediocre” message – there is a potential market out there that would suit both unappreciative children and self-deprecating or low confidence dads.

        • RedAnt

          ‘My Dad Is Mediocre’ is a sure-fire winner.

        • Yowie

          I prefer “My Dad is not bad enough for Family Services to take me away” as a kid’s Tshirt.

        • RedAnt

          Don’t be too hard on him, probably a clerical error.

      • ATrain

        They may have found that when they dug out a new basement carpark for the Woolworth South Auckland – it was either cancel the job and fill it all back in or donate it as a trophy for SR Aotearoa ….

        • ATrain

          Actually I really don’t mind that trophy – it is quite nice looking at it close up.

        • Yowie

          Agreed. Everyone likes a bit of fancy wood-work.

          For a real-life look you’ll probably need to ask the Crusaders if you can have a squiz in their trophy cabinet on your next NZ holiday (any year, doesn’t matter).

        • ATrain

          any year doesn’t matter…..because the borders will never open?
          I have actually holidayed in Christchurch for a week for three of the last four summers. Last year I was notably refused entry to the Franks brothers gym (nothing sinister – they just don’t take drop-ins – still I was offended – as is my right!!).

        • Yowie

          Did you do a “Bunnings Karen”?

    • Hoss

      Mate, its the ‘Ikea Cup’ – by Jehovah that’s an ugly bit of kit.

      • RedAnt

        Fair point. You can’t even drink out of it.

        • Yowie

          If it’s hollow underneath (like an upside-down canoe) you might be able to.

          Not sure if it would muck-up the varnish putting fluids in it though.

        • Hoss

          I thought it a combo dip and cracker board, which would actually make me wanna win it, the jade green thingy is obviously for pate, snooty bloody kiwis.

        • Yowie

          Pate?
          Add “abuse to geese” to their charge sheet.

        • idiot savant

          Another kiwi snipe at Quade

        • Hoss

          Different product, same principle though

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEp3Ig3isxc

        • Yowie

          FFS. First one of their players* head-butts Quade’s knee in cold blood, then the whole country boos him for ages.

          [*can’t remember who – mustn’t be very important]

        • idiot savant

          And the ultimate insult is that is a pate knife not a foie gras knife

        • Yowie

          You’re letting “facts” and “technical distinctions” get in the way of hanging sh!t on New Zealand there.

      • idiot savant

        If its the Ikea cup there must be bits left over.

  • Cunning Linguist

    I guess we can all take in the positives – for the first time in years, Aussie teams are getting wins week to week.

  • The Reece try might look like a knock on, but under the current law interpretations, it’s clearly not. There’s a bit of fumbling with the ball, but it doesn’t touch anyone else or the ground, so that doesn’t matter. The last contact with the ball before it touches the ground (and then Reece picks it up and trots over to score), the Saders player clearly bats it backwards. In the shot from the side line that’s more or less by his right shoulder you can clearly see that, you can also judge it by the law’s conceptual framework – we’re meant to judge momentum as it leaves the hand(s) and the player keeps moving and the ball lands behind him, so the momentum is clearly backwards.

    No knock on, good try. As one of the commentary team said, eventually, although it looked bad to us, it was judged by four professional referees and it was deemed ok by them – and on that occasion the refereeing team got it right.

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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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