The Tuesday Top 5

Hugh Cavill March 5, 2013 46

No GravatarIt’s that time again…

 

It's coming for you...

It’s coming for you…


5. The Poor Old Force

They played 60 minutes of good rugby sandwiched by 10 shockers on either side. I suppose you can call them ‘encouraging signs’, but in reality the Force should have won that game. Leading by 7 with 10 to play, they had the measure of the home side. But then they went into their shells and tried to ‘hold out’ instead of remaining on the front foot. You see it time and time again in every sport. As usual they have quality back-rowers coming out the yin-yang, but can’t buy a decent 10 or 15. At least Sias Ebersohn kicked his goals and kept the score ticking over. The Force will beat a few good teams this year, but will battle to avoid the wooden spoon.


4. Meanwhile, in the Republic…

I was looking forward to the Sharks-Stormers game. Both are good sides filled with players I enjoy watching. But the game was a stinker: 12-6 to the Sharks but neither team ever looked like they were even trying to score. The skill level was atrocious — dropped balls, bad passes and chip-kicks so poor they would even make Kurtley blush.

But as always we get the same rhetoric from some (not all) Saffa supporters and commentators: this was a ‘brutal’ game, ‘one for the purists’, with superb defence from both sides. Which is rubbish. It was a steaming pile of shit. Of course the defence was good —  it ain’t hard to make tackles when you are only defending two attacking options: the pick-and-go and the one-out forward runner. Neither side even tried to attack strategically, or at pace, or with depth. Good games are about intent and strategy. The two sides that played on Saturday had neither. At least most Aussies can acknowledge when our derbies are terrible.


Get those freeloaders out of there and get in on Foxsports ya mug...

Get those freeloaders out of there and get in on Foxsports ya mug…

3. The biggest game of the year so far

Of course I am referring to the Brumbies versus Tahs on Saturday night. It promises to be an absolute ball-tearer. Lock up your family and put the beer on ice because this is one you will want to devote all your attention to. The Brumbies need to win to prove they are the real deal, while the Tahs will be out to continue their form from the second half against the Rebels. I think this game is far from a foregone conclusion – I don’t think the Brumbies have been properly tested yet, and hopefully the Tahs will stick a blowtorch right up their… tight five.

I’d also like to silence those pesky Brumbies fans for just a few minutes. Already some of them are suggesting Jesse Mogg should play 15 for the Wallabies against the Lions. Guys, it’s not going to happen (unless 4 or 5 guys get injured). He’s scored a couple of nice tries but you need to do more to make it to the top. Let’s not forget he finished last year with a tackle success rate of just 58%. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy and he may well snatch the 22 jersey if he keeps his good form up (and learns how to tackle), but let’s not get too carried away just yet.*


2. Players I have enjoyed watching in the first three rounds

Frank Halai, Mitch Inman, TPN, Paul Jordaan, Deon Stegmann, Angus Cottrell,  Christian Lealiifano, Chris Noakes, Gareth Anscombe, Charles Piutau, Paddy Ryan, Liam Gill, Frans Steyn, Deon Fourie, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams, Ben Afeaki, Ben Volavola, Ed Quirk, Hugh McMeniman, Kade Poki, Hugh Pyle, Jaques Botes.

The rest of you… lift your game.


1. Wallaby watch

We may struggle without our 2012 kicker though...

We may struggle without our 2012 kicker though…

Has there been any massive change to the Wallabies pecking order in the first few rounds? I don’t think so. Guys like Quirk, Mogg and Cottrell have all been standouts but I can’t see them suiting up in gold by the time June comes around.* The clock is ticking for James Horwill though, he will need an extended time on the field to show he is ready, especially with Douglas, Pyle, Chapman, Carter, Fardy, McMeniman and Simmons all putting forward good performances.

In the backline I can’t see any radical changes to what we saw at the end of last season. AAC has the 13 jersey sewn up, and you would think Digby has one wing spot. Kurtley and JOC will both be in there somewhere, and Quade and Berrick will be there or thereabouts. The only real spot up for grabs (in my opinion) is 12. It obviously depends a lot on who plays 10, but at the moment there are plenty of guys with a claim to the jersey — McCabe, Lealiifano, Barnes, JOC, Carter, Tapuai, even Ant Faingaa. I’d love to see Christian Lealiifano get a run, but I’m not sure if you would risk a debutant in a Lions series.

Interesting times ahead.

 

*And I bet my entire reputation (or what little of it that remains) on the fact that these comments will provoke someone (probably a Queenslander) to make some tired point about bias towards Waratahs in Wallaby selections, or go off on a rant about Robbie Deans. It’s as predictable as a Wycliff Palu injury.

Discussion

  • http://www.facebook.com/DoctorDbx Ian Daley

    Mogg won’t get picked but you can bet Folau will be. That’s what Wallaby fans have come to expect.

    • Barbarian

      He may be picked in a squad, but I’d be very surprised if he got on the field against the Lions. At the moment he is behind Ioane, Cummins, Shiperley, Tomane, Speight, Mitchell, Vuna and Mafi in the Wallaby pecking order. And I know he is a high-profile league convert, but even Robbie isn’t going to throw him in against the Lions unless he seriously starts to carve up.

      I hope.

      • The Rant

        The ARU top-up in Folau’s contract suggests the pecking order looks slightly different.

      • http://twitter.com/Hampel Troy

        Cummins is going to have to pull up his socks if wants to be on that list! He’s been un-Honey Badger like the last two games!

  • Dighton

    I don’t understand this recurring and presumptive selection of AAC. An excellent and faithful servant of the Wallaby cause for many years – yes. An automatic pick at 13 – no.
    Surely the form player capable of playing 13 is Ben Tapuai.

    • Barbarian

      He was one of our best players last year in gold and is our only genuine outside centre (see Scott Allen’s analysis from last year). Taps is good but I struggle to see how he is the ‘form player’, he has hardly been setting the world alight in the first few games. Also he is playing 12 which I think is his stronger position.

      • Dighton

        Thanks for the cogent response Barbarian – I agree that AAC was excellent last year (as was Allen’s analysis) and that he will never let you down when selected, particularly in defence. However, doesn’t the backline desperately need a genuine line breaker as well as a dominant defender at that position so that we can play quick ball in behind set defensive walls. AAC is not the former and at times the latter only sporadically.

        • Bullrush

          I reckon Tapuai is quickly becoming the new Rob Horne. WhenI first came to Australia, so many people on here talked about him like he would fix the back-line woes for the Wallabies and he’d only played like 4 Tests or something. I agree with Barbarian. Until Taps is consistently putting in blinder performances, AAC is the better option. At the moments, Tapua is solid at best.

      • Dighton

        Thanks for the cogent response Barbarian – I agree that AAC was excellent last year (as was Allen’s analysis) and that he will never let you down when selected, particularly in defence. However, doesn’t the backline desperately need a genuine line breaker as well as a dominant defender at that position so that we can play quick ball in behind set defensive walls. AAC is not the former and is the latter only sporadically.

    • Scoey

      Why would we want to replace a specialist 13 in AAC with someone who is “capable of playing 13″? Taps is a 12.

    • http://twitter.com/martyaskew Marty Askew

      Tapuai is Not a 13

  • http://twitter.com/spankee Triggy

    You enjoy watching TPN?

    You enjoy watching a defender rushing up and tackling the ball carrier from an offside position and falling on top of them, without having released them?
    You enjoy watching the defender scramble on to the attacking team’s side of the ruck, all the while he has his hands on the ball, until he releases the ball to grab the half back’s jersey.

    Definite Waratah bias.

    • Barbarian

      What a load of rubbish.

      I enjoy TPN’s cannonball style in both attack and defence. For some reason it’s become unfashionable to say you like TPN. He had a ripper of a game on the weekend, even with a yellow. Threw a couple of lovely offloads and got the Tahs going forward.

      • Scott Allen

        It is now apparent why you rate TPN so highly – you see things on the field that others do and attribute them to TPN.

        How else could you come up with the claim that “he threw a couple of lovely offloads” when in fact he only offloaded once in the entire game?

        • Barbarian

          Well I may have got the number wrong, but I challenge you to say that one offload wasn’t lovely…

        • Scott Allen

          Challenge accepted – that offload wasn’t lovely – nothing associated with a forward playing rugby should be called lovely – although, it was a good offload!

          You’ll have to watch the matches more closely Baba to get your numbers right.

      • Patrick

        I thought he was going to break someone’s knee at one point (i.e. just after he nearly broke Ged’s shortly after he had a fair crack at Beale’s), I rather hoped that the next player would put his knee into TPN’s jaw and break that first.

        Bet you hate me now! :)

  • Adam Diprose

    How does Carter get a look in when referring to the wallabies no. 12 jersey? Very one dimensional and not even very good at that. Should’ve gone to league

    • Barbarian

      I thought that one slipped through to the keeper, took about an hour for someone to pick it up!

      And you needed to dial up the outrage a couple of notches Diprose… I expected better from you.

      • http://twitter.com/martyaskew Marty Askew

        Haha classic

    • Pedro

      He’s obviously refering to Sam Carter.

  • Pedro

    Mogg playing 15 for the wallabies seems to be a suggestion from the mainstream media rather than brumbies fans. I agree that he hasn’t done enough (yet) to be a serious starting option, but it would be nice to have someone with a proper boot on them as our full back again. Although perhaps lacking in defense, there is a lot to like about mogg.

  • dave

    Ben Tapuai deserves the gold for 12. Absolutely owned it last year and so far this year is having a good one.

  • chontsy b

    It so frustrating.. how many times does Queensland have to beat the other Aussie sides for our players to get a look in at a gold jersey? Horwill, Genia, Ioane, will all walk in (two of whom will have played very little rugby in recent months) and after that its like we’re forgotten about. When did selection stop being about results, form and performances and start being about reputation, geography and hype

    • Barbarian

      Amen brother. The Reds fielded a measly 13 capped players on Friday night. I want justice for poor old Albert Anae and Nick Frisby. What have they got to do to get a cap?

      • Joker

        I think the frustration comes from the fact that it took almost a whole season of injuries (and there were a lot in 2012) for some of these guys to even get a look in (not just talking about qld players). Meanwhile for the majority of the season we deal with large amounts of mediocrity while people talk about the class/potential/some other bullshit of those players.

      • Joker

        [IMG]http://i49.tinypic.com/vifuxz.jpg[/IMG]

      • Rex Munday

        You’ve got to be kidding me. What absolute nonsense. Mitchell, TPN and Palu are persistently fast tracked into the Wallabies despite showing little or no form *and* there being other options. Are you suggesting that Phipps or McKibbin should start ahead of Genia and your mate Douglas ahead of Horwill? On the other hand, to fast track Mitchell ahead of Shipperley & Cummins, TPN head of Moore, and Palu ahead of Higginbotham or Mowen was beyond stupid.

        • Jimmy

          So who would you replace Palu with?? We have nothing. He is the ONLY real number 8 in the country. The Reds and Brumbies (and Rebels) have nothing comparable at 8. Higgers is a 6 on a good day. Mowen is totally unproven at test level, and neither provide the impact that Palu does. Sure he can go missing in games but show me a game where Higgers hasn’t done the same. You are smoking something special with that comment.

          Mitchell has been great when he has had the ball this year and is a PROVEN international. For a Lions tour, World Cup, Big game etc it’s experience that counts. Look at the WC’11 – how did all the “young guns” go? How did we go without guys like Palu, Robinson and Mitchell?? Oh that’s right – the ABs ran riot.

          Horwill hasn’t played for so long no one knows if he will be fit or not. Douglas has been outstanding and was excellent when picked for the national team last year so what is your problem with suggesting he may replace Horwill if Horwill is not ready in time??

          It’s not like we can run the Reds forwards onto the pitch – whenever we do that our scrum gets demolished and the opposition are awarded penalty tries. We need players who can step up to the International level and attempt to perform under a coach who really doesn’t know what he is doing.

          Tired of hearing all this garbage about players who haven’t even played a test. Test Rugby is totally different to Super Rugby – plenty of players haven’t been able to make the transition and those that do need plenty of time to get up to speed.

        • bill

          Palu has fallen away a bit in terms of the impact he used to give us. At the same time his aerobic capacity has improved.

        • Sampro

          Mitchell has no form, can’t catch, can’t kick, can’t tackle, gets injured more often than he brushes his teeth, etc. etc. He is a PROVEN international – years ago! Put Shipperley in: you know, that guy who scored the most tries in Australia last year, who also happens to be one of the best defensive wingers around? He’s that same guy that will come off his wing to help out the forwards and put in the hard, but unnoticed work off the ball. Can be pushed into the centre’s when needed too. There’s a reason Quade and Ben Lucas defend near him – so Shippers can do the work.

        • Barbarian

          I heard Ships also rescued a litter of puppies from a house fire, a house fire that was started by… Drew Mitchell. And Robbie Deans was watching the whole thing, laughing.

        • Sampro

          Exactly

        • Shtinatina

          I hope Drew brushes his teeth more than 3 times in 2 years :/

        • Rex Munday

          “Mowen is totally unproven at test level”

          See my comment about circular logic.

  • Truck

    AAC a walk up selection? Pretty sure he got absolutely schooled by his 19 year old opposing 13 the week before last. But I wouldn’t expect you to notice that player given he was wearing Red. Take the blinkers off and people might actually take this weekly blog semi seriously.

    • Rex Munday

      Why is AAC a walk up? Because he’s got experience. Why has he got experience? Because there’s nobody else who’ve proven themselves at 13. Why is there nobody else that’ve proven themselves at 13? Because nobody else has been given a chance. Why has nobody else been given the chance? Because AAC is in the team and he’s got proven experience.

      And so the circular logic goes. You can apply the same for about half the Tahs who get selected for the Wallabies, plus Alexander, McCalman and McCabe.

      • mxyzptlk

        You also just described the Irish selection policy for the past three years. But eventually that implodes, and there’s a trial-by-fire for new talent — as evidence by the Irish selection policy for the past three games.

    • Barbarian

      Far be it for me to interrupt this Queensland whinge-athon, but I would like to point out that AAC has been easily our most consistent and reliable Wallaby of the past three years. We actually have tried numerous other options at 13 (when AAC has been shifted to fullback and wing) but none have displayed the consistent form he did last year.

      And you say he got ‘schooled’ by F’Sautia- so are you suggesting we play CFS against the Lions? I admit AAC had a quiet game, but remember the saying- ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’. Conrad Smith had a quiet game that week as well against the Blues, but I somehow doubt the All Blacks will be dropping him come August…

      • jon

        Most consistant Wallaby?

        I guess you don’t watch Pocock, or Horwill, or James O’Connor, or Steven Moore then.

        AAC hasn’t even played consistently at 13!

        • Barbarian

          But Pocock, Horwill and JOC have spent large periods on the sidelines with injury, while Moore has been on the bench for a lot of 2012. I don’t mean to say he was our best player, but put in a solid performance every week regardless of position or opposition.

        • bill

          as a defensive fullback or a outside centre AAC has been the goods for the wallabies. As a wing or all around fullback he’s been a good out centre. A coach ought to recognise the natural game of the players they have.

          away from outcentre the only consistent thing from AAC is what they used to say about Billy Moore and Gary Larsen when they played state of origin: defend like battleships, attack like popguns.

    • mxyzptlk

      AAC does have two things going for him — the simultaneous double-tackle on Mvovo and DeVilliers. Its probably those sorts of moves that keeps him at the top of the selectors list.

  • Guy

    I think your ‘players to watch’ should have Halai and Piutau underlined and in bold. Unbelievable. Piutau was the player of the round for mine. He got involved everywhere, and each time read the play and was adding something extra.

    And thanks for your article, this is what i come here for. Keep ‘em coming

    • Fairgo

      Shipperley deserves a gold jersey over bloody Mitchell!
      Ditto Tapuai, gill, Wallace Harrison, Mowen, Speight, beau Robinson.

  • Angus Brumcock

    I’m very much looking forward to blowing the froth off a couple and settling in to watch the Brumbies decimate the Tahs to start the beginning of the end of their season. I think the game will be decided in the pack led by two Captains locking horns who until recently were fairly unheralded.

    Speaking of horns anyone hear the news that Rob Horne might be back this weekend? The Tahs financial situation is already bleak without funding the tape to hold his body together…

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