Just because the Super Rugby season is taking a break, that doesn’t mean we are! Here in this week’s top 5 we look at the Good, Bad and Ugly from the weekend, run the grill over our newest Wallabies, check in on the Lions tour and other International matches going on and keep ourselves happy with some highlights.
The Good, the Bad and The Ugly
The Good – The Wallabies winning is always a good thing, and even better they did it by scoring some good team tries. It’s great to have those flashes of individual brilliance (I’m looking at you Israel Folau) but there’s nothing better than seeing players connecting with the ball to get the points.
The Bad – How on Earth is it possible for a game to re-start after half time and there be players still making their way on to the field as the whistle is blowing? Being late for the start of a half is a junior rugby offence, definitely not one we should be seeing at international level.
The Ugly – The very average sized crowd that came to watch the test match. I understand that there were a few factors in play with this one. Not a huge draw card opposition, Saturday afternoon when there are competing sports on and I’m sure the ARU’s wonderful handling of the whole Rebels/Force/Super Rugby thing had an impact too. I have seen some people openly admit they didn’t go because they won’t support the ARU … well another way of looking at it is that this was a perfect chance for those in Victoria to show how much they love their rugby and send a big message to the ARU that it is a popular sport and will draw the crowds. Unfortunately, the opposite seemed to happen.
The match v Fiji saw 4 players get their Wallaby caps. So let’s take a look at how they went.
Ned Hanigan. Well, he’s no Scott Fardy, that’s for sure. But given his age and relatively limited experience at the top level he sure has the potential to be. He had a mixed bag of a game, solid but not a stand out. He went in hard both in defence and with ball in hand. With more time, he is looking like a good prospect.
Karmichael Hunt. The in-form fullback making his test debut at inside centre, after training at 15 since entering camp and finding out just before the team was named he would be playing 12. Talk about being thrown in the deep end. But despite this he had a very good debut. He was strong in defence, up the pointy end of the tackle count, and ran hard into contact. Imagine what he could do given more preparation.
Joe Powell. He got off to a very nervous start with a terrible pass that could have shaped his time on the field. But he recovered and (box kicking aside, but he certainly wasn’t alone in that indiscretion) did fairly well for the remainder of the match. He got to the breakdown quickly and his passes found their mark, helping in the last Wallaby try.
Richard Hardwick. Talk about a dream start. On the field for like 30 seconds and winning a turnover. Could he be the answer to the breakdown problems that people were moaning about on social media? Good in both attack and defence in the final part of the game, he is definitely one to watch for, hopefully we get to see a lot more of him in Gold.
The Lions Tour
The Lions did what no Super team has been able to do this year, they beat the Crusaders. Here are some of the more noteworthy (or not) moments from the match.
Kiwi commentators at it again – At the 15-minute mark, when Farrell is having a shot at goal the commentators discuss his kicking style and the accompanying facial expression … “A very interesting style Owen Farrell. Looks like he’s only just introduced himself to goalposts.”
Friendly fire – Poor Stuart Hogg was completely wiped out, by the elbow of his Lions teammate, Conor Murray. In real time it was hard to pick up what actually happened, but the replay showed the full impact. Ouch! Unfortunately for Hogg, there are some doubts about whether he will be able to play in the remainder of the tour, pending an assessment on his injured cheekbone.
More from the commentary team – “It’s a tough enough tour as it is without your own half back taking you out.”
“It’s usually a tight five forward that causes some trouble to any other member of the team.”
“Stuart Hogg, who started the game optimistically and has come off misty optically.”
Yay or Nay? – at the 45-minute mark, Owen Farrell takes a shot at goal. The referees said it was unsuccessful, Farrell himself seemed to believe it was successful. The commentators just weren’t really sure either way. What do you think?
The Other Internationals
While all eyes have been on the Wallabies and the Lions tour, there are a handful of other International matches going on all around the globe. Some are of more interest to Australian fans than others, it’s great to see such diversity in the mid-year internationals.
Springboks 37 – France 14 The Springboks looked nothing like the easy beat side of last year, as they took on France in Pretoria. It will be interesting to see if this form and style of play will continue into the Rugby Championship.
Pumas 34 – England 38 With a number of English players out on Lions duty, this could be seen as a weaker side than the one that dominated in the 6 Nations. The Pumas gave them a really good run for their money, nearly pulling off the win, but a last minute try to Denny Solomona, a rugby league convert from New Zealand, gave the English the win.
Scotland 34 – Italy 13 In a match that is of interest to Wallaby fans, given we play both of these teams in coming weeks, Scotland showed that they could be a force to be reckoned with, with a strong win over Italy.
And in the other matches …
Japan 33 – Romania 21 Match Report: http://www.rugby365.com/countries/japan/79570-japan-beat-romania-in-world-cup-rehearsal
USA 19 – Ireland 55 Match Report: http://www.rugby365.com/countries/ireland/79585-ireland-power-past-usa-in-try-fest
Canada 0 – Georgia 13 Match Report: http://www.rugby365.com/countries/georgia/79587-georgia-blank-canada-in-the-rain
Wallabies v Fiji – the good stuff
We watched the game, it was analysed, players were in turn praised and criticised and we all discussed what the Wallabies should do to make the necessary improvements before taking on Scotland.
But let’s forget about all of that for a moment and just watch the highlights of our first win for 2017.