The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby

The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

It’s Tuesday so that means it’s Top 5 time again! Whoot! This week after we grade our teams and look at the good, bad and ugly, we fill up some space with stats, briefly recap the Six Nations action from the weekend and take some acting classes.

Report Card

Rebels B+ The Rebels put on another impressive display in beating the Brumbies. They did well in defence, making a massive number of tackles and once again ran in lots of tries relatively easily, particularly in the second half. I think they played better than last week.

Brumbies D- They were marginally better than last week – but barely. They executed their game plan well, which shows how terrible their game plan is. Holding on to the ball was what the coach asked for, and they did it. They held the ball. But they were completely unable to actually do anything with it.

Reds B- The Reds put in an impressive display, coming from behind to beat the Bulls (who looked like they were channelling Brazil). Their go-to weapon, the scrum, got a workout this week and while dominant at times (particularly once JP Smith came on), was also challenged by the Bulls, and the Reds will need to show that they have more tricks up their sleeve than an awesome scrum. Their attack was disorganised and considering they had 60% of the possession should probably have done more with it.

Whose thighs are those ? Can only be one man. Taniela Tupou wins a turnover.

Whose thighs are those ? Can only be one man. Taniela Tupou wins a turnover.

Waratahs C- It wasn’t until the last 90 seconds of the match that they looked like they were even in the game. They attempted the same method of attack repeatedly – get the ball to the wings so they can run – and it just didn’t work, which seemed to leave them with no plan B. Their defence was like a bucket with holes in it, their tackle percentage could have been even worse if not for the number of times they didn’t even get close enough to attempt the tackle.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good – How good was it to see the Super W this weekend? I managed to catch replays of the games, there was some pretty impressive rugby being played. None more so than by 17-year-old Courtney Hodder who scored 6 tries. She is definitely a player to watch. One thing though – do we really need the W next to the team names during the game? I think viewers might know that they are watching the women play!

Why the W

Bad – The Waratahs against the Jaguares. No attack, poor defence, smashed in the set piece. The try to the Jaguares in the first 17 seconds should have given us a good indication of how the game would play out.

Ugly – The Brumbies. There isn’t much they have tried that has worked, although to be honest there isn’t much they have tried. They seem to have no plan A, let alone a plan B.

Stat Attack

I thought we’d take another look at the stats this week, from this round and overall from the first 3 rounds. I think it’s still too early to see any real patterns, but there are definitely some interesting numbers in there.

Stats week 4

The most obvious question to come from these stats is how the hell did the Brumbies not only manage to lose that game, but lose that game by a lot?! The completely dominated the Rebels in the stats department. By far the majority of possession, better tackle rate, fewer penalties, more defenders beaten … it seems they are simply not doing anything with the ball. If they could actually do something with all the possession and breaks they make they could be a very good team, but right now they aren’t.

Are the Rebels playing extra well to be able to win despite being on the losing side of the stats? When they do come up against a team that doesn’t turn the ball over as easily and punishes them for their high number of penalties they could be in trouble. They really haven’t been pushed in their three games to date.

The Reds played pretty well, but again could have done a lot more with the amount of possession they had. They also beat the defence a number of times but weren’t able to capitalise.

The Waratahs, well their tackle percentage is poor. And that doesn’t even take into account all the times the defender failed to attempt the tackle. In fact, defence from both teams was pretty poor in that match.

Stats weeks 2-4

Looking at the stats for the three rounds so far, one of the biggest concerns for the Rebels would have to be the number of penalties they are giving away. As I said earlier, they will come up against teams who are far more able to make them pay for that many infringements. Interestingly the Rebels have the lowest number of offloads and the fewest defenders beaten.

The Reds aren’t running as much with the ball, actually they aren’t in possession of the ball as much as their counterparts. Perhaps they are relying more on their set piece to gain the advantage. Their discipline has been outstanding – remember how after their first match everyone was worried they would have discipline issues? Well a few cards aside, that hasn’t eventuated yet.

The Waratahs are a bit all over the place. They are doing ok in attack, fairly average really, but their defence is letting them down with the worst tackle rate and the most turnovers conceded. They have the highest number of offloads, I wonder if this is leading to more turnovers being conceded?

The Brumbies – well on paper it looks as though they are going ok. Their biggest issue is attack, they have plenty of the ball but are doing nothing with it. They are beating the defence, offloading and carrying for a lot of metres, but it isn’t translating to points. Defence alone won’t win them matches.

Stats courtesy of sanzarrugby.com

Six Nations – A New Champion

Over the weekend the penultimate round of the Six nations was played. A lot was riding on this weekend, Would Wales beat Italy? Yes. Would England keep their title chances alive by defeating France? It seemed likely. Would Scotland give their title chances a boost by defeating Ireland? Or would Ireland remain undefeated? It was up in the air.

So what happened? How did it all play out?

Well, Wales beat Italy 38-14. That was the one that didn’t surprise many, Wales went into the match as overwhelming favourites. Oh, and did I mention a new a Champion was crowned. Ireland defeated Scotland 28-8, and in doing so remained undefeated and took the title with one round remaining. “How can that be?” I hear you ask. England has only lost one game too and if they beat Ireland next week …. Oh.

Embed from Getty Images

Yep, in the game that they were widely expected to win, England went down to France 22-16 and in doing so lost their grip on the cup. This meant that Ireland, with only one round remaining, cannot be overtaken. Next week, they take on England in a match that could see them complete the Grand Slam and go through the tournament undefeated. It will be a tough ask, I doubt England will just lie down after 2 losses on the trot, but then no one really believed they would lose to France. But the luck of the Irish will be strong that day, the game is being played on Saturday March 17th. Yep, St. Patrick’s Day.

So anything can happen.

The theatrical side of rugby

In scenes reminiscent of Kung Fu Panda, this weekend we saw the smallest of opponents fell the largest with one blow.

After getting tired of being held back by the big man, little Matty Lucas wound up and used his “fist of fury” to deliver an almighty blow to opponent Amanaki Mafi, flooring him instantly, leaving Mafi on the ground, groaning in agony.

Now I’ve never been hit by Matt Lucas so I don’t know just how powerful he is, but judging by how much pain Mafi was in, I’d say he’s someone that no one in the game should mess with – ever. The mere threat of his fist should be enough to send the opposition scurrying. Take a look for yourselves.

If you listen closely I’m pretty sure you can hear Mafi saying at least 3 times, in between his groans of pain, that he got punched. He really wanted that trainer to know he was punched! Then as soon as the referee asks if he’s on or off he bounces up, all signs of discomfort, let alone the agony he appeared to be in, gone. Oh, and he immediately has a go at Lucas (not the first time in the match he played push/shove with a scrummie, he did it to Joe Powell as well in the 6th minute of the match before throwing the ball at him).

I’m not saying that Mafi was pretending, surely a beast of a man (AKA: Panda) like him wouldn’t make it look like he was taken out by a piddly scrum half just to get the other player penalised or carded … right? Rugby players don’t do that sort of crap! They even made a law to make sure of it – Law 7 c. A player must not do anything that may lead the match officials to consider that an opponent has committed an infringement.

SANZAAR has issued Matt Lucas a warning for being a meanie-beanie and a bully and told to pick on someone his own size.  Oh, and to try to make it look legitimate for contravening Law 9.12 – A player must not strike with the hand. They also warned him about bringing the game in to disrepute; we don’t need him causing tears and tanties from sooky la la’s that make the game look like soccer.

Reality TV

Ok, so I saw this pop up on one of the news sites over the weekend. In a move that is sure to increase their viewership 100 fold, it is being reported that Nick Cummings AKA the Honey Badger will be the next Bachelor in the Channel 10 reality series. If this turns out to be true, I look forward to all the GAGR closet Bachelor fans come out of the woodwork. I know I’ll be forcing Mr MST to watch it (and no, I am not a fan of the show, never watched it before). But for now join the conversation in the GAGR forum dedicated to the topic.

  • Reinforce

    I would be very happy to watch the Honey Badger on the Bachelor. I would imagine a lot of fair dinkums going on. I was desperate for him to earn more than his 15 caps as I thought he was a magnet for the non-rugby follower and could have developed a global cult following. Wasn’t meant to be but he adds to the special character(s) that is rugby.

  • Duncher

    As for the Tah’s defense… Isn’t that Daryl Gibson’s remit these days???

    • Jason

      I love how everyone is like “‘Tha’s are alright” then one loss “‘Tha’s are fucking shit!”

      • Duncher

        Hey… Whoa whoa whoa…. I don’t remember seeing a game before I declared they were fucking shit this year!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          yeah not sure anyone has said they’re alright this year yet

        • Greg

          But to @disqus_IvaMHsGza4:disqus’s main point

          “‘Tha’s are fucking shit!”

          I am looking for my rebuttal…. nope… can’t find it.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I’m not sure there is a rebuttal to that

        • Jason

          Mate, I haven’t been this keen for a Reds vs Waratahs game — the Reds forwards pack are going to eat the Waratahs front row for breakfast, then the rest of the pack for Lunch… Their backs might show up though.

        • David Creagh

          Plenty of it In SMH. No objectivity in reporting anymore (if there ever was). Apparently the ‘Tahs women thumped the Reds women. 18 – nil is not a thumping.

        • Maybe you should have watched the game. The women got the ball over the tryline at least another three times before stuffing it up. I don’t think the Reds spent more than one minute in the opposition 22, all the action was in the Reds defensive quarter. It was definitely a thumping.

        • David Creagh

          Yeah, I did watch the game and I see your point. You are quite correct but unlike kick and giggle you don’t get points for almost scoring. It says that despite the fact that QLD spent most of the time in their half their defence was effective. I am not saying that NSW was not dominant – clearly they were, but to me a rout means the scoreline a la Force vs Rebels. My actual point is that the SMH has lost all objectivity in their reporting of rugby, as much as I hate to say it bring back Spiro and Crowden.

        • Jason

          Okay, perhaps that everyone should read ‘some’. I did suspect the Reds would be better than the ‘Tahs this season.

        • David Creagh

          Nah, I thought they were lucky against the Sharks and very lucky against the Stormers. It is the ‘Tah lovers that say “look we have won one and drawn one and only lost the one. We’re going OK”.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks MST. Not sure how the Tahs don’t get a D- with that pathetic display. If it was against a good side then maybe a D, but to lose like that against the Jaguars is pretty poor.

    That was a disgraceful display by Mafi. Someone needs to tell him he’s not either playing soccer nor in a South American team. Personally I’d issue him a skirt to wear at the next training run.

    • Pedro

      Skirt? Like he’s a woman? Come on let’s all accept that women are less theatrical than Mafi.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Hahaha good point. And it was so bad that’s an insult to women.

    • HK Red

      Hooper tried something similar vs the Jags on the weekend. He came flying through the other side of the lineout, arched back, arms thrown in the air, like he’d been taken out by a sniper. Thankfully, he quickly realised the officials weren’t having an ounce of it, and he got up and returned to the defensive line.
      * Beale has quite a bit of form in this area as well.
      It’s something I hate to see and that rule (Law 7.(c)) was brought in for a reason a year after the Argies joined, so why aren’t officials using it??

    • John Tynan

      Compare it the French – yes, FRENCH – winger – yes, WINGER – repeat, FRENCH WINGER – who copped Watson’s head high “try saver” on the weekend – just concentrated on getting the ball back to the his team’s advantage, none of the theatrics we may have come to expect from The Gallic Flair.

      • MST
      • MST

        This one at about 1:30 mark?
        https://youtu.be/02Q9Jlo6At0

        • John Tynan

          That’s the one. No theatrics I could see in any of the replays or highlight packages, doesn’t stay down or protest or writhe in agony,or any other modern pursuits.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mind you they did get a penalty try out of it

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Amazing. Only makes Mafi look worse

    • Huw Tindall

      Theatrics could/should make Mafi ineligible for the Aus Super player of the year award. It’s just blatant cheating. No other way to put it. I like in the AFL how you can’t win the Brownlow if you’ve copped a suspension. A real award for the best and fairest!

  • John Miller

    No. 6: The breakdown is dead. Long live the breakdown!

    Can we all now put to bed the total myth that the ruck is freshly sacrosanct under the new breakdown laws? It is not. And it’s not wholly dependent upon the ref either – or if it is, the list of refs allowing stiff competition for possession is becoming longer every weekend.

    Again, the 6 nations showed healthy competition for possession at the rucks – an openside-less + second-rower in the backrow-augmented England yet again paying the price for lack of ruck expertise.

    In Jeremy Guscott’s words: “Whatever work on the breakdown England did during the period between the Scotland and France games, they didn’t do it very well. In both games, England didn’t win ball on the floor, they didn’t run hard enough into collisions to have momentum and then the back-up to clear out that ball. It was always slow because they didn’t have enough people at the breakdown.”

    And from Eddie Jones himself: ““We did not learn quick enough. Why I am not 100 per cent sure. There’s no lack of effort. The game is changing a little bit. We are probably slow to adapt to it. The breakdown’s certainly becoming more contestable.”

    On the list of adjudicators allowing incumbent interpretation of the ruck, add to both Nigel Owens & Jaco Peyper, every single head referee that officiated a match containing Australian opposition this weekend in which “forced turnovers” from Colby Faingaa, Uelese, Sione, Smit (Bulls), Liam Wright, Topou, Ezcurra (Jags) and several from the talismanic Augustine Creevy (including one outstanding tackle/to feet/jackal pilfer), showed defenders being allowed to continue the breakdown contest even after the attacking cleaners had arrived.

    Bottom line: the supposed death of the breakdown and the extinction of the ruck expert is the biggest wind up since Y2K.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate the rule on remaining with hands on the ball hasn’t changed. If you legally have your hands on the ball then you can continue when the opposition comes in. The only change was the tackler has to release the player, get to their feet and come in from on side. What the smart teams are doing is having players work in pairs so the tackler releases and rolls away (mostly) then the 2nd player goes for the ball from the on side position. He is allowed to remain hands on when other opposition turn up

      • Simon

        That’s how most teams have done it the last few years anyway. In most situations the second man in is able to get over the ball quicker than the tackler is able to get to his feet, and he’s usually in a much more stable position too. The only thing that’s really out of the game now is the sneaky stand up and grab the ball from the attacker’s side of the breakdown, but that was a minority of turnover cases anyway – not least because it’s easier to clean out a player from there.

        One other thing I have noticed is that the refs seem to have balanced it out by giving the attacking side less leeway to release the ball. Basically if a player gets over the ball, you have one shot at a cleanout and about one second to get him off it, or else it’s a penalty for holding on. Quite often what I’ve seen now is the attacking side does get the guy off the ball after 1.5-2 seconds but the ref blows the penalty anyway. Last year a lot of those would have been considered play on, but now it’s very much a Sevens type interpretation.

        IMO that’s why we’ve seen such a long list of breakdown penalties. I actually think it might have gone a bit far – the cleanout is more than just the initial hit and it can sometimes take a second or two to fully complete it. I don’t think they should blow the whistle until the cleanout action has been completed and the defender still has hands on the ball.

        One thing’s for sure – under this interpretation there are still going to be a hell of a lot of breakdown penalties.

      • John Miller

        KRL / Simon, zero disagreement from me on all points.

    • Who?

      Very happy to see it, John, very happy after our friendly chat last week. :-)
      Interesting that you pointed out the issues with the ‘early adopters’ – which meant the Premiership – would be sorted by the June Internationals. But Eddie’s been very careful NOT to blame the Premiership (which means he thinks it’s the Premiership), and it’s clearly the English (who all play in the Premiership) who have issues.
      Also interesting that Guscott blames it on not winning the collisions. That’s not the only way to win quick ball – intelligent placement and good support works just as well. But I believe Cheika’s issues at the breakdown are often due to him focusing on winning the battle on the ground by winning the battle in the air first (i.e. the collision). Assuming that, if the collision is lost, fast ball is lost. But the 2011 Reds and other teams (Japan vs SA 2015!) have shown that doesn’t have to be the case – you just have to get support in immediately and get a good long place.

      • John Miller

        Yep, good point & well made Who? I agree regarding Cheika’s conundrum. The duality of picking agile/athletic but small/less physical backrowers means the combination of losing the up-front battle/central collisions + frailty in the set piece + frugal ground game acumen (not just at defensive rucks but protection on attacking ball – as England has patently found out) is a millstone around the Wallabies neck. Strong, blunt-force ruck cleaners are a must if we are deploying one or both of our flankers in the tramlines; who get cold waiting for quick, front foot ball (that never comes). If the Wallabies possessed an abrasive, aggressive and effective pack with multiple ruck support exponents, I’d applaud Cheika’s game plan and selections. As it stands, there’s little point in selecting a starting team gearing up for an end-to-end, flowing ensemble game when every smart team is preparing to batter the Wallabies into submission at the set piece, in the mauls and particularly in the trench warfare of up-front collisions and hard breakdown contest for the first 30 minutes. And Ireland are the best at this.

  • Never thought I’d see the day when the Reds had the best discipline in the conference.

  • Chinese Dave

    Gotta love Matt Lucas, quick, great pass, lots of heart. Not sure who he’s pissed off to not have gotten more of a run at the Tahs and the Wallabies, but he’s one of my favourite players. Watching that video is cringeworthy, Mafi, what a disgraceful piece of shit you are.

    Also, the grade, just like the scoreline, massively flattered the Tahs.

  • Alister Smith

    Given that some gave Darryl Gibson six weeks at the start of the season to get things right and he took on defence, which is the Tahs worst performing area, it probably doesn’t look good for him. Still, as bad as they’ve played they have only lost one game (badly I’ll admit) and have only had one derby so let’s see how they go against the other Aussie sides. Will be a very interesting contest against the Reds when it comes, a young side building their game on forward dominance and set piece against a side with a small, underperforming pack.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      It’ll be coven better when they play the Canes or Crusaders

      • Alister Smith

        Well from our point of view it will be even worse … but I get your meaning KRL

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    MST, I know I brought this up last week but I’ve been thinking about it a bit. It appears that we may be picking the wrong stats if the losing team is looking better than the winning team. When you look at why the Reds beat the Brumbies I think apart from the passion they brought to the game what nailed it for them was (in no order):
    – dominant tackles. So complete and pushed the tackler back
    – dominant carries. So made the gain line
    – set piece turnover. Scrum and lineout
    – number of times they had more than 5 phases making ground

    Maybe these are better stats to look at. Not sure how or who would do it but it seems to me those were the ones the Reds got and they won so maybe better than what SANZAR collects.

    • MST

      You have a point KRL and those stats you suggest may provide a better indicators of whats going on (I would love to see them). But we are not sure where we can get that information.

      But seeing better stats from a losing team is not uncommon for Australian teams and in the Brumbies case does match what the head coach has been saying. Post Sunwolves he openly stated he wants his forwards to take the tackle to draw in defenders. He also said they need to be patient and wait then pick the right moment to attack if / when the opportunity presents itself. The stats appear to match the game plan. The Brumbies also lack defensive pressure and once frustrated and behind they end up conceding penalties.

      In the case of the Brumbies (v Reds) the first two stats and last one could still have the Brumbies ahead in the ststs but not on the scorebord.

      I think at some point the Aussie teams need to work out what attack actually is. I watch Kiwi games and I see patterns in how players position to back up and work together to create opportunities. When I watch Aussie games I see patterns but they are structured backline positioning or set plays etc. Very different methodologies and philosophises – and results.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yeah I was thinking as I wrote, where the hell would you find them.

        I think a lot of it is intensity. The amount of times you saw a red player or rebels player sprinting from a tackle to get back in position or fighting to get free whereas the Brumbies and Tahs were almost like League players “done my bit now sit and wait for someone else to do something for a while”. This weekend should be a watershed moment I think

        • MST

          Just hop over in to the Brumbies 2018 forum Re: the “watershed moment”. ;)

Rugby

Brumbies first, then for the love of the game. "It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right." —Moliere

More in Rugby