The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

Welcome to the Tuesday Top 5 — the weekly segment where we go in, all guns blazing, and hope not to emerge with our tails between our legs. Here are the five things I learnt from the weekend’s activities:

The Brumbies theme album for 2013

The Brumbies’ theme album for 2013

5. The Brumbies are the real deal

They put the Reds back under the bed on Saturday, and did so fairly comfortably. Their defence was rock solid, which is what you want to see from your team in the first week. Attack will come in the next few games, as confidence picks up and players get back in the swing of a season. But it’s bloody hard to rebuild a shattered defence after week one. The Brumbies showed no sign of second-year syndrome, and looked the goods both in the pigs and out with the girls. I could name a few standouts, but truth be told it was a great 15-man effort. If the injury gods are kind to them they will be right up there come the business end of the season.


4. This ain’t 2011 no more

I won’t write off the Reds completely after one patchy 80-minute performance, but I will go on the record and risk total humiliation by saying they won’t win the comp this year. As much as you can point to the lack of Horwill, Genia, Faingaa and Samo as excuses for their loss, I think there were a few worrying signs that that fact overlooks. The Reds never really looked like scoring — the backs were narrow and the forwards soft and ill-disciplined. The zest of 2011 wasn’t there, and I’m not sure they will get it back. They may do well in 2013; they have too much class not to. But I can’t see them going all the way.


My ideal Wallaby 8

My ideal Wallaby 8

3. Ben Mowen is a Super 8, but not a Test 8

His hard-man, grunting style may cut the mustard at Super level from the back of the scrum, but it doesn’t match what is required from an international 8. I want the Wallaby 8 to be a wrecking ball — breaking tackles, making big hits and generally hurting the poor humans who happen to be wearing a colour that isn’t Aussie Fucking Gold. At the moment that is Palu and Samo, but sadly not Ben Mowen. But fear not, Mowen-ites, as there is another position that his style suits well, and that is blindside breakaway. He has the lineout chops and the mobility to get it done on the side of the scrum. Would I pick him there tomorrow? No. He’s still behind Higgers and Dennis for mine. But that can change quickly, and he will have plenty of chances to prove his superiority in the weeks to come.


2. I’m not sure what to make of the Rebels–Force game

Was it a quality fixture played by two mid-to-high-table sides, or the dance of desperate cellar-dwellars-to-be? Only time will tell. Both sides showed enough to make you think that they won’t be the conference whipping boys, and will knock off enough teams to earn the respect of their fans. In the end it was the class of the Rebels’ Wallaby brigade (and soon-to-be Wallaby brigade) that won the day over the Force’s plucky 15-man effort. If only both sides had a touch of what the other offers — the Force could steal a pinch of the Rebels’ game-breaking class, and the Rebels some of the Force’s admirable consistency. Then we’d have a ball game on our hands. But I fear both teams will be stuck in double digits again in 2013.


Confucius- philosopher, teacher, politician, crashballer

Confucius – philosopher, teacher, politician, crashballer

1. Fear not the pedantic ref, as he will bring a rich harvest later in the season

The words of Confucius if I’m not mistaken, uttered during his stint at outside centre for the Shanghai Sledgehammers. And they are wise words too. Every season it goes the same way — outrage after the first round as referees get stuck into both sides for seemingly the smallest technical flaws. And if it were a Bledisloe, then the anger would be justified. But in round 1 I am happy to see it, as hopefully teams will quickly adapt and play to the fucking rules of the game without niggle or ruck penalties. By round 5 it should all be hunky-dory, and Alby Mathewson will be keeping his hands to himself in the red zone.

 

So there it is, a classic mix of half-baked analysis and fearless predictions that are bound to backfire. It’s going to be a good season.

 

What did you learn from the weekend’s games?

  • Dougall

    Kyle Godwin – Defiantly a player to watch this season and the coming to see how he evolves as a player, already looks class for his age. Other than his kicking, he played a very good game on Friday.

  • dags

    Well said Dougall. I had been very eagerly anticipating seeing the reds and brumbies players in action this weekend but in the end Godwin and Cottrell were, for mine, the most pleasing performances of the weekend. Godwin has got game… was notably better in contact than i thought he was going to be with some committed hits in defence and some good offloads. Hope these two keep it up.

  • #1 Tah

    LIAR! IT’S STILL MONDAY!

    • Exactly. CREDIBILITY = 0

      • Barbarian

        Doesn’t bother me. Ignore my articles, works for the Irish- oh wait, it doesn’t really. They are still a terrible rugby team who have never made a RWC semi…

        • cantab

          I also think you paraphrased Confucius.

  • Scott Allen

    You’re wrong on Mowen – he is much better suited to #8 (as opposed to #6) – #6 should be your only wide playing forward in the pack, whereas #8 needs to stay close to the ruck and do a lot of the grunt work (which Mowen does very well).

    Mowen at #8 is not far away from Palu and should at least be on the bench for the Wallabies given his lineout skills.

    • Nick Hill

      Scott do you think Mowen’s ability at the lineout means he could sneak the 8 spot because it allows both Pocock and Hooper to start together. As you’re article on the workings of a lineout pointed out you need 3 good jumpers. If Mowen isn’t far behind Palu around the park then his lineout ability might edge it because it allows the Wallabies 2 best forwards on the pitch together.

      • Scott Allen

        I think Mowen is a frontline jumper so if you have both locks as frontline jumpers that would give you the three you need and Pocock could be the 4th jumper.

        I still wouldn’t start Pocock and Hooper as it unbalances what you need from your backrow.

        • RaoulDuke

          With the way Deans likes to use McCabe and Digby as ballrunners, do you think having two scavengers may allow the Wallabies the chance to play more expansively? Just thinking that with both Hooper, who is very mobile, Pocock being no slouch either, a lot of quick recycling could occur, allowing a lot of unstructured play, against a potentially flatfooted/broken defensive line, which would give Quade and Genia more excuses for ignoring pre-game instructions. I would not advocate trialling a plan like this against Boks or AB’s, I do think it has the potential to stop some mid-week embarrassments.

    • Barbarian

      I can’t have him there. Despite his good work I have never seen him make a linebreak, a rampaging run or pull off a massive hit. That’s what I want from a Wallaby 8. As to your point about 6 playing wider, that may be true but how wide did Dave Dennis ever play? In my mind he was always fairly close to the action. Could he play lock?

      • Scott Allen

        Dennis plays tight like a lock. That’s one of the reasons why he hasn’t been able to make the Wallabies #6 jersey his own and the Wallabies are still looking for someone to step up and play the #6 role.

        Dennis would be a small lock – will the Tahs ever start him there so we can find out? I doubt it.

      • Brumby Runner

        I accept your bias as a Tahs supporter in favour of Palu, but I can’t say that I’ve seen him bend or break the line very often over the past couple of years. Mostly when playing with the Wallabies it seems to me that he has been tackled quite easily well behind the advantage line. I would take 80 minutes of Mowen any time over Cliffy’s part-time efforts.

      • Who?

        I think there’s too much attention being paid to the numbers on the backs in the loose forwards. We all know the Boks play their fetcher (if they play a fetcher) at 6 more often than 7. We’ve traditionally played our biggest loose forward at 8 (thinking Willie O, Kefu, Lyons, Palu). But the ABs play their bigger impact player at 6 (Messam, Kaino, Collins, etc). So who cares which number’s on the back? As long as the ball comes out of the scrum cleanly, it doesn’t matter who’s wearing 6 and who’s wearing 8, as long as you’ve got balance across the loose forwards.

        So, let’s break this down. Mowen’s competing against Dennis, McMeniman, McCalman, Brown, Hodgson and Higginbotham for a Test spot. But mostly against Dennis, given he’s the incumbent.. McMeniman, well, he’s yet to play a Super game. The Force boys, well, they’re not as useful in the lineout, they’re not as effective round the park when they’ve worn Gold. Both Dennis and Mowen play high workrate games in the tight-loose. And Mowen trumps Dennis. His workrate’s excellent, he’s stronger in the lineout. And he’s not been given a shot and been found consistently wanting by all observers in Wallaby gold.

        The other loose forward spot is a battle between Palu, Samo and Higginbotham. Plus, arguably guys like Auelua. These guys all range wider. They’re ball runners. They’re power players. They might wear 8, but they play the role of a Kaino, not a Read. They’re rarely accused of doing too much work in the breakdown (only Palu, and only more recently, though I’d argue his ball running hasn’t been as effective since he started playing tighter.). All have had issues with consistency, and do their best when not asked to play 80. Whereas Mowen and Dennis are guys you should be looking to have play 80.

        If you had Higginbotham or McMeniman at 6, then it would make sense to have Mowen at 8. If you had Dennis at 6, then you NEED a Palu/Samo/Higginbotham at 8. If you have Palu/Samo/Higginbotham at 8, there’s no reason that Mowen can’t wear 6.

    • Johnny-boy

      And you can rely on Mowen for 80 minutes and more than 1/2 a season on the paddock. Palu, TPN and Robinson have all been team momentum killers because their teammates can’t have much confidence they can last a full game. Perhaps Palu and TPN spend too much time trying to pull off wonder hits like Barbs wants.

    • MatWal

      I agree Scott. I wouldn’t say that Kieran Reid is the wrecking ball described above, but everyone seems to be of the consensus that he’s the best number 8 in the world at the moment?? I think Ben’s definitely earned a shot in the starting team

      • MisplacedCanuck

        starting team! I don’t think the poor guy even got invited to the extended group for pictures and that cheesy video they take of each player. Fan of his, hope things come good for him in the coming year or two.

        • MatWal

          Haha true, maybe got a little ahead of myself there. Selection in the squad would be a start, wouldn’t it!

    • Pedro

      Mowen’s a better player than Dennis and Mcalman. You would think he might have got at least a squad spot. I don’t think you can tell how someone will go at test footy without giving them a go. Plenty of players shine internationally, plenty get found out sometimes regardless of their provincial dominance.

      • Great point. And did warrent a place but still think he’s a 6

  • Parra

    A lot of people have written the Reds off already. As usual it’s way, way too early to start making predictions.

    There were some very pleasing signs in the Rebels Force game after the teams sorted out the first 20 mins or so of dropping/throwing away the ball. Yes, Kyle Godwin, played really well. The Force are lucky to have him and anyone like Cummins, who, while not a star, can make a difference. You have to feel sorry for the Force – they basically have ZERO stars / regular Wallabies / X-factor players etc. (any they had have gone: Pockock, Sharpe, O’Connor, Giteau, Mitchell etc). Wheras the other sides all have sprinkling. Even the Rebels now have Beale, O’Connor and Higginbotham. Both sides showed there is potentially more there this year than 14th and 15th.

    Getting back to the Reds – while they were beaten fairly and squarely by the Brumbies, the game was, in my view, played at a different level to the Rebels/Force either of whom the Reds would have accounted for had they played on the weekend.

    • Johnny-boy

      I estimate the Brumbies played at about 85% of their capacity and the Reds played at about 30 to 40% of theirs. Second match up will be interesting.

      • Pedro

        I estimate both teams tried as hard as they could to win but one was clearly more qualified to do so.

        • Gallagher

          The first try was a gimme with a deflection, the second also weak as Quade tried a miracle pass as a last resort, basically without these moments for the Brumbies the scoreboard would have been far closer, not to minimise the Brumbies as they where VERY good also, the scoreline was just flattering. The Reds will still be a power house this year, they played well without two key monster forwards in Samo and Horwill, no Genia to direct plays and snipe, and no Faingaa to direct the defense.
          Re-match is going to be a different result.

  • agree on Mowen, he’s not physical enough for me to contest the wallabies no.8 spot

    what about fotu though? if he stays fit and shows more of the form we saw last year he surely would have to be considered. He’s a big runner and even bigger tackler who would no doubt scare the shit out of teams

    • The Rant

      watch the game again – he’s very physical at the breakdown. The guys that make showstopping tackles get all the wraps – but he was smashing any reds player unlucky enough to be standing over the ruck. Did a lot of bruising and slowed their ball well. Could be a real 6 option for me – have Pyle or Fardy running wide ;)

  • ScrumJunkie

    “the Force’s admirable consistency” Yeah consistently on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

  • ozwill

    Shouldnt write off the Reds!
    remember last super xv? Reds covered almost every position in super rugby… if you can go from first to last to top 3..
    You definately cant write em off after week 1!!!

  • Nipper

    “In the end it was the class of the Rebels’ Wallaby brigade (and
    soon-to-be Wallaby brigade) that won the day over the Force’s plucky
    15-man effort.”

    Don’t you mean “plucky 13-man effort”? That was the true difference in the game, rather than the “Rebels’ game-breaking class,” wasn’t it?

    Confucious can get $%^$*ed.

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