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

The Tuesday Top 5

Welcome to yet another Tuesday Top 5. It rolls around pretty quickly, doesn’t it? Lots of stuff as usual, good, bad and ugly stuff, grades, Wallaby stuff, a bit of a look at the backs from the weekend and our picks of the best stuff.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good – At least we have one team carrying the torch for Australia. The Rebels are sitting on 18 points with 4 wins and 2 losses. That puts them at third overall on the table (ignoring conferences), which is the best an Aussie team has been in a while. Plus they have a game in hand over the Crusaders who are on top.

Bad – On Friday night we saw a perfect example of what is wrong with Australian rugby. The Waratahs rested Foley and gave Mack Mason the start. Since signing with the Tahs in 2017, this was Masons fifth appearance and his second start. Two appearances in 2017 for 101 minutes, ZERO appearances in 2018 and named in the match day 23 five times in 2019 prior to the Sunwolves game. Out of the five matches he was named in, he got 0 minutes off the bench in three of them, and a total of 10 from the other two. In two- and a-bit seasons he has played 131 minutes of rugby. This is a player who was touted as the next wallabies 10. He was even brought into the Wallabies development squad in June 2017. I’m sure we can agree his performance in the match on Friday was … well underwhelming, but whose fault is that? He has done pretty much nothing with the Waratahs but train and play a couple of trial matches in two and a half years. What this guy needs is match time alongside the players who are regular starters, but he will no doubt be relegated back to the bench only to be brought on in the last five or ten minutes of matches, providing the Tahs have a handy lead and look unlikely to lose. Regardless of what you think of his ability, this is a good example of why we are losing young players overseas. He won’t develop without game time and we won’t find out if he is a dud investment and tying up a potential opportunity for another young player.

Ugly – Conversely to the place of the Rebels, the Australian conference currently has three teams in the bottom four. The Reds, Brumbies and Sunwolves are sitting right down the bottom of the ladder. But they are still doing their part for the Aussies, with the Reds and Brumbies helping out the Rebels by contributing to three out of their four wins.

 Samu Kerevi draws attention  Reds v Rebels 2019

Report Card

Waratahs D:  Big questions have to be asked about the Waratahs backline. 16 out of the Waratahs 22 missed tackles came from the backs. 15 out of the total 22 turnovers came from the backs. This is concerning seeing as three of these players are most likely going to be at the World Cup and another is on the list of hopefuls. They were only missing Foley and AAC from the backs, and while they may have made a difference (Mason was responsible for a sizable chunk of turnovers), it is still not good enough. No matter how good a player is in attack, if they can’t tackle they are a liability. But it wasn’t just the backs who were terrible in this game. There was no one who stood up and took charge of the game. Hooper tried hard and tackled his heart out, and Simmons had a fairly solid game, but they need more than just those two to stand up.

Rebels B: The Rebels did enough to get a good win over the Reds. They heaped pressure on the Reds and forced them into silly mistakes. They were aided by some pretty poor play by the Reds, but still did the hard work. It will be interesting to see the Rebels come up against a full-strength team who is playing well, as good as their results are so far they haven’t exactly faced top opposition yet. Their maul is looked really dangerous, and Cooper combined really well with his backs and put a lot of pressure on the Reds defence.

Reds D-: Another inconsistent performance from an Aussie team. They strung two wins together against the Sunwolves and Brumbies, and fans had high hopes going into this game. But they didn’t live up to them, falling short in most areas of the game. Their maul defence fell apart, lineout was repeatedly stolen or disrupted (all credit to the Rebels jumpers for doing a good job there) and they dropped the ball at will. Brumbies fans were left wondering where this Reds team was last week, Reds fans were left asking where was last week’s team this week.

Sad Taniela Tupou  Reds v Rebels 2019

WALLABY RDO’S

As you can see, the usual suspects all played the full 80 again. We had Foley rested and the brumbies contingent on a bye leaving just 3 players who have played the maximum minutes so far. Folau, Hooper and Kuridrani have all played the full 80 every week, followed closely by Kerevi who has missed just 5 minutes, Maddocks, Banks, Hanigan and Simmons. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jake Gordon’s minutes are dropping each week now that Phipps is back.

Who stood out: Genia proved once again that he is miles ahead of the next in line for the number 9 position. He is probably the only player to come back from overseas who deserves to walk right into the Wallabies (but I’m sure he won’t be the only one who does).

Raised questions: Beale and Folau. These two are meant to be part of the Wallabies backline and stars for the Tahs. But they contributed so little to this game. Beale missed his customary tackle that let in a try and Folau was once again unable to ignite the backline. Folau had some huge stats this week, 106 metres, 11 defenders beaten, 3 clean breaks, but balance that out with the 1 tackle made and 2 missed and 3 turnovers conceded. In fact 6 of the Tahs 22 missed tackles came from just these two players.

Blotted his copy book: Phipps not only blotted his copy book, he ripped out an entire chapter. His play was nothing special, but that screw up just before half time? Where was he getting his information that the half had ended? The siren hadn’t gone. The ref hadn’t blown the whistle…… aren’t one of those two things at least required for half time, if not both? Back to his actual game – 3 tackles, 2 missed tackles, 2 penalties conceded and 3 turnovers conceded.

Ned Hanigan – where do I start? There was one try when I swear he just watched the Sunwolves player run past him while he jogged along, then there was the dumbass penalty with a few minutes to go that basically let the Sunwolves clear the danger zone and retain the ball for the remainder of the game. He put no pressure on defensively and I barely recall seeing him with ball in hand (although when I check the stats I can see why that is. 4 carries for 2 metres gained. Oh dear.)

Nick Phipps feeds scrum Waratahs & Crusaders 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

General observations:

The Backs. I’ll go into a bit more detail about this in a minute, but we have had it shoved down our throats that the backs can’t perform behind a beaten forward pack. Well I’m starting to think our Wallaby backs might be the problem after all – so many big names that deliver little. Like I said, I’ll go into that soon.

Who do we think should be added into the Wallaby conversation? Well QC is an obvious one, his combination with Genia has gotten the Rebels out of trouble a few times. Plus his goal kicking is trumping Foleys at the moment too. Jones and Philip are continuing to show good form not only for there good work in the line out, but work around the park.

The conversation around wing possibilities has both Sefanaia Naivalu and Alex Newsome worth a mention.

When it comes to that “utility” player, the left field option I want to put out there is Bryce Hegarty. Over the last few weeks he played really at both 10 and 15.

The backs – what’s going on

I’m just going to throw some numbers at you.

15 out of 22.
16 out of 22.
13 out of 20.
9 out of 13.
3 out of 7.

They look like pretty good stats, right? Well let’s find out what they really are.

15/22. The starting backs for the Waratahs made conceded 15 turnovers between them. The Waratahs had a total of 22 turnovers for the match.

16/22. The starting backs for the Waratahs had a combined total of 16 missed tackles. The Waratahs had a total of 22 missed tackles for the match.

Do you see where this might be going?

9/13 – Rebels backs/total for Rebels turnovers conceded.

13/20 – Rebels backs/total for Rebels missed tackles.

And the 3 out of 7? Well that is Samu Kerevi’s missed tackles compared to the total number of missed tackles for the Reds.

Now I want you to think for a moment about where our Wallaby backs come from. Beale, Folau, Phipps, Hunt (on the radar) Genia, Hodge, Maddocks, Koriobete, Kerevi … all of them contributed to those poor stats.

There’s no denying most of those players have good skills when on attack. Maddocks reads the play well and knows how to put himself in the best position to get the ball. Folau can catch a high ball and score tries. When Beale is on song he can put players through gaps and find the gaps himself. Hodge has a huge boot. Hunt goes hard into contact. We don’t see this consistently (but that is a whole other issue) but on defence? If I’m on the opposition and I have seen numbers like these, I know where I will be targeting when I have the ball.

Duncan Paia'aua evades Quade Cooper  Reds v Rebels 2019

Our Picks

Top tries –  The Blues  scored a beauty in their match against the Stormers. I love a good fend! I’ve also included Masirewa’s second of his three tries.

Best goal kick – This one is a bit of no brainer, although if you are a Waratahs fan it will probably make you cry as it was the 2 points that gave the Sunwolves the win. But honestly, how good is Hayden Parker?!

via GIPHY

Best (?) try celebration – we saw it three times on Friday night, and I still have no idea what it is.

via GIPHY

It’s yours! – The dummy run from Folau fooled everyone, including three of his teammates!

via GIPHY

  • Jason

    D- For the Reds — that’s way too low, a C- maybe but a D- no. They didn’t have a good game, but they didn’t let the Rebels dominate in a game where the Rebs were clearly the better side. You really risk your credibility by being too reactionary.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I actually agree with the score. The Reds were very poor and their reserves didn’t step up either. Maybe a D rather than a D- but tbh there’s not a lot between those two anyway

      • John Tynan

        When the Tahs get a “D”, there’s plenty of difference!

  • T.edge

    I agree with Mack Mason. All things considered the pressure he must be under to perform for the Waratahs with the way the backline has been performing must have weighed him down. How can he be expected to improve without game time and without developing combinations with your team.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      TBH he needs to talk to his agent and look elsewhere. If he doesn’t do this then a lot does go on his head

      • Dylan Langes

        Well rumour is Foley is expected to leave at the end of the season which would leave him well open to take the starting spot.

    • John Tynan

      It’s been said a few times by others, but where were the experienced players to help take the pressure off him?

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        To busy missing tackles, running sideways and thinking of their next paycheque

    • Happyman

      Ufortunately this is symptomatic of the way that Australian Rugby treats young players either A don’t play them at all or throw them in the deep end without a parachute. The wider issue is that boys still don’t play enough. I know of some guys in Colts this year who are in the Reds Academy and earlier in the year they were not allowed to play trials as they had academy training. surely at that age the best training is playing.

  • Patrick

    You’d have to think that it would be a good step forward if Scott Johnson said that as far as he was concerned if you regularly missed tackles over the season you just weren’t a contender for a squad spot.

    Because unless you are under 20 and Billy Slater’s second coming (not that he was a bad tackler) then you shouldn’t be. Even if you did go to the right school.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks MST. Very glad you’re doing this as it must be very hard with the crap being dealt up by some of the teams. No issues with the scores although maybe the Tahs deserve a D- as well.

    For me the interesting part is going to be who makes the Wallabies. Some people do step up for their country and get picked when they don’t seem to deserve it. Think Nonu at times for the ABs, but I think even Cheika must be questioning some of his golden love children this year.

  • Footyyy

    The Wallabies need Meakes. He’s been a rock in defense for the Rebs. He’s made more tackles (56) than any other back in super rugby (other than Kriel (57)) He’s also building a great partnership with Quade & Genia.

    • GO THE Q REDS

      No way has Meakes shown enough to be a wallaby over others. It’s his personal contribution that lacks. He’s a great team player and works hard! But that’s not good enough. Hamish Stewart for eg does those things aswell, but you wouldnt pick him in the team! I but would have Tomua, Kerevi, Hunt ahead of him easily. All you need is a good defensive talker/organiser like Quade or Hunt and bam. .. Defence is shored up! Hunt and AAC showed what a good tough talkative defence can do the other week. ..But you simply must be able to offer something individually at test lvl.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Hey MST, great write up as usual. I am glad all the stats are there to share. It clearly demonstrates that there are players like QC that get maligned as bad in Defence. But alas the are not the worst by a country mile.
    Our backs Defence is killing us, across the SR board and definitely the Wallabies.
    The only thing that really concerns me now is are the players selected getting there on merits. Because if a number of the incumbents (allegedly your honour) get there again this year, there will be people baying for blood.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Beale’s effort on the first Sunwolves try was among the most pathetic I’ve ever seen. The only comparable one think I can think of was Phipps’ effort on Muirhead in the Brumbies vs Tahs in Sydney last year.

      Beale is a bloke who just last week said that he felt most comfortable playing 12, the backline position that gets the most and heaviest traffic from opposition forwards.

      There is no rugby position for players who do not want to tackle.

      • Bernie Chan

        I think MST was too generous towards Beale…as Hoss noted earlier, Beale spent much of the match actually WALKING when the Sunwolves had possession. A disgraceful lack of effort…If Beale thinks his defence as a #12 is good enough then he is delusional.
        The experienced Wallabies let the Tahs down badly…and failed to take any pressure off Mason, the most inexperienced player in the XV.
        I note that in fuxsports, their chief cheerleader refers to “the ever reliable Bernard Foley…”. I must be watching another game…

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I wonder what the cause of the cognitive dissonance re. Foley is.

          Groupthink, the fact he is a Waratah, the fact Cheika loves him or just the fact he isn’t Quade?

        • laurence king

          Neither Beale nor Foley are what they once were. They’ve been worked out and now their faults out-weigh the positives. Without Taquele and Hegarty to a lesser degree, the Waratah backline has become pedestrian.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I disagree Foley has been “worked” out….. It never gets that far. He repeatedly makes stupid mistakes and weird discissions under no pressure. Beale most certainly has been worked out as a 1st or 2nd receive tho…..

        • Bernie Chan

          It is kind of odd isn’t it how such occurs? A few years ago I had a colleague who swore black-n-blue (and got bloody angry that most of us disagreed…) that the Manly Sea Eagles NRL hooker at the time was clearly a better player than a bloke named Cam Smith…perhaps the finest league hooker of all time…?
          Might be points 1 & 2…Cheika is now talking up Jake Powell, coincidentally (?) after Jake re-signed with the Tahs…I’d have thought young McDermott has overtaken a few in the race for the 3rd scrumhalf spot for the RWC, though he must continue to impress and not get injured.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I’d say the last one carries ALOT of weight seeing as only one fox sports guy is picking Quade in their wallaby teams so far despite being heads n shoulders consistently the best 10 in Aus and arguably the whole comp! Tomua unseen is getting the nod, and even Foley gets picked still. BLOWS my mind….

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep. If and when he ever gets his form back I would consider him as a super sub to bring on in the last 15 mins to make something happen. But to be honest I dont want him in the team at all his off field indiscretions have been a blight on Aus rugby.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          His form doesn’t warrant selection and neither does he warrant selection due to great behaviour and leadership.

          No 80 cap Wallaby should be avoiding making tackles like that. What sort of message is that to the younger members of his teams?

        • Brisneyland Local

          I agree. Personally I would send him back to NRC to have him relearn how to play. and not protect in the SR environment.

        • Happyman

          His behaviour did not warrant selection some years ago and it is an stain on the administration that he was ever allowed to play for Australia again.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I agree. But unfortunately we are not the selectors or RA. But apparently Gilbert is judged by others standards!

        • Happyman

          Agreed

  • Dylan Langes

    Stephen Hoiles and Drew Mitchell were saying on Friday night that the Waratahs have completely miss handled Mason, stating he should have been given 15-20minutes each game this season and allowed him to build confidence. They believe not letting him on when the game is close would have done a number on his confidence.
    We also see this at the Rebels when Michael Ruru barely gets any minutes then gets a start. He over plays his hand thinking he needs to do everything to try and earn his spot and ends up doing more harm than good. Granted he’s behind the best No.9 in Australia so that makes it hard.
    But Cheika did the same thing with Joe Powell at the Wallabies, played 4 tests for a total of like 15 minutes. We just don’t know how to develop these players some times and then expect the world from them.

    • Westo

      I totally agree, though you have to remember that when you are losing a test match, which is fairly frequent lately, then you always have a tenancy as coach to keep your best players on the field in a desperate attempt to claw back the oppositions number two. Needless to say we have failed to up-skill and nurture players and have failed to win test matches… double fuck

      • Dylan Langes

        Yeah absolutely its a double problem that we don’t have a plan for development and when we have injuries we freak out. Or we go with the Cheika method of playing people out of position.

  • Happyman

    Thanks MST great write up as always. The turnover stats can be a little misleading as most teams are attacking the breakdown in the sider channels much more than on the inside where there are more bodies. Missed tackles is always a problem but it always goes to show that forwards win matches and back decide by how much.

  • Bobas

    Mason should have at least had a go at 10 with Foley outside him. Then he could be never selected again.

    • Brendan Hume

      I wish this comment was on Facebook so I could laugh react

  • Bobas

    I just had a quick look at the Shaking My Head TOTW. Koroibete was selected, literally the worst player on the field last round…

  • Damo19

    This World Cup like never before will be dominated by swarming, highly organised, big collision defensive lines plus big, fast backrowers and mid fields pouring into vulnerable defensive channels. These patterns were already evident in 6N and so far in NZ and SA super rugby game plans. The only way we will get out of our pool let alone any further will be to fight fire with fire at the collisions and run attacking plans which put the defense into disarray. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the NZ super teams seem to have all ramped up their offload games this year to upset D lines. This will no doubt be a big part of the AB’s pattern of play in Japan.
    Kurtley Beale has been a lynchpin of a Wallaby backline strategy of shovelling the ball into outside channels looking for spaces. A strategy which has collapsed under intense defensive pressure and failed on almost every occasion in the last 3 years and will fail again at RWC 19. We need a forward back 5 who can dominate the advantage line (the personnel of which is for another discussion) and a backline which is fast and direct and who can hold their own defensively on the inside channels.
    Beale has been responsible for some exciting try scoring sequences through his career, but unfortunately the Tier 1 test game plans have made him redundant. In terms who should play inside centre, in both an attack and defense context, he can’t be part of our best team selection plans anymore.

    • Westo

      Seriously spot on summary as I watched a lot of 6N. I will add a solid kicking game to that which for some teams worked better than others….”This World Cup like never before will be dominated by swarming, highly organised, big collision defensive lines plus big, fast backrowers and mid fields pouring into vulnerable defensive channels.”

  • laurence king

    Thanks MST, good write-up, though depressing. The days started so well, heading out into the middle of the bay to do some fishing. Motors just run in, had a fresh service and a km out things went belly up. Had to get towed home, and to make matters worse it was my fault as I had left the motor flushing ear muffs on. I was the author of my own demise.
    And that apparently is the problem with our Super teams. Three of them not up to standard, Wallaby players under performing as are the coaches. New man Johnson must be wondering what he’s got himself in for.

  • Andy

    All these guys are used to losing all the time. And their defence is probably one key reason. It’s part of their losing culture.

    I’d love to see some stats on win/loss ratio over their careers for a certain Nick Phipps, Beale, Folau ect… especially against top ranked opposition.

    I’m a firm believer that winning is a cultural thing and something you get used to. And you only get to that point by working hard, keeping a competitive mindset and always looking at improving. These guys track record of doing the latter is pretty pathetic. All have the same defeiciences they had when they started playing super rugby.

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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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