Welcome to first grade son. Tahs v Rebels Match Review. - Green and Gold Rugby
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Welcome to first grade son. Tahs v Rebels Match Review.

Welcome to first grade son. Tahs v Rebels Match Review.

The Melbourne Rabble, sorry Rebels, have started their season in the worst way possible – a 43-0 drubbing at the hands of the Waratahs.

Before I get too carried away with the Rebels, let me first speak of the Tahs. Wow. What a holistically impressive performance.

Last season the Tahs started slowly and were outplayed by the Reds but managed to squeak in a last minute try to take the match. This year they absorbed all sort of ‘pressure’ from the Rebels for the first quarter of the match without the Rebels ever looking like scoring.

It was said during the week that the Rebels had been training with league and AFL coaches in the development of some form of ‘hybrid’ game. For mine, there was way too much league influence as the repetitive one up runs by the forwards proved easy pickings for the Waratahs.

My preview predicted a large influence by centres Stirling Mortlock and Cooper Vuna. For whatever reason neither made an impact with the ball in this game. Much of this can be laid down to the excellent Waratah backline defence, lead by Berrick Barnes, as well as the aggressive forward work. However much must come down to the game plan in which it seemed the Rebels were solely focussed on pick and drives.

The impact this had was two-fold. Firstly it became easy to defend for the Tahs as predictability ruled. The Rebel ruck became crowded thus making any turnover ball distinct attacking opportunities for NSW.  Secondly, it took attacking options away from the Danny Cipriani, who came on for the injured James Hilgendorf after eight minutes. With all of his runners around the ruck, Cipriani had no options as runners outside him.

Eventually after 25 solid minutes of this low percentage, highly tiring style of forward football, the Waratahs finally got some ball on attack and didn’t waste it. The type of forward play promoted by Matt Gagger in his article here was on show as Al Baxter, Kane Douglas and Phil Waugh all combined before the backs got involved and some deft work by Robbie Horne put Kurtley Beale over in the corner.

Hickey had labelled the set piece of the Rebels as ‘impressive’ pre-match. If that’s the case then the Tah scrum was sensational and they took apart the Melbourne pack. It seemed only confusion as to which team was blue and which was black (check around the 28 minute mark) gave Melbourne any hope in the scrum.

It was soon after such dominance that a pinpoint Barnes cross-field kick to the charging Drew Mitchell gave Schmoo the first of many tries he will score this year. The try was the last points of the half and as the teams left the field for oranges, with the Tahs up 10-0, you knew things were only going to get worse.

And it didn’t take long to happen. The third yellow card in the match, this one to Ged Robinson for a sneaky professional foul, was quickly followed by a Tatafu Polota-Nau try from a forward roll.

Four minutes later, Mitchell was in again as Luke Burgess caught the Rebel scrum short a cover defender with a lovely angled run and inside ball for Drew to run on to and score his double.

Beale was in for his second, four minutes later still, as the Tahs took their shot at building pressure, as the Rebels had tried to do at the beginning of the match. The difference being the strike power the Tahs have out wide through Mitchell as he set up KB for his own double.

The scrum dominance continued for the NSW pack and it resulted in another try, a well deserved one to Rob Horne, who was busy all night, after some smart interchange between Barnes and Mitchell.

The last points of the game were scored, yet another four minutes later, when Phil Waugh arose from the bottom of a pile of players, ball in hand, over the line after a twelve-man maul from a Waratah lineout.

The Waratahs were quite sublime in a performance that will have their opposition, including the Reds next week, very wary. For the first time in Super Rugby history they were able to hold their opposition to zero and that achievement was due reward for the hard work they did in defence.

They ticked all the boxes when it came to attacking without the pill. Patient in defence? TICK. Aggressive in contact? TICK. Reading the play and adapting as required? A BIG TICK.  Sure they scored 43 points, but the platform of the win was the 0.

In saying that, the Tahs proved they are a dangerous outfit in attack. Beale and Mitchell provided them the bonus point all by themself within about 50 minutes. After that, the forwards took over and out-muscled the Rebels too completely dominate the set piece.

The fear I had for the Rebels in my preview here was their lack of combination and in the end, I think that, and a questionable game plan, was what let them down. For a team that has spent so long together in camp, they looked the rabble I so cleverly punned in the first sentence. Simply put, they looked disorganised. No runners, no subtlety, no options.

I hope against hope it was just a major dose of stage fright or teething problems because another performance like that against the Brumbies next week, at home, could see tonight’s healthy crowd of 25,500 plummet in the weeks to come.

Waratahs 43 (Drew Mitchell 2, Rob Horne, Phil Waugh, Tatafu Polota-Nau tries; Kurtley Beale 2 tries, conversion; Berrick Barnes 3 conversions) defeated Rebels 0.

Wallaby Watch.

For the Tahs:

Put his hand up: Phil Waugh was simply outstanding tonight and my MOM. Seemingly out of favour with the Wallaby selectors, perhaps he doesn’t fit into the new glamour type of rugby preferred this days, but what a hard prick! Just so aggressive around the ruck and he made some massive hits. A wily old fox too aint he? Works those referees well.

Did himself no favours: Harsh, but I will say Luke Burgess. His work around the ruck was excellent. Always quick to the ball, whilst being physical in defence and clever in attack. But his passing is shite. Part of the reason is he just whips the ball out so quickly, but he’s lucky he’s got Berrick Barnes outside him who has beautiful hands.

Bolter watch: Ben Mowen. Spent the off-season bulking up which showed in his strong defence. It didn’t impact his lineout work though which was as strong as usual.

For the Rebels:

Put his hand up: Julian Huxley was gold every involvement. His kicking was perfect and he judged his runs cleverly. The stand out Rebel of the night.

Did himself no favours: Stirling Mortlock unfortunately. He looked behind the pace a number of times. Dropping kicks, missing tackles, being roped in easily. It’s only early, but it may be a hard road ahead for Sitrlo.

Bolter watch: Lachie Mitchell didn’t get too much opportunity but took what he could with a nice turn of speed and sound judgement.

  • Bobas

    Is this the moment McQueen converts Gerrard to 10? probably not, but you cant move huxley or leave a proven super 14 points scorer out of the team…

  • BRIX

    I thought the Waratahs loose forwards were immense all night. Excellent support play and good patience shown around the park.

    Furthermore, Sam Cordingley is a dirty little old man

  • Tangawizi

    Number of Rebels that are current internationals – Nil

    Numbers of points scored by the Rebels – Nil

    No wonder they’re chasing current Wallabies for next season. I know it’s early days but who would want to go into that system unless there’s a bucketload more money on the table?

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  • The Konze

    BURGO for no favours? C’mon Reg, surely you jest.

    I am literally shocked.

    • he won’t displace Genia with that passing. He was fantastic elsewhere, but until his passing is more consistent he’s no chance for the Wallabies unless Sanchez gets injured.

      • The Rant

        couldn’t agree more – he was awesome with ball in hand and a handful all night – but why the fuck hasn’t he imrpoved his pass when it is probably the only reason he’s not the wallabies halfback.

        Can we keep a count running all year for how many passes bounce/go behind the man/make it damn hard to catch.

        • Patrick

          The ‘only’ reason?? None of those reasons are something to do with Genia??

        • The Rant

          The obvious answer Patrick is yes – genia is the reason why he’s not the Wobbs 9 and that is down to passing skill.

          If burgess could pass something like sanchez I’d probably pick him and I reckon Dingo would as well.

      • Scarfman

        Couldn’t agree more – I don’t think he threw a good one all night. Having said that, Barnes could assist him by running onto it. To be honest, this 9-10-12 combo could be the killer for the Tahs.

        • Richo

          Disagree, actually, on Barnes. I thought he caught some very poor passes and saved Burgo from having a much worse game.

          I also thought TC played pretty well. Never gonna be a Wallaby but a good player between Barnes and Horne.

          Scrum was weird. I couldnt work out whether it was a mess or if Lawrence didn’t know what was going on most of the time. Very disappointing to see that those timing issues in the call were not resolved.

      • waratahjesus

        burgess had a good game, he is much more of a threat around the ruck than genia, its a shame his passing isnt improving but that said, i dont think its as bad as some people make out, his ruck work is so quick that it provides opportunities regardless of the pass. if genia/burgess could be morphed together we would have a truly world class player.

        • gees, can’t think of what Genia is lacking that Burgess provides.

        • Blinky Bill from Bellingen

          “if genia/burgess could be morphed together we would have a truly world class player.”

          Maybe yes & maybe no.

          You just may end up with a morph of the worst traits of both, slow to release the ball and harbour bridge passes. Just my thoughts ;)

        • Are you talking the 2009 Genia or the 2010 model Genia Reg?

          Because I think the Wallaby Genia of 2010 doesn’t have Burgess’ running game.

        • either Gags to be honest. I don’t think Burgo’s running game is that much better than Genia’s. Check Will’s running stats for the Reds last year. He was superb.

  • Gnostic

    1. The Rebels had to commit so many to the breakdown to retain their own ball. Did they turnover one Tah ruck all night even with most of their pack in each one? A big tick for the cohesion of the Tahs, but also the strength and conditioning work. Last year it was them in that position in the Semi final and a few other games.
    2. Vuna and Morty didn’t get any front foot ball and Cordingly was painfully slow with his service.
    3. Burgess’ passing was not that bad. The balls that didn’t go to hand were generall very long passes and only Genia in Oz has that sort of pass. Given the platform supplied by the Tahs pigs he maybe should have done better though. He did however confirm his mantle of the best defensive half in Oz rugby IMO.
    4. I cannot understand the love for Huxley. A champion bloke he maybe but on the field all he has is a big boot. He offers nothing in counter and having him at the back means all team will kick long.
    5. Agreed the Rebels game plan was shit, but perhaps that was due as Macqueen said to the injury to Hilgendorf. Seems they had two halves planned and the second half came early. However that said, even with 75% ball in the first 20 they struggled to make the gain line and from my count made 1 line break all game. There was no depth in attack and no plan away from the one out hit ups which was the Tahs last year.

    I will not get too excited by the Tahs win, it was impressive and complete. They proved they have a Competition leading lineout (same as last year), showed more flair on attack, some cohesive forward play and most all their defence is if anything better than last year. To balance that the Rebels showed they have a long long way to go to be competitive.

    • Train Without A Station

      He’s no Beale but Huxley had some good kick returns. I always thought he was a bit one dimensional and an old school kicking 10/15 more suited to the NH game however his running game has improved a fair bit.

  • Lance Free

    If you ain’t going forward you aren’t in the game. The Rebels did start with a hiss and a roar and put some phases together but just couldn’t break through and became roadkill for a rampant Tahs. After the rust was blown away, the Waratahs were unstoppable. They dominated the set piece and breakdown. However, the quality of the opposition was sadly wooden spoonish.

    Let’s look at the positives. For the Rebs, Michael Lipman was a workaholic (coach Macqueen will be an alcoholic after this?) and was their best forward by a country mile. Delve & Henderson put in big efforts.

    Julian Huxley was the pick of the backs. Self assured and reliable at 15. Young Mitchell did a few good things but there was no penetration, nor hint of potential penetration from the backline in general.

    Unfortunately, Morty was only a shadow of his former self. He didn’t look match fit so hopefully more game time will sort that out – it was depressing to see such a champion well below his best.

    Disruption with Hilgendorf’s injury didn’t help but Cipriani couldn’t do much to stem the tide.

    The Rebels need a hooker, a lock, No 6 and some centre backup. Vuna might have potential but he was exposed tonight, as expected for a leaguey in his first decent union match.

    The Tahs looked the goods as Reg has said. I really liked what Tommy Carter did tonight – sorry guys! The back three were fantastic. Drew Mitchell is all class and continues to impress.

    OK. The bottom line for the Rebels is: yep, it is Dad’s Army. Those old guys they signed are a bit past it on this showing. To me, Father Time seems to have caught up with Cordingly, Morty and Somerville (he was energetic but not that effective).

  • ChargerWA

    Impressive:

    Cooper Vuna – Hadn’t seen much from him before but thought at least he looked threatening ball in hand. Hopefully a big future in Rugby for him.
    Luke Burgess – His game thrives on enthusiasm, he is at his best when he just throws himself at it and doesn’t have his natural game stifled by an overbearing 10.

    Concerns:

    Stirling Mortlock – Is hurting from lack of game time, looked a bit odd man out and I hate to say it, maybe held back a little bit physically because he didn’t want to get injured (though he received no quality ball either)
    Tatafu Polota Nau – I thought alot of the lineout wins were only just saved by the jumper, his timing was slightly off and he physically looks smaller than last year. He still barged through the defence, but I wonder how he would have gone against better defence.

    • BRIX

      Speaking of TPN. I thought it was stupid of both Hickey to leave him on, and Waugh to keep opting for the scrum with the long-arm penalty we had 5 out from the Rebels line.

      His hooker was clearly in a deal of discomfort toward the end there (no pun intended)

  • laurent

    D’oh!

    I picked an upset and bagged RugbyReg for giving the Tahs 14.. Who would have thought it would be a blow out? C what I get for doubting the skye blue magic

    Now I’ll just go off and hide this week

    • D.

      Save your hiding for next week when they get flogged by the Reds!!!!!!!

  • Working Class Rugger

    Have already mentioned this on the Tahs vs Rebs thread but I watched the game via a SuperSport feed. The SA pundits analysis of the game was notable. The Tahs forwards were singled out in particular as ‘powerful, dominating and Bulls-esque’ in their play. Questions had been asked of the policy to bulk up the forwards relating to the possible loss of mobility. Well, those were emphatically answered last night. Cannot really single one out as that would unfair the other 7. As a unit they were superb.

    I had critised Waugh (may have said he was a little passed it) prior to proceedings but I’m a big boy and am glad to firmly plant my foot squarely in my mouth. He had a strong game and seems to have really boosted his mobility from last season. There’s like in the old Warhorse yet.

    You know a team has had a cracker when the reviewer has to give the ‘did himself no favours’ award’ to a bloke who dominated his opposite number and many of the opposition forwards. For all his passing frailities Burgess is indispensible in the Tahs backline. Not only does he provide a third flanker but a 3rd Centre as well. Constant threat in tight, often taking two or more defenders out of the line opening up the opportunities for the likes of Barnes, Horne, Beale and Mitchell.

    Carter had a good game. Still just a crashballer but has added things to his game to escape criticism.

    As for the Rebels. As the sages of G&GR had identified the Centres were the danger men or should I say man. The Tahs spotted this as well and methodically shut them down. Morty looked about 2 steps behind the pace and Vuna, who, during the trials was sublime has been given a thorough lesson on exactly how physically demanding and confrontal Rugby really is. Something he may have forgotten having been in League for the last 8 years. that said, I think he will be a real weapon for the Rebs and the Tahs were right to shut him down before he could get going.

    MacQueen needs to look to start a couple of his younger squad members. They need some youth enthusiasm to balance out the team. Something sorely lacking last night.

  • muppet

    It would appear that the Rebel’s jerseys weren’t the only thing inspired by the French national side

  • Pedro

    I thought that carter was the worst for the tahs, did one of his famous run at the defender when we have a two man overlap. He’s great in defense but showed little ability to play expansively in a game where everyone had the chance.

    The tahs shouldn’t have really held the rebels scoreless cips should have scored one of his kicks and they could have comfortably gone for the sticks at the death.

    Dissapointed by the rebels, but it can only get better for them.

    • the thing with Carter is though is that, yeah he takes the wrong option sometimes but he is so strong in contact that the Tahs invariably get the ball back cleanly and pretty quickly. Plus he straightened very well last night. He’s by no means Wallaby level I feel, but I thought he did well last night.

    • waratahjesus

      sorry Pedro, not just saying this as a carter fan, but if you actually watch the incident you speak of last night, the tahs threw a couple of long passes that slowed the attack by the time it got to carter, they had an overlap but they had also run out of room and the defence had caught up and were sliding across. Carter brought the attack back to going forward which laid the platform for the play to continue, it was actually smart and the right thing to do.

    • Pedro

      I’m not just saying this as an observer that likes exciting play but Carter had a chance to either beat his man, draw and dish or give quick ball but instead he gets low and goes to ground. I’m not saying that it’s not the percentage thing to do either, I just feel if he was ever going to show some finesse, it was the perfect time. If he’s not going to chance his arm in a match like this then he’s just a number eight that lines up on the outside of the five eighth.

  • nick

    For the tah’s , well unless anyone else in our conference can match the most complete package the tahs have , the tahs have got the finals in the bag as long as they keep this up, i dare say other teams such as the reds will give them a MUCH harder time then the Rebels did.
    Speaking as a Western force supporter i know very well the type of season the Rebel fans will have but if the fans and the team keep the faith the rewards will come , that first force home win is still fresh in my memory and will be there for quite some time!

    • When do you reckon the Force’ll get their second one?

  • numbercruncher

    If the Tahs are going to foot it with better teams then they need to cut down the handling errors. Tahs made 14 handling to Rebels 6, given overall possesion was 54% to Tahs, this will hurt them. There must be a fair amount of rust out there cause as canes did 10 to Hihglandrs 13. Rebels also excused two very nice reclaims from their kick-offs (and lets be honest they got a bit of practice on those last night). Better teams will expose the Tahs.

  • Swat

    I was impressed by the “fusion of styles” the Rebels employed… they quite amazingly fused playing like shit AND rubbish at the same time.

  • rigz

    Rob Horne was my pick of the night. Smashed Mortlock(?) i think in the first few minutes with a classic hornesque tackle. I would pick him over AAC (as much as i love two-dads) in the wallabies outside centre spot come international season. Looks like he’s bulked up abit too. Mitchell and Burgess also had great games
    By the way, I cannot describe my love for this site. Hands down the best rugby site I’ve ever visited

    • Pedro

      Horne would need to do a lot more (as well as AAC doing worse) for him to come into the frame at wallabies 13. I was excited when he got the chance but despite not making mistakes he had minimal penatration when straightening and seemed to go missing a little bit. AAC on the other hand took a little time to settle in but has been a revelation since.

      It will be tough but if Horne can prove that he is worthy of starting for the wallabies then he will have definatly earned it. Good luck to him, he’s great to watch but he may need an injury in the squad at this stage.

  • alis coward

    the waratarts are nowhere near as good as the crusaders

    • Mad Dog

      The Crusaders lost, but I concede that the Blues were a little bit more challenging than the Rebels.

  • Hawko

    Reg,
    I thought your title totally summed it up! You should be able to get a job anytime as a sub-editor on a major daily.

Melbourne Rebels
@RugbyReg

The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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