Welcome to the new G&GR post-mortem, where we dig through the corpse of each weekend game and try and work out what happened. Hopefully we will be pumping out a few of these each week, so let us know what you think of the format.
The Tahs/Reds game provided plenty of interesting things to talk about, so let’s get stuck into it:
Reds 25 (Shipperley try; Harris conv, 6 pgs) beat Waratahs 21 (Palu, Pretorius tries; Halangahu conv, 3 pgs). Crowd 32,071. Ref: Jaco Peyper
Surprisingly the Tahs got through the game pretty much unscathed. A few players came off with cramp or minor niggles (BKH, Pretorius, Palu) but all should be right to play on Friday.
The Reds had one injury- James Hanson, who sprained his ankle. Queensland staff are confident he’ll be right to play on Saturday. Nothing else to report.
A bit of a no-brainer here. The Dom Shipperley try spoke volumes about both sides. The decision to kick the ball away was called for by Tom Carter, a senior member of the Waratahs who should have known better. He has been mooted in some circles as a possible Waratah captain, and that there was the reason why it can never happen. McKibben put in quite a good kick under the circumstances, but the Reds worked it to a ruck in centre field after a great run from Ben Tapuai. They then backed themselves to spin the ball straight away, and it paid off. The bastards scored in audacious fashion.
My man of the match was Ben Tapuai. The game was largely dominated by forwards but I don’t think anyone particularly stood out. Palu and Higginbotham both played well, as well as Pretorius and Harris in the backs. But Benny Taps was the only bloke who consistently threatened the Waratah defensive line, with a mix of slick footwork and brute strength. He also played a key role in setting up Shipperley’s try. He has wasted no time in sending a strong message to the Wallaby selectors.
The Talking Point
There was plenty of interesting talking points to come out of the game, but the one that interests me the most is the discussion about the standard of the game. Some posters (here and elsewhere) opined that the game was a horrible display, and the standard of play across the Tasman was far better than what we saw at Homebush. I disagree. I thought the game was actually pretty good to watch, even if the first half was a little slow. The last 20 was absorbing, and it was telling that there was not the usual procession of older members out of the ground with 10 minutes to go.
But more than that I think people may have expected a little bit too much from the first game of the season. Round 1 is always a weekend of scrappy, physical slogs played by teams at 70 or 80% of what they are generally capable of doing. On top of that when was the last time a Reds/Tahs game was a free-flowing game? I think there may have been one back in the 60s, but it’s been lean since then. When you combine those two factors the game was always going to be a physical slogfest.
And as far as physical slogfests go I thought the standard was pretty good. There weren’t too many dropped balls, wayward kicks or missed tackles. Both defensive lines performed with aplomb, which is more than can be said for the Blues and Crusaders. I’m not saying this game was the game of the round, but I do think it was up there, and I expect both sides to be right in there at the business end of the season.
Tahs were home and hosed
But no! A stupid box kick!
Reds go wide, score, win.
What do you think we can take from the game? Can you come up with a better haiku?