Fearless or Fearful Predictions – TT Round 2
I was nearly right last week when I tipped two Oz wins.
But ‘nearly right’ is akin to Liberal Party ‘spin’ for actually being completely and utterly wrong. That hasn’t dulled my intrepid sense of optimism and complete avoidance of all evidence to the contrary though and I’ve gone all in on three ‘W’s’ for Oz side this week.
We have lulled the forces of middle-earth into a false sense of rugby superiority and have them right where we wanted them – fresh for the picking this weekend, well, mostly………
Before we get down to TT Round #2 nitty -gritty, a few tips for all Oz sides this week, for free, from an absolute Rugby ‘know-nothing’, don’t-kick-the-bloody-ball-directly-back-to-them.
There’s three things Kiwi’s absolutely love to receive. Five years of solid kindergarten education, Social Security benefits in Oz and receiving the rugby ball in broken field with fractured defensive lines opposing them. They spot gaps like I spot meat pies, it’s almost mythical their ability to see them, attack them and enjoy them with sauce, sorry – exploit them.
If you’re gonna kick it, kick it to the shit-house (you will at least disrupt Aaron Smith’s ‘activities’) – kick it long, kick it out but for the love of Yoda, don’t kick it back to them in broken field play at all, never-bloody-ever.
Oh and also can you all stick the ‘Garry Owen’, ‘up and under’ or ‘bomb’ from YOUR OWN BLODDY 22, back in the drawer from whence it came. Capiche?
All broadcast times are AEST
Hurricanes v Melbourne Rebels
Friday 21 May, Sky Stadium, Wellington, 5:05pm
One to really avoid watching if you truly love rugby.
If you on the other hand, enjoy S&M, Parliamentary Question Time or watching your cat torment a helpless, confused and fearful mouse, by all means, tune in.
Of the recent $101 million dollar announcement for a Victorian Rugby Centre of Excellence, half of that should go to fund a clinic for the treatment of PTSD for Rebels fans, sponsors and wider Oz rugby community.
A couple of suspended forwards return for the Rebels in Test backrower Isi Naisarani as well as Wallabies squad member Trevor Hosea, but akin to shuffling deck chairs of the good ship Titanic, it’ll help delay the inevitable, but the overall outcome won’t change.
Based on the lack of skill, plan, leadership, kicking smarts, attacking threats or just plain rugby endeavour last week at home, you’d be off your chops to expect anything significantly better across the ‘dutch’.
Two-Cows seemed distracted by his appointment to the Ten Pin Bowling Australia Board last week as that body prepare for the annual national tournament. The competition will see future serial killers, bed-wetter’s and generally persons to avoid, square off for a title that no normal person gives a flying Fukoshima about.
With MT moving out to #12 for this game it may free up the previously constipated Reb’s attack. With large bodied Cambell Magnay at #13 and the ever dangerous ‘Exocet’ on the flanks you would hope the Reb’s could at least score one try in this game, Jehovah forebid they score a double!
If, in new MT parlance, the Rebels can avoid 80 minutes of ‘gutter balls’ like last week, get a few strikes early, they could avoid absolute de-spare.
Still, if the Rebels lose by less than 25 it will be a considerable improvement on last weeks result. Last week’s performance, well, it’s the old bulldog eating porridge analogy, I get the intent, but bugger me, the results a complete bloody disaster.
Canes by 25+
HURRICANES (1-15): 1. Xavier Numia, 2. Dane Coles (c), 3. Tyrel Lomax, 4. James Blackwell, 5. Scott Scrafton, 6. Reed Prinsep, 7. Du’Plessis Kirifi, 8. Devan Flanders, 9. Jonathan Taumateine, 10. Orbyn Leger, 11. Wes Goosen, 12. Ngani Laumape, 13. Billy Proctor, 14. Julian Savea, 15. Jordie Barrett
RESERVES: 16. Asafo Aumua, 17. Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18. Alex Fidow, 19. Liam Mitchell, 20. Brayden Iose, 21. Gareth Evans, 22. Cam Roigard, 23. Lolagi Visinia
REBELS (1-15): 1. Cameron Orr, 2. Jordan Uelese, 3. Cabous Eloff, 4. Rob Leota, 5. Trevor Hosea, 6. Michael Wells, 7. Josh Kemeny, 8. Isi Naisarani, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Carter Gordon, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Matt To’ouma ©, 13. Campbell Magnay, 14. Andrew Kellaway, 15. George Worth
Reserves: 16. James Hanson, 17. Matt Gibbon, 18. Lucio Sordoni, 19. Ross Haylett-Petty, 20. Richard Hardwick, 21. James Tuttle, 22. Stacey Ili, 23. Frank Lomani
Western Force v Highlanders
Friday 21 May, HBF Park, Perth, 7:45pm
Happily I got the margins wrong for last week’s game, but not the description of the Force outing.
Plenty of heart, some good rugby skills and smarts and the Chiefs can consider themselves very, very lucky to leave WA with the win.
There’s an old adage in Rugby that ‘kickers don’t lose you games’ – yeah, well I call bullshit on that this time.
That kick was a ‘gimme’ for any half-decent kicker. My 92yo Aunt Gladys, with dodgy hips, failing eye-sight, emphysema AND a walking frame would have slotted that one. It really is 4 points gone that the Force should have to their tally
What about this week?
Highlanders turn to travel across the planet to HBF Park. Hard to gauge how good they were in their last start Reds win as the Reds were poor.
The Force welcome back second row colossus Sitaleki Timani for this game, his return leads to a loose forward reshuffle with Lee-Warner to #6 & Anstee to #8 and Stander on the pine.
The WA boy’s are at home, perhaps a touch angry, certainly disappointed, resolute and ready to spring the ambush. I have the Force as specials for this one and the FIRST Oz win for TT. With the much vaunted Sea of Blue in attendance, belief must be strong amongst the side that they are good enough and with the pending threat of deportation to Argentinian #10 Domingo Miotti if he misses another gimme, I foretell a win for the United Nations side of Western Australia.
Whilst the Highlanders welcome back from injury and the naughty chair Josh Ioane, Shannon Frizell they will be no easy beats. The Force are at home, settled and add to that ‘Aussie Nic’ on the whistle and the Force are specials.
Force by 9
FORCE (1-15): 1. Tom Robertson, 2. Feleti Kaitu’u, 3. Santiago Medrano, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Sitaleki Timani, 6. Fergus Lee-Warner, 7. Kane Koteka, 8. Tim Anstee, 9. Tomas Cubelli, 10. Jake McIntyre, 11. Jordan Olowofela, 12. Henry Taefu, 13. Kyle Godwin (c), 14. Richard Kahui, 15. Rob Kearney
RESERVES: 16. Andrew Ready, 17. Angus Warner, 18. Greg Holmes, 19. Ryan McCauley, 20. Brynard Stander, 21. Ian Prior, 22. Domingo Miotti, 23. Jake Strachan
HIGHLANDERS (1-15): 1. Ayden Johnstone 2. Ash Dixon (cc)3. Siate Tokolahi 4. Pari Pari Parkinson 5. Bryn Evans 6. Shannon Frizell 7. Billy Harmon 8. Hugh Renton 9. Aaron Smith (cc) 10.Mitch Hunt 11 Jona Nareki 12. Scott Gregory 13. Michael Collins 14. Patelesio Tomkinson 15. Sam Gilbert
RESERVES: 16. Liam Coltman17. Ethan De Groot 18. Josh Hohneck19. Josh Dickson 20. Kazuki Himeno 21. Kayne Hammington 22. Josh Ioane 23. Ngatugnane Punivai
OFFICIALS: Referee: Nic Berry Assistant Ref 1:Amy Perrett Assistant Ref 2:Reuben Keane TMO : James Leckie
Blues v Waratahs
Saturday 22 May, Eden Park, Auckland, 2:35pm
Records are meant to be broken – bugger it.
They say a week’s a long time in politics, but the equivalent period in Rugby surely aint enough to reset an entire defensive attitude, structure or technique?
Adam Gilchrist might’ve been happy with an overall score of 112 in just 80 minutes on the SCG but as a Rugby fan I thought it was like watching the after-training game of ‘touch’ we used to play as rank amateurs in the 90’s. In fact some of the ‘touches’ we used were more solid than the shoulders of many a Tahs defenders last week.
In the cold light of day the Tahs ‘D’ was nothing short of embarrassing, no actually, it was simply, abjectly, appalling. It again showed a soft mental fortitude and evidence of a ‘few roos loose in the top paddock’ as my Grandad would say.
The Tahs can attack, but attack without defence, it’s a bit like the Captain without Tennille – it’ll get you nowhere fast and nobody really gives a shit.
The Blues are at home and looking relaxed will be near impossible to run over. They had power in their pack last week, sheer pace and electricity in the their backs an played at pace and width and were extremely impressive. Yes, the Reb’s were poor last week, but that should not detract from how good the Blues were also.
No doubt the Tahs will click soon, if for no other reason than the mathematical law of averages demands it, will it be this week though?
Even with the impressive Ben Donaldson rightfully keeping the #10 jersey (Pat Healy though was good from the pine last week), the leadership and spirt of their captain, ‘Commissioner’ Gordon, the return from the pine of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Dempsey, I sadly foretell more pain for my beloved Tahs in this one.
The rugby gods will continue to frown on the young Tahs squad. I fear this game will be a bridge to far for those in sky blue and they will equal their record for longest ever losing streak of 10 in a row.
Wrong Blues by 24.
Blues (1-15) 1. Karl Tu’inukuafe, 2. Kurt Eklund, 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 4. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5. Josh Goodhue, 6. Tom Robinson (c), 7. Blake Gibson, 8. Akira Ioane, 9. Finlay Christie, 10. Otere Black, 11. AJ Lam, 12. TJ Faiane, 13. Rieko Ioane, 14. Bryce Heem, 15. Zarn Sullivan
RESERVES: 16. Soane Vikena, 17. Alex Hodgman, 18. Marcel Renata, 19. Patrick Tuipulotu, 20. Dalton Papalii, 21. Sam Nock, 22. Harry Plummer, 23. Mark Telea, 24. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens.
Tahs (1-15) 1. Angus Bell, 2.Dave Porecki, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Hugh Sinclair, max Douglas, 6. Lachie Swinton, 7 Charlie Gamble, 8. Will Harris, 9. Jake Gordon (C), 10. Ben Donaldson, 11. James Turner (Debut), 12. Lalakai Foketi, 13. Izaia Perese, 14. Alex Newsome, 15. Jack Maddocks
RESERVES 16. Joe Cotton, 17. Te Tera Faulkner, 18. Darcy Breen, 19. Jack Whetton, 20. jack Depsey, 21. Carlo Tizzan, 22. Jack Grant, 23. Will Harrison
Kiwi Support Team #1 : Referee: Brendon Pickerill Assistant Ref 1:Angus Mabey Assistant Ref 2:Lauen Jenner TMO : Shane McDermott
Chief’s v Brumbies
Saturday 22 May, FMG Stadium, Hamilton, 5:05pm
Not often you’d use ‘travel’ as a reason for a Kiwi side to lose a match on Jacinda Island, but that’s my main reason this week to tip against them even with the return of Super Rugby & AB’s legend, the fit and fearsome sexagenarian, Liam Messam to the Chiefs starting side.
The Chiefs are coming off a loss in their own competition final, hopped straight onto a plane to WA, a flat performance and a sneaky win against a gallant Force side and then they fly straight back to Hamilton to host the Ponies. The Ponies themselves, already based in NZ were a fraction unlucky not to have shared the points with the Crusaders at home.
Of all the teams first few rounds the Chiefs have had the biggest ask in terms of logistics. The Ponies will lay in wait believing they are good enough to get the lollies here.
With some cavalry returning, little travel, the side nearly edging the Crusaders at home and a long pedigree of success the Ponies will be full noise for this one. One obstacle for the ACT side may be having to spend a week in Hamilton. Having spent 5 years there one weekend I seriously contemplated swimming back to Australia rather than spending another 5 minutes in that place. It wouldn’t be such a dull place if not for the absolute dullness.
Chuckles McKellar has no doubt been working his side hard, both physically and mentally I reckon and they will be primed for this one.
However, a lot will hinge on the starting 15 to get them off to a good start and establish a solid lead so the ‘finishers’ can hang onto and close out.
For mine the Ponies bench is ‘skinny’ on experience and ‘X’ factor, solid and trades-like, but able to run down a Chiefs lead on the home turf, me thinks not.
Also, as good as Darcy Swain is getting – don’t underestimate the loss of Caydern Neville to the Ponies. In my opinion he has been the form lock of SR Oz, big engine, good hands, a set piece ‘General’ and a smart all-round footballer and a big loss for the Canberrans.
For all that, I think the Brumbies can get this one done – just.
Ponies by 7
CHIEFS (1-15) 1. Aidan Ross 2. Samisoni Taukei’aho 3. Sione Mafileo 4. Josh Lord 5. Tupou Vaa’i 6. Liam Messam 7. Lachlan Boshier 8. Luke Jacobson9. Brad Weber ©10. Damian McKenzie11. Jonah Lowe12. Alex Nankivell 13. Anton Lienert-Brown 14. Bailyn Sullivan 15. Chase Tiatia
RESERVES:16. Bradley Slater 17. Ollie Norris 18. Atu Moli 19. Zane Kapeli 20. Pita Gus Sowakula
21. Xavier Roe 22. Rameka Poihipi 23. Kaleb Trask
BRUMBIES (1-15) 1. Scott Sio 2. Lachlan Lonergan 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c) 4. Darcy Swain 5. Nick Frost 6. Henry Stowers 7. Rory Scott 8. Rob Valetini 9. Ryan Lonergan 10. Noah Lolesio 11. Tom Wright 12. Irae Simone 13. Len Ikitau14. Solomone Kata 15. Tom Banks
RESERVES 16. Connal McInerney17. Harry Lloyd 18. Tom Ross 19. Tom Hooper 20. Tom Cusack 21. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa 22. Bayley Kuenzle 23. Mack Hansen
KIWI SUPPORT TEAM #2: Referee: Ben O’Keeffe Assistant Ref 1:Paul Williams Assistant Ref 2:Dan Waenga
TMO :Aaron Paterson
Queensland Reds v Crusaders
Saturday 22 May, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 7:45pm
Match of the round.
Both teams were well off their respective ‘games’ last week. From an entertainment perspective the first 40 minutes of each teams match was hard to watch. With endless scrum resets in the Crusaders game, unusual handling errors and some ‘unique’ refereeing interpretations it made for difficult viewing, much like Season 8 of Game of Thrones – it still shits me about John Snow.
The Red’s cause will be improved for a number of reasons in this match.
They are back at Fortress Suncorp, a big crowd expected, some cavalry returning from injury and have a real premiership look and feel about them. After feeling sorry for the Kiwi’s last week The Padre has nearly a full strength side at his disposal and he has rolled out the big guns.
Back in the matchday XXIII for this week from injury and workload management are: Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, Alex Mafi and perhaps our best centre in Oz, ‘The Squatter’, Hunter Paisami. Add to that the return to the starting side start of The Abottoir, FKA, McReight and Suliasi Vunivalu (who looked electric in last weeks loss) and barring Jordan of Nazareth it’s a very strong outfit. Similarly the bench looks fast, mobile and dangerous and I like the Reds for this one, I like them A LOT.
Also, appealing to my inner maths nerd, the 10th anniversary of the Red’s famous 2011 Super Rugby Title against this very same side draws closer, so there’s a nice little undercurrent of déjà vu bubbling along in the background.
The Reds were poor by their own standards last week and The Padre was too kind when he suggested they were ‘5% off’ in their game (I’d say more like 35% off). LSL was very good when he came on, as to Sorovi and McReight. On Sorovi, what has he done wrong at the Reds to ‘seemingly’ fall from grace – he seems a better option, at this point than Thomas?
With a whopping crowd expected, back at home where they haven’t lost since around 1937 the Red’s players grow and extra head – sorry –extra leg up there and are just that much harder to beat.
With plenty of returning troops back in the XXIII , a passionate fan base and keen to avenge a poor performance first up in TT, I like the Red’s here. Similarly though, the man not currently good enough to coach the AB’s, South Island break dancing champion, MC Hammer fan and current Crusaders Coach, Brett Robbo will have given his side an ‘attitude adjustment’ after their outing against the Ponies and I expect a showing more befitting of the Crusader franchise this week.
When the dust is settled I reckon we will have all witnessed a ripper of a match, and also 2011 repeated with a famous Reds win.
Red’s by 8
REDS (1-15): Dane Zander 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa 3. Taniela Tupou 4. Ryan Smith s 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – 6. Liam Wright (co-captain) 7. Fraser McReight 8. Harry Wilson 9. Tate McDermott 10. James O’Connor (co-captain) 11. Jock Campbell 12. Hamish Stewart 13. Hunter Paisami 14. Suliasi Vunivalu 15. Bryce Hegarty
RESERVES: 16. Alex Mafi 17. Harry Hoopert 18. Feao Fotuaika 19. Seru Uru s 20. Angus Scott-Young 21. Kalani Thomas 22. Isaac Henry 23. Filipo Daugunu
CRUSADERS (1-15) 1. George Bower 2. Codie Taylor (C) 3. Oliver Jager 4. Mitchell Dunshea 5. Samuel Whitelock 6. Whetukamokamo Douglas 7. Ethan Blackadder 8. Cullen Grace9. Mitchell Drummond 10. Richie Mo’unga 11. Leicester Fainga’anuku 12. David Havili (VC) 13. Braydon Ennor 14. Sevu Reece 15. Will Jordan
RESERVES: 16. Brodie McAlister 17. Tamaiti Williams 18. Michael Alaalatoa 19. Quinten Strange 20. Sione Havili Talitui 21. Bryn Hall 22. Dallas McLeod 23. Manasa Mataele
KIWI SUPPORT TEAM #3 : Referee: Mike Fraser. Assistant Ref 1:Damon Murphy Assistant Ref 2:Jordan Way TMO :Brett Cronan
‘O Captain! My Captain – Who Else!’
In news surely to be warmly received by >90% here by the GAGR faithful, coach Moses snuck this one out late Thursday night via the SMH.
In what is surely one of the most logical, warranted and ‘no brainer’ calls of Moses’ short, yet largely unsuccessful time as Wallabies Coach (bloody Kiwi’s), Moses has confirmed that Australia’s Premier 7, NSW Legend and winner of John Eales Medal 26 times, rightful incumbent of the Wallabies throne, by form, birthright and sheer volume of work will again be the Wallabies Captain for 2021.
When asked why – he said simply paraphrased former US president and soft-top saloon hater JFK – ‘ask not why I have picked Hoops for the role, but instead ask why the role is perfect for Hoops’
Long live King Michael the Great.
Officially ‘Game On’
RA has officially launched it’s bid as hosts for the 2027 RWC to held across this sunburnt country, a land of coal scarred plains.
The planets seem to be aligning for RA and the grand old game itself. No other established Rugby Nation has put their hands up as yet (whispers of a ‘Celtic’ bid) for 2027 & World Rugby have a stated preference for an ‘existing’ rugby nation to host one of the next two (2027 & 2031) cups, while the other would go to a ‘developing rugby nation’ (USA).
Given Russia’s doping history and the fact they are precluded from bidding for major sporting events until the end of 2022 by a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling – it’s unlike any world sports body would ‘reward’ them with any hosting rights for anything above International Ferret Neutering. Add to that USA Rugby recently entered bankruptcy proceedings things are looking good for RA and it’s 2027 bid.
A win by ‘default’ is still a win. Frankly, I don’t care how we win as long as we win. As a former cricket coach once told me, ‘you can’t draw pictures in the scorebook Hoss – only the result’.
However it might be advisable for all RA staff involved to check all door handles and drinking water for ‘Novichok’ should we win. Russia have notable form in being rather ‘sore losers’.
$5,000,000.00pa – that’s a lot of chocolate.
Furthering the ‘good news bubble’ currently surrounding RA and the Oz game in general, there are whispers out of RA that the recently announced Cadbury deal is worth more to RA in cold hard cash than the previous QANTAS deal ($5m/pa. in cash & contra), if so the infusion of more ‘Johnny’ into RA coffers is great news for RA and the game.
As a lifelong supporter of Cadbury and its numerous product offerings (I am drooling while typing this – talk about Pavlov’s dogs) I am glad that apart from type 2 diabetes, my loyal support and not inconsiderable financial contributions to the new sponsor will serve Oz Rugby so well – you’re welcome RA, you’re welcome
For those of you old enough to remember – check out Professor Julius Sumner Miller in this 1988 commercial. ‘Truth in advertising’, well, you decide……….
RA & NZR consider ‘open relationship’
Former ‘Kingswood Country’ star and now Australian Rugby CEO Lex Marinos revealed on Monday the governing body were having “philosophical conversations” with New Zealand Rugby about opening the borders, so players could play in the same competition but on other sides of the ditch and still remain eligible for their national teams.
“From an RA perspective, if we’re playing in a competition whether it’s here, New Zealand, you start looking ahead to Japan and other markets, I think if you’ve got all players that are playing in that competition eligible it’s only good for the comp because you get the cross pollination of the player, you’ll be able to create that unpredictability in outcome,” Lex said.
“That’s something we’re open-minded about” Sounds to me like its time for some Barry White music, some scented candles and the Gold-Lamé lounge suit, things are about to get ‘freaky-naughty‘ (I love that movie).
Don’t know how I feel about cheering for a Tahs side with a possible Moody, Coles or Savea playing for them, it just feels so completely and utterly morally wrong, unless they win of course – then it’s a bloody great idea and I have no issue with it.
The enemy of my enemy……….
I know this is GREEN & GOLD Rugby, but anything that weakens NZ Rugby (NZR) is by definition very good for Green & Gold Rugby right……..
Like dim-witted second cousins at Great Uncle Harold’s probate reading, NZR & NZRPA (NZ Rugby Players Association) are arguing over the family silver, or so it seems.
A rival bid from home-grown Kiwi investment manager Forsyth Barr via the NZRPA has been tabled, but tabled through the media and not via NZR! Even larger sums are being bandied about for a slice of AB’s ownership with a chance for ‘mum & dad’ investors to own a slice of the action. Add in the added allure from Forsyth Barr of a free lifetime supply of wool-lined slippers, ‘The Best of Dave Dobbins, Platinum Edition’ and a first edition, hardcopy of the erotic and useful Kiwi Farmer / Travel / Lifestyle manual ‘The Kaaaaaaarma Sutra’ and it’s a pretty compelling investment proposition.
If I were NZRPA I would get their members to boycott all games until after this year’s Bledisloe series.
When GAGR approached RA Chair Hamish Mac he mysteriously quoted some French small-person and military guy “N’interrompez jamais un ennemi qui est en train de faire une erreur.”
Not really sure what that means, but like most things in French, it sounds both intelligent & seductive and raises the esteem of which said French speaking person is held in, indubitably.