Good morning and hello from the warm bosom of the Blue Mountains. Home of artisans, writers, artists and all that crap.
How good has this week been for Rugby fans! The cut & thrust of North v South, the anticipation of team selections, injuries, recoveries, suspension and the theatre surrounding it all. Honestly, outside a World Cup year does it get any better than this?
Today, let’s start with a first hand account of the second test directly from behind the Aussie reserves bench with ‘A Mug’s View’. Look at the implications for Moses and his team with ‘The Meatloaf Prophecies’. Quickly recap team news for us & them in ‘Go you Gold Things’. We apologise for Happy’s cavalier ‘Southern Sweep’ claims last week with ‘The North Remembers’ and round it all out with ‘Friday’s Goss with Hoss’ now released from The Betty Ford clinic.
A Mug’s View
Now that the equal measures of residual whisky levels and sheer one-eyed Wallaby fan ‘view point’ has seeped from my system, what do I make of the second test? Well, I just can’t shake the god-damn awful truth that (gnashing teeth now) the Poms thoroughly deserved the victory. They were better all round, physically, tactically, kicking, running, set piece, whichever way you slice game #2, the English Rose deserved the win.
I will admit, live at the ground I could have sworn I heard the ref humming ‘swing low’, some of his calls ‘live’ seemed appalling and the Suncorp ‘rub of the green ‘was certainly against those in Orange. You could argue the toss on a number of calls during the match for sure, but in what game of rugby can’t you do the same? You could reasonable argue that if Genge’s actions on The Lip didn’t meet the threshold for ‘attacking the head of an opponent’ then what does? Yellows for deliberate knock-ons? Been argued all week and I will never accept either player deserved cheese. Bugger ‘the law’, the law is wrong.
With increasing levels of sobriety and objectivity now temporarily in place again I say that the Wallabies played an average game. I thought at the ground and still since, the use of the bench was ‘odd’. Injury aside ‘The Pollack’ came off far too early as evidenced by our set piece shit-show that followed. Contrastingly, The Porn Star (Pete Samu) entered the field far too late when we had fluffed our lines and had subsequently forfeited the momentum we had threatened to re-establish and run away with the game.
It was an odd experience at the ground. Certainly at 19-0 blind Freddy knew we had to be the next to score or it was going to get ugly and score we did. Indeed with a few scores and momentum on their side, it seemed almost a certainty the Wallabies would overrun the Poms. But a failed touch finder, a ‘crooked’ lineout (no more ‘crooked’ than half of England’s) a few set piece short-arms against us, a lack of impetus from an ill-used bench and……………..good night nurse.
So I arrive back at the beginning. A deserved England victory, another ‘middling’ showing from the Wallabies and it all to play for tomorrow. So what does an Aussie victory mean………………….
The Meatloaf Prophecies
He’s probably right, two outta three, a series win, rugby on the front pages and all is good with the Orange Warriors, ain’t bad right?
Well, on the surface, yep, I’d take that, bank it and look for incremental improvements for the remainder of 2022. It’s the age old adage of ‘winning fixes everything’, but does it? With all our depth and fitness and alignment and all the other rugby buzz words have our on-field efforts, so far, been consistent with expectations, specifically my expectations?
No and not by some way.
Now I never expect perfect, it’s an unattainable concept, but I do expect the pursuit of something pertaining to a greater level than just being average. What I would take from our Wallabies is a level of consistent proficiency with identifiable markers along the way to show ‘incremental growth’.
Our team is coming off a seven from fourteen 2021, including a northern tour nudie run. We beat the Poms in Test #1, when they really couldn’t play any poorer, we got rolled in test #2 with a scoreboard possibly flattering the Orange team. So, when is it, I ask, that we might see this purring Wallaby machine roll out something befitting an 80 minute ‘performance’ to match the rhetoric, instead of the 1975 Ford Cortina with dirty fuel that all too frequently shows up coughing and spluttering shite all over the field?
Am I asking to much, is a ‘series win’ a ‘series win’? Is winning ugly all that matters as it’s still winning? I genuinely do not know. Sure, I want to beat England – who doesn’t? There was a time as an Aussie where beating England in anything, hell, everything was as natural as drawing breath, so why should it change now?
I just have this belief deep in my rugby soul though that this mob of Wallabies AND coaches are better than we’ve seen so far and demonstrably so. It’s that belief that makes me demand more from them, much more. Damn straight I want them to win, but I want them to win well, real well, lay down a marker and show us that this is a team that could go all the way to greatness, not just in this series but be spoken of in a hushed rugby reverence.
But talk, well talk is cheap. ‘Tell me’ & I will forget, ‘show me’ and I will remember, but engage me and well………………
GO YOU GOLD THINGS
Teams times and coverage details courtesy rugby.com.au
Selections are subjective at the best of times, so here is a summary & some thoughts:
- No cover at #10 with Jon Snow out of the XXIII
- The Clydesdale back after ordinary SRP form – please don’t waste your breath telling me Hodge is ‘cover’ for ’10’. Not on his best day.
- Joe Dirt in for The Commissioner, from what, training form?
- Dirty Harry-Wilson back in Orange and one might suspect with a point to prove (I am a fan of this kids)
- Vunivalu likely making his debut from the pine. Seeing him in person he is one very impressive physical specimen – equal the size of Dirty Harry
- 7As & Fergie back from the pine
- Nick Frost to get debut start, Rob ‘the Mule’ Leota to the pine
Swing Low Sisters
- Mario ‘The Banshie’ Itoje – injured
- Sam Underhill – injured
- Danny Care back to starting
- The rest – who cares
Fearless Prediction: Wallabies by 8
The North Remembers
What a difference a week makes! It was Happyman last Thursday I believe, who opined about a ‘Southern Sweep‘, where all Southern Hemisphere sides would prevail three-zip over their northern guests, well how wrong that has proven.
Roll forward a week and we have a rugby cliff-hanger-a-rama all around us with bragging rights and serious momentum into the 2023 RWC up for grabs!
NZ v Ireland
Bloody hell, how good were Oirland and this match as a spectacle!
More cards than an 8yo’s birthday party, head clashes, sledges, confusion around player changes, this match had it all, including a first ever Oirish win on NZ soil to boot!
Plenty of ink this week, plenty of recriminations from an unhappy NZ public, plenty of time for Nearlies players to ‘simmer’ away, plenty of air time for a fairly ordinary (dull) sledge to seep into a nation’s collective psyche as well and become ‘motivation’.
Call it ‘southern pride’, call it misplaced ANZAC spirit, call it whatever you like, but I truly hope our Kiwi cousins pound the Oirish into the dirt this Saturday, a good ol’ fashioned ABs smash-fest. Set the tone early for us SH sides, right the ship, reset the SH rugby supremacy over NH and more than anything else rub O’Mahoney’s smug face into the Kiwi dirt.
One point of interest this weekend with perennial Kiwi favourite, Wayne Barnes, in charge for this powerhouse match. I would expect to see a much calmer, free flowing match, for at present in terms of officiating skill, it’s Barnes first, the rest a looooong way back.
Fearless Prediction: Nearlies by 20. Note to O’Mahoney – never prod an angry black bear, until you’re on the plane home with the trophy.
The Catholics v The Northern Sheep Shaggers
I find this one really hard to pick, based purely on my general disdain for both The Pope’s Lot and any side that has Dan Biggar among its ranks. The SAFFERS are rolling out another 114 changes to their matchday XXIII and The Welsh, well they have Dan Biggar in their side, so…..
Fearless Prediction: I feel the same as when my GP told me he wasn’t sure if I had an aggressive STD or tropical crotch rot, either way I was going to be unhappy & possibly very itchy. I’ll take a draw.
FISMs v The Haggis Lovers
Argentina were terrible last week and that’s the risk of playing the ’emotion’ card too often. ‘Emotion’ is just not sustainable as a blue print for consistent rugby results. Or, one of my favourites – if you have to pump up a ball each week before playing, you throw the ball away.
Fearless Prediction: Look if the Wallabies get up then the rest has ‘care factor zero’ effect for me, apart from SH bragging rights.
All coverage details courtesy of Stan
All this weekends match officials courtesy worldrugby.com
I get RA need coin. I get Sydney is Oz’s biggest Rugby market, in summation I get the commercial imperative. But at a circular ground with average lighting and sweet fa ‘atmosphere’ for fans live for a series decider? I contrast that to my Suncorp experience last week, all seats are close to the action, our seats were literally behind the Wallabies reserves bench. Being able to hear the calls, watch the players limber up and inhale the intoxicating atmosphere of the whole experience, contrast that with this week needing the Hubble telescope to find it and transmit it back.
The SCG is a Nokia in a time of Apples.
Paralysis by analysis Part II
Good read from rugby.com.au Tea Lady & Executive in charge of utensils at corporate functions Mr N Williamson.
The Lip – 50 not out.
This week’s decider is Nic White’s 50th in a Wallabies jersey and I love the guy, he’s every inch the competitor, our most complete #9 and is getting better with age. Plus, he’s from the Hunter Valley as well, what’s not to like. Go well, Nic, and get us home!
Pacific Nations Final Round
The PN Cup featuring Samoa, Aussie A, Fiji & Tonja wraps up this weekend with only Tonga out of the running for the title. Coverage and details courtesy worldrugby.com
Big shout out to the assembled G&GR gentry at The Gresham last Friday night. Allegedly a good night had by all or so I am told, details became a little blurry from 9:30pm onwards. With the 2027 RWC on our shores maybe a more formal function/supporters group might take shape?
That’s all from me this week, back to my brandy and crackling fire. Take it away Mojo & go the Wallabies
Hoss – out.