Welcome to Friday and the start of ‘Festival of the Gilbert’ in the Mexico of Australia – Melbourne.
Seven Six games held over three glorious days and a long weekend to boot. Even as a staunch NS-Welshman I must admit that playing host to five SRP matches and the final of Super W certainly reinforces Melbourne’s reputation as the Sporting Capital of Victoria.
Today, let’s start with a cry for help from our teams as they face the Kiwis for the first time this year, with ‘The Forward’s Prayer‘. Look into teams, times, coverage and predictions for SRP Round #10 – ‘Super Round’. Preview this year’s Super W Final with the Drua v NSW & bring it all home with ‘Friday’s Rugby Goss with Hoss’ now ahead of both major parties in polling on the three party preferred system.
The Forward’s Prayer*
‘Our saviour, who ain’t our seven,
hollowed be our game.
The Kiwis come, their will gets done,
on turf, as if from rugby heaven.
Give us this day, some bloody plans,
to help roll these Kiwi bastards,
as we forgive those useless backs,
who stuff-up their kicks & passes.
And lead us not into frustration,
but deliver us from Kiwis:
For theirs is the kingdom, the power & rugby glory,
forever & ever
(*first published May 2021)
Well, the wait is over.
The Kiwis have landed in Oz ready to rumble into this weekend’s Super Round. It will be a fascinating three days for any number of reasons, not just the results. How will our teams fair for fitness, physicality, tactics & overall game management? Can they go ‘toe to toe’ with those of middle-earth and draw a line in the sand for the rest of the season and a ‘springboard’ into the international season? Will also be interesting to note possible differences in interpretations of Oz & Kiwi refs, especially around the breakdown.
Only time will tell and I can hardly wait. All teams, times and coverage courtesy rugby.com.au
Chiefs v Waratahs
Friday 22 April 7:00 pm (pushed back due to postponement of MP v Force) AEST . AAMI Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport
Of course the Tahs should & will be the first Oz side to start off the campaign v The Chiefs and I like their chances.
What’s stood out for me this season has been the defence of the Tahs, especially their ruck defence. Of all the Oz sides the Tahs appear to be ahead of the curve in making good decisions about when to and not to compete and allocating appropriate numbers accordingly. Their tackle completion rate is the highest of any team in the comp. As an example last week the starting Tahs piggies made over 50 tackles between them and at an incredible 100% completion rate. These stats prove a telling insight into culture and the new team ethos the coaches have instilled in the team.
While defence is one thing the Tahs attack has also purred so far this year. The try last week against the Force from the half-break from Harrison and the hands by Holloway to collect the pill (below his knees), and not break his stride and deliver a gem outside of him, shows again a team connected and comfortable in their roles, their team mates and the game plan.
The Tahs make a few changes for this week with Harrison at 15, Newsome to the wing, Edmed still at 10 with Donaldson back in the 23 and coming from the bench.
For mine the Tahs pack will more than match the Chiefs. The Tahs front row is in terrific form, good on both D and attack. Holloway will wear orange this year and is in terrific form and will partner the unsung hero of the Tahs pack, Hugh Sinclair. His workload, engine, commitment and toughness have been vastly underrated outside of the team and he’s the sort of player that lets the loosies of Hooper, Gamble & Harris do their thing.
The Chiefs will of course be hard to beat, but that will just make the Tahs victory all that sweeter AND will temporarily give Oz ‘dominance’ over Kiwi sides in SRP this season
Referee: Nic Berry Assistant Referee: Jordan Way, Graham Cooper
Fearless Prediction: Tahs by 8. Go you blue things.
Moana Pasifika v Western Force
Postponed due to COVID. Pity, Oz teams would have been 2-zip and a ‘rout’ on the cards
Blues v Fijian Drua
Saturday 23 April 5:05 pm AEST at AAMI Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport
The Drua will be rested and refreshed after the bye last week and I expect plenty of flair and rugby beauty from our Aussie Fijians
However, a victory against the Blues seems a bridge too far for mine, but I don’t expect the Drua to be embarrassed.
Referee: Paul Williams Assistant Referee: Nic Berry, Angus Mabey
Fearless Prediction: Blues by 16
Hurricanes v Queensland Reds
Saturday 23 April 7:45 pm AEST at AAMI Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport
What a cracking game this was going to be and with a likely Reds win to boot, but then…………………….Reds general, Jimmy O’Connor gets ruled out from injury. Injury likely to keep him out till the end of the SRP season and perhaps longer – more on JOC’s injury here from rugby.com.au
On paper, I fancy the Reds forwards as a collective unit over the Canes lot, but, further denting Red chances is the precautionary resting of Jordan ‘of Nazareth’ Pataia with a ‘hammy twinge’ from his last outing.
With JOC out and a green #10 in Lawson Creighton, it will mean the Reds have to play a lot more off their own #9 Tate ‘Joe Dirt’ (that Mullet!) McDermott, meaning he will have to play a lot of minutes and be ably supported by Hamish Stewart (the most underrated back in Oz) & The Squatter – Hunter Paisami.
The Reds still have pace and power in their backs, it will purely come down to being able to get them enough quality pill.
What a cracker of a game this should be!
Referee: Angus Gardner Assistant Referee: James Doleman, Graham Cooper
Fearless Prediction: Through green, gold & Red eyes. Reds by 7.
Highlanders v Brumbies
Sunday 24 April 2:00 pm AEST at AAMI Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport
And the cracking match-ups continue! On paper another close run thing. For me though, no 7As (injured) and with Jimmy Slips off the bench leaves a BIG hole in the starting Ponies piggies, but from numbers 4-8 I reckon the Ken Berrans have a big advantage over the Dunedin mob. Caydern Neville is back for the Ponies, big Lurch Swain is a terrific player for such a young man, Sideshow Bob Valetini is world class and consistent performer, Samu is quality and I really like Jahrome Brown as a footballer, tough, physical, uncompromising and a shocking haircut – my type of forward.
Which brings me to the backs. Not a great deal between them for mine. ‘If’, and it’s a big ‘if’, the starting ACT piggies can get parity and Nic ‘The Lip’ White can stay focused on the present and not refereeing decisions and subsequently loosing his faeces all over the place then……….
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe Assistant Referee: Graham Cooper, Reuben Keane
Fearless Prediction: Ponies by 4
Crusaders v Melbourne Rebels
Sunday 24 April 4:00 pm AEST at AAMI Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport
The last chance for the Kiwis to salvage some pride from a ‘losing’ weekend for Super Round when perennial South Island battlers the Christchurch Crusaders take on Australia’s own Southern Battlers, The Rebels.
No doubt the Kiwi powerhouse will be smarting after getting rolled by the Blues last week in a ding-dong clash that any true rugby lover would have loved, nay revelled in. It was sumptuous rugby match that was in the balance until the last seconds.
The Rebels, they are much improved and all Oz rugby is better for it and will welcome back Rob ‘The Mule’ Leota from injury. BUT, man for man, pound for pound it would appear that even if the Rebs put all XXIII on the field at once to counter the Saders starting XV it would still not be enough to get them home against Robbo’s Rabble.
In a nice touch for this game, heading into Anzac Day there will also be a reading of The Ode, playing of The Last Post and a moment’s silence to remember the servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries
Referee: Brendon Pickerill Assistant Referees: James Doleman, Jordan Way
Fearless Prediction: Crusaders by 18
Weekend scoreboard: Australia 3. NZ 2 (the Force ‘would have’ won also, so that score flatters the Kiwis)
The big dance.
- Time Sat, 23/04/2022, 2:00 pm. Location AAMI Park Coverage on GEM & Stan
Adding further to this weekend’s already bursting Rugby program, the final of this year’s Super W will also be played Saturday with the NSW Super W Tahs looking to avenge their only ever Super W loss to the Fijiana Drua during season proper.
Super W finals teams courtesy rugby.com.au
There isn’t a lot between these two sides, indeed if you look at the rugby.com.au stats most of them favour the Tahs side, with one clear difference, ‘offloads’ (Drua 123 – Tahs 38) and it’s here the Tahs must shut down the Drua if they are to win yet another Super W crown.
I’ve heard a fair bit about the Drua ‘playing 7s with 15 players’ and certainly Fijiana play a beautiful, expressive and up-tempo game, but to beat them you must make your tackles, lock up the ball and defenders must stay alive inside and out the main defender to shut down the passing game of the Drua.
The Tahs have the players, the experience and ability, but to ‘out Fiji, Fiji’ ain’t possible. Control the tempo of the game, look too dominate in the tackle and play for field position and the game could be theirs.
That said it’s hard not to admire the Drua for the sheer joy they bring to rugby
Drua Tahs by 6.
Friday’s Rugby Goss with Hoss
She’ll be right.
RA have announced former Rio 7s Gold Medal Winner and the first Australian to win World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year in 2014, Emily Barton (nee Cherry), has been appointed the assistant coach of the Women’s 7s National Side. Having been an occasional critic of RA, this is a terrific appointment with seemingly an eye to the future.
‘Why not’ indeed?
SMH’s Iain Payten reports former RA employee who did something or other, Scott Johnno,
stealing modifying a basketball idea and to sin-bin players after a team reaches a limit of defensive ‘fouls’.
Great idea for mine and leading to a boon in the construction industry as carpenters build a ‘sin bin bench’ capable of holding 15 Kiwi players at once, dressed nearly all in black.
It seems every dark cloud has a silver
fern lining. stuff.co.nz reports news from Middle-Earth that revered NZ coach and all-round good guy Wayne Smith has been appointed Director of Rugby for the Black Ferns. You never hear anything but good words about Mr Smith – even though he is a Kiwi. Rare.
The one that got away?
Good read from rugbypass.com about a young gent named Emmanuel Meafou.
I admit I have no idea who this young man is, but when trolling a few rugby sites this article pricked my attention based on his physical attributes and that he is an Aussie to boot. At 6’8″ and 145kg (yes 145) one would think he may be someone Oz Rugby was/is watching closely. Now plying his trade in the starting XV of Toulouse he can’t be too shabby can he?
Lest we forget
If ever there was a time for reflection, gratitude and a tear or two for our servicemen & women it’s in troubled times like now. To those who served and continue to serve, ‘thank you’ barely seems enough. To those who laid down their lives so that me & mine might enjoy a better life, I simply say that we will never forget.
Until next Friday – come on Aussies, come on, come on
Hoss – out.