Welcome to a slightly delayed Monday News, G&GRs. Firstly, apologies for my tardiness with events outside of my control. All good though! Secondly, what an intriguing weekend of rugby we saw. From the Brumbies v Reds clash to the Ities giving the Taffs a loss in Cardiff, all of it was super enjoyable! I was surprised with a Wallabies squad announcement (did anyone know about this being announced?!) and some results from around the globe. Happy Monday, y’all!
SUPER RUGBY ROUND…. I don’t even know now with the Spicy Cough fucking things up…
A chaotic end to last week saw a third of the games rubbed out prior to close of play on Friday. (Un)fortunately for Moana Pasifika, their game was not one thus affected. We start our wrap on Friday night in the Nation’s
Arsehole Capital, Canberra, for the Ponies v Reds:
Brumbies v Reds – Well, this was certainly an interesting game. The grudges were clear and obvious for all to see, probably to the detriment of the actual rugby being played. Whatever rugby was on was affected by teams committing a ridiculous number of offences at set piece and in general play. While I do understand the criticisms of the match officials (I daresay it’ll be an interesting review session), the reality is that many of the penalties were caused by player decisions. I said this in the comments last week: as a diehard Ponies fan, even I’m not colour blind enough to know that they’re the most cynical team in Super Rugby. Unfortunately, they do win games this way which only encourages them further.
The match itself contained ferocious defence and both side unwilling to allow the opposition to play with any space. This itself, ironically, bodes quite well for an international season with these teams making up the bulk of the squad. It’s shithouse rugby at times; however, this ruthlessness is exactly what the national side has been lacking in previous seasons (even a little bit last year at times).
Even then, there were some moments of magic and thoughtful rugby. I loved the delicious irony of a Brumbies try via a neat grubber kick from Simone (VASTLY underrated) and some hard tackling work from Jahrome Brown. The Reds’ Harry Wilson looked a lot better than he has for a while and Seru Uru played the house down. Interestingly, the teams were mostly well-matched across the paddock which kept many other players quiet. I felt that the Brumbies scrum shat on the Reds (despite the PK count) and Nick Frost showed exactly why Dan McKellar lost his collective shit when he signed up for Japanese rugby. Luke Reimer will be on the end of some passing skills after his shocker in not releasing Mogg for an all-but-certain try to effectively end the game. Whoops! Brumbies 16 – Reds 12
** addenda – Nela has been cited for his cleanout on Jahrome Brown. Judiciary result to come.
Force v Drua – Well, this was another interesting match that went down to the wire. There were trademark big hits and some stunning ‘heads up rugby’ runs from the Drua; however, it appeared that their set piece cruelly let them down at crucial moments. Finally for the Force, they were able to win a tight game, albeit with a clutch kick from Kuenzle after the siren; a win’s a win though! Force 20 – Drua 18
Waratahs v Rebels – The Tahs have won back-to-back matches for the first time since 2019 with a defeat of the Rebels at the SCG. In another game where rugby skills probably were not the highlight, the Tahs found a way to win against a Rebels side who, arguably, played their best match of the season. Both sides tried to forge ahead, only to allow their opposition back into the game – coach killing! In the end, the young Tahs are showing what an experienced coach can do for a young side while the pressure surely mounts on Kevin Foote. That being said, the emotion from Carter Gordon post-match demonstrates that there is still the desire in spite of the difficultly of their season. Tahs 24 – Rebels 19
Chiefs v Moana Pasifika – Well, as much as the new kids on the block wished to get game time, they have felt the wrath of the Chiefs at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland. With a 58-42% possession stat and a similar amount of territory, the men from the Waikato stuck to their game plan and came away with a comprehensive victory. Pita Gus Sowakula, in particular, continued his rich vein of form – I’d be amazed if he isn’t picked up by the Fijian national side later this season. Although Moana have shown glimpsed of improvement, a horror start to their Super Rugby Pacific journey by virtue of the Spicy Cough will undoubtedly be tough to overcome. Still, I wouldn’t put a win over the Rebels out of sight! Chiefs 59 – Moana Pasifika 12
SIX NATIONS – ROUND FIVE
France v England – Well, the screws must certainly be on Eddie Jones now, though the Calamity in Cardiff spared the SDs a consecutive 5th placing with a third place finish, albeit by points differential. In a match that France seemed fearful of losing and an English side with nothing much to gain aside from pride, it was a decent ending to a captivating 6 Nations. Antoine Dupont demonstrated repeatedly how important a player he is for the French with some excellent game management and taking of opportunities. Shaun Edwards’ defensive prowess is surely the envy of his home nation, too! Credit to the SDs for staying in the game; however, some pretty shitty selections across the park speak of the pressure on Jones. It’ll certainly be interesting to see if the RFU have the cojones so punt him (and, if so, whom shall he be replaced by?).
Outside of the match, I enjoyed this quote by Robert Kitson of The Guardian: “There have been some thumping French grand slam victories but never one that has rippled so ominously around the world. Not for a dozen years have France claimed a 6 Nations clean sweep but in many ways the dazzling beauty of this one lies in what might still lie ahead. On this evidence anyone else planning to win next year’s Rugby World Cup is going to be disappointed.” Hear, hear. They absolutely deserve to be (one of) the favourites for RWC 2023. France 25 – England 13
Ireland v Scotland – Ireland finished their 2022 campaign with a comprehensive Triple Crown victory over Scotland in Dublin. The Irish have looked in pretty decent nick and ought to be considering themselves contenders to make the semis in 2023 (gasp!). One of the standout players, although not on many fan’s radars, was Josh van der Flier. He has added a ballplaying element to his strong tackling game which has fast made him a valuable player in the Irish pack. Scotland, missing some of their top talent, were in a different class to the Irish. They really have to sort their personnel (and their issues) out before their 2023 is over before it starts! Ireland 26 – Scotland 5
Italy v Wales – HAHAHAHA! Oh my days. I don’t think anyone would’ve seen (or tipped) that result. Simply, the Welsh played like shite and the Italians found a way to win by playing decent rugby. In doing so, they have broken a seven year, 36 game losing streak. After the winning conversion, you can see what it meant to a mostly young Italian side. They might not win much; but their passion for the game and their country cannot be denied. Forza Italia! Italy 22 – Wales 21
I did have to laugh at the try scored by Italy to all but win the game. If you watch in the background, Ross Moriarty gives the Italian player a decent push in the back which ironically propels him into a better position to score. “Play dumb games and win dumb prizes” and “karma is a bitch”.
SUPER W and SUPER AUPIKI
Fijiana v Force – The Flying Fijian women gave the Force a hiding they won’t soon forget with a 45 – 17 victory at Leichhardt Oval. Hard, fast and ferocious are definitely the three adjectives I’d use to describe the Fijiana, who ran out to a 45 – 0 lead. The Force, to their credit, were able to claw back to a slightly more respectable result with some late tries. A blockbuster match-up next weekend between Fijiana and the Waratahs looms… I can’t wait!
Brumbies v Reds – A cracking game of footy between the Reds and Brumbies with the Queenslanders coming away with a tight victory, proving that the Brumbies are definitely better than their results have suggested. The Reds only pinched the lead late when ferocious prop Patu, having already found the line once, burst her way through the Brumbies’ defence and scored in the 73rd minute to break a 10-10 deadlock and secure the winning margin. Reds 15 – Brumbies 10
Waratahs v Rebels – The Waratahs continued their now 21 game winning streak with a comprehensive victory over a hapless Rebels side at the SCG. Mahalia Murphy scored an incredible FIVE tries in the rout with Tatum Bird scoring a brace. Tahs 67 – Rebels 10
The Tahs are building something special with their prop forwards, too…
Chiefs Manawa v Blues – The Manawa became the inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki champions with a 35 – 0 thrashing of the Blues in the “final”. Two pieces of cheese handed to the Blues gave the Manawa the ability to pull away with a strong victory. There was plenty to like about this game, with big hits and quick runs on show as the Black Ferns were well represented on-field.
Well done to all teams playing a tournament over a mere ten days in order to get the games done, particularly in a challenging environment and living in a bubble in Taupo.
Wallabies Squad Announced
This came completely out of the blue for me as I had no idea it was coming… Shame on me and my ‘journalism’! Ha!
A combined 25 players from the Ponies and the Reds is a fair reflection on the teams; 10 Tahs seems a wee bit high, though I would expect that a few may be trimmed. I’m going to leave it to the comments to discuss inclusion/exclusions.
The full squad for the approaching matches against the SDs:
WALLABIES SQUAD: Allan Alaalatoa (53 Tests), Tom Banks (19 Tests), Angus Bell (16 Tests), Jock Campbell (uncapped), Ben Donaldson (uncapped), Folau Fainga’a (25 Tests), Lalakai Foketi (1 Test), Nick Frost (uncapped), Jake Gordon (10 Tests), Reece Hodge (54 Tests), Michael Hooper (118 Tests), Jed Holloway (uncapped), Len Ikitau (13 Tests), Harry Johnson-Holmes (1 Test), Feleti Kaitu’u (3 Tests), Andrew Kellaway (13 Tests), Rob Leota (6 Tests), Noah Lolesio (9 Tests), Lachlan Lonergan (4 Tests), Ryan Lonergan (uncapped), Tate McDermott (15 Tests), Fraser McReight (2 Tests), Cadeyrn Neville (uncapped), James O’Connor (61 Tests), Hunter Paisami (15 Tests), Izaia Perese (2 Tests), Jordan Petaia (16 Tests), Matt Philip (20 Tests), David Porecki (uncapped), Toni Pulu (uncapped), Izack Rodda (34 Tests), Pete Samu (19 Tests), James Slipper (114 Tests), Darcy Swain (10 Tests), Lachlan Swinton (7 Tests), Taniela Tupou (38 Tests), Rob Valetini (18 Tests), Nic White (47 Tests), Harry Wilson (10 Tests), Tom Wright (10 Tests)
New Zealand in Mourning
The All Blacks have slipped to THIRD in the World Rugby Rankings.
*Wallabies fans laugh in sixth*
- South Africa
Righto, Folks. Happy Monday!