ACT Brumbies

Super 14 reviews and scores: Highlanders vs Waratahs, Lions vs Force, Brumbies vs Reds

Super 14 reviews and scores: Highlanders vs Waratahs, Lions vs Force, Brumbies vs Reds

How do you have almost 70% possession, 60% territory, make the opposition tackle twice as much as you, have the double their line breaks, and only win by two points? No this isn’t a joke, but the script for both the Waratahs and the Force this week, and familiar for both sides the week before as well.

Both teams would create stretches of great attacking play that made even the kiwi and saffa commentators admit that the Aussies were on top, to then turn over possession, through either error or free-kick. The Waratahs particularly – their game against the Highlanders had you shouting at the screen in frustration, especially with a kicking game (can you even call it that?) that only ever served to give away hard fought ball.

While you can get stuck into the two teams for their part in this frustrate-athon, the other part of the equation is the extremely ordinary reffing of the new laws that’s going on. You’ve got to figure that these laws were never meant to hamstring the team playing more expansive, attacking rugby, but at the moment no attacking team can string more than 4 phases together without getting pinged for holding on.

Sure, that happened in the past, but then it was if you were still holding on after there’d been an attempted clear out. Now, the whistle blows almost as soon as the ball carrier hits the ground.

Anyway – a few words about each game.

Lions 16 – Western Force 18
For Lions: Try: Van Schalkwyk Con: Strydom Pens: Strydom 3
For Western Force: Tries: Shepherd, Horua Con: Giteau Pens: Giteau, Shepherd

As mentioned, too many errors by the force. They really must stop Fava, Shepherd and Brown getting on the piss before kick off – I’m not sure what else explains their stuff ups and Shepherds dirty sanchez gay biker mustache.

On the plus side, Giteau, Daruda, Cross and Cummins are all looking very sharp, running some great lines to create a try in the 12th minute. Horua, the apprentice 8 was also impressive around the park and deserved his try.

The ref Deaker had a shocker, letting the Lions lie over the ball, but while the jaapies bitched about his disallowing the Lions try at the end, Force fans can rightly moan about the charge down Van Skullfµck scored in the first half. Deaker had awarded a free against a Lions infringement at the line-out, to call “advantage over” 2 seconds later simply because the Force number 9 had passed it back to Daruda who was then charged down. What advantage was that?

At the end of the day though, 9 points from 3 games in South Africa, John Mitchell will be happy.

Highlanders 12 – Waratahs 15
For Highlanders: Tries: Vainikolo, Thomson Cons: Wilson
For Waratahs: Tries: Jacobs, Palu Con: Beale Pen: Beale

This was one of those games you’d rather forget, the Waratahs on the wrong end of a 25-15 turnover count. Yes, it was fµcking awful weather, but you’ve got to be concerned about how the backline still isn’t gelling in round 3 of the competition. There doesn’t seem to be anyone taking on the role of leader out there, which is worrying considering the amount of inexperience. Whittaker might be leaving a bigger hole than first realised. If anything, it was the replacement Sam Harris that showed a spark out there in the wet.

In the forwards it was a little better, the back row having a pretty good game. Elsom again showed his ability to break the line with pace, making a searing run, and Waugh was awesome in the tight. It was a win away from home, and a tight one like those they lost last year. But that’s pretty much all you can say about it.

Brumbies development XV 43 – Reds of 2007 11
For Brumbies: Tries: Gerrard, Chisholm 2, Alexander, Playford, Hoiles Cons: Gerrard 5 Pen: Gerrard
For Reds: Try: Humphries Pens: Schifcofske 2

It was a very different feeling watching the Brumbies – Reds game though. Perhaps because neither side was muscling up enough at the breakdown (NOT a good thing for Aussie rugby) those who knew what to do with the ball (the ‘baby Brumbies’) could get quality possession.

As someone who had written the Canberrans off this year (and even this game) the result was a real surprise. The way they played however made it a pleasant surprise. It was pacy and precise attacking play, like the Brumbies of old, except with very, very new players. The pick of these newbies were the centre pairing of Sanualio Afeaki and Tyrone Smith (Georges ex-mungo brother) as well as Peter Playford on the wing. All 3 had real gas and the ability to straighten and run angles.

What made it possible for these young ‘uns to shine however were the old guard of George Smith (showing his scavenger and handling genius throughout) and Mark Gerrard (top kicking). Both of these guys showed excellent leadership on the field.

It’s hard to pick out any real positives for the Reds, no-one really got to shine, except maybe for Berrick Barnes’ defence.

The clash of the Tahs vs Brumbies next week should be very interesting indeed.

ACT Brumbies

Matt started G&GR just before the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has been enslaved ever since. Follow him on twitter: @MattRowley

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