ACT Brumbies

Super 14 Week 1 reviews and scores

Super 14 Week 1 reviews and scores

By christ it was good to have Super rugby back on the idiot box, even if there was a week where a combination of rustiness and ELV naivety created some pretty headless chicken rugby at times (more on that in another post). But here’s a run down on the games.

Waratahs 20 vs Hurricanes 3
On balance, this would have been a pleasing hit out for Link Mckenzie and his men. The pack created good go-forward, Elsom, Palu and Robinson making some good runs. The good old blue rolling maul also made a couple of appearances and worked well.

More impressive though was the set-piece attacking through the backs. Todd Louden take a bow – the 3Ts were sharp. Tuqiri’s looking lean, mean and dangerous again, turning up in midfield and sucking in defenders. The new ex-mungo, Timtam Tahu, while wearing the “what the fuck’s going on?” expression a fair bit had a good game and showed some real State of Origin style finishing touches, drawing men with the jink inside and then producing the miracle ball with the free hand. Lachie Turner finished with real pace.

Carter and Jacobs in the mid-field looked more than solid, which with the pace around them, is all they needed to do. Beale has grown in confidence, shown by him not trying too much. His distribution was excellent, as demonstrated by the last minute ‘no-try’ through Harris, although Palu needs to sit on his shoulder in open play for when the options are cut down. Burgess was a live wire when he came on late.

But now for the negatives.

The ball-security was rat-shit, which was thankfully outbotched by the Hurricanes. All forms of kicking were aimless, served only to give the ball away, and to miss touch on a full arm penalty is a crime against humanity. The open field attack was a shambles (demonstrated by the number of times players found themselves with the ball and seemed to say ‘what now?’) as was the open field defence. Palu’s passing in the tackle is a liability.

To be serious challengers Tahs need to sort these problems out or get eaten in the new ELVs as their game plan at the moment seems to ignore, rather than embrace the new rules.

Waratahs –
Tries: Turner 2, Elsom Con: Beale Pen: Beale Hurricanes – Pen: Gopperth

Sharks 17 vs Force 10
This was the other match that I watched in full this weekend, but it left a lot less to write about. Neither side really took charge of the game and again looked a bit clueless as how to best use the ELVs. The guiding principle of this game was ‘if in doubt’ (which they always were), ‘hoof it’.

For the Force you could see why Mitchell was keen to take slugger Henjack on this tour, as the rest of the back line showed little spark, and the million dollar kid simply had a bad day at the office. Should Giteau feel down about this weeks performance though, he only has to watch the tape of the number 8 Richard Brown’s game – a complete shocker.

But even though the game had the effect of one of those memory erasers from The Men in Black, at the end of the day the Force went away with a point and were in with a shout at the very end. Had they made more of some of the breaks that Scott Fava was making in between rum & cokes, they could have had this one.

Other sparkles on a dull afternoon included some raw talent from Nick Cummins, the young 7s specialist who has a special ‘in and away’, and a young lock replacement (who I believe is) Sitaleki Timani showed some real pace and athleticism.

Oh and for any kiwis still looking for Suzie the waitress, she’s working a pizza joint in Durban, which is where Force skipper Sharp picked up a hell dose of the squits, keeping him out of the game.

The Force need to get some momentum fast to keep the improvement going this season.

Sharks: Tries: Botes, Terblanche Cons: Pienaar 2 Pen: Steyn
Western Force: Try: Holmes Con: Giteau Pen: Shepherd

Reds 22 vs Highlanders 16
If you’re going to pick yourselves up by the bootstraps to turn things around from a crappy last season then wins like these are just what you need. Spearheaded by Ioane, the reds seem to have re-discovered the path to the try-line. Sure, they got a bit of a hand from a generous Marius Jonker in his railroading of the TMO to award a couple of dodgy calls, but if you only get this sort of luck if you can get into the position in the first place.

Is this a drought breaker for the reds? A fit Latham, Cordingly, Rodzilla and McMenimen plus the likes of Barnes and Schifcofske finding their feet should definitely make a big definitely make a big difference.

For the Reds: Tries: Roe 2, Schifcofske, Cons: Schifcofske 2 Pen: Schifcofske
For the Highlanders: Try:Thomson Con: Delany Pens:Bowden 2, Williams

Crusaders 34 vs Brumbies 3
Despite it pissing down enough to turn the paddock into a kiddies pool, the ‘Saders still managed to run in 3 pretty impressive tries and show the rest of the competition how to use these new laws.

Carter was a scoring machine (did anyone not pick him in their fantasy team?) and Tui’ili looked pretty damn impressive as he powered over for a couple of tries. To add injury to insult, the experience light team has now lost Ashley-Cooper, who was covering for the recuperating Mortlock, to a knee injury.

Things aren’t looking good for the Brumbies this year.

For the Crusaders: Tries: Tuiali’i 2, Thorn, Carter Cons: Carter 4 Pens: Carter 2
For the Brumbies: Pen: Fuxley

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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