Welcome to episode 25 of the Chewsday Chew as I continue the current journey of picking a Team of the Week from the Rugby Championship and then meld each week’s selections into an eventual Team of the Tourny.
Usually about here I try to be a bit upbeat, a little cheeky and try to put a bit of a laugh in the day by having a bit of a daggy old TV ad inserted about now. Maybe a used-car ad or preferably a beer ad. Or maybe a funny pic. But not today. Today I thought I would just drop in a banner-pic of the South African gear steward packing up their stuff after the match.
Besides that, I think it’s going to be a long September for we Wobbly faithful. And as such, I haven’t been able to get this song out of head since late Saturday night. So just hit play and then read the rest of the article with the background music. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the self-flagellation…
For Argentina (the Grandes Aterradores), the world came crashing down to historical reality as a massive defensive hangover from the week prior clearly opened the gates for an All Black 7 try tidal wave characterised by relentless runner after relentless runner. In the face of a seemingly overwhelming possession deficit the FISMs missed 26 tackles (compared to about 7 the week before) and conceded 12 penalties and the now usual cheese to Tomás Lavanini. Now, against most sides the Argy willingness for a scrap would usually see them through that to still make a match of it. But not on that night against a more typically abrasive All Blacks on an atypical bracing and salubrious Waikato evening. Simply put, the ABs swept the seemingly hapless South American cats aside with a display of power running and clinical execution in bloody ordinary conditions to make even the most jaded heart smile 53-3 times.
Does this mean all is now suddenly beers and pies again in the Kingdom of All Blackdom? I doubt it. But it was enough of a feast to sate the beasts. And so for this week, at least, 7 try winners are grinners and good luck to them.
As for the Wobblies, well in our BRAND NEW and GLORIOUS Sydney Football Stadium, we did our absolute level best to make South Africa look as good as we could make them. And truth be told, we did that job really well. We let the Jaapies fly on eagles’ wings in that magnificent, sparkling new complex. Between 4 butchered lineouts, a lost scrum feed, somewhere around 17-20 missed tackles and I counted 4 breakdown turnovers conceded, we did our upmost best to help the Saffas clock up 4 tries and a half-dozen one-sided handbag exchanges to our one late sympathy try by the ever-reliable Pete Samu to finish the match at 24-8.
And did I mention the ground was glorious and wonderfully newly-built? Because, well, I’m pretty sure Stan did tell us all, more often than they told us the flamin’ score of the match.
Amidst it all, Referee Ben O’Keeffe and his TMO made some truly interesting decisions. But that had nowt to do with the Wobblies getting their backsides royally handed to them by a thoroughly more ruthless, committed, prepared and skilful Springbok team. I don’t blame Tupou for chucking his rag in before having to go on as, apart from the odd spark here and there, including a massive effort from Allan Alaalatoa, we just weren’t in the match.
And just to be sure I’m being fair about this, the Saffas didn’t win that match because the Wobblies let them. The Saffas won that match because they put on a ruthlessly efficient display of power set-piece rugby, blasting contact zone defence, accurate brutality in the cleanout and non-stop intensity. Some folk are upset about shenanigans in the breakdown. But the truth is there aren’t any shenanigans to get upset about if the cleanout is brutal, efficient and accurate. The best part for the Wobblies was that they were lucky enough to watch the Bokke display of power rugby from up close and without having to pay the $250/seat price tag everyone else there did.
Anyway, to the matter at hand of selecting this week’s best of:
Team sheets –
And in considering each jersey number in turn and applying the patented Nutta scoring system of:
My Team of the week looked like this.
(Remember it’s jersey number vs jersey number directly – No3 vs No3 and No12 vs No12 etc)
Fronties – I had to give the loosehead jersey to Ethan ‘Aussie’ de Groot whose mix of set-piece meat and potatoes was only outdone by his around-the-ground gravy. And similarly, I gave the hooker’s jersey to Sami Taukei’aho for the same reasons. The tighthead jersey went to Allan ‘Handbags’ Alaalatoa whose massive effort I felt dislodged Frans Herby by the smallest of margins. All three lads only took 4pts though as a nod to the efforts of the likes of Slipper, Marx and Herby.
Locks – Etzy and DJ Loodicrous have a ‘head and shoulders’ mortgage on those jerseys. However, Sam Whitelock deserves a mention.
Loosies – Sam Kane and Ardie Savea put in massive shifts and rightfully took 5pts each although Valetini deserves a nod for his impact in a losing team. But again, Kolisi was just awesome in No6. He has been Mr Consistency this tourny so far and took this week’s extra point for a 6.
Halves – Mo’unga put on a masterclass at 10 and so took 5pts and that drove my selection of Aaron ‘Dunny-Boy’ Smith at 9 to split the hair of a very sound game from Jaden ‘Jimmy’ Hendrikse. 4pts.
Centres – de Allende was undoubtedly impressive, but for me Havili was again just all class for a 5. I selected Len ‘Sticky’ Ikitau alongside him because he was a rare glimpse of Wobbly offensive quality and defensively he was indomitable even as the rest of our backline was collapsing and overwhelmed around him. So 4pts for Sticky if only for bloody-minded tenacity.
Back3 – This deservedly was an all-Saffa affair. Mapimpi got his square-up and Moodie was the most rare of gems; a talked-up prospect that actually delivered. This kid is good. And Willie le Roux was most un-Catholic in having the pill on a string.
Reserves – The Saffas took the bench for generally maintaining the relentless intensity with the exception of Pete Samu for his ever-reliable skills, Darcy Swain who had a proper impact off the bench and Kellaway who was the pick of the No23s.
So taking all that into consideration, the Team of the Toury at the Week4 point looks like…
What is getting interesting in the overall selections are that the consistent front-runners are now clearly establishing themselves. Although it must be noted that Malcolm ‘Karl’ Marx (14pts total) and Kwagga Smith (8pts total) may be considered hard done by given their rotation of jersey numbers. However, even allowing for that, the resulting side is looking pretty formidable. Siya Kolisi is the clear standout. But team that up with Havili, Etzy & Loodicrous, Valetini and Mal Herby and you have an impressive side. Then get the likes of Kitshoff and Big Koch entering from stage left to maintain the rage and it’s a scary-good side.
However, I’m not the Messiah. I’m just a naughty little boy. So feel free to tell me so below and explain the 52 ways from Sunday how my selections are wrong…