Melbourne Rebels

The Tuesday Top 10

The Tuesday Top 10
Welcome to the Tuesday Top 10, the soapbox where I air my deluded and one-eyed ramblings on everything rugby.
 

My fiendish plan is starting to come together...

10. This week was a big one for Aussie rugby. With the June tests rapidly approaching the game needed a shot in the arm to get the viewing public fired up. Thankfully both the Rebels and Reds delivered, beating top tier NZ opponents in fine style. With a few big names to come back and what promises to be a free-flowing series against Wales you can just feel the momentum slowly building. Now if only the Tahs could do their bit…

9. Perception is king in the world of the Waratahs. I’ll probably get hounded down for saying this, but the Tahs played well on Friday. Sure they blew it in the end, but the Bulls are a very good side who may just win the competition. The backline played pretty well, and the forwards got on top of the Bulls in most facets of play. The talent is clearly there. So when some posters have suggested sweeping mid-season changes to the playing group, or picking none of them for the Wallabies I tend to stop listening as these aren’t valid comments. It’s hard to pin down the precise issues that cause these repeated failures, but I’d suggest a lot of it comes down to attitude. How do you fix it? God only knows. But the Tahs have had a ‘business as usual’ feel about them for as long as I can remember, and are surely due for a bit of a spring clean at the end of the season (not just the rugby team, but the back office as well). A new coach, given sweeping powers to change the team in the style of Jake White? A man can dream…

8. What about those Rebels ay? Who would have thought? A great performance with every man getting stuck right into his opponent. One thing the past two weeks have shown us is who the real talisman is at the Rebels- Nick Phipps. He has endured a lacklustre start to the year but has been excellent in the past two weeks, and has visibly lifted the performances of those around him. He has arguably the best pass in Australia, and when he is confident he can snipe with the best of them. Sure he is still behind both Genia and White in the Wallaby pecking order, but he will certainly be a handy 3rdstringer if he can keep this form up.

I'll also shout you a razor to take care of... whatever you call that.

7. I will offer one word of caution to Rebels fans. This Crusaders team is not the standard of the side of 2011, or indeed most Crusaders sides this century. They were very lucky to beat the Reds team last week, and were off the boil again this week. With the Reds, Hurricanes and Sharks looming up on the top 6 they are in real danger of missing a finals spot, however their draw in the closing round is not the hardest. In this light their dominance of the All Black training squad was somewhat hard to fathom, especially in the forwards. Luke Romano? Really? Craig Clarke has had a belter of the year leading the table-topping Chiefs, but apparently is still behind his southern counterparts. And we thought Robbie made some weird picks. And how could they overlook Andre Taylor, the form fullback in the competition? Andre check your family tree son, because if there is even a touch of green and gold in there I will shout you the plane fare over…

6. The Force were nothing short of abysmal against the Sharks. No-one had a good game. The backs were appalling, with passes going to ground on almost every play. The forwards were not much better. The Westerners desperately need to salvage some pride in the remaining rounds, not to mention show some form to convince certain openside flankers that it might be worth sticking around. The weather is great in Perth but you can’t have that as your central selling point for potential 2013 players.

5. Sunday was clearly the game of the season from an Aussie perspective. The Reds looked down and out just before half time, and the importance of Ben Lucas’ try on the buzzer cannot be overestimated. Before that point the Chiefs had successfully silenced the 30k plus crowd with a couple of cracking tries, and looked like they could run away with it. But then Kev Horwill took matters into his own hands, taking the tap and charging into the opposition under 7s style. The Reds of the early rounds would not have scored that try. The Reds of 2011 would have. Are the Reds back? They just might be.

4. Much like Phipps to the Rebels, I think I have worked out the Reds talisman. Ant Faingaa. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that their form has picked up since his return. He just oozes enthusiasm and commitment, and it has to rub off on those around him. Once again he was the quiet achiever on Sunday, chalking up a few big hits but plenty of other solid involvements. I am still not sure if he has what it takes to make it in a Wallaby jersey, but while he is there I will be tipping the Reds for the rest of the season.

3. The try of the match on Sunday? There were plenty of crackers, but one clear winner for me- the try scored by Higgers just after half time. Sure, it won’t make any ‘tries of 2012’ youtube compilations, or be spoken about in weeks, months or years to come by enthralled spectators at the game. But it deserves to be. Mike Harris puts in a pinpoint kickoff which was caught on the chalk of the 10m line by Rob Simmons. From there the Reds march it 40m with the purest of rugby tactics- pick and go. It was beautiful in its simplicity, and impossible to stop. Perfectly executed, brilliantly conceived. 7 points on the board before the Chiefs have even had a sniff of the ball. It warms the cockles of a forwards heart…

The worst ever?

2. Is now a good time to revisit the old ‘strength of conferences’ argument? With our teams sitting 11th, 12th and 13that the moment it is still clear that the Aussie conference has the lowest standard. But I don’t think the Kiwis or the Saffers can complain. The competition is still the closest it has ever been with every side capable of a win on its day. Surely we can put to bed the line used in 2011 that the top Aussie sides get a leg-up thanks to ‘easy’ games against the Force and Rebels. There is no such thing as an easy game in 2012.

1. Are the Bulls away jerseys the worst in the history of the Super comp? I’d go further- they are the worst in the history of Southern Hemisphere rugby. They make the notorious 1998 Wallabies jersey look like a classy masterpiece of design. I mean, pink and blue lighnting bolts. I feel like this could be some sort of elaborate practical joke, with the punchline to be revealed after they win the comp. Or lose to the Reds in the final…

 
Did I miss anything?

Melbourne Rebels

Can't write, can't play.

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