Welcome to the semi finals edition of the Tuesday Top 5. This week we look at the good, bad and ugly from the weekend, check out the quarter final stats, look ahead to the semi finals, think about players and the impact they have and give you our picks of the best tries of the week.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Good – The Brumbies are still flying the flag for Aussie rugby with a win over the Sharks on Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Chiefs let us down by losing against the Jaguares so the Brumbies have hit the road to Argentina. It’s a big ask but the Brumbies look like they have the right tools for the job. It’s a good excuse to park in front of the TV at 9am on a Saturday. Fingers crossed for a good result as it could be a much-needed shot in the arm for Aussie rugby just getting an Aussie team in the Super Rugby big show.
Bad – So agonisingly close! Congratulations to the U20’s Wallabies for doing us proud. It reinforces that we do have emerging talent in Aussie rugby and hope for the future. It also has set the bar pretty high for the senior Wallabies to emulate the performance. The next challenge to Aussie rugby is to keep the players and develop them.
Ugly – Seeing Pete Samu grab at his hammy and limp off wasn’t what any Brumbies fan wanted to see. The way he has been playing in recent matches, I’m sure a lot of Wallabies fans are also a little hopeful that it isn’t too serious.
Do the numbers tell us anything?
Wow, what a round of quarter finals that was. The four home teams won, meaning the four top teams are the ones progressing. And the stats show that those are the four top teams.
Some interesting points:
* The Crusaders and Brumbies had the same number of points and the same number of tries. They also let in the same number of tries.
* 7 penalties seems like a pretty common number.
* There was a lot of kicking. People expressed their displeasure at how much the Brumbies kicked, but that was actually lower than the other winning teams.
* The Brumbies didn’t offload, but then they didn’t really need to.
* The Brumbies had very little possession, but they made use of it when they did. They had the fewest turnovers conceded.
Looking at the numbers, the Brumbies and Crusaders look pretty well matched. Similar run metres, kicks and defenders beaten, same tries/points and they both only let in one try. But they veer away from each other in offloads, possession and tackles.
When you look at some of those stats, the Canes and Crusaders look similar, while the Brumbies also look to match up well with the Jaguares.
Now for the Semi’s
Well if the stats are anything to go by, we could have two cracking games next week.
First up is the Jaguares v Brumbies. This is interesting for a number of reasons. Their paths to the finals followed a very similar trajectory this year. Their first 6 matches of the season saw each team lose 4 and win just 2. The Jaguares went into their match against the Chiefs on a 5-match winning streak, while the Brumbies were on a 6-match streak. So both started slowly but are coming good at the right end of the season.
These are two very strong teams in defence. The Brumbies were tested a bit more than the Jaguares were. They both had less possession than their opposition, but used it better. They are the two teams with the fewest offloads. So how will the match go?
Well it’s a tough one to pick. It bodes well for the Brumbies that the Chiefs actually look better than the Jaguares in many of the stats, but were let down by their high turnover rate and poor lineout percentage (they lost 5 of their 15 lineouts). If the Brumbies can keep a low error rate and perhaps keep the ball in hand more, they are in with a very good chance. Counter attack could be crucial, given the Jaguares kicked the most and ran the second least in their match, while the Brumbies ran the most.
One final point – the last match that the Brumbies lost this year was against the Jaguares, by 5 points.
On Saturday night the match should be a great one between the Crusaders and the Hurricanes. The Canes have gone down twice to the Crusaders this year, and I don’t know that this week will bring a different result. They look pretty similar stat wise from their quarter finals, especially in terms of run metres, offloads and kicking. The Hurricanes were a little better defensively, but they did let in more tries than the Crusaders. So while their tackle rate was better, a big factor (which can’t be seen in stats) is where those tackles were made.
My heart says it will be a Brumbies v Hurricanes final (because I would love it to be in Canberra!), but realistically my heads says the final will be in Christchurch. It is a bit of a toss up as to whether the Jaguares or Brumbies will be the opposition for the Saders, it really could go either way. If both teams played like they did on the weekend, I give the nod to the Brumbies.
So … and this is a game you can all play along with at home … think about each Aussie franchise. Then pick the two players whose leaving* will have the biggest impact. These are my picks, who would you say?
* as all the leaving players aren’t confirmed yet, we are using “assumed” to be going in some cases.
This is a no brainer to me. Rory Arnold and Christian Lealiifano. Rory because of the player he has become this year, playing better than he ever has. Christian because of the leadership he provides both on and off the field. He has a long-standing association with the club and it will just be strange not to see him there. Also it leaves a big hole in the Brumbies backline at number 10, (though Lord Laurie is confident they have the processes in place). Honourable mention to Henry Speight for the impact he has on the crowd every time he touches the ball. Fan fave, will leave a big, fro-shaped hole when he goes.
I’m not so sure about this one. My first thought was Coleman, but he has been absent for most of the season (even when he was on the field) so I can’t go there. If it is true that Genia is leaving then I’d have to say him. In many of the early season games where the Rebels were in trouble, he was almost single handedly responsible for dragging them back into the game. For the second player, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Tom English. He was with the Rebels before they brought in all the ex-Force players and has been a bit of a stalwart there. While he was never what you’d call a superstar, I think his leaving will impact fans as well as lose that leadership he provided in recent years. Honourable mention to Quade Cooper, who showed in the first half of the season why the rebels were so pleased to have him. I don’t know that Toomua (I assume it will be him to fill the 10 position) will really be what they need.
Duh, Samu Kerevi. Do I really need to go into why? The other player for me is Higgers. Experience, leadership, mongrel and an awesome try scoring forward. He has been a face of the Reds for years now, even during his away stint with the Rebels I thought of him as a Reds player. Honourable mention to Duncan Paia’Aua. His leaving widens that hole in the centres, and I don’t think we ever really saw him play to his full potential.
Probably Foley. The main reason for me is that there appears to have been little to no succession planning, and starting with a relatively untried 10 (Mason) given how little faith Gibson had of him in the past 2 years is a bit risky. Kepu would be my other one. Experience, good scrummaging and good around the park. It’s a combination which sounds common, but hard to find in a prop. To be completely honest, none of the other players that I know of that are leaving will have that much of an impact. Gordon is ready to take over from Phipps, Rona has shown glimpses of what he can do but has been outplayed by Newsome at times and AAC (if he really has been told he’s not required) didn’t have the impact I think people may have expected him to.
Try of the week – there were some good ones this week. First up, Pete Samu making the break like an inside centre.
From the same game, Henry Speight going over in the corner after some excellent lead up work.
This one from the Crusaders was pretty good
The Canes get the nod for this one, based purely on the beautiful little offload!
This one from the Irish U20’s came close to being the best
What. A. Try! @IrishRugby throwing offloads like Fiji to score this sensational try at the #WorldRugbyU20s pic.twitter.com/SijF4TSD5o
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) 22 June 2019
But my pick of the week has to be this effort from the Fijian U20’s. There is nothing not to like about this.
What have we just seen?!?! @fijirugby score one of the tries of the tournament with some insane handling skills #WorldRugbyU20s pic.twitter.com/MxgJBt5xKk — World Rugby (@WorldRugby) 22 June 2019