Tuesday’s Rugby News looks at the humbling of the mighty Orcs, the Reds looking to up their game, a Brumbies losing streak and, Harrison starting at the Tahs.
France Take Apart England
I’m as ‘anyone but England’ as the next guy, but rarely do you see the pulled apart and eviscerated like they were by France on Sunday night. Andy Bull’s headline at the Guardian said it all.
France’s hellfire and brimstone crush Red Rose in a Can-Can cauldron
Antione Depont, the young scrumhalf and Charles Ollivon their skipper and openside Flanker lead a french side with an answer to every question England had for the first 55 minutes. But it wasn’t a two-man show, there were threats all across the park. New defence coach Shaun Edwards has turned the work without the ball into a weapon and France made metres without the ball constantly.
It was only when France replaced their front row that England managed to look threatening and even then it took two pieces of brilliance from winger Jonny May to make an impact on the scoreboard.
Such was France’s dominance that when awarded a penalty in the 80th minute England meekly took the shot at goal and a bonus point rather than risk going for a try.
“A beautiful day for French rugby,” was the verdict of France’s manager, Raphaël Ibañez, and he was spot on. Equally, though, there was no ignoring the ugliness of the opening hour from England’s perspective. Whether it was primarily down to perverse selection, post-World Cup weariness, the tricky conditions or the horsepower of their opponents, this was not the springboard Eddie Jones envisaged when he spoke about England’s aspiration to become the greatest team the world has ever seen.
France led 24-0 after 56 minutes, courtesy of two tries from their new captain, Charles Ollivon, and an early effort from the wing Vincent Rattez, and two electric second-half tries from Jonny May were insufficient to spare the visitors’ blushes.
Reds… Ruthless Consistency.
I’ve supported the Reds for more years than I’m willing to mention here. Ruthless consistency is a label that the Reds of the 1990’s could have easily carried and the 2011 side could maybe have pulled it off but, from the moment the QRU decided Knuckles Connelly wasn’t the man to take us forward, he was, ruthlessness and consistency have been distant dreams of mine.
So it’s encouraging, for me, to hear coach Brad Thorn aspiring to it for our Reds.
“What I saw out there was things I like seeing – I like seeing the continuity, keeping the ball alive and the support; I like seeing them initially rattled a bit and then composure and consolidating,” Thorn said.
“I like seeing some of the ball movement, the shapes, some of the execution.
“But probably that thing around those close games is just that ruthlessness. There’s a ruthlessness in professional sport around once you’ve got a lead – that saying foot on the throat – and just playing that solid rugby that builds pressure.
“Sometimes when things are going well it can be tempting to try all sorts of things but just building the pressure (is the key).
“It’s something we can learn from.”
The Reds blew a ten-point lead in Canberra on Friday night by letting in three unanswered tries in the second half. They didn’t respect the ball and instead of building pressure played like they were chasing the game. A lot of this can be put down to youthful exuberance and inexperience but Super Rugby demands calmer heads.
Key players like Isaac Lucas, Tate McDermott and skipper Liam Wright need to focus the team. Henry Speight has a ton of experience but as a winger might be too far from play to have enough influence.
A tough road trip can bring a team together and focus them on a common goal. Here’s hoping the Reds find a bit of mongrel in Africa and south America.
Brumbies look to break Rebels streak
Did you know that the Brumbies haven’t beaten the Melbourne rebels since 2017? Me neither. I guess it surprising because they manage to beat the Reds with monotonous regularity.
Anyway, they think they’re a pretty good chance of breaking their duck this Friday in Canberra. And after looking at the Rebels effort in Fukuoka last weekend I can see why they have a twinkle in their eye.
Melbourne kicked off their Super Rugby campaign on a sour-note on Saturday, crashing to the soon-to-be-culled Sunwolves 36-27 in Japan.
“The Rebels won’t be the last team to go to Japan and get beaten by the Sunwolves, that’s for sure,” McKellar said.
“The Sunwolves are dangerous, if you are a little bit complacent they can hurt you. They have very good footballers across the park.
While the Brumbies started with a bang against the Reds last weekend before switching off for forty-minute and coming home with a wet sail. They showed every bit of the consistency the Reds are dreaming of.
I think I’m firmly in the Brumbies camp on this one but I’m possibly the worst punter in the world so don’t hold me to it.
Penney Looking to Start Harrison Against The Blues
Waratahs coach Rob Penney looks set to stick with Rookie flyhalf Will Harrison for this weekends game against the Auckland Blues in Newcastle.
Penney was singing Harrison’s praises on Sunday, despite NSW suffering an opening 43-25 loss to the Crusaders on Saturday.
Harrison was impressive at times but found himself under more pressure than he might have been used to in his Super Rugby debut.
Penney said before the game he wanted to be patient with his youngsters and was happy with Harrison’s performance in a baptism of fire.
Under the circumstances, Penney said Harrison had done enough to put himself in the frame for another start in round two against the Blues.
“Yeah, absolutely. It depends on how the early part of the week unfolds but I’d have no hesitation at all (starting him again),” he said.
“I thought he handled himself really well.
“It’s such a difficult position to play, you have got a lot of decision-making, a lot is going on around you, the ball is coming at you more so than any other position and he’s in a pivotal role.
“I thought he was good with his temperament and physical aspects.
“He never shirks anything there. He just needs time in the saddle and he’ll improve greatly over time I have no doubt.”