Rugby Chart: focus of Wales defence vs Australia
SHIT/GOOD™ Ratings: Autumn Internationals, week four
Due to being away in London watching The Dark Side (rugby league), the computer has only just caught up on all the action from the weekend, so here are the slightly late ratings. Give us yours in the comments, or if you're Irish, just punch your keyboard in sheer horror and frustration.
Jonny Sexton - The margins at the very top are fine, sometimes as fine as a width of a post, as the Ireland fly-half discovered in the last five minutes vs New Zealand. No matter how well he may have played leading up to that kick he absolutely should have nailed that; there are no excuses for missing and it is absolutely right that he is judged on it. However, unlike Cruden a few minutes later, he did only get one go at it.
Wales vs Tonga - There are men who spent years in Japanese POW camps who couldn't take the torture that was second half of this game.
Sean Lamont - Scotland's inability to cross the whitewash is becoming so overwhelming there is a real chance that the whole squad may have some kind of mental disorder. Either that or they've all shagged a witch to give them such bad luck. However, it's more likely that they all keep cocking up scoring chances like Sean did. Why a lad his size didn't just put his head down and smash over is mystery. Also struggles with having all the pace of a 1989 Ford Transit.
James Hook - Why will they not be told? If history has taught us anything it's that James Hook is not as good as anyone thinks he is. It was worth giving him a run at 10 vs Tonga, but all it has demonstrated is that Wales's options here are limited to Biggar (decent but limited), Priestland (broken brain), and Hook (SHIT). Time for Patchell? Also, is Jason Tovey staying fit long enough to fulfill his potential yet?
Conor Murray - This blog has been critical of the Irish nine previously, and no doubt it will again because that's kinda what this blog does really, but credit to him for the performance on Saturday. Stood out in a team of standouts.
Luke Charteris - Even dropping the ball over the line couldn't take away from a very good performance. Also, remember, it wasn't long ago that he looked like a horse doing a cartwheel when on a rugby field, so it's good to see his transformation into a top player is permanent.
Nigel Owens - Has his faults as a ref. Has a novel way of dealing with the complexities of the breakdown, namely by ignoring them and letting the game flow, which tends to make for good matches, so fair play. Also, "this is not soccer"
Samson Lee - "Samson Lee, Samson Lee, his hair's the colour of morning pee!" Bow down before your master.
Sean O'Brien - Out-barnstormed Kieran Read. Nothing more needs to be said.
SHIT/GOOD Ratings: Autumn Internationals, Week 3
|JP Pietersen: Twat|
You all saw the scores in the matches at the weekend, but now the real results are in. Give us your yap in the comments.
Joel Tomkins - Lancaster gave him a crack, and it wasn't a bad selection on the face of it, but after a full series he looks a long way short on pace, penetration and class. As an aside, anyone who watched his brother Sam's performance for England RL cannot help but wonder what could have been if he was in the 13 shirt.
Devin Toner - As Crocks said on Twitter, "Ireland would have been better picking Peter Stringer in the 2nd row".
The Rest Of Ireland - The team, obviously, not the entire country. Ireland have entered so many transitional phases in the past five year that this blog can't keep up, even with the use of an abacus; but this performance shows that it's time to actually do it properly. Schmidt is no fool so he will have a plan, he just needs to engage it now. Tinkering will no longer suffice. And to lose to Australia in the scrum is the most embarrassing thing to happen to Ireland since Michael Flatley's accent.
Greig Laidlaw & Ruaridh Jackson - Scotland were never going to win that game, but he Scots halfs seemed determined to make it as painful as possible by continually sending the forwards into yet another pick & go nightmare, or spraying it around like a student on spring break. Any semblance of a plan was either ignored, or it was the worst plan in the history of plans.
JP Pietersen - Big hit on Denton was top class, the facewipe and press into the ground afterwards was, at 28-0 up, the act of a 24-carat twat. Anyone who thinks it wasn't that bad ask yourself this, how would you react if Chris Ashton had done it?
Tom Youngs - Single-handedly turned England's greatest strength, the lineout, into a scene from The Three Stooges, but will less composure. It's not too much of a leap to say that he may have cost England the game
Tom Wood - Amazing work rate and was consistently excellent. I'm going to go out on a very long limb here, as what I'm about to say is a big call, but sod it, I'm going for it: England may have finally found a replacement for Richard Hill. There, I've said it.
Dylan Hartley - He seems to have developed a bit of sense to go with his aggression. This is a good thing, but surely it's only a matter of time before he returns to usual form and bites a referee's bollock or something.
Ma'a Nonu - Sublime run and pop for the decisive NZ try. This display of skill was even more impressive when you remember he only learned how to pass in 2011.
Dan Biggar - Unlike Rhys Priestland's brain, Dan's is working fine. Tougher tests than Argentina lie ahead, but Gatland needs to accept the fact that the Osprey is the best Wales have at the minute.
Richard Hibbard - A cross between a tank and He-Man and shaping up to be a Wales legend. More than his strength, it's the sheer effort he gives. Never leaves the field without being so spent he's breathing through his eyeballs.
Kieran Read - There's nothing else to say, is there?
The Galactic Tangerine Overlord Samson Lee - Came on late, got himself binned. This blog suggests you all bow down before his Golden Majesty.
SHIT/GOOD Ratings: England 20 - 13 Australia
The curtain is up on the Autumn Internationals, and the computer has had its say on the opening fixture. We invite your thoughts on the nominations, and request, nay compel, you to make your own in the comments.
The Game: Other media use words like 'cagey' to describe a game like this, the computer just calls it SHIT to keep it simple. And truthful.
Tom Youngs: A hooker's job is to strike for the ball in the scrum and throw straight at the lineout. Youngs couldn't do either of those things properly this weekend.
England's Breakdown: Despite all the set piece dominance, there was still very little created by England in the backs. This will lead many to question the personnel in the backline, but these players must receive the ball in the first place before they can be judged and inability to deliver good ball consistently from the tackle means that does not happen. The computer is willing to discuss whether Twelvetrees is the man for the 12 shirt, but only when he receives the ball more than four time in a match. FOUR TIMES! That's how often he got the ball, and that stems from the breakdown remaining nowhere near good enough.
Australia's Scrum: this has replaced James Haskell as a permanent fixture in this section
England Defensive Errors: Twelvetrees' howling missed tackle that gave the Aussies their try was one thing, but anyone can balls up a tackle on occasion, but it cannot happen again. More worrying was Chris Ashton twice being done on the outside when he was pushing out of the line and in from his channel. Many took this as yet another chance to shovel lashings of opprobrium on the much-loved Sarries winger, but it was more of a system error than an individual one. The days of wingers staying in their channel when the ball is in the middle of the field is long gone in defensive coaching, Ashton was doing what Farrell senior asked him to do as part of the syste but got done by Folau. A defensive pattern like this has its risks if people get outside it, and in Folau England found an opponent with the guile to expose that risk.
Ben Youngs: Everyone seemed to get better once he came on, and that can't be just a coincidence.
Billy Vunipola: BILLY RUN! BILLY SMASH! BILLY SIT DOWN. BILLY EAT EIGHTEEN JACKET POTATOES! Billy tired now. Billy sleep. (repeat daily)
Michael Hooper: See England's Breakdown above. He was one of the main reasons.
A Win: This blog doesn't believe in momentum in sport as it's perhaps the most flawed concept since microwave bacon. But it does believe that confidence is a good thing, and whatever the computer may think of the performance, England do keep winning.
Video: Steve Thompson's 75-yard try for England Legends
Tonight saw the England vs Australia legends match at The Stoop, the undoubted highlight of which was this try from Steve Thompson hanging out on the wing.
Thommo, looking not unlike a painted egg on legs, first showed some dazzling footwork to get around his wing and then threw a riduculous dummy before running it in.
Autumn Internationals Preview: England vs Australia, Twickenham, Saturday 14:30
The Autumn Internationals are here, the time when we're all glad to see some international rugby again, where the odd crazy result can be thrown up, but mostly it's about the Northern Hemisphere being schooled. Are we to expect more of the same when Australia visit Twickenham this Saturday? No.
The last time a team from this these islands faced the Wallabies this happened, but that team was the Lions and most of them were Welsh. However, England will take heart from the fact that the last time they saw this opposition it was through a fog of victory ticker-tape mixed with a miasma of Aussie misery.
England have lost a few players in the run up to the game, with Parling, Corbisiero and Barritt the most high profile absentees. But Lancaster can replace Corbs with abother Lion, Parling with a decent option in Lawes, and Barritt with Twelvetrees: someone who should be playing ahead of the Saracen's plank anyway. The team looks good on balance, strength and has more invention and guile in the backs than at any point in recent past. Add to that the power of Morgan and the incision of Foden off the bench and there are reasons to be cheerful, and that's without even mentioning Haskell not being there.
Australia followed up being soundly beaten in the third Lions Test by being further tonked by the All Blacks and Springboks and scraping a win at home vs Argentina before salvaging some decorum in their final victory against the Pumas.
They are playing better rugby than on the Lions tour, but they still look flimsy up front and behind, and for all Israel Folau's attacking brilliance, he is suspect defensively, something that Farrell will no doubt test from the get go.
B&M Prediction: England by 7
Spotter's Badge: The gasp of disbelief from the home crowd when the person in the England 12 shirt actually passes the ball.
England: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Chris Ashton (Saracens), Joel Tomkins (Saracens), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Marland Yarde (London Irish), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Lee Dickson (Northampton), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Tom Youngs (Leicester), Dan Cole (Leicester), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Tom Wood (Northampton), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, c), Billy Vunipola (Saracens).
Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Joe Marler Harlequins), David Wilson (Bath), Dave Attwood Bath), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Ben Youngs (Leicester), Toby Flood (Leicester), Ben Foden (Northampton).
Australia: Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs); Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs), Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies), Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies), Nick Cummins (Western Force); Quade Cooper (vice-captain, Queensland Reds), Will Genia (Queensland Reds); James Slipper (Queensland Reds), Stephen Moore (ACT Brumbies), Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies), Sitaleki Timani (NSW Waratahs), James Horwill (Queensland Reds), Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies), Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs), Ben Mowen (captain, ACT Brumbies)
Replacements: Saia Fainga'a (Queensland Reds), Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs), Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs), Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs), Ben McCalman (Western Force), Nic White (ACT Brumbies), Christian Leali'ifano (ACT Brumbies), Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs)
Video: Worst touch judge error in history. FACT.
I'm not usually one for slagging off officials (much), but this is a 42-carat humdinger here from Aussie RL. It's the fact that the touchie is standing off the field when it happens and the player is EVEN FURTHER OFF THE FIELD THAT HE IS when he plays the ball.
Video: Ben Kay on THAT knock-on in 2003 RWC Final
Here's Ben Kay telling us about him spilling the ball over the line in 2003. However, he doesn't offer to buy me a pint to replace the one I tipped all over myself jumping out of my armchair when he did it, which is disappointing.
Over the next couple of weeks Heathrow Express will be releasing teaser videos in the build up to the England v Australia legend match, featuring the heroic teams from 2003 Rugby World Cup taking place at Twickenham Stoop on 31st October.
Keep an eye on the Heathrow Express YouTube channel for more teasers.
SHIT/GOOD™ Ratings: Rugby Championship, Final Round
It's been a while, so let's turn on the SG Computer to run its beady, lifeless eye over the Rugby Championship weekend. Let's have yours in the comments.
The dawning realisation that you won't see as good a game as Boks vs NZ for a long time - Arse.
Morne Steyn - Predictable in his kick-run-pass options, resolutely sticking to the pass most of the time when a bit of his trademark tactical approach would've perhaps one better for his team. Missed a couple of kicks as well.
Ben Alexander - Still rubbish
Nigel Owens - Easy to give the players all the credit for that wondrous spectacle of a match on saturday, but respect is also due to the ref and his team, who had a superb day.
Jean de Villiers - Unlike his Point Break haircut, the Springbok captain was a powerful and welcome presence in the midfield. Credit to him also for not making a big deal of the "wrong name on the teamsheet" incident.
Israel Folau - If anyone was in any doubt about his best position, the ludicrously talented outside back proved beyond any doubt that it is fullback.
Kieran Read - Like a plains buffalo fed on genetically modified grass that has been pissed on by a t-rex.
The obvious flaw in the new scrum laws for The Rugby Championship
The new scrum laws that are to be used in The Rugby Championship (the SHITtest name for an international tournament ever, even The Intercontinental Spangle Chalice Of Triumph would've been better than that), have been outlined in superb detail by our friends over at the always excellent Green & Gold Rugby. And it seems to me there is an inherent flaw.
The details are all in the GAGR link, but the only law chang really is a change to the pre-engagement process to 'crouch-bind-SET' as demonstrated by the below video.
The rest of the "new" laws are essentially instructing refs to enforce old ones by telling the scrum not to push before the ball is in and the scrum-half to put the bloody ball in straight. Why these two things required a full trial before they could be enforced is beyond me, but that's a whole other rant.
Now, these things are all good news, but there is a flaw.
As you can see from the video, even with binding before the 'set' there is still a hit, and one of the teams in the video is still doing the "Hit, one, two, three", so therefore still hitting and still pushing before the ball. The ref in the video seems unconcerned with this.
This hitting and push drill does not cause an issue here as this is a demo, featuring two packs at exhibition intensity, and the editors no doubt chose the best examples. I fear that there still being this hit and push will still cause collapses before the ball comes in, and that is what we are hoping to eradicate.
These changes will make a positive difference, no doubt, but they could've gone a step further by getting to them to bind properly, without pushing, before the ball comes in. But that just my view, let's have your thoughts.