Dan Carter gives a life-affirmingly SHIT performance
Mark this day people. Archive this in your backup drive; ALT+PRINT SCREEN it, paste it into a PowerPoint presentation on your favourite pen drive; back it up to your iCloud. Dan Carter was completely, utterly and logic-defyingly SHIT today versus England.
Average men around the world rejoice. From this day forward, this day will be known as "Dan Carter Has A SHIT Day At Work Like Me Day"
SHIT/GOOD™ Ratings: Autumn Internationals, Week 3
It's a bit late, but what did you expect? We only came out of retirement a couple of weeks back.
Andy Robinson - HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! That is all
The England Creativity Vacuum © - How many ways can you comment about the same problem that has occured with soul splintering regularity for a very, very, very long time? The only thing I can think to say right now is "bollocks". Will that do? I wouldn't mind if there was some clear plan for how this was going to be solved but I can't see that persevering with the defensively impressive yet offensively special needs Barritt at 12 fits such a plan. The headlines were all about Chris Robshaw's penalty decision, but that was mere window dressing to the main issue that England must solve. See you in 12 months when we'll be lamenting the same problem
Rhys Priestland - Unrecognisable from the quietly confident and efficient player of twelve months ago. Trouble is the other options are Biggar, who I'm yet to be convinced by at this level and Hook, who has fallen short of expectations so often he's like the last three The Killers albums in shorts.
Joe Launchbury - Classy performance against a bruising pack. Hopefully he won't fall into the Courtnay Lawes trap of believing his own press, trying too hard and and becoming formless penalty machine.
Jonathan Davies - This blog was one of the many who saw him as decent but limited a few years back. How srong we were. He is starting to ooze quality as a proper 13, Lions beckons?
Ma'a Nonu - Couldn't pass a few years ago, sorted that to become a proper 12. Past his best perhaps, but still the fulcrum of the NZ attack
Who are your nominations? Unload your love and vitriol in the comments.
Preview: Autumn Internationals, Week 3
Wales vs New Zealand, Millennium Stadium, 17:15, Saturday
For John Keats, autumn was the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness; thus far for Wales it has been the season of SHIT and raging timidness. Their forwards have been bullied by the packs of second/third-tier Southern Hemisphere nations, and the backs have been without guidance, sense or skill. Can they fix it this week? Doubtful in terms of result, but they must in terms of performance.
The team selection itself suggests a lack of direction with Rob Howley using a "one week on, one week off" policy with the 7 and 10 jerseys; a decision that seems unalloyed to any consideration of form or evidence. Priestland is back in this week, despite being awful both vs Argentina, when brought on against Samoa, apparently suffering from some kind of ball phobia that causes him to ship it on via a pass or aimless kick regardless of the game situation in front of him. Warburton is without any form at all, and if the plan is to let him play himself back to the level his class demands he perform at then why drop him in the first place?
Let's face it, not one European Team expects to win against the All Blacks, but Wales and Howley cannot afford another stinker. I fear a week is not long enough to fumigate their current form.
Spotter's Badge: Commentators wax about Jamie Roberts' barnstorming runs, 0.025 seconds later he's stopped dead on the tackle line.
England after the jump, and if you fancy a flutter on any of the matches this Autumn then you can find some great value and deals at FREEbets
England vs South Africa, Twickenham, 14:30, Saturday
England make six changes this week after a flaccid display against the Wallabies. If they achieve nothing else the new personnel up front are required to make them more competitive at ruck time, as a repeat of last week's flabby rucking disgrace is unacceptable. The likes of Morgan, Wood and Launchbury suggest more dynamism will be achieved, but my age and salary suggest I should have more money in the bank than I do, so that's where suggesting gets you.
Can England beat South Africa at home? Yes, but don't be too expectant. Given the last couple of performances England fans should be happy with better rucking and faster ball. Once that is achieved they can turn their attention to Barritt and Tuilagi doing sod all with it and coming up with solutions for that. And, of course, we have the 43rd coming of James Haskell, international rugby's equivalent of an unflushable turd, to look forward to.
Boks by 7 is the B&M call.
Spotter's Badge: Jean de Villiers and Brad Barritt vying to see who can get the edge in the stunning lack of creativity battle in midfield.
Autumn Internationals: England 14 - 20 Australia
This result is no surprise. Not because of the form or selections of either of the teams, more that this week has seen the England Failure Equation (EFE) rear its ugly, quasi-mathematical head once more. Poor expectations of opposition + hopeful media + England = LOSS.
This loss was made all the more likely when you add the the English press hubris about the Rubbish Australian Scrum™, which is wrong in itself but also assumes incorrectly that England's is like a conglomeration of angry panzer tanks. It isn't.
Australia, far from a glorious outfit themselves, from the outset managed to find space that the home team were incapable of seeing or exploiting; regularly taking the ball to the line and hitting at pace and bullying England up front both in set piece and at ruck.
But, even given this, they were there for the taking. England showed enough in the second half to prove it but were let down by a lack of thought and precision when it mattered. They were too keen to hit the wide first receiver even when the defence was spread from the ruck, too often passes were slow or innacurate, and despite this they chose to go for tries rather than points at on key penalties.
Australia will rightly be glad that the team that turned up this week more accurately reflects what they are. The all too familiar worry for England fans is that this team is absolutely indicative of what they are at the minute.
They can only hope that the truth will set both them and Lancaster's management mob free. Then maybe the equation will change.
Chris Ashton to end try drought by utilising his greatest/hateful gift
Saracens kick chaser Chris Ashton is determined to end his run of nine England games without a try and intends to unleash his greatest weapon to achieve this.
"I know I've been letting the nation down by not scoring," said the East Midlands Hair Pulling champion today, "and against the Aussies I intend to refocus my strengths on getting the ball over the line."
Asked to give more details about how he will cross the whitewash, he responded, "No, I won't get over the line, the ball will. Instead of shouting utterly ineffectual chopsy insults at opposition who have already run past me, I'll instead use the powerful miasma of hot air from my constantly chunnering gob to propel the ball over the line, then Charlie Sharples will dive on it."
"I've checked, and it's not a knock on in the rules"
Preview: Autumn Internationals - Week 1
We're back and make no apologies for the short-lived nature of our retirement. That's all that's going to be said about that.
It's Autumn Internationals time; a time when European teams enter a form of rugby user acceptance testing before the go live system date of the Six Nations in February and Southern Hemisphere teams drag their arses around the globe after a long season to freeze their conkers off in games they'd probably rather not play but still usually win anyway. But that doesn't stop us fans from lapping it up.
England vs Fiji - 2:30 Saturday
Stuart Lancaster sends out an inexperienced team against the perennially entertaining tryers from the Pacific Islands. Despite being a hit by injuries, the home side should still have too much quality for a visiting side who have about as much support from their home union and clubs as a drunk man gets from his sleeping wife when he demands sex at 2am. It's a miracle they even turn up, really.
If the game's poor you can always sit and smile about the fact that not a single one of the England players will be James Haskell.
More previews after the jump....
Wales vs Argentina - 2:30 Saturday
This kick-off clashes with England vs Fiji, so the neutral will face the not so tough call of watching this game. Grand Slam champions Wales go into this fixture without Adam Jones, which in recent times has usually meant they effectively go in without a scrum - not a good thing against the Pumas. All eyes will be on the latest person tasked with filling the hairy void, Aaron Jarvis, and also on Rob Howley who many fans have not a great deal of faith in.
Argentina come off the back of a fitful but respectable first season in The PoundStretcher Rugby Championship but, like the toddlers of chav parents on a plane, they really don't travel well and Wales should see them off.
This game is also another opportunity for commentators to be become woozy with excitement about Juan Martin Hernandez before he plays like a third team show-pony. AGAIN.
Ireland vs South Africa - 5:30 Saturday
Ireland, still in that difficult transitional period that they seem to have been in for as long as anyone can remember face a South African team who had a pretty miserable Primark Rugby Championship. This blog is looking forward to having another look at Eben Etzebeth, the latest in the long line of Bok Locks who come out of the womb as a fully formed terrifying beast of a man.
Ireland's potential to come out of this transitional period well will be fully tested given the lack of six nailed-on starters through injury (O'Driscoll, O'Brien, Ferris, O'Connell, Best and Kearney). The best they can hope for is probably a decent performance as the Saffers should have too much for them.
Scotland vs New Zealand - 2:30 Sunday
Scotland are going to lose, but in Tim Visser and Henry Pyrgos there are a couple of new player to have a look at while they chase All Black shadows, so that's nice.
Autumn Internationals: GOOD Team
First of all some caveats: I didn't see any France games, so none of their team feature here. If any of them deserve to be in please make your cases in the comments, if you're not too busy shooting down the other selections, that is. Also, this is a team from the best perfomers from the last month, it is not meant to be a World XV, hence there are some people in here that would not realistically make a World XV at the minute, Ben Youngs or Chris Ashton for example.
15 - Mils Muliaina. Many will make a case for Kurtley Beale and his gangly, pacey, clever kicking prowess, but for me the Kiwi is utter class. The timing of his runs as well as the angles are always perfect, he is incredibly strong in the tackle both with and without the ball, and his hands are a delight also.
14 - Chris Ashton. Leaving aside being made to look a bit silly when sidestepped for the Boks' try, he was consistently inventive and exciting. A very natural and instinctive talent, which much not be lost as he goes through England's all too often identikit player creating treadmill.
13 - Brian O'Driscoll. His try against the All Blacks, in which he gloriously picked up one-handed at full tilt, grabbed all the headlines, but in reality that was the least impressive thing he did in that game. His defence, carrying, and his often unsung work at ruck were outstanding. Shows no signs of slowing down as he hits the awkward early-thirties.
12 - Ma'a Nonu. SBW offers something different, but the big man has done enough to hold off the challenge of the ex Leaguer for now.
11 - Hosea Gear. When he runs with the ball, how many times do you find yourself screaming at the TV "TACKLE HIM FOR CHRIST'S SAKE!", before realising that about four people are trying to and failing miserably.
10 - Dan Carter. At about 50% for most of the games and still looked different class. If he is fit the All Blacks definitely win the World Cup, if he doesn't then it's only probably.
9 - Ben Youngs. In the absence of any outstanding nines, he was about the best of the bunch.
1 - Andrew Sheridan. Has been massively overhyped in the past, but he was strong in the scrum and in the loose this last month, while his nearest rivals were not really putting their hands up.
2 - Bismarck du Plessis - Again, few outstanding hookers, but this fella is as good as any and was consistent.
3 - Adam Jones. Excellent again, as always
4 - Victor Matfield. Showed some fancy footwork to score a couple of tries, as well as everything else he does so well
5 - Brad Thorn. An awesome unit who is awarded extra points for also having a giant head.
6 - Stephen Ferris. Close one this, could have been Kaino, Juan Smith, or indeed Croft. But Ferris gets my nod.
7 - Richie McCaw. Just been awarded IRB player of the year again, for reasons that are all too obvious all of the time. Twat.
8 - Kieran Read. A special find for the All Blacks, and when you can say that you know he must be really special.
P.S. Sorry for the lack of updates, internet and illness issues have laid us low. But we are certainly not dead, despite what one commenter has said.
Fiji cited for illegal use of Jedi Mind Trick
Ryan Jones smiles during his counter mind control training with Tasker Williams and Ray Gravell in the summer
The IRB has today confirmed that following the 16-16 draw with Wales on Friday the entire Fiji squad has been cited for contravening Law 2345.71- "Use of Fictional Quasi-Religious Mind Control". The governing body had previously made it clear to Fiji that they would not tolerate this again after the 2007 World Cup result between the two teams and introduced the new law immediately after the tournament, so we can expect harsh punishments if the charge proved.
Citing commissioner Paul Ingnitpicker said, "Having reviewed the footage of the match it is quite clear that Wales, a normally relatively sensible team, were behaving very much out of character. On further inspection it is obvious that Fiji were controlling them very much like Obi-Wan with the Storm Troopers and the droids they weren't looking for."
Fiji manager Talemo Waqa reacted angrily to the citing, "This is quite ridiculous. There is no way that our team could control the entire Wales team for that length of time. Andy Powell would be no problem obviously, and maybe George North with him being a youngling, but the the entire team would require Yoda levels of ability and we have only completed the Anakin Diploma."
Wales have undergone anti mind control training from dead Jedi, but the success of this has now been brought into question. Wales scrum-half Richie Rees said, "Something was definitely up on Friday. Against Australia I was rapid, but this time I would think about a sniping run then change my mind and pass incredibly slowly for no reason I can explain. But every time it happened a Fijian would be slowly waving his hand in front of my face and talking in a measured tone."
LIVE BLOG! England vs Samoa
Video: England 35 - 18 Australia; highlights
GASP! as England move the ball at speed
KEEL OVER! following an England move that involves going up the short side from their own line and scoring
NOD APPRECIATIVELY! at Kurtley Beale's footballing skills
CALM YOURSELVES! after a result and performance that suggests there may be better to come
It's all here...