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: Autumn Internationals, Week Two.
|"I won't lie to you, I haven't got a bloody clue"|
Week two of the Autumn Internationals, and the computer is warming to its task of praise or condemnation nicely, it asks that you join in the fun in the comments.
George North - It had to come eventually. The Gog Convict Carrier has had a start to his career so positive and dreamlike it's like it was invented by a North Walian PR company to boost tourism, but everyone has to have a bad game and this was his. Not great under the high ball, a number of mistakes in attack, looked generally unconvincing and let's just say that kicking deosn't look his strongest suit. However, seeing as he's still only about 13 years old, this game will probably do him good in the long run.
Rhys Priestland - What has become of him? Yes, he's had injuries, but the main injured part of him appears to be his brain, and it looks beyond recovery at the minute. Only a quarter of his brain works, and it's the quarter that shouts "KICK IT!" constantly, and unfortunately the part of his brain that controls where the ball goes is in the broken part, along with whatever made him such a prospect in 2011.
Chris Ashton - As you all know, this blog does not have as negative a view on the Wigan Ginge as many other commentators, but he looks all at sea at the moment. No longer appears to know where to stand in either attack or defence and is falling victim to losing all the instincts that make him such a unique attacker. Without those instincts he is basically a bit of a gobshite who can't defend.
Fourie du Preez - While he hasn't been the force he was four years ago, this was a timely reminder of what a class act he is.
Bradley Davies - Has all the talent and toughness to be one of the best, as he showed against the ridiculously physical Books, but has spluttered so far on the top stage. Hopefully this will be the start of the international career that Davies should have started a little while ago.
Mike Brown - Being England's stand out back is a like being the tallest bloke at a dwarf convention, but that should not take away from what a very good pair of games the Quins man has had. Demonstrated just how wasted he was on the wing last year
Jean de Villiers - Powerful and uncompromising. Also figured out Rhys Priestland very early and foiled Wales' midfield. The fact that Priestland did not do anything effective to negate this is one of the main reasons he is in the above section.
Billy Twelvetrees - Knew he'd bounce back. However, next week he has to bounce back and not bounce off Ma'a Nonu, which is a much tougher task.
The computer did not see France vs NZ, hence their absence.
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.
Video: South Africa 27 - 38 New Zealand, highlights
If you can bring yourself to be put through this craphouse of a match again, here are the highlights
Preview: South Africa vs New Zealand, Rugby Championship, Saturday
This is about a big as it gets really. The top two teams in the world, playing each other to decide the victor of the southern hemisphere's crappily-monikered premier rugby competition, The Rugby Championship. It's a bit like Wales vs England in the final round of this year's Six Nations, except this one is likely to look like two teams are actually playing, rather the one playing musical statues while the other runs around them taking the piss and inducing orgasmic spasms in the crowd.
South Africa have this year returned to their bludgeoning best; fully utilising the output from the Bok Forwards Factory of Power & Doom to great effect, crushing all before them in tight and at the set piece. This physical prowess, at home and at altitude, just be enough to snatch them a win in the game, but as bwin sport will tell you, it will not be enough to get them the four tries and denial of losing bonus point they need to win the whole tournament. And they probably won't win the game either.
New Zealand on the other hand, blah blah, best in the world, waffle waffle, unstoppable, blah, Richie McCaw back in team, blah blah, will win probably, zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Still, should be a blinding match.
B&M Prediction: Love to see the Boks do it by 5, but it's likely to be All Blacks by sev..zzzzzzzzzzzzz
Spotter's Badge: The universe folds in on itself and everything turns to dark matter when Tendai Mtawarira and Charlie Faumuina run into each other full pelt at exactly the same time as Richie McCaw stands in an onside position at ruck for once.
South Africa: Zane Kirchner, Willie le Roux, JJ Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez, Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Eztebeth, Juandre Kruger, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Franco van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein/ Juan de Jongh
Replacements: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Steven Luatua, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Charles Piutau.
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.
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.
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.
SHIT/GOOD Ratings: Springboks vs Wallabies - SA Ratings
The Springboks won when they should have lost against Wales in their first game of the RWC2011. They were outplayed in almost all facets of the game and lost the territory and possession battles but sneaked a win. The same thing happened to them on Sunday morning and I now have a very distinct idea of how that feels to fans.
I am not going to harp on about the ref but will say that his officiating at the breakdown was simply not good enough for a RWC quarter-final. That is not the reason for the Boks losing but it was an average to fairly SHIT performance from the kiwi.
Fourie Du Preez once again failed to find the magic that made him on of the best scrumalves in the world in 2009 and his slow service hampered the Boks time and again. He spilled the ball with the tryline beckoning in the second half and was outplayed by his opposite number.
Danie Rossouw gave away the penalty in the 71st minute which allowed James O'connor to put the Wallabies back in the lead. Dropped a couple of passes and was largely missing in the game. He has played well in this RWC but this was not one of his better games.
The Springbok's handling really let them down badly in this game. The ball was spilled far too many times and when it wasn't, it was lost on the ground.The Boks had more territory and possession than the Wallabies but if you cannot convert that into points, you do not deserve to win. Sad but true.
Pat Lambie may be one of the least experienced Bok players but he has shown a maturity far beyond his years. Made 3 great offloads in the tackle and made good sniping runs throughout the game. Solid at the back and put in some big kicks. A long future a head for the young whipper-snapper.
Bismark Du Plessis showed once again that he is probably one of if not the best hooker in the world at the moment. He was solid in the scrums and lineouts and made some big hits on defense but it is his work at the breakdown that makes him so valuable. With John Smit retiring, the Boks will be incredibly happy with his replacement.
It was as if Victor Matfield actually knew the Wallaby line out calls and stole their ball at will. He was solid as a rock on his own ball all day and put in some telling tackles. The line-out king payed one of his finest games for the Boks and will be missed as he has now retired from all forms of rugby.
The lineouts and scrums by the Boks were sheer quality. They pushed the Wallabies back on a few occasions and stole 5 of their lineouts. It is soley due to a very good performance by Radike Samo that the Wallabies were able to get any sort of good ball from scrums.
Special mention goes to Schalk Burger, Jaque Fourie and Jean de Villiers.
For more rugby thoughts check out Bowl Philosophy.
Rugby World Cup: Things we learned from the groups stages about the quarter-final teams
1. Ireland have a very good bunch of forwards now, the transformation in their front-row in particular has been nothing short of lazarusesque.
2. Dan Carter is out. Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden are not exactly mugs, but they're not Dan Carter either (who is?), and no matter how much spin they want to put out in press conferences this loss will hurt NZ both on the field and in their heads. They should still win comfortably against Los Puma, and then the whole thing. But we've been there before haven't we?
3. Wales are improving game by game since the Samoa outing. The reason they were so stilted in that game was due to nothing but pure psycholigical terror and fear of failure against their bogey-nation again. Once that was out of the way they settled into a rhythm that could see them go far. Just a simple glance at the SportGuru predictions give you an idea of just how impossible to pick their game vs Ireland is.
4. England are playing very badly and have not looked fluent, confident or proficient at any time so far in the tournament, and they can count themselves extremely lucky they had that group to play in. This malaise of form will not right itself in the next week. History books may eventually show that they reached the semis, but someone will have to include the caveat "Struggled past Scotland, then beat a divided and demoralised France, lost to someone decent"
5. Australia will go a lot better if Berrick Barnes is more involved.
6. Argentina have provided some great moments and are a team that we all admire and like to watch, but this is the end of the road come Sunday. However, if they can do this well now, what will they be like next time around after four years of TriNations games?
7. France make it very hard for sports writers and bloggers to be original by living up to every single cliche ever written about them. But, despite the disgraceful performance against Tonga it's still very hard to say they will definitely lose against England.
8. After New Zealand, South Africa are the team looking the most likely. However, the gap between NZ and the rest is pretty damn big.