Rugby - Summer Tours and beyond.
Posted 15 June 2012 - 04:40 AM
There weren't a lot of positives for Ireland after the first game but the set piece held up better than I thought it was going to and with Mike Ross fit they might be able to improve on that, with Fitzpatrick doing ok and Furlong at the under 20's looking a real prospect to me Ireland might actually be able to build up some depth at what has been a big problem position for them.
For this week I'd have gone with Reddan ahead of Murray but to be fair he wasn't terrible last week. They were reasonably competitive at the breakdown as well so they're just going to have to try and shore up their defense out wide and do more when they have the ball. Hard to see it having too much of an impact though.
On the other hand not a lot of negatives for New Zealand from last week, Vito's unlucky but Thomson's a capable replacement. The one slight concern with South Africa and in particular Australia with Pocock to come is that before Ireland started to come apart Sean O'Brien was beating McCaw to the breakdown quite often, they'll hope that's just rust. A tighter game that tests their new players more probably wouldn't upset New Zealand.
Wales are probably the Northern Hemisphere side with the best chance to win again but they'll need to improve on last week's performance significantly, especially in their ball retention and getting to Genia. In terms of their team Ryan Jones has finished the season in excellent form so him replacing Faletau isn't a big issue, Beck is potentially an improvement in the centre but what they really need is a big step up from Priestland from last week.
It's probably going to be a tougher ask for England to get a win this week with the South African's having more time together and playing at altitude but I like the changes to England's backline, they should be far more likely to cause the Springboks some defensive problems. In the forwards Marler did ok for a young player on his debue but I'd have started with Corbisiero if he's fit and Johnson wasn't bad but I'd have shifted him to the bench and brought in Haskell to add some more physicality.
Posted 15 June 2012 - 01:57 PM
England team is improved, but didn't have the fitness at sea level, no hope at altitude
Ireland are up against NZ
Wales should do better against Aus, but could easily get humiliated
Scotland vs Fiji... that could be frankly embarassing, and no real way to come out of that with positives
Posted 16 June 2012 - 03:00 AM
Edit: Bah! Ireland deserved a win there. There will be the usual inquiry of the AB performance across NZ in the next week.
Edited by O'thanos, 16 June 2012 - 04:30 AM.
Posted 16 June 2012 - 06:14 AM
Posted 16 June 2012 - 07:29 AM
From a New Zealand perspective I thought Aaron Smith was good again, which behind a less dominant pack was more of a statement. On the other hand Savea was less impressive when he was put under more pressure. It's still early in his career so it's not the end of the world but you'd think he's going to be tested under the high ball a bit more now.
Wales on the other hand despite coming very close to winning I thought were poor in many facets of the game again. Wales are a good enough team now that coming close to winning shouldn't be acceptable. At this level if the opposition don't jump you absolutely can't lose lineout ball and their kicking was poor again. Kicking badly and losing your own lineouts are a good recipe for losing a game of rugby and they're both things they should have been working on since last week. I'd be dropping Priestland for next week if they had a real option to replace him, they should have brought Biggar on the tour.
Having said all that fair play to the Wallabies they really showed a lot of composure to win that at the end. Pocock was also brilliant at the breakdown again against a Welsh pack who I thought improved on that front from last week.
Edited by ljČeská, 16 June 2012 - 07:32 AM.
Posted 16 June 2012 - 07:31 AM
A very tense encounter and probably the closest Ireland have come to breaking their duck against the ABs in many years. The AB's didn't deserve a win, but I don't think they totally deserved to lose either, so a draw would have been a reasonable result. I guess it shows you gotta have a long range goal kicker these days. Perhaps it was a mistake to go for the goal as they had time to kick for territory and perhaps set up a drop goal opporunity of their own.
Wales kinda deserved to win against Aussie, but Aussie did well to take it in the final act of the game. I well know the anguish of being on the receiving end of a last minute Aussie win due to a full time penalty. Interestingly both Wales and Ireland failed to really capitalise on a yellow card. Sure Wales scored, but so did Aussie during the yellow card period. Wales did make a lot of errors though, so they weren't clearly the better team.
So next week is playing for honour for both the green and the red. Both side still have a strong motivation: Ireland to beat NZ for the first time ever; Wales to beat Aussie in Aussie for the first time since 1969.
Edited by The Anti-Targ, 16 June 2012 - 07:34 AM.
Posted 16 June 2012 - 08:18 AM
Nah, in that situation they would have died wondering what would have happened had they taken the shot at goal. In the event Sexton didn't miss by that much. I think they made the right decision there.
Posted 16 June 2012 - 12:01 PM
Having said that the first half was dire from England's pack, yes the South African's have a bigger but the complete inability of the England forwards to stop the Springbok carriers on the gainline was pretty awful. I particularly didn't like the way Morgan as England's biggest forward went missing when they needed him to step up. Foden at fullback didn't have a great game either which is not what you need against South Africa.
On the positive side Youngs had his best game in an England shirt for years which is particularly impressive since that sort of game with the pack on the back foot a scrumhalf can easily go missing. I thought Waldrom really put his hand up when he came on and he should definitely start next week, the same with Corbisiero. The new midfield did ok given they were receiving poor ball for most of the game, I'd give them another chance next week.
From the South African point of view I thought Francois Steyn was excellent at 12 and if he can keep offering that much variety to the South African game that's a good sign for the Rugby Championship. On the other hand Morne Steyn's kicking problems will be a concern. Hopefully Kruger's injury isn't too serious.
Posted 22 June 2012 - 06:03 AM
I have to say that it looks like Lancaster has gotten the balance of the squad for this tour wrong, we clearly needed to take at least one more physical second row, probably Garvey or Attwood, ahead of Leicester's 5th choice lock in Kitchener and while I understand the logic behind not taking Armitage clearly it's turned out to be the wrong decision. With Robshaw out he should be definitely be starting openside tomorrow.
South Africa have also lost probably their two best players in Alberts and Steyn but I can't see it being too much of an issue for them.
New Zealand have a weaker team than last week so on paper Ireland probably have a better chance but I'd expect that New Zealand will be better prepared this week. Still I think Ireland have made the right choice going with Wallace at 12 ahead of bringing O'Gara in and shifting Sexton to 12 and if they play well again it should be another good game.
Australia will be better this week with Beale back but before Wales need to worry about Australia they need to start playing more intellegent rugby. They're probably the Northern Hemisphere side with the best chance again but I'm losing confidence that they aren't going to shoot themselves in the foot.
Posted 23 June 2012 - 06:23 AM
Ireland were fairly poor defensively which they won't be happy with, but ok a couple of the early tries from the All Blacks were excellent and they probably would have struggled to stop them even if they had defended better, the really disappointing thing was their lack of composure in possession. If they're struggling defensively they really can't afford to be handing the ball back cheaply. That was a problem they looked to have solved last week but they were poor again today.
Wales lost another tight game they could easily have won and I thought they were better in some elements of the game but again there were a huge number of basic errors. I thought their pattern in attack and their kickking was better, not in small part because Priestland was decent this week. The number times they failed to recover restarts and gave away cheap penalties was again a big handicap and there was a cheap penalty again at a key moment. That's really something they have to improve if they want to win at the top level.
Australia showed a good winning mentality to come from behind again to win a tight game although I did think they had a lot of basic errors themselves this week. Pocock again was excellent at the breakdown and Barnes was good, he's not going to offer the highs that Cooper does but he does look less likely to fold under pressure.
Posted 23 June 2012 - 12:08 PM
Having said that once Flood went off England's ability to score tries looked pretty limited so to come away with with a positive result is pretty good but Morne Steyn having a poor game and the South African's not really punishing some poor kicking helped.
Posted 24 June 2012 - 04:12 AM
Posted 24 June 2012 - 06:34 PM
Indeed. It's like 2 different sides turned up for the 2nd test, but the same sides turned up for the 1st and 3rd tests. Even though the 3rd test had a very different ABs squad.
It seems like the AB's often suffer from 2nd testitis. If the ABs win the first test by a substantial margin then they are most vulnerable to losing in the 2nd test. It seems to be an almost standard pattern of ABs v France. The first game often goes to the ABs quite handily, the second is usually very tight and often France wins it. Example the last RWC: AB's beat France wquite easily in the pool game, but came damned close to losing the final. Is it the AB's psyche going into complacency mode, or is it the opponent's psyche going into determination overdrive?