Up and down.
Yup, we’re missing some key personnel. Sharpe. Kefu .. err, Palu. The two Benns. Digby.
There are some good signs, particular in the forwards. And there are some worrying signs.
Daley and Faingaa, quality. Improving every game. Daley trucked up well, and with a bit more weight I reckon he’d be an excellent ball runner. Faingaa was a loose foward in work-rate.
Ma’afu had an interesting game. He did well in the scrums with his fellow row-club. He did some good stuff, splintered a maul, made some tackles. I’m still not convinced that he shouldn’t have gone off instead of Daley though, unless Deans has a master plan (which is quite possible).
Slipper did good after he came on. Ran the ball well. Defended well. And scrummed above average with the rest of the crew.
Mumm did well in Sharpe’s absence. Not as big obviously, but can tackle well enough.
Chisholm puts paid to the truth that image means squat. The guy *looks* like he’d be a monster. He’s not. Meek and docile most of the time. Sure, he’s playing at a level I only ever dreamed of, but hey, what good is being an arm-chair expert if we can’t make a few critical calls. Chis makes bad decisions (why look at everyone retreating from the ruck and then go yourself?), doesn’t involve himself and be proactive, and really, should be sacked on the reasoning that his guns are too big. But then, if you did that, Diggers wouldn’t get a look-in. Heh.
The back three. I’ve got a feeling the Brown is similar to Chis. He made a couple of off decisions, but did do some excellent work AND popped up when he should have.
Pocock was sensational. Everywhere-man. He was able to make himself look very good. If he can do it against the back-row of the All-Blacks and the Springboks, then we’ll see some real form.
Rocky had a *much* improved game. He got through a lot more work, good runs, great defence. However, he’s still not captaining. After one of the more ridiculous ref decisions (and there were quite a number of those) we get a full camera shot of him standing quiet and still. What the? He’s the captain! Get after the ref. You are the captain of the team, your heart should be bleeding every time you get a penalty (and it might well be). So as Captain, you have every right I reckon to question the Ref, especially if the other options you are taking is silence.
The Rolling Maul
From my memory, it wasn’t just Johnny that won the English the World Cup here in Sydney.
It was that wonderful maul. Once they got motoring, Neil Back at the back (always good for a giggle that one), it was something to be feared. I remember vividly the fear in my heart whenever that maul got a-moving.
So when is it coming back? We (Aussies) should be doing it more. Especially on occasions like tonight when we don’t have a lot of experienced personnel.
It’s one of the best sub-cosms (okay, so i made that one up) of team-work you’ll find. And the percentage rate of it working is quite good. Making yards.
BRING BACK THE ROLLING MAUL!
Burgess was good. I’m a bit worried about the run a few steps and pass. It kind of worked tonight. Kind of. Problem was we lost too much ball, and that should have twigged something. Try straight from the back of the ruck a few more times. But no, it was again and again until bam .. one-off runner .. lost.
Cooper. Well, he had another magic night. That try was quite awesome. Massive step on the Irish fullback.
Mitchell. Erg. Not a good night. He started the tests on such a high, but has progressively slid into the form that had me grumpy last year.
Gits. Better. Although missing that first kick, ouch. But played better. More .. *composed* than last week.
Horne. Champion. Hope he’s not injured too bad. Hopefully just a precaution.
The Earl (Ashley-Cooper). Wait.
Adam Ashley-Cooper .. HE SHOULD BE STARTING EVERY SINGLE GAME. ‘Nuff said.
O’Connor. Far *far* better than last week. Loved seeing him run.
Beale. Injected. That’s the word. He really did inject himself. Lovely to see. Big future.
* silence *
Seems like every match we win I have a LOT of complaints about the ref. Lawrence wasn’t as bad at scrum-time, but oh boy oh boy *everywhere* else he had a shocker. Sure, there were a couple of decent calls, but 90% was just standard and 9.99% repeata were WOEFUL.
The camera actually caught Rocky and other forwards standing still after Giteau had kicked it long from our 22. But no, apparently they were moving forward. And how about pinging Giteau for hanging onto the ball as he slid into the touch-line. Hmmm.
Yeah, a little miffed.
We did okay. Scrums improved again. And it’s great to see this happening with the two Benns and first/second choice Hookers not available. Actually, it’s FANTASTIC too see. Great stuff fellas!
Brian O’Driscoll really is so very handy. Wish I’d seen more of him play over the years. And their Fly-half, the young fellow, boy he did well.