I’m shattered, but I reckon the players will be more shattered.
We heard all week about how William "B.J." Blazkowicz (aka Patricio Noriega) would be smashing the men to pieces over their scrummaging of the previous week. I’ve already shared my opinion about those scrums in the last Match Report.
1. Did we improve our scrums?
Absolutely. We held. We wheeled. We still were crunched. But the improvement was vast.
However, that mattered little again,
2. England played a much MUCH different game to last week.
They came out firing, they played all the way across the field, first left, then right. They had their forwards running well, and their backs looking for work.
AND their scrum-half, Ben Youngs, had a cracker. Game-changer. The kind of game you hope for every time from Genia, or O’Connor, or Cooper, or ..
3. For whatever reason, Genia didn’t spark.
The backline seemed awry, and so did the forwards. But Genia not sparking as Burgess did last week was very much a big deal. Towards the end you could even see him limping, so I really hope he hasn’t pushed himself back and done harm. Not that he wouldn’t know what to do.
4. The Breakdown
Pocock played well, Faiinga had a couple of moments, but the forwards were not AT the breakdown.
As a pack, our forwards were not bad, but they certainly weren’t good. Our own breakdown was fractured apart a lot of the time by enthusiastic Pommie counter-rucking. It was unnerving to see.
5. The kick in front!
Gits missed the kick in front. ‘Nuff said.
No, not enough said. It was the third kick he veered away to the left in the game.
Some folk (myself included probably) thought Barnes had a shocker in the mid-week game with all the kicking.
But most of the backs tonight did a fair bit of kicking themselves, and not a lot of it turned out that well.
I’m not sure if Barnes would have made a difference, but he could have come on for Gits after he dropped that kick.
7. Our Backrow
Brown did a couple of things that I noticed, but only on his own, never at the breakdown. And Rocky wasn’t really there either. We need our backrow to step up. Pocock is good. But he’s not the entire backrow.
I’d hope Deans gives Hoiles a shot next week. When does Cliffy get back? Not that that will solve things, given he’s a ball-runner. But certainly things need to staunch up.
What scares me is the ferocity of the two backrows that actually matter to us. The Springboks and the All-Blacks. How are we going to compete?
Even if it were just after last week, we just don’t stack up. Rocky is potential world-class, but he’s not showing it. Brown just isn’t. And Pocock is almost there.
BUT THAT MEANS SQUAT.
In the end, if our backrow were as enthusiastic as the Pommies were tonight, for the FULL eighty minutes, then even with Brown’s lack of skill, I reckon we could at least manage the other two backrows.
With Cliffy back, and Hoiles on the bench, it’d be a better sight.
But again, enthusiasm makes a big difference. We saw it tonight. England shouldn’t have won. How could they? It didn’t enter my mind. We were going to win. No hesitation.
But we didn’t.
Last week, the brain-snaps were out-weighed by the good decisions and silky skills.
This week, it was the other way around. There were moments of good decision-making and crafty handling, strong running, good defence. But they were out-done by the lazy defence, the bad calls, the worse kicks, and the seemingly fractured nature of the TEAM mindset.
That’s my two cents.
And another week goes by without seeing Rocky be ROCKY. Maybe the captaincy is too much?