The Wrap: What a crazy, beautiful rugby weekend

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

259 Have your say

    This was the type of weekend where the subject and title of this article changed several times, such was the array of extraordinary matches, upset results and noteworthy performances.

    So much so that the Stormers leaving Dunedin 33-15 losers was no more or less than anyone expected, and barely warrants a mention in the context of the rest of the weekend. Save, that is, for one delightful phase when fans were left stunned in disbelief when Raymond Rhule downed Liam Squire one on one, only to find Rhule seconds later, basking in the glorious success of his tackle, letting Waisake Naholo slip by to set up a try to Aaron Smith.

    Amongst all of the statistics thrown around in the wake of the Rebels’ 33-10 mauling of the Brumbies – three successive wins for the first time, runaway conference leaders, record margin against the Brumbies – coach Dave Wessels was quick to identify a more pertinent stat after the match.

    In Super Rugby, the average win ratio for sides on a six-day turnaround is around 30 per cent. The Rebels not only beat these odds, but did so with long-distance travel from Japan included. And they did it by playing in an abrasive, physical manner that provided them ownership of the middle of the park.

    Amanaki Mafi was irresistible all night, charging forward at every opportunity, with the impressive Matt Philip not far behind him. It was a similar tale in defence – not only the speed of the line, but the ferocity in contact that gave the Brumbies little to work with.

    Amanaki Mafi of the Rebels

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    It was Will Genia who sniffed the knock-out in the 60th minute, kicking to a five-metre lineout before his captain could come in from centre to consider a shot at goal. It had the desired effect, a yellow card for dragging the maul down, then 14 quick points putting the result to bed.

    Work-ons for the Rebels? Better attention to discipline at the start and Sefa Naivalu carrying the ball in the correct hand would just about see it out. With Adam Coleman back in business next week and Wessels telling me after the match that he plans to up the physicality and intensity at training this week for the travel-weary Waratahs, even more giddy heights await.

    One hopes Brumbies captain Christian Lealiifano was merely trotting out rote clichés afterwards, about only needing to execute and finish off better, as if that is all that is needed to solve the Brumbies’ funk. How about winning the battle for the advantage line, and coming up with some variations on the lineout maul drive, which defences have clearly got wise to?

    The Brumbies were good in patches but seem to be caught in transition between their long-entrenched structured method of play, and a new way, a problem coach Dan McKellar acknowledged post-match. At least they provided the evening’s humour, with replacement halfback Matt Lucas looking faintly ridiculous thinking he was David Warner.

    A Vic Masters curtain-raiser for the ‘Bloody Slow Cup’ was a fantastic addition, proceedings only slightly dented by one of the Kiwis laying an old-fashioned coat-hanger on an Australian opponent – earning himself the rare embarrassment of a red card in a golden oldies match. This is a great group of rugby tragics going from strength to strength.

    Losing the combined experience of Ryan Crotty and Sam Whitelock in the opening phases was certainly not part of the Crusaders script, although the Hurricanes didn’t hang around to offer sympathy, running in four first-half tries, the best of them a jet-burning sizzler by Ben Lam.

    For my ‘wow moment’ (number one) of the weekend, take a look at how TJ Perenara seizes a loose ball under some pressure and, in an instant, switches the point of the attack with a brilliant pass into space, that Beauden Barrett hits at full pace, thus creating the opportunity for Lam on the flank. Instinctive and sublime.

    The real winning of the match, however, was the Hurricanes’ suffocating defence, forcing the Crusaders into a one-dimensional game that, despite a brave part-comeback, was never going to be sufficient to overcome a 21-point head start.

    Doubters of Brad Thorn took a further step back into the shadows with the Reds notching their second win – this time over Super Rugby’s latest expansion franchise, Brazil, by 20-14. John Mitchell’s Brazilian Bulls started with two bright tries but thereafter it was far from ‘the beautiful game’ as the home side ground them out of the contest.

    The Reds were impressive in many aspects. They didn’t panic after conceding an early lead, their control of the slippery ball was excellent, allowing them to dominate possession, and they competed at the breakdown as viciously as any side seen so far this season.

    Reds coach Brad Thorn

    ( AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    The Sharks and Sunwolves delivered a predictable scoreline, 50-22, in Durban, before one of the most remarkable, crazy games in recent memory unfolded in Johannesburg.

    The Lions had their ensemble game flowing, punishing the Blues on turnovers, but somehow the Blues stayed within sight on the scoreboard before it started to rain tries at both ends. Just as the Blues edged within a score they looked to have lost it again at the death but, inexplicably, Lions winger Aphiwe Dyanti failed to correctly ground a loose ball over the goal-line, allowing the visitors one final attack.

    Somehow they opened up space in behind the Lions defence, Michael Collins going close, before Murphy Taramai plunged over after the siren, for the winner.

    This will prove to be a significant result for the Blues. Everyone is aware of their improvement, but they desperately needed a result to confirm this. That they kept their nerve, and played with a deal of skill to score five tries against a top tier side, will surely provide them with the confidence to go on with things from here.

    Both Ioane brothers were outstanding, Akira impressing with brute physicality, and a higher work-rate and improved discipline over last season. He may well be in the process of finally fulfilling his undoubted potential. And if there’s still anyone prepared to accept the nonsense that Sonny Bill Williams is dialling it in, waiting to return to league, his second half was conclusive evidence otherwise.

    Tana Umaga also got a twenty-minute cameo out of young fly-half Stephen Perofeta. For any Australian fans bemoaning the lack of local talent in the position, and who might not be aware of Perofeta, just five minutes was ample time to show that if he had an Australian passport, and the Wallabies were playing a Test match this weekend, he’d be named at flyhalf. A quality footballer.

    The craziness and surprises didn’t end there however, the Jaguares blowing the Waratahs off the park in Buenos Aries with an incredible 26-0 start, full of invention, superb handling and support play.

    This is exactly what Super Rugby demands from the Jaguares – all fifteen men on the park, and a beautiful balance between set-piece, driving play and fluid ball movement. Like the Blues, let’s hope this marks a significant turning point.

    Bautista Delguy

    (Photo by Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images)

    Talismatic hooker Agustin Creevy even had time to provide ‘wow moment’ number two, his tackle, release and pilfer in the 30th minute quite breathtaking.

    The Jaguares were so good early that almost any side would have struggled to keep pace with them, and there was the customary brave Waratahs finish, but none of that will save coach Daryl Gibson from using up all of his credits from the first two games.

    Clearly his side lacks presence, and while the return of Sekope Kepu will help, this is a pack that no other side, Sunwolves included, should fear. Defensive uncertainties resurfaced too, Curtis Rona briefly revisiting his 2017 Bledisloe Cup nightmare in midfield.

    And why would any side plan to kick-off, have the winger chase, leap and tap the ball back, only to have nobody within shouting distance, trailing him to collect the tap? Surely the first kick-off of the match is too soon for any player to lose concentration and forget where he is supposed to be.

    Ireland wrapped up the Six Nations a week ahead of schedule, and will now be favoured to complete a grand slam against England next week to ice the cake. Their 28-8 home win against Scotland was a great advertisement for rugby, Scotland’s free-flowing approach countered by Ireland’s command of the total game – abrasive up front, and finishing that was clinical and efficient when the opportunities came.

    Scotland didn’t help themselves with three clear-cut try opportunities squandered by poor passing, but even so, the Irish still had their measure. And what a brilliant performance too from referee Wayne Barnes – accurate, controlled and crystal clear in his communication. Another match like that and 2007 will almost be forgotten!

    Meanwhile, in Paris, France had one of their ‘we’re interested’ days, which was rather unfortunate for England who might have expected an easier time of it. The game really came to life only in the last 15 minutes – once England realised they were going to lose if they didn’t up the ante – but despite a couple of hare-brained, panicked moments, France held on in a thrilling finish, 22-16.

    Eddie Jones certainly didn’t seem too anxious afterwards, pointing to more hard work for his side to squash any hint of complacency and some realignment around the breakdown, rather than any structural or personnel concerns. But it would be a surprise if Owen Farrell isn’t shifted into fly-half next week, and more of a surprise if a third loss on the trot doesn’t bring with it a change in sentiment from the UK press.

    On such a busy weekend, mention of the inaugural round of the Buildcorp Super W competition risks accusations of tokenism, however the 40-minutes of the match I saw between New South Wales and Queensland was great value. The visitors had a slight class edge throughout – good enough for an 18-0 win – and with the remaining sides still at a more developmental stage, the two ‘big’ states will continue to provide the benchmark over the next two to three seasons.

    The speed and width of the ball movement was impressive, and while it is far from the only measuring stick, it was evident that the play in this match far more closely resembled the professional men’s game than the earnest but ridiculously overhyped AFLW.

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (259)

    • March 12th 2018 @ 7:34am
      moaman said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      Great wrap Geoff.
      Only time for a brief comment….thought Mitch hunt and, to a lesser extent Bryn Gatland looked all at sea at pivot.
      The former just looks a bit unnatural especially when trying to kick right to left.
      It took the introduction of Perofeta to show what Gatland appears to lack.That natural ease that onlt some 10s possess and Perofeta apparently has it in spades.
      Time will tell.
      ps Watched the Lions v Blues in the wee small hours and wasn’t disappointed.Excellent match!

      • Columnist

        March 12th 2018 @ 8:26am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

        Hi Moa

        Yes Hunt got himself into poor position for that clearing kick. It had to be a left-foot kick or a dummy and re-set, but to try to go through with it was naive. He struggled with the rushed defence all night – mind you, he won’t be the only one this year if the Canes keep that kind of intensity up.

        Perofeta looked incredibly assured didn’t he? Really looking forward to seeing how he develops.

    • Roar Guru

      March 12th 2018 @ 7:42am
      Diggercane said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      Thank you Geoff, a good weekend it was.

      I am unsure how to rate the Canes performance right now, the first half was great live but considering the injury toll of the Crusaders not too mention their incredibly bad luck of losing Crotty and Whitelock within five minutes of the start, they did what they should of done really.

      Crusaders certainly showed their ticker in the second but the tactics at time from my guys left a lot to be desired, the inability to get out of our territory at times frustrating, poor options taken and reminded me a bit of last year where the team tends to drift out of games for long periods.

      The increased intensity up front was certainly welcome considering the absences in the front row in particular and Fifita certainly stood out for me for his work and efforts physically, hopefully Lousi can start to learn to impose himself on matches as well and with Fatialofa getting back to full fitness some good signs.

      You mention the defence and it has been quite noticeable to me in having Procter back in midfield how this has improved, while Laumepe and Aso were terrific last year offensively, Procters experience certainly helps the side defensively and hopefully we are back on the road to discover that same form from the 2016 season.

      • Columnist

        March 12th 2018 @ 8:31am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

        Hi Digger

        That does seem typical of the Canes to drift out of the game like they did for a bit in the 2nd half. But there were two teams playing and after halftime, the Crusaders were always going to change the shape of the game, which they did, so in some respect they were reacting to that.

        And while frustrating, as long as they retain the scoring power to put on 21 points while they are ‘on’, then the flat periods won’t matter so much!

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2018 @ 8:41am
          Diggercane said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

          And while frustrating, as long as they retain the scoring power to put on 21 points while they are ‘on’, then the flat periods won’t matter so much!

          True enough, for me I would however like to see a more clinical effort so that when the flat periods come, at least easy territory and possession is not being gifted to the opposition.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 8:44am
            Fionn said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

            I thought that the Crusaders really got on top from when they were down 0-21 (aside from that disastrous charge down).

            It was impressive for the Cane to defend the lead, but also impressive that the Crusaders did so well with so many stars injured.

            • Roar Guru

              March 12th 2018 @ 9:15am
              Diggercane said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:15am | ! Report

              Impressive side the Crusaders Fionn, despite the absences they are still able to boast 5 current All Blacks up front and a seasoned campaigner in Taufua, shows their depth in spades though the halves may be a concern without Mounga or Crotty.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 9:23am
                Fionn said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

                Indeed. Their coaching and development pathways down there must be something to behold.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 9:47am
                jameswm said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

                Yep. So good that the head of rugby player development in NSW – sent his son to the Crusaders academy for 3 years. Hopefully 18yo Nic Frost, all 202cm of him, comes back a massive force and rejoins Aus rugby.

                Tyrell Lomax and Mick Ala coming back wouldn’t hurt either.

              • Roar Guru

                March 12th 2018 @ 10:03am
                Diggercane said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:03am | ! Report

                Thanks James, didn’t know that.

                Lomax went to the Highlanders to be fair, hasn’t been sighted yet I don’t think? Don’t think he is injured either, maybe Highlander can enlighten us there?

              • Columnist

                March 12th 2018 @ 10:41am
                Geoff Parkes said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:41am | ! Report

                Lomax has been playing off the bench Digger, but not big minutes so far.

              • Roar Guru

                March 12th 2018 @ 11:14am
                Diggercane said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

                Thanks Geoff, obviously I have not been paying much attention!

              • Roar Rookie

                March 12th 2018 @ 1:11pm
                Blessing said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

                @jameswm, Lomax went to NZ so that he could play for the ABs. He was encouraged to go to NZ by Shag. Word coming out of the NZRU is that he is highly regarded and some are tipping him to be as good as Carl Hayman. At least Shag seems to think that he has the potential to get there. That is one of the reasons why he has been capped by the Maori ABs. He has not started many games for the Landers but he will play, time is on his side. As for Alaalatoa, he was non committal about returning to Australia the last time I heard. He can’t get enough of the environment at the Crusaders.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 1:30pm
                jameswm said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

                Blessing I know that’s why Lomax went there. But what if after 2-3 years he’s still struggling to get game time. He might not have a change of heart?

                Mick A’s brother is a Wallaby. You don’t reckon they’d love to play together? Aust rugby need to make getting him back a priority.

          • Columnist

            March 12th 2018 @ 9:22am
            Geoff Parkes said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

            That’s not your team though is it mate? Even through 2016, there were very few complete performances.

            • Roar Guru

              March 12th 2018 @ 9:43am
              Diggercane said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:43am | ! Report

              Not sure any side can claim many complete performances Geoff though for me, that is what I want to see.

              • Columnist

                March 12th 2018 @ 10:43am
                Geoff Parkes said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

                You’re starting to sound like RT now! 🙂

                To be fair, it’s natural for everyone to have higher expectations from their own team. And for a side that can be so brilliant, the ordinary bits in-between must frustrate.

              • Roar Guru

                March 12th 2018 @ 11:20am
                Diggercane said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:20am | ! Report

                Sound like RT?

                I haven’t mentioned Luatua once! 🙂

              • Roar Rookie

                March 12th 2018 @ 12:46pm
                Shane D said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

                Thought the first two games the Blues put out were complete. Complete disasters.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 1:54pm
                Rugby Tragic said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

                Oh c’mon Digger … just enjoy the win won’t you ? 😂😂

              • Roar Guru

                March 12th 2018 @ 1:58pm
                Diggercane said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

                Touche RT, touché, though in my defence, I certainly did on the day! 😉

              • Roar Guru

                March 12th 2018 @ 3:34pm
                Wal said | March 12th 2018 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

                Probably Crusaders 96-19 over the Tahs comes pretty close to complete 🙂

      • March 12th 2018 @ 10:39am
        Muzzo said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        Hi Digger.
        Yeh mate, congrats, on your fellas taking out a great game. It was another good Kiwi derby, & I was impressed with how BB, directed the Canes play, again. Mind you young Barrett, looked impressive as well.

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2018 @ 11:18am
          Diggercane said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          Cheers Muzzo, and yeah, Jordie just keeps on getting better and would not surprise to see him, Smith and Ioane make up the back 3 for the ABs sooner rather than later.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 12:07pm
        moaman said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

        Hey Digger!
        I was super impressed with the extra gas Ben Lam showed to go around Havilii on the outside.Wow! For a big guy it was a revelation I thought.

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2018 @ 12:32pm
          Diggercane said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

          Hi Moa,

          Yes, it was great and a little surprising I must admit but Lam was a full time sevens player at one point, limited opportunities at the Blues and here probably stalled his progress but great to see what he is capable of, hopefully he will continue as outside BB, we probably lack for real pace.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 4:49pm
            Fionn said | March 12th 2018 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

            Jordie isn’t as quick as Beauden?

            • March 12th 2018 @ 7:24pm
              Diggercane said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:24pm | ! Report


              No slouch but not quite as sharp.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 7:45am
      Daveski said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      Add to that I’ve been watching ( still watching ) some great rugby 7s in Vancouver. The Canadian rugby fans sure love to fill that BC Arena and get it rocking.

      The Tahs? One off field trend I can detect is fans of other teams ignoring their own less than complimentary match blogs ( Brumby boys I’m looking at you) but piling in at the first hint of Waratah incompetence. Alas there was more than a few hints of that.

      But really, a try after 30seconds and some sublime Jaguars play thereafter meant that once things settled down, with the Tahs so-so set piece they were never coming back from that.

      I fear for Sunday arvo. A long trip home but the Waratahs need to ideally win but at least muster the energy and physicality to show they care about this season not getting away from them after just 4 rounds (or 5 rounds – the whole two matcg season start in the first week means I don’t know what is correct protocol !)

      • Columnist

        March 12th 2018 @ 8:35am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:35am | ! Report

        Hi Daveski

        That Vancouver stadium is fantastic for the sevens – but there was too much else on for me to watch that this weekend!

        I’m sure the Tahs will re-group and give it everything next Sunday but yes, there’s a strong sense that the Rebels are in a good place and about to move in for a kill.

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2018 @ 10:30am
          PeterK said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          Tahs have to be monumental underdogs.

          I can’t think of one aspect that they are stronger in than the rebels.

          Scrum with Kepu back is about equal. Same with lineout with Simmons back.
          Rebels better at the ruck. More physical in contact and intensity. Just as good in offloading and ball handling.

          Better maul attack and defence.

          Much quicker in the backs, better defence, better halves, better game management.

          Much better kicking game.

          Also a far far better coach in Wessels.

          I take it back Tahs have a better goal kicker, and more mobile in the forwards.

          Add their horror travel schedule , south africa, argentina back to aust it would be a great upset for the tahs to win.

          • Columnist

            March 12th 2018 @ 10:45am
            Geoff Parkes said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

            Pretty fair assessment Peter, hard to argue any of that.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 12:17pm
            MitchO said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

            Mate the Rebels have a few options withe forward mobility though. Coleman and Philip are mobile enough for locks. RHP was a mobile lock – I’d like to know how his scrummaging went. He’s big enough and would be nice to see if he can play lock at close to test level.

            Timani is a slowish 6 but if they want they can always start with Colby at 7 and move Gus to 6. Just having a back row of Colby, Gus and Mafi will give you a fair bit of mobility.

          • Roar Rookie

            March 12th 2018 @ 12:48pm
            Shane D said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

            They talk a better game PK!

        • March 12th 2018 @ 10:51am
          Muzzo said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Yeh Geoff, possibly some might be considering, a replacement for the current Kiwi coach, in the Sevens!! Like for him, to bring on, two of their best players in the final two minutes of a game, is not good practice, as it’s not the first time he’s done it either.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 4:41pm
        Jamie said | March 12th 2018 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

        Tahs by less than 7 this weekend!

    • March 12th 2018 @ 7:50am
      RedandBlack said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Liking the relentlessness of the Reds – size of fight in the Dog stuff. When I think back to the beginnings of Origin it wasn’t the winning of the Cane Toads that made QL fall in love with them because they didn’t go gangbusters. It was the fight, the pride in the jersey and what it represented and the never giving up. It seems Big Brad is bringing that to the Union side. Got a way to go but the attitude is back and I’m picking the locals will reward them with an audience. We had a flat period in Canty in the ’80’s and it is so frustrating as a fan when guy’s aren’t giviing 100, but when they do it is easy to be proud of them win, lose or draw. Up the Reds.

      • Columnist

        March 12th 2018 @ 8:39am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        It’s a strong point R&B. Fans want their side to win but they also really want their side to show pride in the jersey.

        With Quade drifting further into the background with each passing week it will be interesting to see if those Red’s fans who mocked Thorn will be prepared to swallow their pride and return to the stadium.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 8:55am
          Drongo said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:55am | ! Report

          I am in the stadium for every match. Thorn has no affect on that.
          I already congratulated Thorn for our second home win. I said it was a ‘grudging’ congratulations, being honest, because of the disgraceful way he treated one of our greatest club men. But yes, the coach deserves some credit for the win.
          The Reds could only be improved if Cooper was in the squad, a point that will become crystal clear as the season progresses. We have only played one good team so far and they thrashed us.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 10:31am
            taylorman said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

            Well you might have a point there.

            If the team starts winning that might become the focus over ‘a long term strategy’ so I think its more likely Quade will be brought in while the team is winning, but struggling against the tougher sides, particularly if Quades omission had an element that had nothing to do with his ability to play at the level required.

            It would mean Thorn would need to reconcile with his earlier convictions.

            Bottom line is coaches hate losing, long term and particularly short term. Might be more life in the Lone wolf yet?

            • March 12th 2018 @ 10:54am
              Muzzo said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:54am | ! Report

              Hi T/man, & congrats for the massive Blues win. How impressive was Akira?

              • March 12th 2018 @ 2:34pm
                Taylorman said | March 12th 2018 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

                Yes it was one of those endings, naaaaa I said, surely theyll drop it or something! But lo and behold, a miracle, up went the refs arm! 😀

                Early days but we just want more of those!

            • Roar Guru

              March 12th 2018 @ 1:15pm
              ThugbyFan said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

              And congrats to the Tman, who predicted in the tipping blurb on Friday that his Aucklanders would beat the Lions. Oh we other tipsters giggled at him but my my, egg tastes really good while on the face. (Incidentally I tipped the Tahs so as a tipster I make a bl00dy great astronaut).

              Tana Umuga has brought to the Blues pretty much what Geoff et al are saying that B.Thorn has brought to the Reds. That pride in the jersey which brings guts to the team and wins against the better sides.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 10:35am
            Harry said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:35am | ! Report

            I am very pleased with the Reds gutsy wins in the last 2 weeks. Full credit to Thorn and the players and there is great hope for the future.
            I do think that the lack of playmaking in the backs may well be a problem as the season progresses. Lance is doing well but would be immeasurably improved by having a fullback of 12 that could slot into the playmakers role. This is where K Hunt’s stupidity will be costly, he would be perfect at 15 and allow Toua to move to the wing, and Nabuli out. But baby steps I guess.
            I am an unashamed Quade fan, however I’m glad he wasn’t on the field when the Reds were defending grimly in that last stage. Noticeable that there have been few errors/soft tries conceded (the Bulls first one perhaps?) by the reds in the last 2 weeks as well. Defence has massively improved.

            • Roar Guru

              March 12th 2018 @ 1:34pm
              Handles said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

              I have always been a Cooper fan too Harry, but the facts are becoming self-evident. Thorn wanted Cooper out because he was a poor trainer with a poor attitude towards the team. Now with Cooper out, the team appears united and is turning in performances that can only be the result of training hard and well.

              I would love to think that Quade could see the error of his ways and mend fences, but with a hard man like Thorn at the helm, I think the chances are slim. You draw a line in the sand.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 3:16pm
                Drongo said | March 12th 2018 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

                Quade is not a poor trainer, nor does he have a poor attitude. Check out his recent training videos on line if you want to see one of the fittest guys in Australian rugby. Stick to the facts, not the Thorn induced fantasy.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 4:43pm
                Muzzo said | March 12th 2018 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

                I hear you knocking, Drongo, but you can’t come in!!!

              • Roar Guru

                March 13th 2018 @ 10:53am
                Handles said | March 13th 2018 @ 10:53am | ! Report

                Drongo, if you don’t turn up to training on time, if you don’t run the drills the coach is trying to run, if you want sessions to be about you instead of the team, then you are a poor trainer. This was common currency around the Reds when Thorn was still an All Black, it isn’t his story.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 11:25am
            aussikiwi said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:25am | ! Report

            Maybe Cooper would not improve the team Drongo. I thought Lance was more solid on the core requirements, and also some really good line breaking runs.

            Cooper hasn’t been at his peak for years and Lance’s style might be more suited to the Reds under Thorn’s direction.

            • March 12th 2018 @ 12:29pm
              MitchO said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

              The Reds are competing hard at the breakdown showing good physicality. The Reds are also scrumming well. That must mean that Tupou has improved substantially on last year. All the Lance vs Cooper stuff is surely irrelevant compared to Tupou’s development as a scrummager because he can give the Wallabies a very good ball running running forward.

              The above comment is not quite fair because Lance has looked like a nice efficient boring 10. He may not be exciting but he could do a decent safe job for the Wallabiies.

              How good does Jack Maddocks look. He’s only 21 and looks not only fast but smart. He may have played a bit of fullback in his time but if he has mostly been a 10 then he is too skilful to have played much wing growing up.

              Wessels is doing us all a favour by developing Hodge at 12. If KB goes down then Hodge will have had at least a super rugby season at 12 under his belt. There is also the distinct possibility that Hodge becomes the best 12 in Oz rugby and KB is once again banished to the super sub role. That would let someone like DHP, Maddocks, Banks take Hodges wing.

              • Roar Guru

                March 12th 2018 @ 1:26pm
                ThugbyFan said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

                Well said MitchO. As a Tahs fan, I don’t want K.Beale anywhere near the WB starting side, at best a reserve. While Kurtley is great in attack and helps B.Foley no end, a team cannot have a gaping hole of #10-12 with two poor tacklers. Foley only keeps his position on the basis that there is no-one else at this stage to take his spot.

                The sooner R.Hodge is drafted into the WB #12 position, the better our chances of winning the RWC2019 will be. They can then ditch the idiotic N.Gray musical chairs in defence system.

                As an aside, wasn’t it nice in the Reds-Bulls match to see the 5/8th, one J.Lance staying in his position and tackling any of them Bulls who dared charge at him. A thing of beauty not seen in Queensland colours for years.

              • March 13th 2018 @ 8:45am
                concerned supporter said | March 13th 2018 @ 8:45am | ! Report

                As a Waratah person I am still numb why the Waratah talent scouts let Hodge {Manly} & Maddocks {Easts} go to Melbourne.
                We could do with them now.

              • March 13th 2018 @ 4:26pm
                MitchO said | March 13th 2018 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

                Yeah mate. I don’t follow rugby as closely as many but Maddocks is only 21 and he must have been a star junior. Why let Maddocks go and pick up Alex Newsome. Hodge must have been a star junior as well.

                Matt Phillip played Aus u20 so he must have been a star junior too. And it is really hard to look at guy like Coleman and wonder how you let him go. He is the right size and shape for a test class lock and he is aggressive and plays to win with all those second efforts. Maybe he had poor work ethic or poor athleticism or something but you have to think he is a guy you want in your squad and you back yourself to develop him.

                All they had to do with Skelton (who they kept but didn’t improve) is send someone around to his house at 6.30am and take him running four days a week. That’s neither expensive nor clever.

              • March 13th 2018 @ 9:08am
                Fionn said | March 13th 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

                Lance is the form 10 in Aus at present. If the Wallabies were picked on form it would certainly be Lance.

              • March 13th 2018 @ 3:58pm
                Markus said | March 13th 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

                concerned supporter I thought that as a Waratahs fan you would be used to the talent scouts letting them slip through the cracks.

                In an alternate reality there is a Tahs team fielding a backline including Hodge, Maddocks and Nemani Nadolo and a forward pack of Sio, two Allaalatoas, Coleman, Phillip, and the ageless George Smith.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 12th 2018 @ 2:49pm
          Don said | March 12th 2018 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

          Not sure if QC has had a run for Souths in a trial yet but we were expecting him to be playing against Easts on Saturday.
          Instead he was running the water.

          His first premier rugby match at Chipsy Wood Oval will draw a big crowd when it comes around.

          I’ve moved on from any anguish over QC’s omission from the Reds as I’ve always liked Lance and reckon he is the ideal 10 given the tight rugby Thorn is coaching.

          On another point; it was great to see CFS playing well at 13.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 3:26pm
          The Sheriff said | March 12th 2018 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

          Yes, how good was Jono Lance?

          • Roar Guru

            March 13th 2018 @ 1:37am
            Fox said | March 13th 2018 @ 1:37am | ! Report

            Very good!

    • March 12th 2018 @ 7:52am
      Jigbon said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      Geoff thanks for that. As a Waratahs ‘something’ ( not sure one can be a Waratahs ‘ fan’ any more) I watched this weeks Drebbage in BA with more of the groundhogs day view I watched last weeks drebbage in SA against the sharks. Hapless, inept, disorganised, stupid, …..the adjectives (slurs) keep on coming. Really these guys are professional?!
      Really , these guys are coached. !?
      The only slight improvement in anything I saw over last weeks nonsense was the scrum. The rest looks like a team who has lost the coach ( or vice versa) Disinterested , lethargic, disorganised and clueless.
      After all the preseason hype nothing has changed . Same crap , different year. Compared to rebels and reds. At least they try and seem to know what is happening in their game and , well, just try… least. .
      As a coach my self if my team played that badly I’d fall on my sword after three years of trying.
      And in closing, it was so galling to hear the sycophant (drew Mitchell) on fox the other night fling out compliments about the Waratahs performance against the sharks. FFS !! What game was he watching. The Waratahs were terrible in that match too, as were the sharks , luckily for the tahs.
      So it’s groundhog on groundhog for us tahs supporters and hopefully they find a decent coach sooner rather than later as I’m seeing nothing from GIBSON at all and not much more from Cron. This is a broken team.

      • Columnist

        March 12th 2018 @ 8:44am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        I think you’re a bit harsh re the Sharks match Jigbon – a draw on the road in SA is never a bad outcome.

        I also think that sometimes you have to give the opposition credit. Unfortunately the Jaguares chose this game to play the best they have for ages – possibly ever – in SR.

        But no question Gibson took several steps backwards this week and once again looks vulnerable.

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2018 @ 9:19am
          rebel said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

          Were there any boos in the Stadium for Thorn?

          • Roar Guru

            March 12th 2018 @ 9:31am
            rebel said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:31am | ! Report

            Sorry, not sure whay this post was teleported here.

      • Roar Guru

        March 12th 2018 @ 10:35am
        PeterK said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:35am | ! Report

        Jigbon – I agree with most of that except I disagree that the tahs are disinterested.

        If they were they would have last minute wins against Stormers , claw a draw from behind and keep trying hard in a lots game against the jagueres.

        Gibson is hopeless. Unbalanced team, poor recruiting and selecting.
        More one dimensional than cheika. Poor tactics, poor use of bench, list goes on.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 12:41pm
          Jigbon said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

          probably yes Peter I may have been a bit harsh as Geoff said. Maybe the word should have been enthusiasm.
          But really the game against sharks was full of tahs errors and the Jaguares we were Just inept.
          I just don’t see a lot , if any , improvement over the last few years.Does any one else… if so please advise

        • Roar Rookie

          March 12th 2018 @ 12:52pm
          Shane D said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

          He seems well out his depth & bereft of ideas. Not sure what he did over the off season to work on the Tahs short comings that were evident last season.
          How long left on his contract?

          • Roar Guru

            March 12th 2018 @ 1:41pm
            ThugbyFan said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            The cattle at the Tahs looks good on paper with heaps of WB players in the side, but lets put a line through the word WB on some their cvs especially the ones who should have been cut from the WB after a couple of matches as “tried but never gonna be good enough“. That leaves S.Kepu (suspended), M.Hooper, B.Foley (if his pack is holding or going forward) and Izzy Folau as genuine world-class players.

            I said at the beginning of the year the Tahs would be lucky to finish in 4th place in the Oz conference. They have popgun locks and, apart from Kepu and Hooper have zero aggression in the forward pack. Sure blame D.Gibson the coach but the Tahs recruitment/retention people should also fall on their swords. All of those quality Force forwards and we never got one of them. And don’t even mention M.Alaalatoa to me. 🙁

            • Roar Guru

              March 12th 2018 @ 2:08pm
              Machooka said | March 12th 2018 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

              Hey, Thugby… don’t we always look on paper?

              Likewise… the reflection from the mirror 😉

              • March 13th 2018 @ 1:02pm
                MARTO said | March 13th 2018 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

                Great game from your ” ICEMAN ” McChocka.. 10/10 ……….. . for the Jaguares….

            • March 12th 2018 @ 4:49pm
              Akari said | March 12th 2018 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

              I couldn’t help thinking that the black around the neck line is like a hangman’s noose, TF.

              It looks bad IMO.

              When you look in the mirror with that jersey on, do you see a reflection of a dead team walking, Chooksy?

            • March 13th 2018 @ 12:59pm
              JP said | March 13th 2018 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

              Are you serious ? World class ?

              ” That leaves S.Kepu (suspended), M.Hooper, B.Foley (if his pack is holding or going forward) and Izzy Folau as genuine world-class players.”

              Foley is a midweek subbies player at best.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 12th 2018 @ 10:40am
        Dwards said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

        To me the low point for Tahs was when they received a late penalty not far out, and not being confident to win their own scrum or lineout they took a tap. When you can’t trust your set piece you are not playing rugby.

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2018 @ 11:45am
          jeznez said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:45am | ! Report

          Yeah – that was pretty telling. Was sitting there thinking how embarrassing that option was.

          It was the correct option but absolutely K-Grade that the set piece was so poor that it was the correct choice.

          I don’t recall Latu’s lineout throwing being as bad as that previously. The one area that Fitzpatrick executed better than Tolu was hitting plenty of six ball with only one really bad miss.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 12:43pm
            Jigbon said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

            Jez I thought Simon Cron was supposed to be a great forwards coach. I’m not seeing a lot of change are you.

            • Roar Guru

              March 12th 2018 @ 3:35pm
              jeznez said | March 12th 2018 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

              He was meant to be the saviour but there are two key issues.

              1. The squad doesn’t have the right types of player in it.

              2. The selections and bench management even from the players in the squad are poor.

              Certainly point 1 sits squarely on Gibson’s shoulders Cron was only announced in June and not sure how much input he had to the list management of a squad that was almost complete at that stage.

              On 2, again not sure how much control he is being given.

              The decision to switch Ryan to TH, to then bring in Tawake over Vui after a solid start against the Stormers. Keeping Robertson on the pitch until the 74th minute as the scrum disintegrated while Johnson-Holmes who has been looking good in his cameos was held back.

              How much of this is Cron vs Gibson? Very hard to tell from the outside.

          • Roar Rookie

            March 12th 2018 @ 3:08pm
            Dwards said | March 12th 2018 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

            The right call, good adaptation. But embarrrassing that it was necessary.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 7:58am
      Bib said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      The Reds still seem weak defensively out wide and on attack.

      I still believe both hunt and Cooper would go someway to address these issues.

      In saying that the pack is going amazingly well. They’ve been good at the set piece for a couple of years. They’ve now stepped that up a gear and added something extra around the park.

      Looking at a wallabies team, there is no reason for any tah players to be in the match day 23 pack bar Hooper (bench, pocock to start) and Kepu (starting, TT on bench). But with cheika, you just know that isn’t going to happen and we’ll see the likes of hannigan, Simmons, Holloway, Robertson, Dempsey and potentially Ryan all in the mix.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 8:18am
        Fionn said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        Bib, I’ll add Folau to that list.

        I virtually agree though, the Rebels should make up a majority of the 23, with a few Tahs and Brumbies, and a few more Reds.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 8:26am
          Bib said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

          I was just talking about the pack.

          The problem with the backs is no one else has really put there hand up. Foley has been woeful, but no more woeful than he’s been for the past 24 months. Chieka has tossed all his rivals so the cupboard is bare.

          Folau should be there, and Beale as an impact player off the bench would work. You could argue him as a 12 and that would also be acceptable, probably.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 8:45am
            Fionn said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:45am | ! Report

            I think Hodge is playing well enough at 12 that it’s hard to see Beale starting based on current form. He should definitely be on the bench as a finisher though.

            I think both Lealiifano and Lance are playing acceptably, but Hodge is goal kicking better than either of them. I would change eligibility and get Toomua back though.

          • Roar Guru

            March 12th 2018 @ 10:40am
            PeterK said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

            Bib – agree.

            Only tahs in wallabies 23 should be Kepu and Folau starting.
            Beale and Hooper on the bench.

            Lance should be an interim 10 with Maddock and/or Debczeni being trialed. Foley cannot be included just for his goal kicking.

            If it doesn’t work you can always fall back to Foley who has very little improvement in him, and now that the pressure Cooper had on him is gone is playing even worse.

            • March 12th 2018 @ 12:11pm
              Bib said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

              Not sure about your strategy re 10. I’ve not seen enough of Maddocks play there so cant really comment. On Deborah – not a fan.

              Lance is a steady set of hands at super Rugby but the attack stalls after 3 phases. That won’t fly at test level.

              Cheika has made his bed and I think we will have to watch him flounder before a backline can be re built post 2019.

            • Roar Rookie

              March 12th 2018 @ 12:56pm
              Shane D said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

              Genia is the key for the 10 position I believe. He will take a lot of the pressure away from the 10 with his decision making at 9.
              Foley seems to have lost that instinct for the running option that made him a threat taking the ball to the line. Lots of overthinking in his game at the moment.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 1:10pm
                Fionn said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

                Toomua is the answer that is staring at us in the face.

                We changed eligibility to bring back Giteau who was past it since 2009 (to overlook the best 12 we had since Horan in Toomua).

                Surely we can change eligibility again to get Toomua back, he is tearing it up for Leicester.

                Fardy wouldn’t go astray either.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 2:40pm
                Taylorman said | March 12th 2018 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

                Earlier it was CLL who was the answer. How come the answer is always someone who was never actually the answer in the first place?
                Toomua is too brittle for test rugby the way he flies in at tackles.
                I mean theres even a regular toomua injury update page.
                Now doubting his courage but managing the guy must be a nightmare.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 1:12pm
                Bib said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

                I’d probably have Gordon as back up 9. He’s been playing well and there has been nothing seriously wrong with the ball he’s been getting to Foley. His Decision making is not as good as Genia’s, but its strong enough for his level of experience and certainly far better than Phipps who has far more experience.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 1:24pm
                Fionn said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

                I’m fine with Gordon, Ruru or Phipps as backup halfback.

      • Columnist

        March 12th 2018 @ 8:49am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        Hi Bib

        I agree that both Hunt and Cooper would complement the Reds’ on-field effort nicely.
        But clearly, Thorn has made his bed and moved on. It’s his perogative as coach, and it’s hard to argue on outcomes.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 9:47am
          Bib said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

          The outcomes are grinding wins against two teams which have equally inept attacking ability.

          As a Reds fan, I am happy with the pack. Very happy actually. But I don’t for one second think that this team could not be significantly better and racking up bonus points with an enhanced backline. I think the Reds are going to find it very hard against teams with a proper attacking mindset.

          This game plan will not be effective against teams that can play full court rugby.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 10:39am
            Harry said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:39am | ! Report

            Surely the Hunt situation should be resolved now that the court case is over? Either pick him or jettison him.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 11:11am
            Jacko said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:11am | ! Report

            Anyone know what is happening with Hunt?

            • Roar Guru

              March 12th 2018 @ 1:39pm
              Handles said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

              They are arguing over whether his arrest constitutes a contract ending violation. It doesn’t look good for the Reds, they may have to pay him out.

              • March 12th 2018 @ 2:54pm
                Jacko said | March 12th 2018 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

                But he was not dropped…he Voluntarily stood down from the squad didnt he?

              • March 12th 2018 @ 2:57pm
                Jacko said | March 12th 2018 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

                I thought he stood himself down voluntarily? Not dropped from Squad?

              • Roar Guru

                March 13th 2018 @ 11:44am
                Handles said | March 13th 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

                He stood himself down voluntarily. He has now been given a pass from the courts, and come to the Reds and said he wants to play. The Reds have decided that they are done. The decisions/resolution is now whether the Reds need to pay him out or not.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 12:55pm
          Muzzo said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

          Well Geoff, with these two past victories, it will surely shut Thorn’s knockers up. But then???