The Wrap: Waratahs flick the confidence switch as Australian conference heats up

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    Confidence is a wonderful thing. When it presents itself it can turn an ordinary rugby player into a world beater, and an embattled team – expected to fall away after a punishing travel schedule – into a fleet-footed, swarming unit where every pass sticks and conversions rain from the sideline just for fun.

    Any notion that the Waratahs would be affected by their punishing travel schedule was emphatically blown away by a 22-minute spell of fizzing, confident rugby, where 38 points were added without reply.

    The Waratahs were hotter than the unseasonably stifling air that swirled around Allianz Stadium, which forced officials to impose a hydration break for the players midway through each half, and which was light years removed from the glorious, romantic snowflakes that kissed down on grand slam Ireland twelve hours earlier.

    At 20-3 in the shadows of half-time, the Rebels had as little inkling of what was to come as did the home crowd, most of whom had already resigned themselves to another frustrating loss from their team.

    The Waratahs comeback started accidentally, a little bit of good fortune going a long way for centre Lalakai Foketi, his speculative grubber opening up the Rebels backfield on the ricochet. It was an important score, keeping the Waratahs in touch, 20-10 at halftime.

    What followed after the break was a period where the Rebels didn’t get their hands on the ball – or when they did they either spilled it or kicked it away. The Waratahs kicked too, but mostly for Israel Folau to contest and win, and from there to tear the tiring Rebels’ defence to shreds.

    Post-match, I asked Michael Hooper about what was it that flicked the confidence switch for the players, and he unhesitatingly pointed to Bernard Foley’s smart kicking which, coupled with Folau’s aerobatics, provided the forward pack with a huge uplift.

    Factor two was the accumulation of points, from penalties at first, and then another lift from the realisation that the side was consistently moving forward, that Foley and Kurtley Beale were now in control of the game, and the passes were starting to stick.

    Folau Beale

    (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

    And stick they did. The first three tries all went to players running in support after the ball was turned back on the inside – a factor Rebels coach Dave Wessels indicated afterwards was a sign of a lack of defensive intensity from his side.

    The favoured channel after that was the left wing, with Bryce Hegarty and the big Scottish Fijian Taqele Naiyarovoro (twice) streaking in for tries, beneficiaries of slick distribution from their inside men.

    Indeed, Wessels acknowledged the work of Folau in sparking the forward momentum, but identified the winning/losing of the game in their failure to close down Foley and Beale, ceding the dominance in the midfield that was theirs for the first 38 minutes.

    For his part, Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson pointed to his side becoming more patient with the ball, as well as trumpeting his teams’ conditioning – allowing them to perform so strongly despite the short turnaround from their overseas tour.

    And yes, just to prove why Super Rugby coaches are paid the big bucks because they’re the smartest men in the game, Gibson really did offer the observation that this “was a game of two halves!”

    Indications are that he will be in no hurry to shift Folau from the wing – enjoying the spoils of a comprehensive knockout victory over the critics who rushed to criticise his selection. He also has an ace up his sleeve in Naiyarovoro – noticeable leaner and sharper this year – who will prove an absolute handful for tiring second-half defences as the competition progresses.

    The Rebels will take plenty out of the game – their first-half dominance was well earned, but they now know that, if they don’t have the possession to keep playing ‘their game’, they need to shift gears to stay with an opposition who is playing theirs.

    Wessels – a man with a keen eye for a stat – correctly identified that Australian sides haven’t made a habit of winning four Super Rugby games in succession, and to that extent, this setback will be taken with perspective, starting with close analysis of his own preparation during a week which, in retrospect, didn’t go as perfectly as planned.

    Dave Wessels Super Rugby 2017

    (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

    The air-conditioned luxury of the media box at GIO Stadium in Canberra proved a far more agreeable location than Sunday afternoon’s heat box, a balmy Saturday evening providing a perfect stage for a match that never reached the heights the conditions deserved.

    The Brumbies were bright and enterprising early, dominating field position, although familiar skill execution errors crept in towards the back end of the first half and stunted their progress. They were fortunate that the Sharks – boasting quality players across the park – never became more than the sum of those parts.

    One feels that there is a break out performance lurking somewhere around the corner for the Sharks – for Rebels fans, hopefully not at AAMI Stadium next Friday.

    The Brumbies did what they needed to do – win by 24-17 – but something more than earnest efficiency and quality goal-kicking from Wharenui Hawera will be required to both capture the hearts of their fans and win the competition.

    With the Reds grafting a hard-fought but well-deserved win in Buenos Aries, the Australian Conference has tightened up and has an enticing feel to it, with all four Australian sides still well in the hunt and all with good reason to feel confident about forging ahead in the coming weeks.

    Samu Kerevi

    (Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)

    The Rebels top the conference, they and the Reds both sitting on three wins, with the Waratahs and Brumbies close behind on two wins, both of those sides with momentum.

    That the Sunwolves only fell to the Lions 38-40, away from home, is also a reminder that the conference isn’t all about Australia, and that no side can afford to take their eye off the ball at any point.

    City Hall haters will run their agenda regardless, but the fact that nobody today has any idea how the Australian Conference will finish is exactly what Rugby Australia were required to deliver by SANZAAR’s broadcast partners.

    For an organisation that gets plenty wrong, it was a smart move by SANZAAR to keep Australian and New Zealand franchises separated during the early stages of the competition. Momentum has been allowed to build and fans of all four franchises have genuine reason to believe that they can top the conference.

    For this week at least, all four Australian coaches are on high ground – the only loser, Wessels, already well stocked with credits.

    Yes, things will get hotter for the Australian sides as the crossover matches kick in, but in a competition that has already thrown up plenty of surprise results this season, the safest prediction to make at this stage is that there will be many more twists and turns to come.

    That’s a comment made with complete confidence of someone who has just bet his house on Folau going up for a high ball and coming down with it. The ultimate no-brainer.

    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 (223)

    • March 19th 2018 @ 7:01am
      Cynical Play said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:01am | ! Report

      Jeez. 7am in NSW and not a single comment. Must be hard to type with humble pie stuck in your gob. You know who you are.

      38 unanswered points

      Against the conference leaders stacked with top players on a winning streak and 20-3 up.

      Tahs just travelled 33000 km around the globe
      Home for 5 days.

      slow to settle, then BAMB!

      A outright flogging

      The scale of that victory cannot be overrated

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2018 @ 7:07am
        Nobrain said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:07am | ! Report

        Well, talk is cheap. Many are hiding after giving the Tahs a slim chance of winning this one and placed the Rebels in NZ status.

        • Roar Guru

          March 19th 2018 @ 12:18pm
          jeznez said | March 19th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

          They certainly surprised me. Was very happy with the backline in that second half – think with TQ on that is probably the best group we can field..

          The forwards improved hugely from what I thought they were capable of. Was happy to see Jed playing lock as I think that will be his best position for the team.

          I believe we are massively missing a trick in not giving Johnson-Holmes and Vui more minutes but hard to argue with that performance.

          I’m not convinced the team will kick on from here without some changes in the pack but credit where it is due, there is some humble pie coming my way – hopefully I continue to be wrong about the capability of a lightweight pack but giving up that 3-20 lead still worries me.

          Plus the pack only acheived parity at scrum time against a group that has been getting pushed around by the stronger scrums. Greater adjustments are going to be needed there.

          • March 19th 2018 @ 1:53pm
            jameswm said | March 19th 2018 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

            Yeah I didn’t give us much of a chance either, but very happen to be proven wrong.

            I thought the back row was ok, and SImmons was ok except for the time he fumbled the ball backwards 20m then gave it away. Fitzpatrick was ok too. Kepu made a big difference. Still say little from Hanigan – he just gets manhandled, you just can’t have that in a lock (or 6). Robertson didn’t do a lot either.

            Fully agree on HJH and Vui. Not sure what I’m missing.

            • March 19th 2018 @ 7:45pm
              Malo said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:45pm | ! Report

              Yeah what was all the pro rebels rubbish last week , I said Tahs 13plus.

      • March 19th 2018 @ 7:17am
        Jamie said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:17am | ! Report

        Spot on!

      • Columnist

        March 19th 2018 @ 7:24am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:24am | ! Report

        It was very impressive CP. If that’s not enough to get fans in behind the team AND the coach then there are some very hard markers around.

        The reality is that all sides are going to have numerous ups and downs. Fans looking for perfection are surely going to be disappointed. Super Rugby is that sort of competition. The trick is is to keep perspective on the losses and to enjoy the wins.

        • March 19th 2018 @ 6:09pm
          cuw said | March 19th 2018 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

          @ Geoff Parkes

          ” For an organisation that gets plenty wrong, it was a smart move by SANZAAR to keep Australian and New Zealand franchises separated during the early stages of the competition. Momentum has been allowed to build and fans of all four franchises have genuine reason to believe that they can top the conference. ”

          this is working negatively for NZ from the looks of it ( and not backed up by stats in my case ).

          the local matches have taken a huge toll of players – i think Chiefs have already contracted new guys as injury subs.

          am not sure how all the teams are doing on injury front – but Chiefs are going down like 9-pins.

          i think squad quality and depth is going to play a major role this season – already Crusaders showing their lack of depth in leadership.

          the culling of a team in aussy may come to be a blessing as time goes and injuries toll. they may have more good players available compared to SA , as their culled teams are playing in Europe – so no player excess.

          ALSO – the number of concussions will be a worry . again in NZ ….

      • March 19th 2018 @ 7:52am
        Adsa said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        Well played Tahs

        • March 19th 2018 @ 9:26am
          PiratesRugby said | March 19th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

          From about half way through the game, the Rebels did nothing right and the Waratahs did everything right. Some of the Rebels’ mistakes were just embarrassing. Hodge had one of his worst ever games. Foley’s kicking for Folau was perfect. Folau was brilliant under the high ball.
          For a Rebels fan, this was just a car crash.

          • Roar Guru

            March 19th 2018 @ 11:31am
            Timbo (L) said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:31am | ! Report

            Accurate summary.

          • March 19th 2018 @ 4:18pm
            jameswm said | March 19th 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

            Welcome to my world. That’s exactly what I thought it was for the Tahs after 37 mins.

      • March 19th 2018 @ 8:43am
        bluffboy said | March 19th 2018 @ 8:43am | ! Report

        Well done lads.
        Yes I was one that pretty much gave the Tahs no chance.
        Nice rugby, shaky start, but when the roll started, oh what a roll.
        Probably not ideal that you guys are having a break this week, would have been awesome to see if you can maitain the momentum.
        I’m pretty sure no one doubts the level skill and intensity in which the 4 Aussie can play at, but a lot of question marks over consistency, based on the last couple of seasons.
        Shout out to the Brumbies and the Reds goods wins also.

        • Roar Guru

          March 19th 2018 @ 9:11am
          Nobrain said | March 19th 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report

          You are a good honest man.

      • March 19th 2018 @ 10:56am
        Captain Sensible said | March 19th 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

        For the sake of Australian rugby- The Tah Tahs must not win the conferance,The must not.How bad was Bernard Foley yesday not a single try assist to his name.Sack Cheika now !!

        • March 19th 2018 @ 11:11am
          Daveski said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          Captain Nonsensible. Roll the tape, Foley put Rona into space who then passes to Short. Foley also backed up and turned the ball inside for Simmon’s try.

          The heat must’ve got to you.

          • March 19th 2018 @ 11:46am
            Captain Sensible said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:46am | ! Report

            Wrong !!

          • March 19th 2018 @ 1:54pm
            jameswm said | March 19th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

            Kicked 9/10, bombs for Folau. He had a good game.

        • Columnist

          March 19th 2018 @ 11:19am
          Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:19am | ! Report

          If you don’t mind me saying CS, I’m having trouble reconciling your name with your comments.

          • March 19th 2018 @ 12:57pm
            concerned supporter said | March 19th 2018 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

            Hi Geoff,
            Just catching up with your article and the comments,
            Are you referring to me, CS ? as I haven’t before made a comment here.

            • Columnist

              March 19th 2018 @ 1:36pm
              Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

              No mate. Just a gentle swing at the amusingly mis-named Capt Sensible.

              • March 20th 2018 @ 6:33pm
                Jigbon said | March 20th 2018 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

                I said captain , I said what !

    • March 19th 2018 @ 7:10am
      Highlander said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      Really good observations on the outstanding outcome for the Aussie conference to date, the ruling bodies should be commended, wouldn’t have a clue who will top this in the end.

      Allow me a small aside, did you note a certain 10s dropkick error at Forbar with the game in the balance on Friday, am sure I am a poorer person for enjoying that, but can live with it.

      • Columnist

        March 19th 2018 @ 7:30am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:30am | ! Report

        Unfortunately I missed Friday’s game – and a few others – Highlander.
        But I’ve got a pretty good idea who you’re talking about and you’re excuse a schadenfreude moment!

        The benefit of travelling to see the the Canberra and Sydney games live was offset by not having access to the TV and IQ. Normal order will be restored next weekend!

        • Columnist

          March 19th 2018 @ 7:40am
          Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:40am | ! Report


          • March 19th 2018 @ 11:03am
            Tissotime Time said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

            Geoff you need to watch Friday nights game as Bulls look progressive but also to follow Retallick’s highlight reel. Itoje needs to watch it as well.

            • Columnist

              March 19th 2018 @ 11:21am
              Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:21am | ! Report

              Will catch up with it when i get back home later in the week TT.
              Or is that now TTT? Your user handle has grown…

              • March 19th 2018 @ 6:01pm
                Tissot Time said | March 19th 2018 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

                Time dilation has been rectified.

              • Columnist

                March 19th 2018 @ 6:43pm
                Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

                That’s better!

            • March 19th 2018 @ 11:25am
              WQ said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:25am | ! Report

              Here here, Retallick was sublime!

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2018 @ 8:39am
        Diggercane said | March 19th 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        That was shocker, poor fella, cant get them all right!

        Looking forward to the weekend Highlander, your lads are looking in top shape, should be fun as it always is!

        • March 19th 2018 @ 10:02am
          Highlander said | March 19th 2018 @ 10:02am | ! Report

          I hope the boys are working on keeping your midfield quiet Dc, but not sure that is going to be possible.
          Would like to have Barracuda back for this one, but seems unlikely

          • Roar Guru

            March 19th 2018 @ 10:06am
            Diggercane said | March 19th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

            They are going well, but Thomson in particular is looking good himself this year mate.

            I just want some front rowers back, can we go for golden oldie scrums?

            • March 19th 2018 @ 1:45pm
              Old Bugger said | March 19th 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

              Yeah Digs, he’s going great atm. He’s had a couple of tries, try-assists galore and his defence, is just unbreakable. His match against Proctor will be a bone-crusher to watch……can’t wait.

            • March 19th 2018 @ 8:45pm
              cuw said | March 19th 2018 @ 8:45pm | ! Report

              Rob Thompson was good last year too , but he could not get much game becoz Fekitoa was there.

              i think he was a top try scorer in miter 10 2016. not sure he was that good in miter 10 2017.

              could not get much time at Crusaders also. another is Sean Wainui

          • March 19th 2018 @ 11:00am
            Rugby Tragic said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

            Game of the Round 6 …Canes v Landers, really looking forward to it.

            Squires will be a huge loss while off injured Highlander. Who to cover for Squires … Dixon?

            • Roar Guru

              March 19th 2018 @ 11:18am
              pformagg said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

              Dixon had a good game, should be able to cover well.

            • March 19th 2018 @ 11:59am
              Highlander said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:59am | ! Report

              I think DIxon got man of the match from the bench, he will start – Pryor or Frizzel to the pine.

              • Roar Guru

                March 19th 2018 @ 3:34pm
                Machooka said | March 19th 2018 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

                Dixon was enormous off the bench… he appears much freer since he’s stopped the ‘gaffer tape’ endorsement deal. 🙂

              • March 19th 2018 @ 6:57pm
                cuw said | March 19th 2018 @ 6:57pm | ! Report

                Frizzel is anyway on the bench – has to be Prior.

                BTW – Dillon Hunt is going to challenge Todd and Savea for a place in ABs.

          • March 19th 2018 @ 12:17pm
            Muzzo said | March 19th 2018 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

            Yeh, Highlander, when is the Barracuda due back?. IMO, he would be one of the most underrated players in Super Rugby, & he does help make that Landers backline become a tad better.

          • March 19th 2018 @ 12:23pm
            KiwiHaydn said | March 19th 2018 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

            Definitely one big downside for the Highlanders, the 10-12 channel was leaking like a sieve against the Crusaders.

      • March 19th 2018 @ 8:49am
        bluffboy said | March 19th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        Can’t say that I ever scene a kick like that in all my years.
        Everybody should be remembered for something.

      • March 19th 2018 @ 9:16am
        Mzilikazi said | March 19th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        Queensland, of course !!(Totally tongue in cheek ! ) Good wrap as always, Geoff. Thanks.

        One very happy Irish born Queenslander this am.

        Win in London, another in Argentina, and the icing on the cake personally would be if the Royal School Armagh can win the Ulster Schools Cup at Kinkspan/Ravenhill later today.

        • Columnist

          March 19th 2018 @ 9:43am
          Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 9:43am | ! Report

          At Kinkspan Mz?

          Ireland is indeed becoming quite progressive these days 🙂

          • March 19th 2018 @ 12:19pm
            Mzilikazi said | March 19th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

            Hell, should check my posts before I hit send ! Kingspan of course.

    • March 19th 2018 @ 7:15am
      Carlos The Argie said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:15am | ! Report

      Hello Geoff,

      As expected, I didn’t watch every game. Of course, Ireland-England, plus the Jaguares, back to their old tricks (except for the YC).

      Piru last year used to say that every team that played the Force played ugly. This year it is the Reds. The Jaguares were never as good as the pundits thought. One game doesn’t make a pattern. But playing against a 938 kilo forward pack was never going to be easy. And they are not blubber filled props. They are big boys. It is shocking, still, how international players can be so mediocre in their basic skills. It even appeared that Jaguares were swearing at each other. Frustration mounting! How many times can they drop the ball entering the ingoal? How many times did they try line-outs for mauls when it was clearly not working?

      You mentioned taking points above. They should have done so. I wrote in the blog that at the end of the half they should have taken them.

      Going back to the Irish game. First, I am always happy when the English lose. But this Irish team is so solid, systematic, predictable and difficult to play against. Calamari is a calm general. I am not sure that they have flair exciting rugby, but they have very excellent results oriented rugby. It is a different style but it clearly works for them. It will make June and November tours interesting.

      And the Blues continue with the blues….

      Lastly, unsurprising average refereeing-TMO issues again. And, how can I forget, where is the Otoje that got people salivating before? he is just a shadow of what he was talked up to be.

      Before I forget, in the Brasil game, Snyman, the huge lock got knocked out and managed to stay in the field for at least one play. HIA was absent. Unacceptable.

      • Columnist

        March 19th 2018 @ 7:38am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:38am | ! Report

        Hi Carlos

        I really expected the Jaguares to continue with their improvement. Credit to the Reds for imposing a different type of game on them, but nevertheless, this must be a really disappointing step backwards.

        As for Itoje? He’s copping plenty of flak and is big and ugly enough that doesn’t need me to defend him, but he’s one of the guys suffering from too much continuous rugby over too long. The same criticism can be made of other touring Lions from last year, and also Etzebeth is another example. These guys are wonderful athletes but are not indestructible supermen.

        By contrast, Brodie Retallick suffered an awful personal setback but has perversely benefitted from the time off. Ben Smith is another who is better for his freshen up.

        Too much rugby remains a massive challenge for the game.

        • March 19th 2018 @ 7:52am
          Daveski said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

          Agree with this Geoff ! Even at a local level if I’m Daryl Gibson I’m looking at away matches where I can maybe start say Mason ahead of Foley or Dempsey ahead of Hooper.

          Even if it’s not a full week off and they play 25min instead of 80 it’s a freshener for players with big annual rugby loads.

          If you are Wessels and got the luxury of depth you might look at giving guys like Coleman, Mafi, Genia, Hodge a week off all together. Of course it’s hard not selecting your best players week in week out.

          • Columnist

            March 19th 2018 @ 9:48am
            Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

            Those things are important but it’s not just the wee freshen up that’s key Daveski, it’s about the players having a proper off-season.

            There’s plenty of research around about the physiological and mental benefits from being able to ‘escape the bubble’ for a number of weeks, yet the club and international programs plough on regardless, because their broadcast arrangements demand ‘content’.

            Itoje hasn’t become an ordinary player all of a sudden. All he’s doing is confirming the law of diminishing returns.

          • March 19th 2018 @ 2:00pm
            jameswm said | March 19th 2018 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

            Genia can get a full week off for sure – do it the game before a bye, and he won’t p lay for 3 weeks. Ruru their backup is very good.

            • March 19th 2018 @ 8:48pm
              cuw said | March 19th 2018 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

              dont think he needs a break – if i remember right – he was injured in Europe and hardly played.

              also when ur in red hot form – might as well make the most of it.

              anyways he is not much of a physical player – like say Gus Pulu …

    • March 19th 2018 @ 7:46am
      Daveski said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      As a huge Tah fan who had minimal confidence going into this game I can’t really pile on the Reds and Brumby fans who had dismissed us.

      What an amazing second half turnaround.

      I hope this round starts a trend where Aus coaches are a bit more willing to change teams and spring a few selection surprises. I was really critical of McKellar not for the changes but for dropping the wrong guys but regardless of that Muirhead and Hawera played very well.

      On Sunday we saw the Hegarty/Folau shift work an two club halfbacks play as well as Will Genia highlighting that’s its not always a huge step up.

      You’d have to say in hindsight it was astute to leave Kepu on ice til now. He was immense on Sunday for 70min in conditions not meant for people with his build.

      Geoff any world on DHP? Hopefully ‘only’ concussion and he’ll move through the hia process within 2-3 weeks.

      • March 19th 2018 @ 9:30am
        Cynical Play said | March 19th 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        Sure you can Dave. Pile On !!! Good clean fun.

      • March 19th 2018 @ 9:34am
        Fionn said | March 19th 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        It was a great performance. You’ve earned some bragging rights, mate 🙂

      • Columnist

        March 19th 2018 @ 9:50am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        The coach said afterwards that DHP was ok Daveski, but it was obviously a heavy knock and they’ll treat him very carefully over the next few days and not rush him back.

      • March 19th 2018 @ 11:55am
        Reverse Wheel said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

        Good to see Kepu getting some credit, he was immense in the set piece. On one leg the entire game too, Gibson was right to leave him at home for the Jags, he wouldn’t have been ready. They were keeping him together with strapping tape as it was.

        • March 19th 2018 @ 12:28pm
          Cynical Play said | March 19th 2018 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

          Strapping tape is right up there with the magic sponge and whatever was in that aerosol spray they used in the 80’s

        • March 19th 2018 @ 2:02pm
          jameswm said | March 19th 2018 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

          Is that calf the injury he’s recovering from, or something different? He’s certainly not 100%.

          • March 19th 2018 @ 2:13pm
            Reverse Wheel said | March 19th 2018 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

            It was the calf getting all the attention. He spent a lot of time stretching it and getting stuff rubbed into it, then ended up massively strapping it.

    • Columnist

      March 19th 2018 @ 7:46am
      Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      Daryl Gibson stressed his teams’ superior conditioning yesterday.

      Take a look at Naiyarovoro’s first try on the highlights reel above. Would the same player last year have bounced back up to his feet after being tackled by Debreczini and got himself in position again to support the ball carrier and score? Very impressive.

      A lesson too for Debreczini – he was on the ground out of play and should have kept hold of his opponent for another couple of seconds – that would have prevented him from following up to score.

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2018 @ 10:59am
        PeterK said | March 19th 2018 @ 10:59am | ! Report

        ahh the professional nz way, lets hold back players in back play, yes smart, professional, illegal but you can get away with it.

        I am happy I was so wrong in thinking the rebels would smash the tahs.

        At 20-3 it was looking how I expected with the rebels dominating in the forwards.

        The biggest surprise for me was as the game went the tahs looked stronger despite their incredible travel schedule.
        Sure the heat would take more out of the bigger rebels forwards but the rebels have a stronger bench and have no excuse.

        It seems Ulese was really missed with the rebels hooker being terrible in the lineout throws or Coleman ran the lineout poorly. Coleman was a non entity in that game.

        The question mark for the tahs remains the scrum despite being strengthened by kepu coming back.

        Also does Gibson have more in his kit bag?
        The kick for Folau to regain the ball can be defused by the illegal blockers pretending to go for the ball forming a barrier in front of the catcher. Very few refs penalise this except if they make clear changes of angle and almost come into contact with the chaser.

        • Columnist

          March 19th 2018 @ 11:08am
          Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:08am | ! Report

          It might surprise you Peter but ALL players are taught to do that, not just NZ players!

          And it never gets penalised because – unlike jersey grabbing in general play – a legal tackle has already been made, the officials are either following play ahead, or else they consider it to be a tangle of players for a couple of seconds.

          But – because we all like to see positive play rewarded – great credit to Naiyarovoro for being too quick, motivated and smart.

          • Roar Guru

            March 19th 2018 @ 11:30am
            PeterK said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:30am | ! Report

            very defensive there!, you do miss the compliments i.e smart, professional of course and focus on a negative despite my statement being factual and the constant defence others do it too!

            I have seen it penalised when it is clear the player is trying to get p and follow play but is being held back / down but agree it is rare.

            • Columnist

              March 19th 2018 @ 11:44am
              Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

              Fair call Peter, happy to belatedly accept on behalf of all kiwis that your comment was a veiled compliment and not a sledge! 🙂

          • March 19th 2018 @ 1:33pm
            rebel said | March 19th 2018 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

            Geoff, I think it’s a bit like how Randwick apparently invented running rugby.

            • Columnist

              March 19th 2018 @ 1:39pm
              Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

              That they did rebel. And it’s high time that they stopped living off past glories and invented something new to save Australian rugby!

        • March 19th 2018 @ 11:57am
          Reverse Wheel said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          Didn’t see any weakness in the Tahs scrum yesterday. Both teams actually scrummed well, it was refreshing to not have a hundred resets and a ref tossing a coin to decide who to penalise each time.

          • Columnist

            March 19th 2018 @ 12:09pm
            Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

            Good call RW. The scrums were a blight on the Brums v Sharks game.

        • Roar Guru

          March 19th 2018 @ 12:28pm
          jeznez said | March 19th 2018 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

          Saw Coleman getting attention on his sternum during the first half – that is what kept him out last week. Hard to play that physical game with that kind of injury.

          He put one solid hit in and was then getting looked at by the medico almost straight after.

      • March 19th 2018 @ 11:20am
        handles said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        Google hasn’t helped, but I am sure there was an old coaching platitude about “keep doing what they don’t want you to do”. Maybe Yogi Berra?

        Anyway, the Tahs did that with contestable kicks yesterday. And it worked. But the bizarre thing was when the Rebels decided to adopt the tactic, and start doing what the Tahs did want them to do! I can’t find kicking stats, but surely someone could have told them to kick for the lines or not at all?

        I can only think that poor old Reece Hodge had heatstroke with some of his kicking and decisions. And his tackling was pretty awful too.

        • Columnist

          March 19th 2018 @ 11:24am
          Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:24am | ! Report

          Hodge got some nice distance on his touchfinders handles, but yes the midfield kicking (and chasing) wasn’t a patch on the Tahs.

          And true, he had a chance to close down Naiyarovoro for one of his tries, went nice and low, but still slipped off him.

          • Roar Guru

            March 19th 2018 @ 11:31am
            PeterK said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:31am | ! Report

            a lot of players slip off TN to be fair

            • March 19th 2018 @ 12:46pm
              handles said | March 19th 2018 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

              I thought there were others. ESPN has him missing 6 tackles, more than any other player. But they also have Foley missing none, so they must have been drunk.

    • Roar Guru

      March 19th 2018 @ 8:56am
      Harry Jones said | March 19th 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Thanks for the wrap-up, sir. Here is what you missed, by hanging out with Brett Laidlaw:

      The canny wee Highlanders continue to impress; the run-and-gun Lions look weary and flat, with Andries Coetzee guilty of the worst-timed and executed chip kick of the round; the Stormers will get better when their average age approaches 22; the Jaguares seem bi-polar; the Reds are gritty; and the Bulls are going to beat a lot of teams if they can find a bench.

      • Columnist

        March 19th 2018 @ 9:52am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        I’m glad I didn’t watch the Stormers v Blues Harry, I would have been cranky at the colour clash.

        How is it possible to get something as simple as this so wrong?

        • March 19th 2018 @ 10:14am
          Rugby Tragic said | March 19th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

          Geoff, the clash of colours was absolutely ridiculous.

          Why doesn’t SANZAAR suggest a neutral colour that ALL away teams must play under, irrespective of who they are playing.

          • Columnist

            March 19th 2018 @ 10:26am
            Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

            Very good question RT.

            I’m not sure there needs to be a set of ‘neutral’ jerseys that all away teams have to use, but it doesn’t take much foresight to anticipate where the clashes might come and to make a phone call to the travelling team to make sure they’ve got an alternate strip.

            Or is that asking too much?

            • Roar Guru

              March 19th 2018 @ 11:04am
              PeterK said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:04am | ! Report

              To me it is a very easy simple solution.

              Teams play in their normal jersey for home and away.

              If and only if their is a clash of colours then the away team wears their reverse strip ie their minor colour becomes their major.

              • Columnist

                March 19th 2018 @ 11:09am
                Geoff Parkes said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:09am | ! Report

                Yes, it should be as simple as that.
                In fact I find it hard to believe we’re even talking about it as an issue.

                I can’t imagine the referee was thrilled about it either.

              • Roar Guru

                March 19th 2018 @ 6:51pm
                Fox said | March 19th 2018 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

                Totally agree peterk – wearing an away strip just for the sake of it is ridiculous

            • March 19th 2018 @ 11:08am
              Rugby Tragic said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:08am | ! Report

              Harry and I was discussing this during the match live but even the shorts worn by both teams were blue. Sure different shade but they all go darker with sweat anyhow. Must of been a nightmare for ref trying to sort out who was who in a ruck…

              • Roar Guru

                March 19th 2018 @ 1:05pm
                Harry Jones said | March 19th 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

                Yes, I felt sorry for the referee trying to adjudicate maul defense!

              • Roar Guru

                March 19th 2018 @ 1:19pm
                Machooka said | March 19th 2018 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                Slightly off topic… but do with ‘shorts’.

                I noticed that the Shorks had a logo on the back of their shorts ‘Sun Bet’ which for mine was strategically (?) placed… where the sun DON’T shine! 😉

              • March 19th 2018 @ 3:17pm
                Rugby Tragic said | March 19th 2018 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

                Ok, so it confirms you are a bum watcher then huh? 😌

              • March 19th 2018 @ 8:51pm
                cuw said | March 19th 2018 @ 8:51pm | ! Report

                the Blues are frustrating to support already – no need to add their clothing to a list …. DUH

            • March 19th 2018 @ 11:13am
              Old Bugger said | March 19th 2018 @ 11:13am | ! Report

              Every team has an “away” outfit so you have to ask why the Blues, didn’t use theirs if, there is a potential conflict?? This match was a conflict in jerseys, without doubt……not a good call from the Blues management team.

              • March 19th 2018 @ 6:35pm
                cuw said | March 19th 2018 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

                perhaps this goes to show how disorganized super rugger is even at this advanced stage.

                in football – the ref has the power to ask a team to change the clothing , if they are clashing.

                i rememebr one time when Liverpool had to provide shirts to a visiting team – not becoz the colors were clashing , but becoz of the rain the ref anticipated a white shirt to end up brown and close to the Liverpool red.

                these are very minor things – i think its silly that teams advertise their various clothing items and make money from fans , but dont use common sense and the cloths when and where it matters.

            • March 19th 2018 @ 1:36pm
              rebel said | March 19th 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

              They should all take a leaf out of the Bulls book. Or highlanders. Make the alternate hideous.
              Agree it should only be used when there is a clash.

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