The Wrap: Vince Aso takes the art of finishing to a new level

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    Vince Aso of the Hurricanes is dragged down by Joe Powell of the Brumbies. (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

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    In this age of buzzwords and mangled language it has become trendy to describe bench players as ‘finishers’ – players whose responsibility it is to enter a game in the second half and lift momentum, and carry their team to victory.

    I prefer the term ‘finisher’ to be applied to rugby’s wingmen, the gas and power merchants on the edges who convert half-openings into special tries, thrilling and delighting fans as they do so. And so it was this weekend, where the Hurricanes’ Vince Aso – who recently turned down an enticing offer from France because he still had things he wanted to achieve in New Zealand – led the way for the wingers to once again own the title ‘finisher’, reclaiming what is rightfully theirs.

    The stage had been set in the first half with the impressive Ben Lam squeezing into the left corner despite heavy Highlander traffic and a worrying inability for the match officials to distinguish between red and orange boots.

    But as impressive as Lam’s effort was, he was outdone by the astonishing Aso, flying through and over Ben Smith who applied what would have been, in normal circumstances, a great covering tackle.

    In a match that was dominated by defence, the significance of a winger converting half-chances like this into points cannot be underplayed, just as the inability of Aso’s teammate Julian Savea to convert his early opportunity in last year’s third Test against the Lions potentially cost his side a series win.

    The heroics in this match – which signalled the end of the Highlanders’ unbeaten run – weren’t limited to the wingers. Jordie Barrett’s role in Aso’s try was significant, and prop Ben May’s epic save at fullback to deny Tevita Li surely a career highlight.

    Vince Aso tackled by Joe Powell

    (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

    The Stormers’ first try against the Reds showed the other side of the Raymond Rhule coin, the big Ghanaian creating an overlap out of nothing, before he found the try-line himself in the second half, in another quality finishing effort in heavy traffic.

    The Reds had their own star finisher, Filipo Daugunu sprinting and swerving 97 metres to somehow give his side a final shot at victory in a game they had no business in winning. This was a classic honourable loss and, as if any more evidence was required, taking account of the Reds’ tortuous journey to Cape Town, it is obvious that coach Brad Thorn has this developing side in a good place.

    Star finishing in Buenos Aries was provided by Emiliano Boffelli, yet another power winger able to impressively squeeze in at the corner, although the crucial score came when No.8 Javier Ortego Desio hit a hole and galloped away from the Lions’ cover defence to take the Jaguares’ lead out to 49-35.

    It is as if the bipolar Jaguares exist solely to confound rugby tipsters, the majority having no idea which side is going to turn up on any given day. Scratch a little deeper, though, and it seems that sides like the Waratahs and Lions who take the Jaguares on in an open game leave themselves exposed to the Jaguares’ scoring power, courtesy of their ability to run, pass and support each other.

    On the other hand, as evidenced by the Reds approach last week and, this week, the Lions discovering too late that they were better off playing against type through the pack, the Jaguares are vulnerable to a ‘Dad’s Army’ Lance Corporal Jones approach, “they don’t like it up ‘em.”

    Nevertheless, the Jaguares’ improvement this season is important for the competition – more so if they can repeat the dose away from home.

    The Lions won’t panic – this has been an unfruitful trip for them in the past – but more than a suspicion remains that they have peaked post-Ackermann. And when your most reliable, grittiest player in Kwagga Smith is bounced off by a small midfielder, then you just know that today isn’t your day.

    There was plenty of eyebrow-raising in Tokyo, the match officials somehow conspiring to miss a blatant forward pass for the Sunwolves’ first try. Earlier, Sunwolves halfback Fumiaki Tanaka nearly had the eyebrows blasted off his face courtesy of a stinging falcon, the rebounding ball falling favourably for the Chiefs to set-up their opening try.

    The Chiefs, affected more than most by injury, are slowly working their way into the competition, and while Damien McKenzie will have sterner tests, his ability to spark attacking raids from flyhalf signalled a positive step in his positional transformation.

    Waikato Chiefs' Damian McKenzie sets up a penalty kick during their Super Rugby semi-final match between the Canterbury Crusaders and Waikato Chiefs at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on July 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Marty MELVILLE

    (Marty Melville/Getty Images)

    The Sunwolves might be propping up the points table, but they are competition standouts for merchandising, a trawl through their catalogue rewarding shoppers with a mouth-watering treasure trove of options. Fancy a pair of fetching, arse-hugging wolf briefs? Or a giant teapot? Or a golden hand? The Sunwolves are your team.

    More soberly, in light of the 61-10 result, Rod Kafer talked post-match about the integrity of Super Rugby and the need for all matches to be competitive, week on week. Remember that the rationale for SANZAAR’s broadcast partners insisting on reverting to 15 teams was exactly this.

    Now in their third season, under-resourced at the start, the Sunwolves have been allowed a grace period, but it is important that significant, visible progress is made sooner than later. At the very least SANZAAR owes this to the rugby people of Western Australia, but also it is not only the integrity of the competition as identified by Kafer, but the financial worth of the competition, and the fortunes of the member unions which depends on it.

    At least SANZAAR and Rugby Australia will be feeling some vindication with the Rebels atop the competition on 20 points and, despite their second-half capitulation to the Waratahs last week, carrying a very healthy points differential and having already scored more tries than over the whole of last season.

    That those tries are starting to come in a variety of ways – an effective, dynamic lineout maul as well as from outside breaks – is a sign of a side that is quickly maturing, one that is realistically planning to go deep into this competition.

    Coach Dave Wessels wasn’t overly concerned that other potential tries were left out on the park, happier instead to focus on the positives around creating those opportunities in the first place. He might, however, need to have a chat to winger Sefa Naivalu – now caught out twice in successive weeks carrying the ball in the ‘wrong’ hand – if Naivalu has any ambition to join Aso, Lam and Bofelli in the ‘star finisher’ ranks.

    Dave Wessels Super Rugby 2017

    (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

    Another minor quibble was that on a few occasions the Rebels were guilty, once the initial bust was made, of throwing a wide pass straight to the wings when a regulation pass to the next supporting player would have taken the cover defence out of the equation.

    Wessels also spoke about how the short five-day turnaround helped his side move on from Sydney and his own role in bringing a positive energy to the week; “I think I forgot a little bit how important it is for us to enjoy our rugby, that’s why we play.”

    The Sharks’ tour has thus far proved less than enjoyable, their rugby bland and characterless, unbecoming of the talent at their disposal and well below pre-season expectations. They face another stern test this week against the Blues, who will be desperate to keep touch with the other New Zealand franchises.

    Crusaders coach Scott Robertson wouldn’t have minded that their 33-14 result against the Brazilian Bulls was a dismal affair – his side just needed to steady the ship with a win.

    Bulls coach John Mitchell, however, would have been filthy with his side offering up some horrible goal-line defence, softer than Saharan butter, more porous than Steve Smith’s explanation for his side’s behaviour in Cape Town – if indeed such actions are explainable.

    In this matter, if there is room for any sympathy for Cameron Bancroft, it is because he is not the first man to suffer the indignity of bringing himself into disrepute for what’s in his undies. At least he knows if those undies are subpoenaed as part of the investigation into his ball tampering, he can always pick up a new pair of wolf jocks straight off the Sunwolves’ website.

    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 www.geoffparkes.com. 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 (219)

    • March 26th 2018 @ 6:59am
      moaman said | March 26th 2018 @ 6:59am | ! Report

      Geoffrey
      “In this age of buzzwords and mangled language it” it is always refreshing to read your morning wrap.
      Mrs.Whatshername would be proud 😉

      • Columnist

        March 26th 2018 @ 7:50am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 26th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

        Mrs Bradbury, Moa.
        She’s was never a rugby fan though, I don’t think she reads The Roar.

        • Roar Guru

          March 26th 2018 @ 7:54am
          Harry Jones said | March 26th 2018 @ 7:54am | ! Report

          That’s kind of sad.

        • March 26th 2018 @ 10:13am
          Carlos the Argie said | March 26th 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

          Was she an illustrated woman?

    • March 26th 2018 @ 7:12am
      Fionn said | March 26th 2018 @ 7:12am | ! Report

      I think a few words about the state of the commentary for the Sharks-Rebels game was needed.

      We pay a premium to be able to watch Super Rugby, the quality of the commentary should surely be higher than what was displayed on Friday. Mitchell is new to the commentary team and I suspect may take a while to find his feet, but can we ask why none of Fox’s A-Team were commentating the only home Aussie game of the round?

      • March 26th 2018 @ 7:32am
        Canetragic said | March 26th 2018 @ 7:32am | ! Report

        Fox have an A team?!

        • March 26th 2018 @ 7:48am
          Fionn said | March 26th 2018 @ 7:48am | ! Report

          😉.

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_relativity

          To be honest I don’t mind Greg Martin and I like a lot of what Kafer says.

          • Columnist

            March 26th 2018 @ 7:54am
            Geoff Parkes said | March 26th 2018 @ 7:54am | ! Report

            Hi Fionn

            One of the benefits of being at the game live is that I never caught the TV coverage. But I do agree that Drew Mitchell is very hard to listen to, he’s certainly not a natural at the caper.

            As for how Fox allocates matches, Greg Clarke usually travels to Melbourne to call the Rebels matches, but I understand that he had a clashing engagement on Friday night.

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

              Yeah Geoff I agree with you on that but I found all the commentary blasting a bit snobbish. Mainly was aimed at Sean Maloney which makes me think obviously most haven’t watched a lot of 7s where he’s the main commentator.

              Sure he plays the blokey boofhead but I find him pretty entertaining. He’s got a lot more phrases than Greg “what a try” Martin….and on Fri night in most cases he was right: the Mvovo challenge wasn’t a yellow card, Hodge’s line was a case of obstruction, scrums were allowed to meander in the second half wasting time.

              Like I said I think some snobbery there…

              • March 26th 2018 @ 8:28am
                Fionn said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

                I had thought that it was Mitchell and Maloney who said that it should have been a try, and Cannon disagreed, or was it Mitchell and Cannon who said it should be a try?

                The worst part was at the very start when they were going through the team lists from both teams and mispronounced the names so many of the Sharks.

              • March 26th 2018 @ 8:42am
                Daveski said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

                Have to admit I missed that part Fionn but if it was Maloney and given his experience calling the far more exotic Sevens teams then name mis-pronunciation is a bit poor. Having said that the Shark winger “Nkosi” I reckon I have heard about ten different versions of his full name.

              • Columnist

                March 26th 2018 @ 8:34am
                Geoff Parkes said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

                Yes Daveski, the primary task for the lead commentator is accuracy, and Maloney is pretty good in this regard. I don’t mind that guys like him and Sumo Stevenson have a more informal style, they are committed, genuine rugby guys and usually get things right.

                The co-commentator is there not to tell us what has happened but why things happen and what might happen next. In this respect we are not so well served. Different sport but Peter Sterling is superb and has set a benchmark that no rugby commentator has come close to.

              • Roar Guru

                March 26th 2018 @ 8:39am
                Harry Jones said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

                I think Sean Maloney is really funny, easy to listen to, and deceptively well-informed. He is a court jester, for sure, but I prefer to listen to his wild outbursts to the self-indulgent “serious” commentators.

              • March 26th 2018 @ 8:41am
                Fionn said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

                Geoff, if you want to hear a brilliant commentator who can carry it all by himself then check out Robbie Koenig’s commentary of the ATP Tour. While some people think he he overdoes it with his hyperbole, he is quite capable of essentially commentating a full match by himself, and providing entertainment and analysis.

                Likewise, whatever one might think of him Hewitt is a brilliant co-commentator when he does it at the AO. Not needing to incessantly babble about nothing, but only chip it with reasoned analysis. John and Patrick McEnroe and Darren Cahill are also good at this.

              • March 26th 2018 @ 8:46am
                Fionn said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:46am | ! Report

                Daveski, I noticed it far more with Mitchell than Maloney.

              • March 26th 2018 @ 9:32am
                Mzilikazi said | March 26th 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

                “Nkosi” Should be pronounced with a “tongue click”….am I correct ? Greeting when addressing a prince or king in Zulu/Xhosa.

              • March 26th 2018 @ 9:38am
                Mzilikazi said | March 26th 2018 @ 9:38am | ! Report

                “The worst part was at the very start when they were going through the team lists from both teams and mispronounced the names so many of the Sharks.”

                Fionn/Daveski,that reminds of a similar thing, but in print. Long ago Ulster were playing Munster and the local Belfast evening paper managed 19 wrong spellings…no bench players then, otherwise would have been worse.

                Only one I can remember now was the Irish second row, Moss Keane was “Mass Koon”

              • March 26th 2018 @ 9:40am
                Fionn said | March 26th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

                Mzilikazi, last time I was in Dublin my cousin Caoimhe was complaining to me that her teacher from Ulster was calling her ‘Keever’ instead of ‘Queever’. She was unaware of the different pronunciation of the name up in Ulster, and I am unaware whether the teacher was unaware of the different pronounication and didn’t ask what she would prefer, or didn’t care?

                That Mass Koon one is TERRIBLE 😛 , what was that journalist doing?!

              • March 26th 2018 @ 3:58pm
                Akari said | March 26th 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

                “The co-commentator is there not to tell us what has happened but why things happen and what might happen next. In this respect we are not so well served.”

                Justin Marshall can be just as painful when he reverts to this mode in his commentary. His written analysis of a game or game plan is top notch however.

              • March 27th 2018 @ 1:16pm
                Uncle Eric said | March 27th 2018 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

                Hang on just a second Fionn. They mispronounce a lot and worst of all don’t know the other names. But I can live with that, it’s just the meaningless verbal histrionics that get me; and the use of cliches particularly from Greg “he’s got it on a string” and “he spotted a gap and but it soon closed” Clarke that really irritates me. Call it snobbery if you wish Daveski, but I prefer to call it amateurish and childish.

        • March 26th 2018 @ 9:45am
          Muzzo said | March 26th 2018 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          Hahaha, where did they ever drag that Sean Maloney from? That’s what you would call a nutter!!

      • March 26th 2018 @ 9:59am
        Lewis said | March 26th 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

        Truly awful commentary. Maloney was unable to consistently pronounce Tendai Mtawarira and kept jumping between versions of it all game. The rest stutter through every call they make.
        I think what is the worse though is this terribly alienating “bro-ness” that permiates their commentary, their humour seems to me totally of the private school bloke set and their personalities far from neutral. Just call the game and do away with the nonesense.
        I long for the calm neutral tone of Gordon Bray.

        • March 26th 2018 @ 11:55am
          Muzzo said | March 26th 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

          Pretty right there, Lewis, as todays commentators, are not really like the commentators of old, where they called the game at hand, along with the way it is, made less assumptions, & didn’t wander off the track.

        • March 26th 2018 @ 1:10pm
          Daveski said | March 26th 2018 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

          That’s not right.
          Maloney would only ever refer to him simply as ‘Beast’.

          • March 27th 2018 @ 2:21pm
            Lewis said | March 27th 2018 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

            I would have thought that too! But hardly did at all…

        • March 26th 2018 @ 1:13pm
          Phil said | March 26th 2018 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

          Speaking of commentary,how about the Stormers/Reds game?The comments guy there,not JDV on the sideline,but the other guy,never stopped asking for the TMO to review something the Reds did.Talk about biased commentary.I admit the shoulder charge was a bit fortunate to escape action.
          Any comments,Harry?I was impressed with your Stormers,though.That 10 could be anything.

          • Roar Guru

            March 26th 2018 @ 1:36pm
            Harry Jones said | March 26th 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

            Yes, I found the second commentator annoyingly one-eyed. Matthew Pierce and JDV were fine.

            • March 26th 2018 @ 3:53pm
              cuw said | March 26th 2018 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

              what was it that got JDV tongue-tied? that was hillarios.

              and he has that accent and high pitch … ;P

              • Roar Guru

                March 27th 2018 @ 1:40am
                Harry Jones said | March 27th 2018 @ 1:40am | ! Report

                He had to say “two, too.”

                Hahahah

        • Roar Rookie

          March 26th 2018 @ 5:36pm
          piru said | March 26th 2018 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

          What’s Maloney’s background?

          I feel like he only got the gig because he’s someone’s mate

      • Roar Rookie

        March 26th 2018 @ 12:14pm
        Dwards said | March 26th 2018 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

        And on this topic, how great was the Canes/Landers commentating. The lead commentator there – not sure his name but he was so great I tried to look it up (couldn’t find it).

        “New Zealand has many world class referees, most of them still playing” – Gold.

        • March 26th 2018 @ 12:49pm
          ClarkeG said | March 26th 2018 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

          Grant Nisbett is his name.

          • Roar Rookie

            March 26th 2018 @ 12:50pm
            Dwards said | March 26th 2018 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

            Thanks

          • March 26th 2018 @ 2:02pm
            Disagree said | March 26th 2018 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

            Nisbett is shocking when calling any international between Aus and NZ.

            He praises the Kiwis but whenever they are penalised or carded he simply stays quiet with no comment, leaving Marshall to fairly break down what happened.

            His love affair of BB is sickening! The bloke can do no wrong even when he blatantly knocks the ball down killing an opposition’s attacking momentum. And McCaw, I remember when he clearly tripped the Pumas player in the RWC pool game and was carded. Nisbett was dumbfounded and even stuttered trying to find a way to defend him!

            Horrible commentator.

            At least Justin Marshall says it how it is

            • March 26th 2018 @ 2:22pm
              moaman said | March 26th 2018 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

              I think ‘Nisbo’ has quietly passed retirement age as far as the job goes….and don’t get me started on Justin ‘Malapropism’ Marshall…..

              • March 26th 2018 @ 3:58pm
                cuw said | March 26th 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

                GN am sure is there for the “voice” he has this deep voice that makes listening a little easy – if u dont focus on the things said 😀

                much like Michael Holding is in cricket 🙂

                i think there is a guy named Shaun Stevenson – or Shaun Johnson – who did commentary on Miter 10 ( dont know if he comments on super rugger).

                i found him very cool and unbiased.

              • March 26th 2018 @ 6:41pm
                ads2600 said | March 26th 2018 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

                Yup, can’t stand either of Marshall or Nisbett. Both as one eyed as each other. Not a fan of Kearns, or Martin, do enjoy South Africa’s commentators though. For Nz my favourite is still Keith Quinn. A recently retired All Black fullback, who is a friend of mine, told me that during the Commonwealth Games Keith would spend hours before & during the games meeting all of the players from different countries, in order to be able to pronounce their names properly. Still get to enjoy him during the world sevens circuit though.

            • Roar Rookie

              March 26th 2018 @ 4:56pm
              piru said | March 26th 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

              He praises the Kiwis but whenever they are penalised or carded he simply stays quiet with no comment, leaving Marshall to fairly break down what happened.

              And as such is infinitely less biased than the Fox Wallaby cheerleaders

              Marshal spends so much energy trying to be unbiased that he usually finds fault with the All Blacks, regardless of what’s happened.

              • March 26th 2018 @ 5:11pm
                Muzzo said | March 26th 2018 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

                Here, here, piru.

              • March 27th 2018 @ 6:07am
                Kane said | March 27th 2018 @ 6:07am | ! Report

                I was going to raise that same point Piru.

                If you find Marshall one eyed it’s because you’re a New Zealander and he’s biased against you.

            • March 27th 2018 @ 3:29pm
              julius said | March 27th 2018 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

              “At least Justin Marshall says it how it is…”

              Justin Marshall is a dribbling idiot. If he is on deck for a game, I watch with the sound off. Only a very stupid person could not see that Marshall’s whole shtick is to piss in the pockets of those wanting NZ/NZ teams to lose.

              Your description of Nesbitt is absurd. He is one of the most experienced commentators operating: he started forty years ago! As you’d expect with someone of his age, he sometimes gets players’ names wrong, but he is honest and has the gravitas that squealing morons like Maloney, Martin, Kafer and Co can only dream about And contrary to what you may think, when NZ’s opposition score great tries, Nesbitt is as enthusiastic as anyone.

          • March 27th 2018 @ 7:26am
            Carlos The Argie said | March 27th 2018 @ 7:26am | ! Report

            No, it wasn’t Nisbett who said that. I also picked up that comment and found hilarious.

        • March 26th 2018 @ 2:13pm
          bluffboy said | March 26th 2018 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

          I think it might have been Justin Marshall……
          It does sound like something a halfback would say.

          • March 26th 2018 @ 3:56pm
            cuw said | March 26th 2018 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

            nah – JM is not that wise to wisecrack 😀

            he tries too hard to “SOUND IMPARTIAL ” and makes a terrible mess.

            and likes to rechristen players with the way he likes a name to sound.

            can u remember ” VIA FAI-FITA” ??

        • March 26th 2018 @ 8:04pm
          KiwiHaydn said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:04pm | ! Report

          What’s happened to TJ? He’s always been my pick. I think the NZ commentators do a great job in general commentating a game, without the need to explain each time what a knock on is.

          Watching the Highlanders vs Crusaders game last week, I wondered why Ian Jones was being so biased towards the Crusaders, then I realised it was Marshall…

          • March 26th 2018 @ 8:13pm
            cuw said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

            in general i will much prefer all of them to STFU when the ref is having a chat with TMO.

            and maybe the super rugger broadcasters to turn up the ref and tmo vlumes.

            last night in the Tigers v Wasps match – it was very clear and the commentators knew when to keep silent and listen to the officials.

        • March 27th 2018 @ 10:26pm
          dopplerman said | March 27th 2018 @ 10:26pm | ! Report

          Scotty Stevenson pretty funny.

      • March 26th 2018 @ 1:54pm
        Simple Answer said | March 26th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

        The Waratahs weren’t playing this weekend, so naturally they couldn’t care less about the other teams.

        I do agree with the horrid commentary of Malony and Mitchell.

        I say step up Fionn! You’ll do alright calling the game!

        • March 27th 2018 @ 7:39am
          Fionn said | March 27th 2018 @ 7:39am | ! Report

          I say give the boys from the Rugby Report Card a go 😛 !

      • March 26th 2018 @ 4:31pm
        Akari said | March 26th 2018 @ 4:31pm | ! Report

        I thought that the SA commentary team for the Jaguares/Lions game is the best to date, Fionn. They were objective and respectful and, most importantly, the commentary was about the game and not about regurgitating what we have just observed in the previous play as ANZ commentators are usually prone to do in their own irritatingly and patronising way.

        IMO, the SA Team was very good in not only telling (to quote Sir Henry P) “what has happened but why things happen and what might happen next”. It’s a pity we don’t get them when SA teams are visiting ANZ shores.

        I’d greatly appreciate it if a Roarer has the names of that team (ie the English version group).

    • March 26th 2018 @ 7:28am
      Carlos The Argie said | March 26th 2018 @ 7:28am | ! Report

      Dear Geoff,

      For a dentist who is also a horse lover, you do write magnificently. All that time looking into empty mouths, those words must have pored into you. Very entertaining. Do you also do horse dentistry or you only treat a few occasional horses arses?

      For strange reasons, ESPN refuses to let me watch the Jaguares. They must know how little regard I have had for them in the past and are now punishing me for it. I hope that Lavanini’s exemplary behavior stays this way.

      I watched other games this weekend and have to say that Scottie Stevenson is very witty with his commenting. Calling Crockett the Crockzilla among others makes you smile.

      The snappy competition between TJ and Aaron was truly a great game in itself, the final school haka was very moving too. Although you mention the acrobatics, I have to say that the defensive efforts by both teams were inspiring. They play more than Globetrotters rugby. And speaking of carrying the ball in the wrong hand, Julian Savea has been guilt of this forever.

      I missed the Bancroft mention. No idea what happened there.

      • March 26th 2018 @ 7:46am
        Canetragic said | March 26th 2018 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        Bancroft is an Australian test cricketer and has been caught ball tampering in a test against South Africa. He tried to hide the evidence in his underpants when he was caught. Something probably completely off the radar in Argentina but its dominating sports news in Australia at the moment.

      • Columnist

        March 26th 2018 @ 8:02am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        Thanks Canetragic.

        Carlos, let’s just say if Lavanini played cricket, this whole controversy that is playing out now would already have happened…

        (BTW, my business is dentistry, in a number of guises, but I’m not actually one myself. I don’t mind wearing rubber gloves for recreation but not for a job)

        • March 26th 2018 @ 8:11am
          Carlos the Argie said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:11am | ! Report

          Argentine soccer has a long history of tampering in games. From using needles to prick opposing players, to adding substances to water bottles for the opposition and of course, the hand of god incident.

          • March 26th 2018 @ 2:24pm
            moaman said | March 26th 2018 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

            Here they use pricks to needle opposition players Carlos.

            • March 26th 2018 @ 4:03pm
              cuw said | March 26th 2018 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

              maybe LIONS forgot that part – had they done it to the JAgs , would have seen a couple of cards easily 😛

          • March 26th 2018 @ 8:17pm
            cuw said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:17pm | ! Report

            • March 27th 2018 @ 7:32am
              Carlos The Argie said | March 27th 2018 @ 7:32am | ! Report

              Well, the NFL is no church full of saints, I must add. The Patriots have been found out a few times doing unsaintly things too.

              • March 27th 2018 @ 9:21pm
                cuw said | March 27th 2018 @ 9:21pm | ! Report

                this is different

                u have to realize that cricket in aussy is older than aussy it self ( if it makes sense).

      • March 26th 2018 @ 11:59am
        Muzzo said | March 26th 2018 @ 11:59am | ! Report

        Yeh Carlos, but even Stevenson, gets his, names mixed up, along with some of his pronunciations. It was noted last week he was calling Jesse Kriel, by another name. His brother or namesake, I think it was.

        • Roar Rookie

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

          True, but he is a joy to listen to.
          Or perhaps I just appreciate the subtle sarcasm.

        • March 26th 2018 @ 4:05pm
          cuw said | March 26th 2018 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

          well last night someone thought George Ford was George North – when lining up a penalty kick. ( Wasps v Tigers )

          then he goes ” yes George North is also a good kicker – but maybe with a success rate of 50% or maybe 40%”.

          am sure he is an ex player ….

        • March 27th 2018 @ 7:33am
          Carlos The Argie said | March 27th 2018 @ 7:33am | ! Report

          Almost every Argentine player gets his name butchered by all non-Argie TV commentators.

          By the way, when Ii heard JdV speaking, I couldn’t put together his high pitched voice with a powerful center… There was something dissonant there.

    • Roar Guru

      March 26th 2018 @ 7:55am
      Harry Jones said | March 26th 2018 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      The Aussie cricket captain is the second most important leader in the country, no?

      • March 26th 2018 @ 8:01am
        Canetragic said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        Some would say the first Harry but yes its a very highly regarded position hence huge dismay and coverage of this stuff. Going to be a busy week in sports journalism here. Some are calling for the whole “leadership group” plus Bancroft to be sacked for the next Test, 6 players in all plus maybe the coach. One positive if there can be one in this sorry business is that all of the commentary ive seen, Fromm former captains, journos and the average cricket fan, is we are all appalled. Hopefully the offenders will be dealt with appropriately and we can move on.

        • March 26th 2018 @ 4:09pm
          cuw said | March 26th 2018 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

          WTF is ICC thinking???

          they banned RABADA for 2 tests for physical contact. then reversed it.

          now SS is banned for just one match for admitting that he planned to cheat.

          on the other side cricket Australia is thinking of a lifetime ban ?

          where is the balance? both seem to be on two opposite extremes – it is so funny and bizarre that people who manage cannot get things right DUH

      • March 26th 2018 @ 9:39am
        Mzilikazi said | March 26th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        “Nkosi” Should be pronounced with a “tongue click”….am I correct ? Greeting when addressing a prince or king in Zulu/Xhosa.

    • Roar Guru

      March 26th 2018 @ 7:57am
      Harry Jones said | March 26th 2018 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      Excellent wrap, Dr P.

      As I was live blogging the Canes-Clan game, I didn’t have time to truly enjoy all the magic finishes. (Ask Digger about Mandy’s magic finish).

      But it was the best try I’ve seen since Jaque Fourie’s finish against the B&I Lions.

      • Columnist

        March 26th 2018 @ 8:19am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        It was a superb effort Harry. Not just the finish but also how J Barrett and Aso worked the space beforehand.

        Sorry i missed your blog btw, but I’m sure it was suitably studded with gems. Next time.

        • Roar Guru

          March 26th 2018 @ 8:36am
          Harry Jones said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:36am | ! Report

          Geoff:

          This was how I called it:

          “Finally, a spark by Jordie Barrett in the red zone.
          He sets Vince Aso free down the right wing.
          And he FLIES, and SCORES, as he is upside down!!!!
          20-12 Canes
          64:27”

          • Columnist

            March 26th 2018 @ 8:55am
            Geoff Parkes said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:55am | ! Report

            🙂

            • Roar Guru

              March 26th 2018 @ 8:59am
              Harry Jones said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:59am | ! Report

              Are you feeling confident about Melbourne’s first Kiwi game?

              • March 26th 2018 @ 9:48am
                Muzzo said | March 26th 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

                Hahaha one way traffic for the Canes, Harry.

              • Columnist

                March 26th 2018 @ 10:00am
                Geoff Parkes said | March 26th 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

                Well I have seen the Rebels beat the Canes before with a far inferior side to this one Harry, so anything is possible.

                But on the other hand you’d have to say that this Canes side is starting to shape nicely.

              • March 26th 2018 @ 10:07am
                Canetragic said | March 26th 2018 @ 10:07am | ! Report

                Well the Canes certainly weren’t up to speed for their first game against the Bulls. Just goes to show that even with some of the apparent disparities between some teams in Super Rugby you have to show up with your A game and you have to give it 80 minutes. Jaguars have shown that several times this season, and the Sunwolves have given some teams a scare already.

              • March 26th 2018 @ 4:12pm
                cuw said | March 26th 2018 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

                @ Harry Jones

                i wonder if u listened to the match commentary.

                there was a moment when someone was wondering if Ben Smith was in trouble coz Aso was in the air.

                then the other guy quickly dismissed it saying Aso put himself there – so not Smith’s fault.

          • March 26th 2018 @ 2:26pm
            moaman said | March 26th 2018 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

            Thought that perhaps Aso should have been carded for tip-tackling himself…….

      • Roar Guru

        March 26th 2018 @ 3:12pm
        Diggercane said | March 26th 2018 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

        The Magic finish?

        Well, it was a bit of a disappearing act I suppose.

    • March 26th 2018 @ 8:15am
      Exile In Oz said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      Kafer is mighty quick to get on his high horse about all games being competitive. Only last year there were a number of teams that got pumped. At least wait till your teams have some more runs on the board before throwing stones.
      For a long time there have been weak teams that have conceded big scores. Do you remember those games throughout the season or the tight high quality finals? Which games do you judge a season by?

      • Columnist

        March 26th 2018 @ 8:27am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

        Not sure anyone is throwing stones Exile. What Kafer is talking about is that it is the broadcasters saying to SANZAAR, ‘if you want us to keep giving you millions of dollars every year for your competition, fix it up so there are competitive games where not everybody knows the result beforehand.’

        That’s where the crisis meetings of last year and the reduction to 15 teams came from. Yes the finals are more important, but the broadcasters need fans tuning in every week to as many games as possible.

        It’s not everyone’s cup of tea that the broadcasters have so much influence but that’s the commercial reality of it.

        • March 26th 2018 @ 8:51am
          Exile In Oz said | March 26th 2018 @ 8:51am | ! Report

          That’s a fair point. However, there are not many competitions that don’t have perennial cellar dwellers or teams that rise to the top. When ever the two classes of teams meet the result is normally quite predictable.

          • Columnist

            March 26th 2018 @ 9:04am
            Geoff Parkes said | March 26th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

            Yes that’s true. In the NBA and Major League Baseball there are sides who are out of playoff contention very early on, meaning long seasons for their fans.

            But there are so many teams that there are always competitive matches for the broadcasters to pick the eyes out of.

            And the EPL has relegation which means that the interest is maintained throughout, even for the struggling sides.

            • March 26th 2018 @ 11:12am
              Exile In Oz said | March 26th 2018 @ 11:12am | ! Report

              Ha ha so what we need are extra teams 😉

              • Columnist

                March 26th 2018 @ 11:23am
                Geoff Parkes said | March 26th 2018 @ 11:23am | ! Report

                It’s possible that they’ll have another try at expansion in the future but yes, don’t think we’ll be seeing that in the short term 🙂

              • March 26th 2018 @ 4:16pm
                cuw said | March 26th 2018 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

                if they expand – it shud be a two tier expansion

                say table A and table B – with like 9 or 10 teams each .

                but i would like to see the Japs dropped – they are being screwed .

                how many “HOME” games do they play in a season ??

                Hong Kong or Singapore is not home of Japan – DUH

            • March 27th 2018 @ 7:36am
              Carlos The Argie said | March 27th 2018 @ 7:36am | ! Report

              When they get out of playoff contention, they try to lose as much as possible to get a better position in the draft.

              (Not always, but it happens enough).

        • March 26th 2018 @ 11:23am
          Joe King said | March 26th 2018 @ 11:23am | ! Report

          Well said, Geoff

      • March 26th 2018 @ 9:49am
        Muzzo said | March 26th 2018 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        True Exile, as Kafer, does mouth off the odd booper, from time to time.

        • March 26th 2018 @ 1:09pm
          Gibbo said | March 26th 2018 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

          Kafer is an attention seeking windbag.

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