Power plays in the south: How discipline and decision-making cost the Wallabies in Melbourne

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    Aggression, aggression – and then add a bit more aggression for good measure. It has been the Eddie Jones power-play ever since he took over the reins as England head coach after the 2015 World Cup.

    On and off the field, he has cultivated a ‘no one likes us and we don’t care’ mentality.

    After the defeat at Murrayfield that kick-started England’s current death-spiral, back in February, Jones demanded his side be even more “brutal and aggressive” against their next opponents, France. Every setback creates an even more pugnacious reaction.

    Jones likes to play with antagonism and hostility, frequently goading opposing coaches and players before big games, unsettling the opposition to gain a psychological advantage. Some opponents – not least Michael Cheika’s Australia in the 2016 June series – look beaten even before the opening whistle.

    That mentality paid off handsomely during the team’s record-equalling 18-match winning run. Jones even appointed Dylan Hartley as his captain in a classic poacher-turned-gamekeeper scenario, and the move worked out outstandingly well.

    How things have changed in 2018. After five consecutive Test defeats, the question is whether it is the need for antagonism that is now playing with Jones.

    He seems unable to function without friction, and that dynamic is built into the culture he has created. After the second loss to South Africa in Bloemfontein, Jones objected to Radio Five Live reporter Chris Jones’ “aggressive” line of questioning.

    The reporter’s tone was pushy and persistent rather than hostile, but the England coach snapped back.

    Chris Jones: For you personally Eddie, it’s the first time with this England team that you’ve been under this kind of pressure, how confident are you that you can turn it around come the Autumn?

    Eddie Jones: Oh 100 per cent confident … 100 per cent as you are aggressive.

    I’m just asking you questions Eddie after a series defeat …

    Just your nature, it’s very aggressive mate.

    That’s not the plan Eddie, I’m just trying to ask the questions the fans might want to hear at home.

    Oh that’s fine, I’m happy to answer that aggressive questioning.

    Which one was aggressive especially?

    Just your manner in how you’re talking to me.

    You can hear the full interview at the beginning of the BBC program here.

    It was not the first time Jones has become testy under interrogation, and the virus spread to some of his players after the match.

    The normally mild-mannered scrum-half Ben Youngs scuttled off from an interview after only 11 seconds, later apologising to the Sky Sports reporter on Twitter.

    Joe Marler and Mike Brown allegedly became embroiled in a fracas with an England supporter in the tunnel after the game.

    On the field, Hartley’s replacement as captain, Owen Farrell, struggled to open a productive channel of communication with referee Romain Poite. Harangues are not the right way to approach M.Poite, who already had some history with Jones’ England in the ‘ruck-less’ controversy surrounding their 2017 game against Italy.

    The ironic climax arrived as Mako Vunipola was penalised for foul play just after ‘Faz’ had announced to the referee “we’re trying to play rugby here!” Far more finesse was required.

    Discipline has to be at the centre of any playing culture, and England do not have it either on or off the field at the present time. On the field, they have conceded an average of four penalties more than their opponents per game over their five-match losing run, and yellow cards in a ratio of 4:1 in the same period. Put pressure on England, and they will get more aggressive – too aggressive for their own good.

    The lack of discipline is also connected with an inability to make clear-headed decisions at key moments in the game. As Jones himself said afterwards, “For some reason we’re just not handling the key moments well. As soon as something small happens we just don’t seem to react well to it at the moment.”

    For an outsider looking in, the relationship between the two is as clear as daylight – and was also on display in the Wallabies’ match against Ireland in Melbourne on Saturday evening.

    Ireland placed both Australia’s discipline and decision-making under relentless pressure in the second Test.

    They began by improving the fixable items. Their ability to retain the ball at the breakdown was greatly improved from Brisbane (a rise of 1.6 per cent in the retention rate), and they shut Israel Folau out of the game in the air.

    David Pocock’s massive influence on the contact area at Brisbane was reduced, but not eliminated entirely (he still had two important steals), and the reintroduction of an outstanding cleanout operator in the form of Ireland tight-head prop Tadhg Furlong helped greatly in that respect:

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    Ireland did not direct even one of their own high kicks anywhere near Folau, and in defence they denied him access to the cross-field bombs which had proved so successful in the first Test. Australia kicked three times from restarts, and four times in general play for Folau to win the ball back – he did not win one.

    From restarts, Bernard Foley tried to kick flat to the Ireland right, but his restarts were mopped up by either Devin Toner or Dan Leavy:

    On Australia’s cross-field exits, the process was slightly more complicated. Ireland had worked out that Folau’s preferred angle of approach was from the receiver’s blind-side – similar to an outside linebacker blitz in American football, most effective when it comes from behind the quarterback:

    The key defender was Peter O’Mahony, retiring on the outside shoulder of the catcher in order to (legitimately) block Folau’s pathway to the ball. Ireland were able to get into this critical space time and again, to give their receiver a free shot at the ball under no particular pressure:

    The receiver (number 11 Keith Earls) was protected by two players who have forced Israel Folau to take the long way around the ‘block’ – just like a good offensive left tackle in gridiron!

    Ireland’s control of the breakdown, and their ability to defend Folau in the air were important features of the two crucial ten minute yellow card periods (one for each side) which occurred in the first half. They defended Folau twice under high kicks and made key cleanouts on Pocock to maintain possession, first by returnee Dan Leavy…

    … secondly by James Ryan and Jack McGrath during the Wallaby power play:

    On Australia’s yellow card (with Marika Koroibete going off for a tip tackle) between the sixth and 16th minutes, Ireland controlled the ball for eight minutes and 30 seconds and racked up 13 unanswered points. On Ireland’s (Cian Healy sent off for offside at the Wallabies’ driving lineout try) between the 26th and 36th minutes, Australia only controlled the ball for one minute and 15 seconds and didn’t score at all.

    Australia had already scored a superbly-worked try by Kurtley Beale when Koroibete was given ten minutes in the bin for the tip on Rob Kearney (0:45 on the reel):

    The construction of the Ireland try from the five-metre lineout which followed is worth examining from the viewpoint of decision-making. Before the lineout is formed, the three key actors in the drama (Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton and Andrew Conway) can be seen hatching a plot together:

    The plan is clearly to target the short-side wing Koroibete has just vacated, but the attack is handled with subtlety and finesse:

    At first Sexton and Conway are aligned either behind the maul (Conway) or slightly open-side (Sexton) until the Wallabies reveal who will be defending the short-side – #2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa and #9 Will Genia. They then shift once the drive has gained momentum in the opposite direction. The only other defender who can prevent the try – Dane Haylett-Petty, coming all the way over from the far wing at 1:12 on the reel – arrives fractionally too late as the perfect timing of the shift beats him:

    The momentum of the Wallabies’ own power play was disrupted by failures of discipline, such as the penalty against Caleb Timu for a tackle on James Ryan without the ball:

    Timu could already have been off the field for a deliberate knock-on a few minutes earlier.

    Timu is reaching for the ball with one hand, with no realistic chance of making an interception. Fortunately for Australia, referee Paul Williams was lenient on this particular offence, as in a later incident in the second half with Foley:

    Even more crucially, Australia’s one-man advantage coincided exactly with the retirement of their best decision-maker, Genia, from the field with an injury which will keep him out of the deciding Test in Sydney.

    With the kicking outlet to Folau denied them and Ireland keeping the ball when they had it, Australia were stuck in their own exit zone and only broke out via a penalty with just over three minutes remaining on Healy’s card. What followed next was highly instructive:

    Foley had the ball on halfway and his captain, Michael Hooper, appeared to be pointing to the corner. Australia had already established they could deliver the goods with the close-range drive from lineout, having scored their second try of the game against eight forward defenders. With Healy still on the naughty chair, what would be the odds of another score against a pack reduced to seven?

    Instead, Foley inexplicably ignored Hooper and tapped the penalty to himself:

    With the rest of the Australian forwards clearly expecting the obvious, Hooper was isolated and Peter O’Mahony won perhaps the most important of his three turnovers on the deck during the game.

    This would not have happened if Genia had remained on the pitch, and it exposed a fault-line in the decision-making group which Nick Phipps will struggle to fill in the third Test.

    Summary
    The trials of Eddie Jones and his England team in South Africa have shown both how essential and interlinked the attributes of discipline and decision-making are – on and off the field.

    Jones encourages his side to take aggression to the limit (and sometimes beyond it) while lacking the composure under media pressure that he requires of his charges. The evidence is visible everywhere in the responses of his players.

    The penalties are duly being paid, both on the field and outside it – in the relationships between the national team representatives and the club owners, the media and even their own supporters. Apologies are being made but they do not change the real character of the situation.

    Australia’s leadership and decision-making group was looking solid until Will Genia was forced to leave the field in the 27th minute, at the outset of Australia’s power play. With Genia’s departure, decision-making process fragmented in the Foley-Hooper penalty towards the end of that ten-minute period.

    Ireland’s aerial solution to Israel Folau, and their increasing control of the contact points are worrying developments for the Wallabies. Good ball-control always generates penalties as the defence struggles to maintain concentration, and becomes ever more desperate to get the ball back over long strings of phases. Australia were lucky that Paul Williams chose to take a lenient view of the knock-ons by Caleb Timu and Bernarad Foley.

    Australia have shown they have the weapons to hurt Ireland if they can spend enough time with the ball in their hands. The question now is: what new ideas can Michael Cheika conjure to get the ball back off the men in emerald green and give his team that chance?

    The ball is firmly in his court as the best series of the summer reaches a titanic climax in Sydney next weekend.

    Nicholas Bishop
    Nicholas Bishop

    Nick Bishop has worked as a rugby analyst and advisor to Graham Henry (1999-2003), Mike Ruddock (2004-2005) and most recently Stuart Lancaster (2011-2015). He also worked on the 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and produced his first rugby book with Graham Henry at the end of the tour. Three more rugby books have followed, all of which of have either been nominated for or won national sports book awards. Nick's latest is a biography of Phil Larder, the first top Rugby League coach to successfully transfer over to Union, entitled The Iron Curtain. He is currently writing articles for The Roar and The Rugby Site, and working as a strategy consultant to Stuart Lancaster and the Leinster coaching staff for their European matches.

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    The Crowd Says (443)

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2018 @ 4:06am
      Harry Jones said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:06am | ! Report

      Excellent article, eich arbenigwr a ddysgwyd.

      Misplaced aggression, ineffectual motion rather than ferociously accurate action, and impotent “facsimilies” of toughness; covered over by passive-aggressive media or fan or ref communication.

      Maro Itoje trying to kick Faf de Klerk (and missing), as Mako Vunipola was swatting at PSDT’s head, as the Bok lay trapped at the bottom of a ruck. As you say, as these two absurdly weak “aggressions” were happening, Farrell was doing his fake choirboy routine.

      Contrast all of that with Siya Kolisi tackling Brad Shields six metres back in a tackle, Steven Kitshoff and Bongi Mbonambi steamrollering their way to a penalty try, and Duane Vermuelen running over Itoje and about half a dozen other English en route to a try.

      On the IRE v. Wallaby cliffhanger, I reckon Cheika will need to do a couple of switches on positions/players if he is going to unveil a better attack against these Irish who have now made their own adjustments. Do you?

      • June 20th 2018 @ 7:41am
        Neil Back said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:41am | ! Report

        Your excitement over the last two Bok victories is palpable in every post in any topic Harry, and after recent seasons, who can blame you. Good on yer. England’s woes have been equally palpable against any opposition of late and Nic only highlights what I think we all see – a failure of leadership and decision making on and off the pitch.

        • Columnist

          June 20th 2018 @ 8:19am
          Geoff Parkes said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:19am | ! Report

          It’s interesting Neil that Eddie has now received the dreaded ‘full support of the board’.
          Never a good sign…

          Thanks Nick, comprehensive as always!

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2018 @ 8:23am
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:23am | ! Report

            Thanks Geoff – I think the November series will tell the tale as far EJ’s future goes. A bad one (say, one win over Japan) and he will go.

            • June 20th 2018 @ 11:03am
              MitchO said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

              First Nick, I do not think the Wallabiies looked beaten before the kick off in 2016. Not the focus of your piece of course I just didn’t want to let it go.

              On England surely they have to give Eddie the flick. Perhaps time for a nice guy like Stuart Lancaster? He knows the cattle pretty well. Or a guy like Martin Johnson who has the presence to slap the leadership into line.

              If they need to do something drastic how bout Brad Shields to play number 8 and captain. He’s not the greatest player in the universe but he has rugby in his bones and plenty of leadership experience.

              Is Robshaw’s body past it or does he have a few test match seasons left?

              Since I am a simplistic guy I thought if people are legally blocking your run at the ball you should still run through them – hard. They can complain about it but they know they are deliberately blocking you. The ref could get upset about it but he too knows what’s going on. When someone is making a play for the ball and and the other person is just hanging around in their way it is hard to see a fair minded person penalising the player who is being positive. Make it look silly I say. Give someone a shove in the kidneys.

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 4:30pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

                Maybe that was putting it too strongly Mitch – but I certainly feel they went into the series at a psychological disadvantage in 2016 and that EJ won the battle off the field and in the media. Not the case now.

                Brad Shields promoted to captain would be the kiss of death for Eddie – he’s already had enough flak for selecting him in the first place, and Shields went down with the rest of the ship at Bloem.

                There’s no obligation for opposition players to get outta the road and usher Folau through so he can have a clean jump at the ball is there? The Irish players simply got to the space first, is all.

          • June 20th 2018 @ 8:37am
            Neil Back said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

            Noticed that too Geoff. The cliche of impending doom?

            Also noticed my self-fulfilling prophecy of Billy heading home crook again. I’m beginning to wonder not just if we’ll see him back to his pomp for the RWC, but ever again.

            • Columnist

              June 20th 2018 @ 9:06am
              Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

              Sarries will be grumpy about it, I don’t think he went with their blessing anyway Neil.

            • June 20th 2018 @ 3:19pm
              cuw said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

              If i recall – Billy played the Aviva final – i think about 60 minutes of it .

              so there is no reason for him to be rested from TEST duty.

              what i dont know is – if it is the same arm he had injured and recovered before…

              also i wonder – if it is the same arm , why he is not wearing any protection.

              if u look at Maa Nonu – he still wears a protector on the arm he broke in a test.

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 4:33pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

                If i recall – Billy played the Aviva final – i think about 60 minutes of it .

                so there is no reason for him to be rested from TEST duty.

                Yes he did, but there is prob some sensitivity there given the issues EJ has had with the club owners (and Bruce Craig in particular) about bring players back injured. As far as I know it’s the same arm that’s been broken again.

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2018 @ 9:36am
            Ralph said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

            The kiss of death.

            • Roar Guru

              June 20th 2018 @ 3:19pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

              Indeed.

              I wonder if Eddie is contemplating to step down voluntarily?

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 4:33pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

                Cannot see that happening NV 😀

              • June 20th 2018 @ 6:14pm
                cuw said | June 20th 2018 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

                why shud he ??

                England have just moved down to 6th but the difference in points among 3 -6 is just 0.6!

                its the Argies and France who have the most problems.

                But suddenly Gatland is looking neat 😀

                Position Teams Points
                1 New Zealand 93.99

                2 Ireland 89.20

                3 Wales 85.94

                4 Australia 85.41

                5 South Africa 84.65

                6 England 84.35

                7 Scotland 81.83

                8 France 79.10

                9 Fiji 78.51

                10 Argentina 76.73

        • Columnist

          June 20th 2018 @ 8:22am
          Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:22am | ! Report

          It’s strange isn’t it Neil – as Eddie has been praising the on-field ownership of the senior players, it suddenly appears to have collapsed…

          • June 20th 2018 @ 8:39am
            Neil Back said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

            I know I for one am heartily sick of hearing about the ‘great conversations’ the team are having off the pitch, only to see them apparently forgotten as they cross the whitewash …..

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2018 @ 8:58am
          Harry Jones said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:58am | ! Report

          Yes, well, 2016-2017 was about as excruciating a time to be a Bok fan as any time in history!

          🤣

          I’ll take it

      • Columnist

        June 20th 2018 @ 8:21am
        Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

        Hi there Hazza

        I do think the question arises as to how England have gone from so consistently excellent and smart, to so consistently dumb and reactive, so quickly. One or two defeats – maybe. Five or six, the last two to a Springbok still in the process of reconstruction rather than the finished article? It suggests more long term damage than EJ seems willing to acknowledge. Makes the third ‘dead’ rubber rather important suddenly!

        What WB changes did you have in mind? 🙂

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2018 @ 8:54am
          stillmissit said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

          Nick it is just Eddie doing what he always does, starts off like thunder and ends like a fart!

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2018 @ 9:00am
          Harry Jones said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:00am | ! Report

          DHP to 15
          Izzy to 14
          Hoops to bench
          Higgers in @ 8
          Gordon @ 9

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2018 @ 9:04am
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

            Cannot see any of those happening H. – and in practice there would be little meaning to swapping DHP and Izzy anyway!

            • Roar Guru

              June 20th 2018 @ 9:08am
              stillmissit said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

              Nick don’t you think that Izzy’s better attacking from the wing against Ireland and DHP better at D and positionally at FB?

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 9:13am
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:13am | ! Report

                Folau’s been making his high ball catches coming in off the right edge in any case Still, and he and DHP share backfield defensive duties too…

              • June 20th 2018 @ 2:57pm
                cuw said | June 20th 2018 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

                @ Nicholas Bishop

                I think by swapping DHP with Folau – there will be a better structure to defence at least.

                u have showed how DHP tried to cover the Conway try. the point is he saw the danger – which the so called best fullback in the world had no effing idea about.

                and ur right – none of the things suggested by harry will happen while Chieka is in charge.

                but i like to hear what u think of SAMU – after all the hullaballooo , i doubt he has set the world on fire or is better than someone like Mcmohan Gill or even Higginbotham …

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 7:13pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

                To CUW ( below)

                Don’t know enough about Pete Samu yet – he looks like he can play a bit, but doubt he’s the right complement to Hooper and Pocock?

            • Roar Guru

              June 20th 2018 @ 7:42pm
              Harry Jones said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

              NB

              Yes, I know none of it will happen

              But I think it would give OZ a better chance

              Would you advocate any personnel changes?

              Or just a game plan tweak?

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 7:54pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

                I would like to have seen either Gordon or Powell given more experience so that they would have been able handle the starting job in Genia’s absence – but that ship seems to have sailed for the time being…

                Rob Simmons in for Adam Coleman is Coleman’s out, Arnold to the bench, starting Latu at hooker if he’s fully fit. Give Tupou at least 30-35 mins off the bench. Is Timu fit? Otherwise, keep the same side and look to counter Ireland’s improvements from Test 2.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2018 @ 11:09pm
                Harry Jones said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:09pm | ! Report

                gonna be a great one, I think
                I like the clash of styles
                For me, I think the WBs need to be a lot quicker, doing whatever they are doing
                that’s why I like a real rangy 8 who can take at the tail of the LO and clear at scrum and link with backs quick quick
                Also, I think DHP at 15 would allow Folau more freedom to roam and inject

              • Columnist

                June 21st 2018 @ 12:39am
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 21st 2018 @ 12:39am | ! Report

                You can get that ranginess and lineout ability from 6 too Harry – look at SA, with a real tough hombre at the tackle and on the carry at 8, and the rangy athlete at 6!

              • Roar Guru

                June 21st 2018 @ 1:48am
                Harry Jones said | June 21st 2018 @ 1:48am | ! Report

                That’s true.
                6 or 8
                I just think it really hurts OZ to be so easy to work out, in a 3-game series
                One off is different
                First test maybe
                But Pooper is not really adaptive
                And Stander just trucked into Poey over and over, so the following ruck was so easy
                And it sort of is exponential

              • Columnist

                June 21st 2018 @ 4:01am
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 21st 2018 @ 4:01am | ! Report

                Why do you believe the orthodox structure with Higgers at 8 would be more adaptive H? You have to have the quality to be able to justify it, and I do not feel it’s there right now…

              • Roar Guru

                June 21st 2018 @ 8:03am
                Harry Jones said | June 21st 2018 @ 8:03am | ! Report

                Hi, NB

                Forget Higgers

                he just came to mind bc he’s an athlete, he’s long, and he knows how to play Test footy

                Someone

                Anyone long, tough, fast, with good hands at 8

              • Columnist

                June 21st 2018 @ 4:01pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 21st 2018 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

                Isi Naisarani??

          • June 20th 2018 @ 11:19am
            MitchO said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:19am | ! Report

            Swap Tupou with Kepu and see how it goes. Use Tupou as a kick chaser. If he gets a head of steam up he is very fast. If there is a blocker or a lazy defender in front of him they are going to get skittled.

            It is silly just having Folau as the chaser. Michael Hooper should be as good a kick chaser as anyone on the paddock. He is very fast, has good hands and coz he is such a pocket dynamo will have a decent leap. Playing 7 he has a nice roving commission and can wind up and let loose. Hooper to go for the ball and someone else eg Pocock to pick up the crumbs.

            But really everyone should be chasing. if arrive at the same time as Folau then you can let him go for the ball.

            • June 20th 2018 @ 4:06pm
              Campbell Watts said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

              LOL!
              1st time ive ever heard anyone advocate a prop as kick chaser!
              He’d end up barrelling into a flying back-three catcher and promptly be shown a red card is my guess.

              • June 20th 2018 @ 4:59pm
                MitchO said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

                Mate everyone should be a kick chaser though. Our tighthead prop was one of the best kick chasers in team. He looked like a tighthead but played a lot of AFL in his younger days.

                Tupou chasing would clear the blockers out of the way. Folau could follow him through the carnage.

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 7:12pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

                You make it sound like a bowling alley on Saturday night Mitch 🙂

              • June 21st 2018 @ 10:51am
                MitchO said | June 21st 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

                Mate I have just seen too many players isolated where their team mates could not apparently get over to support them coz some guys from the opposition were standing in the way. As a player one of things you need to be able to do is shift those pesky opposition players out of the way.

            • Columnist

              June 20th 2018 @ 4:37pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

              Michael Hooper should be as good a kick chaser as anyone on the paddock.

              They do use him as a kick chaser Mitch – just to hit the catcher when the ball comes down, not win it in the air! They could however vary by going to DHP, he’s also very good,

              • June 20th 2018 @ 5:03pm
                MitchO said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

                I just figured if you can get there early enough you go for the ball and if not t then you want for the catcher to land and hit him.

                I get the impression that there is a bit too much of “not my job” going on. For example not enough guys seem to come through chasing.

          • June 20th 2018 @ 1:14pm
            Dave_S said | June 20th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

            Not getting your love for Higgs, Harry. I don’t mean to sound rude but have you seen much of the Reds this year? I reckon he’s been ordinary, not close to his best form. In past years I liked him as a WB prospect, but given his form and age I don’t see the point picking him now. At most he improves the lineout, otherwise he’s a net loss compared to other BRs.

            • June 20th 2018 @ 3:16pm
              cuw said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

              yes he is out of sorts – probably coz he has been banned and injured – thus laying very little.

              it is like we say in cricket – u can hit balls in the nets for 24/7 , BUT nothing compares to batting in the middle !!!

              the only thing that supports his inclusion is the 6:2 bench. Samu Hooper and Tui can cover 4 -8.

            • Roar Guru

              June 20th 2018 @ 3:24pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

              Harry sees himself in Higgs 😉

              • June 20th 2018 @ 4:41pm
                Dave_S said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

                I see it now, Higgs is quite the hipster 😁

              • June 20th 2018 @ 5:31pm
                ForwardsWinMatches said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

                Can we not bring up the cricket…please….mercy…

            • Roar Guru

              June 21st 2018 @ 12:23am
              Harry Jones said | June 21st 2018 @ 12:23am | ! Report

              I’m not thinking of replacing Hooper with Higgers long term, of course.
              But I think the loose trio is wrong for THIS one BIG game against Furlong and O’Mahony.
              Higgers is aggro, he’s long, he can take at the tail, he can fight, and he’s athletic.
              The two sub-6-footers who aren’t long, and with one of them too prone to go for steals
              Isn’t going to change the dynamic enough

    • June 20th 2018 @ 4:11am
      Noodles said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:11am | ! Report

      Wallabies thin on leadership and still struggling with accuracy. Ireland terrific on both. Yet wallabies were in the match.
      Phipps and Foley seem to me to promote Hooper’s tendency to hasty decisions. Genia was settling them.
      Overall I think we will lose the series because we can’t match the accuracy of the Irish.

      • Columnist

        June 20th 2018 @ 8:25am
        Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        The WBs are always in with a chance because they have more attacking ambition (and probably ability) in the back-line Noodles – and therein lies the intrigue of the series 🙂

        • June 20th 2018 @ 8:37am
          Steve said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

          Great response. That’s why it’s so frustrating watching France, to a man they have as much ability as any other team, they just lack ambition. We only see it when they are really pushed into a corner and they’re almost forced to do it.

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2018 @ 9:07am
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:07am | ! Report

            Plus the culture in Top 14 doesn’t promote it, so it’s foreign territory when they try to expand the range of their game…

            • June 20th 2018 @ 3:22pm
              cuw said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

              LaRochelle play the helter-skelter game.

              but they succeeded only one season.

              even Toulon with their star backline are forced to play the forwards game.

              and when it comes to France – u wonder why guys like Vakatawa and Raka are not selected among backs

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 4:42pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

                I don’t think Raka is eligible until later this year under the current rules CUW, but he was mighty impressive against Sarries in the ECC for sure….

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2018 @ 4:24am
      Derm McCrum said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:24am | ! Report

      Excellent summary Nic – cheers as ever. Lots to chew on in this one.

      I thought the early departure of Leavy was going to create problems for Ireland at any subsequent breakdown but the clearcuts, particularly by Furlong were superb. Furlong’s contributions seem to grown with every game this season – should be a contender for WR Player of the Year in my book.

      I’m kinda surprised (disappointed that Ireland did not choose to do more with the ball out wide, but they clearly had a no-kick policy in place to ensure Folau was starved of any opportunity.

      More of the same is not going to cut it this week in the grand finale, so I expect Schmidt & Co will have another couple of tricks up their sleeves to keep the interest humming. And I reckon that Australia are going to test Ireland out wide repeatedly to expose some cracks from which they’ve gained regularly in the last two tests.

      • Columnist

        June 20th 2018 @ 8:27am
        Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

        Yep Tadhg Furlong was back to his very best Derm – his speed around the park, the number and quality of his involvements is truly stupendous when he’s at his peak like this….

        Do you think he’ll give Tadhg Beirne a start this weekend??

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2018 @ 3:29pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

          I am really keen to see Bernie getting a start. If he is as good at Test level as he has been for Scarlets, he and POM can create a “SAS Breakdown Team” that is second to none, including the Pooper.

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2018 @ 4:43pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

            The only Q might be where you start him and who he replaces NV – prob a choice between Dev Toner or POM himself….

        • Roar Guru

          June 21st 2018 @ 1:15am
          Derm McCrum said | June 21st 2018 @ 1:15am | ! Report

          Nick, I don’t know if he will give Beirne a start this week. He looked a bit overawed last week (understandable on your first cap), but you’d need Beirne to start like a tornado next week if he did.

          I wouldn’t put him in second row though. I’d put him at 6 and O’Mahony at 7. Ryan and Murphy on the bench.

          Lots of lineout options too.

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2018 @ 4:33am
      Corne Van Vuuren said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:33am | ! Report

      Thanks Nicholas great analysis again, one thing I noticed on the Irish yellow cards they managed to really slow down the game, providing Auatralia little actual time to benefit from it.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2018 @ 4:46am
        Derm McCrum said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:46am | ! Report

        Strangely enough, so did Australia when they lost Koroibete – didn’t work though.

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2018 @ 5:42am
          Corne Van Vuuren said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:42am | ! Report

          Like Nicholas said, Ireland had the ball for 8 and a half minutes during his yc, so they managed the game then

        • June 20th 2018 @ 8:24am
          Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:24am | ! Report

          I don’t think Australia were anywhere near as smart in terms of slowing the game down. It looked to me like we tried to play as fast as we do with 15 men on the field – exactly the same as what happened when Kepu was red carded against Scotland.

          This is one of our big criticisms of Cheika’s Wallabies – they demonstrate no ability to adapt on the field.

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2018 @ 8:29am
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

            This is exactly where you need that kind of cool intelligence instead of excitability Fionn 🙂

            • June 20th 2018 @ 9:20am
              Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

              Yes, exactly right.

              Hate to keep bringing things back to tennis, but a lack of tactical nous and an awareness of how to change tactics mid-match is one of the great failings of the next generation of players (Zverev, Thiem, even Dimitrov) that is stopping them from really challenging for the Slams despite the declines of Federer and Nadal (and when you delve into the stats of Fed/Rafa’s court coverage speeds and average groundstroke power/spin levels it is evident they’ve declined hugely from their relative peaks in about ’06 and ’10 respectively). When they’re losing they just keep doing the same thing… only harder. Rather like the Wallabies.

              This is one of the things that us fans of Link still mourn so much about his departure. The feeling that we could adapt on the field, utilise different tactics every match and that we were generally building. It’s a feeling I’ve never really had with Cheika except briefly during 2015.

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 9:22am
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

                You certainly love your tennis Fionn, and seem to know it inside out… Any tips for Wimbledon?

                I was thinking same as last year, Fed for the men’s and Muguruza for the Ladies?

              • Roar Rookie

                June 21st 2018 @ 2:22pm
                Don said | June 21st 2018 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

                Get on Novak Djokovic @ $8 Nicholas. Coming into good form.

                What price a Djokovic & Serena champions double?

              • Columnist

                June 21st 2018 @ 3:40pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 21st 2018 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

                Wow that one woke me Don! Opinions Fionn? 🙂

              • June 22nd 2018 @ 4:40pm
                Fionn said | June 22nd 2018 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

                I’d be very surprised, Nick, after his mental fragility he showed in a few of his close wins in the French Open, and then his loss in the QF from 4-1 or 5-1 up in the fourth set, but if there’s one thing Federer and Rafa have taught me it is to never count a champion out.

                It just looks to me like Djokovic currently isn’t able to compete at the big moments in a match like he was once a specialist at doing.

              • June 20th 2018 @ 9:27am
                Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

                I’ve given up even trying to predict women’s tennis. Even though she hasn’t been playing it’s difficult to ever bet against Serena if she’s fit.

                Neither Federer or Nadal have impressed me as much this year as they did last year, but they’ve still won both slams, so Federer has to start as favourite. Beyond that, I think there are a bunch of players capable of winning. Good thing about Wimbledon is that there are more upsets due to the grass, makes it more exciting but more difficult to pick.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 20th 2018 @ 10:56am
                tsuru said | June 20th 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

                I couldn’t resist chiming in on Wimbledon Fionn. I’m particularly interested to see how Kasatkina goes. Not sure if she has the maturity yet, but she seems to me to have the shot variety and adaptability in the way Federer does (and the Wallabies regrettably don’t). And I’d love to see Ash Barty get to at least the quarters. The only men with enough grass court game that i can see challenging Fed are Delpo, Raonic & Kyrgios (who could beat him but I can’t see him winning the event).

                Agree about McKenzie. Although I was unable to see much of the super rugby in 2011 I was impressed then to read that the Reds came out with different game plans for different opponents. Was the team able to adapt on the run or was it just following the tactics the coach had devised? I’m wondering how hard it is to teach on-field adaptability. Or do you have to depend on picking players that have already got it? Nicholas?

              • June 20th 2018 @ 11:07am
                Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

                Yeah, tsuru, I really rate Kasatkina.

                I got to see Marta Kostyuk play live at the Federation Cup in Canberra at the start of the year. She’s far too young and extremely raw but jeez she has some talent. I’d say in a couple of years she could really be challenging for slams.

                Muguruza’s inconsistency is an issue for me.

                I don’t think Cilic can be overlooked at Wimbledon either. I would absolutely love to see a Del Potro win though. That would be my preference. Federer second.

              • June 20th 2018 @ 3:09pm
                cinque said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

                It’s funny you mention Lendl at the French Open. His first grand slam was beating McEnroe there in 1984. McEnroe won the first 2 sets 6-3, 6-2 with the troubling tactic of returning serve from the baseline, chipping, serve and volley.

                At the start of the third set, Llendl started to copy this, returning from the baseline to take time from the volleyer. It didn’t help, so at 3-all in the third set he switched back to standing deep and hitting hard. He won the last three sets 6-4, 7-5, 7-5, mainly because McEnroe started to wilt from all the net charges, being not quite as fit as his opponent.

                So crash through or crash worked for Llendl and he remembered it. As a consequence, he was never really in his only Wimbledon final against Cash. He simply couldn’t adapt. Roche tried to turn him into a volleyer at Wimbledon, with poor results. Llendl would bludgeon his way to the quarters from the back of the court, then run into someone classier, a natural forecourt player.

                Why does Nadal win the French? Because his opponents don’t come up against him often enough, while he plays them (right-handed, double-handed, big spin but not as big as Nadal’s) every match.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2018 @ 3:31pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

                I love your Tennis stories Fionn. Period.

              • June 20th 2018 @ 5:22pm
                Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

                Thank you, Neutral 🙂 . I truly appreciate it.

                Cinque, I don’t know how much you’ve played on really slow clay courts (as most of those in Europe are: especially Monte Carlo and Roland Garros, but to a lesser extent Rome too – Madrid is faster) but coming into the net is really difficult. Even when you construct the point well approach shots tend to sit up in the opponent’s hitting zone, it is slow enough for the opponent to get into position to attempt the pass and even when you hit the volley it sits up – it means your approach shots and first volley need to be perfectly placed. Part of why Sampras never did well at the French.

                Between about 06-08 Federer used to come into the net a lot against Rafa on clay. He still couldn’t win often, and never beat him at the slower clay events like Monte and Roland Garros.

                On the other hand I agree that playing aggressively and getting into the net is more likely the way to get an upset against Nadal on clay… Except for an in-form Djokovic 😀

              • June 20th 2018 @ 8:21pm
                Mzilikazi said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

                “Hate to keep bringing things back to tennis”

                No, Fionn, I personally really enjoy these sorts of posts, which lead off in all sorts of interesting directions.

                So keep up the good work !

              • June 21st 2018 @ 2:28pm
                Fionn said | June 21st 2018 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

                Djokovic lost to Marco Cecchinato at Roland Garros despite being up 5-1 in the 4th set.

                I dunno if we can call that good form…

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2018 @ 10:08am
            Hoy said | June 20th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

            Yup. Fionn, I agree… Trying to keep the tempo up against Scotland when we were one man down was baffling… not least because our skills were poor.

            Ability to adapt is leadership… Wallabies haven’t had great leadership since Mortlock really. For a bloke having played something like 70 tests now, Hooper is a terrible leader. Foley gets rushes of blood. Who else is there? Pocock? If I was him, I would feel somewhat emasculated that other players are elevated over me… Given the lack of impact they have… but that is a selfish train of thought really.

            • June 20th 2018 @ 10:13am
              Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

              I think Genia is the person along with Pocock who is a really good leader in the current side.

              If I was Cheika I would make one of Genia and Pocock captain and the other vice captain. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed. Polota-Nau is the other very good leader in the group I think. While I don’t think Moore was a great captain with the referees I thought he was a good leader.

              Ben Mowen and Scott Fardy are two other guys that I think should have been promoted into the leadership ranks and the ARU should have done everything to keep them. Mowen in particular was a huge loss. Rather like Whiteley, he was a top class leader.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2018 @ 10:58am
                Hoy said | June 20th 2018 @ 10:58am | ! Report

                I agree Genia and Pocock. I think Genia is a good choice for captain, though he is getting injured an awful lot lately.

                Perhaps Mowen, but it is a pity he was there only as injury filler… He would not have been a first starter unfortunately. I also think the entitled few didn’t take to it well when he was on side with Link about the disciplinary action after the Irish test (I think it was?).

              • June 20th 2018 @ 11:05am
                Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

                I thought it was just before the Dublin test, but from memory they were the whispers, yeah.

                I’ve felt for a long time that Australia are still trying desperately to recover from Link’s resignation.

                Whether we would have done as well in the 2015 WC is immaterial (and I think we would, beat an out of form England, beat an injury-ravaged Wales we always beat, snuck past Scotland due to Joubert making a very understandable mistake that he wasn’t able to check with the TMO and beat Argentina). But I definitely think we would have improved and built post-2015 in a way we haven’t with Cheika.

                At the same time the Aussie SR teams lost all of their experienced coaches. With Cheika at the helm at the Waratahs perhaps the Aussie coach would have had more successful SR teams to pick from.

                I hope that in 10 years time we’re not still mourning Link’s resignation as Australian rugby continues to decline.

              • June 20th 2018 @ 11:16am
                arthur rightus said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

                He doesn’t have a c next to his name but when he is on the field Genia is the captain for both the Rebels and the Wallabies and when he is not on the field their play goes down the toilet.

                You only have to watch him convince Hooper to take the shot at goal in game 1 when they were down by a point with 10min to go to know who is calling the shots out there.

              • June 20th 2018 @ 3:12pm
                cuw said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

                its interesting that both England and Australia are trying hard to find a genuine leader as he captain.

                people trashed Hartley – but look what they got instead? Farrell must be one one of the most disliked players on the planet when it comes to rugger.

                he just seems to say the wrong thing – or be a nuisance most of the time. when his players were trying to get into a fight he was at the front. when his team was penalized he was the one not going back 10m.

                his mannerisms are not examples of ” how to win friends and influence people ”

                Hooper on the other hand seems to lack a good knowledge of the laws. for me he never seems to get one over the ref, which some of the other captains like Read POM Leitch Parrisse mange to achieve.

                the good thing for aussy is still they have a good leadership group with Pocock Beale Genia and TPN in the mix.

                this is what England lack. I think Eddie keeps picking Robshaw and brown for thier leadership – but they look past the sell by date after each game.

                If i was coaching England – i will go for Shields as captain if Hartley is not back. may not be a popular suggestion , but then Hartley was also not the one people wanted.

                Sheilds is a very good captain – of Wellington and Hurricanes. am sure he can bring more discipline and leaadership to the team.

                put Cipriani at 10 and make him vice captain

                for aussy it has to be Pocock and Genia as captain and vc. may mean benching Hooper for a bigger 6 / 8.

                but then it will NEVER happen 😀

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 4:46pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

                Ben Mowen was an excellent captain by all accounts Fionn – one of the understated losses for Australian rugby….

              • June 20th 2018 @ 5:26pm
                cuw said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

                Mowen was australia’s WW .

                there are better who can play at 6 /8 , but as player – captain none better at that point in time 😀

              • June 20th 2018 @ 8:23pm
                Mzilikazi said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:23pm | ! Report

                ” Mowen in particular was a huge loss” Yes, he was traveling so well, and then was gone.

      • Columnist

        June 20th 2018 @ 8:28am
        Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        Having a good possession game, and being used to holding on to the ball for long periods certainly helps eat the clock in these situations Corne!

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2018 @ 11:00am
          PeterK said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          I have written this elsewhere but I think when ball carriers have supporting players latched on and then the ball carrier is tackled the latched players lay on top of the ball carrier / ball preventing any chance of a pilfer , preventing any chance of a contest, it is clearly sealing off and should always be penalised.

          Ireland did this often near the line.

          A lot / most teams do this running a clock down protecting a small lead.

          It is very negative rugby and should be penalised out of the game IMO.

          • June 20th 2018 @ 1:41pm
            Kane said | June 20th 2018 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            Does that not become a collapsed maul with the ball being available immediately so play on?

            • Roar Guru

              June 20th 2018 @ 1:44pm
              PeterK said | June 20th 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

              no not if the ball carrier is tackled right away, it considered a tackle , to be a maul it needs to be contested on their feet , just like an intended maul from a lineout can be sacked as long as it is done right away.

              refs actually give it far too much time before it is a maul.

              If it was then the defence good jump over the ball themselves and ensure a scrum was called.

              • June 20th 2018 @ 1:50pm
                Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                ‘refs actually give it far too much time before it is a maul.’

                Absolutely, far too much is sacrificed on the alter of attacking rugby and continuous possession. I thought there were a few times both teams held the other team up in the tackle that should have resulted in a turnover on the weekend.

                As annoying as continual stoppages and penalties are I wish it was called faster, just like there should be far more penalties awarded for a player going off their feet in the breakdown despite how annoyingly stop-start it can make the game.

              • June 20th 2018 @ 2:46pm
                concerned supporter said | June 20th 2018 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                Fionn,

                ”As annoying as continual stoppages and penalties are I wish it was called faster,”

                Do you know what you are wishing for? More scrums, more scrum resets, more time wasting & downtime. No thanks.

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 4:53pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

                refs actually give it far too much time before it is a maul.

                Coaches complained about hold-up tackles being called mauls too quickly a while back – it is why they introduced the concept that if the attacker has a knee on the ground (but the ball’s still being held up), he must be released so that play can continue.

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2018 @ 4:49pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

            It’s something refs are sensitive to when teams start running those short zig-zags to run the clock or inch forward close to the line Peter. But all cleanout players are taught to go in as low as possible (irrespective of country) and refs will allow them to go off their feet as a result – as long as they try to ‘reload’ back on their feet whenever possible. Most of the time if you want to get your body height down, it’s impossible to stay on your feet throughout the whole process…

            • Roar Guru

              June 20th 2018 @ 7:05pm
              PeterK said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

              the latch players don’t cleanout though

              They land on top of the ball carrier and stay there. No attempt to reload. They just lie on top of him.

              It is obvious sealing off and not punished.

              If they actually drove a defender away i.e a genuine cleanout that would be a different matter.

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 7:09pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

                Cleanouts do not always mean driving opponents out of the play. Some coaches like to have the first support stop and stay above the ball – on their feet ofc… That isn’t the same as sealing off the contest.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2018 @ 11:03pm
                PeterK said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:03pm | ! Report

                i agree but the key point is that they are NOT on their feet.

                They are literally lying on top of the ball carrier.

                Impossible to pilfer or remove or counter ruck.

              • Columnist

                June 21st 2018 @ 12:35am
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 21st 2018 @ 12:35am | ! Report

                It’s something refs will allow latitude for, as long as they see an attempt to reload where possible. All international sides exploit that latitude, and it’s part of the direction in which the game is moving – as you can see with the one man creating an offside line after a tackle without being in contact with a defender. Same theme in a diff form!

    • June 20th 2018 @ 4:57am
      Pie Thrower said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:57am | ! Report

      Nicholas,

      I’d love to know your thoughts on the ‘deliberate knock-on’ law in rugby. I find it an increasingly annoying ruling – especially when coupled with a yellow card. You point out above that neither Timu or foley were in a position to take either intercept, but (in my admittedly wallaby mind) they were both legitimately attempting to intercept the ball. Both times the palm was pointing up and they attempted to grab it. There was no ‘slapping’ the ball down as a defensive measure to stop the pass getting past them. It seems now that if you attempt an intercept and don’t pull it off you risk a penalty and more often than not a yellow card. It seems the punishment doesn’t seem to match the lack of execution.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2018 @ 5:28am
        Derm McCrum said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:28am | ! Report

        Attempting to intercept the ball without any chance of getting it. I don’t think anyone else has argued that they were in a position to get the ball. It’s a cynical move, particularly if the only sanction is a penalty.

        The ref determined them as deliberate knockons and penalized accordingly. McGrath’s tap in the closing minutes was also deemed a deliberate knock on and he got a card.

        It’ll be interesting to see what the third ref from the series group does in relation to the various offence issues that have been raised. Assuming that he learns from the previous two, we may get stricter policing on some of them this week.

      • June 20th 2018 @ 7:23am
        Neil Back said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:23am | ! Report

        Double comment removed.

      • June 20th 2018 @ 7:26am
        Neil Back said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:26am | ! Report

        The ‘palm up’ defense never seems convincing. Anyone who’s played knows you can’t get away with a slap down so doesn’t shape that way. It doesn’t change the intent – or the outcome.

        • Columnist

          June 20th 2018 @ 8:33am
          Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:33am | ! Report

          Yep – your palms can be up, but you have to be in a realistic position to catch the ball (or at least knock it up in the air before catching it) 🙂

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2018 @ 6:05pm
            jeznez said | June 20th 2018 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

            I always loved the time Jean de Villiers knocked the ball up, failed to catch it and got penalised for not being a realistic chance.

            He said to the ref “Do you know how many of those I’ve caught in my career?”

            • Columnist

              June 20th 2018 @ 7:02pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

              Was that the 2011 WC QF against the WBs Jez?? 🙂

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2018 @ 10:47pm
                jeznez said | June 20th 2018 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

                Just remember the comment rather than the match.

                He was a specialist at making those knock the ball up catches though

      • Columnist

        June 20th 2018 @ 8:17am
        Geoff Parkes said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:17am | ! Report

        Agree Derm and Neil. Both of the cases highlighted were not genuine intercept opportunities.

        I think that a good indicator is if the defender gets two hands to the ball where, even if he knocks it on, the argument for making a genuine attempt to catch is far stronger.

        But in these cases, Cheika actually acknowledged afterwards that these were examples of his side coming under defensive pressure, and guys finding themselves out of position in the defensive line, forced to make snap, rash decisions.

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2018 @ 8:27am
          Derm McCrum said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

          Geoff – any thoughts on why McGrath received the YC but the other two DKOs didn’t? Ireland were attacking on both occasions, and certainly with the Foley one, they were in with a good chance of reaching or nearing the try line.

          McGrath’s DKO meant that Phipps lost momentum whilst Australia were building pressure, so I kinda get that it was both penalty and YC and Australia subsequently got the try so double bonus for them.

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2018 @ 9:29am
            Geoff Parkes said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

            The Foley one seemed very lenient Derm, there was a fair bit of clear running space outside him. YC imo.

            McGrath’s was a clear YC, as much because he was lying on the ground as for the slap. I loved that pic showing him almost completely covered, except for his arm and his evil eye poking out between other players 🙂

            • June 20th 2018 @ 9:39am
              mick said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

              But this is the aspect of it I don’t get. Foley has a clear run to the tryline as well. The argument that the team in possession gets the advantage here is nuts – you don’t have possession when the ball is in the air,

              Why don’t we penalize offensive players who spill the ball forward when they attempt to take a pass that is too far in front of them as well? It’s also an intentional knock-down by the same reasoning.

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 10:38am
                Geoff Parkes said | June 20th 2018 @ 10:38am | ! Report

                “you don’t have possession when the ball is in the air”

                That’s a really interesting interpretation mick, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before.
                Technically I see your argument, the ball is indeed in space, available for both sides.

                But that’s like saying a team is in possession when they have a throw in to a line-out and when they catch it, but for the brief period when the ball passes from the hooker to the jumper, they are not deemed to be in possession. Same for when the halfback feeds the scrum.

                I doubt anyone sees it that way mick, transferring the ball from player to player while in possession is still deemed to be in possession.

                Imagine the people who do the possession stats, having to separate the time the ball is in hand, from the time it is in the air being passed? What a nightmare that would be 🙂

              • June 20th 2018 @ 10:55am
                mick said | June 20th 2018 @ 10:55am | ! Report

                Geoff, I think any reasonable interpretation states that when the ball is physically not in someone’s hand it is free to be contested (assuming the player is onside etc). It’s what happens with kicks, throw-ins, and every other aspect of the game.

                The penalty sanction exists for players intentionally trying to stop play via a knock-on. I.e. an intentional knock-down, someone intentionally throwing the ball into touch, or a player in possession just throwing the ball forward in the hope of a whistle.

                The NH/NZ interpretation that has been in play for the last few years to me very weird, it rewards bad backline vision. It also doesn’t stifle attack in the sense that Nick B. advocates above as anyone shooting for an intercept leaves a huge whole in the defensive line!

              • June 20th 2018 @ 10:48am
                Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                ‘but for the brief period when the ball passes from the hooker to the jumper, they are not deemed to be in possession. Same for when the halfback feeds the scrum.’

                I would have thought that was obvious though. How can a team be in possession when the ball is in space?

                Does that mean when an attacking team goes for a kick pass they’re in possession when the ball is in space? Does that mean when an attacking team goes for an attacking up and under like Larkham did for Tuqiri in the 03 WC final the attacking team was in possession when it was in space and before caught?

                I would have thought definitionally no team was in possession when the ball was in mid-air.

              • June 20th 2018 @ 11:08am
                mick said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:08am | ! Report

                Yep, and as I said above if a team in possession throws a bad pass that leads to an offensive player stretching to catch a ball that is subsequently knocked-on we don’t penalise. The same should be true for defence. This one-hand, two-handed stuff doesn’t apply to offence so to the defence?

              • Roar Guru

                June 22nd 2018 @ 2:37pm
                taylorman said | June 22nd 2018 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

                Definitely, and thats how intercepts and charge downs occur, when ball transfer quality is poor. If no one physically has it, its anyones.

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 4:59pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

                The lawmakers would probably say that they are trying to encourage positive play from both sides Mick, and forcing the defence to respect the pass. They are always looking for ways to tidy the game up and make it a more attractive form of entertainment in a crowded market – hence the new tackle laws, for example.

                Refs in the English Premiership are very strict on what they construe as deliberate knock-downs and issue an automatic yellow card for negative play (a bit like hitting the halfback before he’s played the ball). All the little things help tidy the game up!

        • Columnist

          June 20th 2018 @ 8:35am
          Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:35am | ! Report

          Yes Geoff, I think they were examples of Australia over-reaching to try and get the ball back 🙂

        • June 20th 2018 @ 8:47am
          AJ said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:47am | ! Report

          Agree, if you cant get two hands to it, don’t bother.

        • Roar Guru

          June 21st 2018 @ 5:59pm
          ThugbyFan said | June 21st 2018 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

          G’day Folks, and another nice constructed article by Nicholas, despite the tears from his eyes of the SA vs England results and Wales march up the ladder. 🙂

          As for the deliberate knock-ons, whilst I agree that an intercept touch of the ball by a defender should warrant a penalty I cannot agree to a yellow card, even if 6 blokes were on the outside, unmarked and just 2m from the try line. If the defender is onside, then surely the bloke who passed the ball must take some blame if that defender is able to get to the ball. The present Law double-rewards an attacker for releasing a pass which could have been intercepted. That’s ludicrous!

          Some people say “but everyone would do it” whereas I say “maybe the bloke passing the ball shouldn’t release unless there is NO chance of an intercept”. It just comes back to skills.

          • Columnist

            June 21st 2018 @ 6:26pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 21st 2018 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

            G’day Folks, and another nice constructed article by Nicholas, despite the tears from his eyes of the SA vs England results and Wales march up the ladder.

            In fact, hardly upset by England’s decline given some of the unsavoury incidents associated with it! And pleased Wales are getting back to the style that suits them best…

            But to say that somehow the passer is to blame for a defender reaching out towards a pass he can’t possibly hang on to is beyond silly. The whole point is that in a lot of these situations, the defender has no realistic chance to intercept, but throws out a mitt anyway (like Foley). There is no upside to it at all, it’s just a plain ugly play which turns spectators off the game.

      • June 20th 2018 @ 8:26am
        Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

        I hate the intentional knock down rule. Just play a knock on and a scrum. It’s a rule that protects attacking teams for throwing bad passes and punishes defending teams for getting themselves in a position to disrupt an attack.

        That’s even before you get to how subjective it is as to whether some of them were on purpose.

        • June 20th 2018 @ 8:34am
          concerned supporter said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

          Couldn’t agree more Fionn, the NRL have got it right, knock on, scrum feed to the other team.

          • June 20th 2018 @ 9:14am
            Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

            Agreed.

        • Columnist

          June 20th 2018 @ 8:38am
          Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

          I’m certain you’d see a rash of messy slap-downs and deliberately negative play by the D if a knock-on was the worst penalty you could receive Fionn. There has to be a tougher sanction to discourage inaccurate (and opportunity-denying) decisions by the defence.

          • June 20th 2018 @ 9:13am
            Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:13am | ! Report

            Don’t really have a problem with the D doing that, Nick.

            Is it champagne rugby or my preferred brand, no?

            But neither is 10 man rugby, and I like that being another legitimate strategy as well. I think if a team is poor enough to throw a pass where a defender has a chance to disrupt the attack, they should be able to do so.

            • Columnist

              June 20th 2018 @ 9:16am
              Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

              People throwing out hands (or even diving full length to tip the pass away like a goalkeeper)?? Very counter-intuitive Fionn!!

              • June 20th 2018 @ 9:22am
                Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

                What’s effective isn’t necessarily pretty. Just ask Ivan Lendl about Michael Chang about the 1989 French Open.

                Equally, just ask the 07-09 Boks.

              • Roar Guru

                June 20th 2018 @ 11:10am
                PeterK said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:10am | ! Report

                Agree.

                NRL with the defence back 10 metres is totally different.

                With the ruck 1 metre away from the halfback you would see so many players diving to knock down the pass.

                Also flatline attack would be eradicated.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 20th 2018 @ 11:11am
                tsuru said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:11am | ! Report

                As someone who used to field at 1st slip, I feel that what’s happening a lot of the time is a case of optimistic reflexes. Of course I was told to attempt any catch with 2 hands. But if the ball flies wide to your left above your head you fling up a left hand and say to yourself, “I would have been a hero if I’d taken that.” And occasionally you are.

              • June 20th 2018 @ 11:14am
                Fionn said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

                Good point, guys, I hadn’t really considered that.

              • June 20th 2018 @ 3:33pm
                cuw said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

                slip catching or field catching is about positioning and instinct.

                if u watched the IPL – there was many one handed field catches – including throw in catches.

                only difference is – when ur catching near the bat , the reaction time is less. the closer u are to the bat the harder it becomes to think.

                and edges fly much faster then off the middle of a bat 😀

                the slap penalty has deterred many from going for the speculative. the only issue was when refs started defining ” potential break ” or ” scoring opportunity ” or ” position to regather’ etc.

                the more u try to dissect a Law the more complicated it becomes.

                just apply it like Joubert or Owens 😛

              • Roar Rookie

                June 20th 2018 @ 3:59pm
                piru said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

                People throwing out hands (or even diving full length to tip the pass away like a goalkeeper)?? Very counter-intuitive Fionn!!

                If the D is doing that throw a dummy and run into the gap – just allows more tactics in play

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 5:06pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

                As above in my reply to Mick – the lawmakers also see it as part of their job to make the game more attractive and reduce the opportunities for negative play. So most of the law-making changes tend to favour the side with possession of the ball.

                Allowing defender to intentionally swipe at the ball without any idea of regaining possession is a big negative.

                Imagine all the problems it would create around the breakdown, with defenders hovering to knock the ball out of the 9’s hands without any form of redress! It would be a real mess, and just lead to more scrums, which already drain too much time out of the clock through resets and more pens etc 🙂

              • Roar Rookie

                June 20th 2018 @ 6:22pm
                piru said | June 20th 2018 @ 6:22pm | ! Report

                Allowing defender to intentionally swipe at the ball without any idea of regaining possession is a big negative.

                Imagine all the problems it would create around the breakdown, with defenders hovering to knock the ball out of the 9’s hands without any form of redress! It would be a real mess, and just lead to more scrums, which already drain too much time out of the clock through resets and more pens etc 🙂

                Have your ten stand deeper, chip it behind them, throw a dummy, a hundred other options.

                If the ref polices the offside line correctly the attacking team still has the initiative – if a team decides that’s the way they want to play they leave themselves open somewhere else.

                Anyway I can see we won’t agree, and I know I’m in the minority, I just think it’s an unnecessary damper on imaginative play

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 7:01pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

                It’s a damper on negative play, not imaginative play Piru! 😀

              • June 20th 2018 @ 9:24pm
                In Brief said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:24pm | ! Report

                In soccer you can intentionally intercept a pass – it’s an example that comes to mind whenever I see rugby penalty for intentional knock downs. In my view if you are good enough to get to the ball and the attacking player’s pass isn’t good enough to beat you, then fair play.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 21st 2018 @ 4:09pm
                piru said | June 21st 2018 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

                It’s a damper on negative play, not imaginative play Piru!

                You say tomato

              • Columnist

                June 21st 2018 @ 4:13pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 21st 2018 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

                …and I say potarto 😀

          • June 20th 2018 @ 9:22am
            Dave_ said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

            No I don’t buy that reasoning Nic.

            Rugby has plenty of legal negative plays – charging down a kick, counter rucking and scrumming to disrupt the opposition half’s pass, holding a ball in a scrum to draw a penalty, driving mauls that shield the ball carrier from the D …

            And the attack has plenty of advantages in general.

            I’m with the others – if you throw a pass with a defender in arms reach of it, you deserve to be disrupted. You still get a scrum. You shouldn’t get a YC advantage with a ref CLEARLY guessing half the time about the defender’s intent and ability to intercept.

            There are not a rash of messy slap downs in league, which doesn’t have that rule. Players just respect possession more.

            • Columnist

              June 20th 2018 @ 9:26am
              Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

              You’d certainly never get coaches to accept it, and they are usually the ones driving law changes… They like attacking play all neatly wrapped up so they can plot their way downfield. Nothing messy I’m afraid!

              • June 20th 2018 @ 11:54pm
                Go the Usedtobe's said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:54pm | ! Report

                Com’n Nick. If you want to get rid of negative play, you better stop those Irish guys blocking Folau then.

                League knock downs are rare when they are trying to intercept. Even they realise they are better off trying to catch the pill.

                And if you want to make the game more attractive, reduce the points for penalty goals back to 1 point please. Yet another thing the Leaugies have right but rugby refuses to change.

              • June 21st 2018 @ 5:11am
                Nobody said | June 21st 2018 @ 5:11am | ! Report

                In league, if you knock on the possession count is reset. That’s a big deal.. In union there is no possession count, and if you can disrupt the opposing team’s attack and slow things back to a scrum without penalty, you’ll knock it down all day.

            • June 20th 2018 @ 11:28am
              RahRah said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:28am | ! Report

              Agreed

            • Roar Guru

              June 20th 2018 @ 3:20pm
              Corne Van Vuuren said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

              if you throw a pass with a defender in arms reach of it, you deserve to be disrupted

              But then if the opposition player is in position to catch it he will, andnot have to slap at the ball.

              • Columnist

                June 20th 2018 @ 5:11pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

                League is a very diff animal to Union, and the main diff is that the side in possession is guaranteed to keep the ball at the breakdown, or play-the-ball.

                There are so many more variables for the attack to consider in Union that lawmakers do not want to add to them by allowing intentional knock-ons to the list. Remember they are in a competitive market and have to promote the attractions of the game, and that tends to mean attacking spectacle.

            • June 20th 2018 @ 9:27pm
              In Brief said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

              Yes, it’s not a good look for rugby. Appears to be yet another pedantic penalty. Ideally the game should flow more,.

          • June 20th 2018 @ 10:11am
            concerned supporter said | June 20th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            Hi Nick, you say,

            ”I’m certain you’d see a rash of messy slap-downs and deliberately negative play by the D if a knock-on was the worst penalty you could receive Fionn ”

            Nick, have you ever watched much NRL? No problems there at all, no rash of messy knockdowns, it has not been an issue.in NRL.

            • June 20th 2018 @ 4:52pm
              Jacko said | June 20th 2018 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

              CP as said above…in League the defence is a lot further away…Even the dummy half has no legal shot at a slap-down in League and League certainly does not have the close in passing that Union does

            • Columnist

              June 20th 2018 @ 5:14pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

              As above CS – the attack has not already had to work hard to win the ball back at the ruck in League, it is a given just like their scrums.

              They can afford to be more lenient with the D in the knock-on department! Do we really want to increase the disruptive opportunities for the D in the modern game of Union?

          • June 20th 2018 @ 3:05pm
            moa said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

            Especially if your team had the dominent scrum!

        • Roar Rookie

          June 20th 2018 @ 3:58pm
          piru said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

          I hate the intentional knock down rule. Just play a knock on and a scrum. It’s a rule that protects attacking teams for throwing bad passes and punishes defending teams for getting themselves in a position to disrupt an attack.

          Yep, the argument that ‘it’s cynical’ doesn’t hold any water in my opinion. If stopping an attack is cynical, then so is tackling or counter rucking.

          It’s not cynical, it’s playing defence. I reckon if you got rid of this law today, you’d

          1) open up a lot more opportunity for scores against the run of play
          2) open up more holes in the defence and
          3) increase the effectiveness of a good dummy pass (when was the last time you saw a bloke properly fooled by a dummy?)

          Get rid of it, if you can’t throw a pass without it being knocked down that’s your own fault, don’t punish the bloke on D

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2018 @ 5:18pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

            So a two-on-one near the line, defender goes to slap the ball down without any intent to catch the ball – you’re happy with that?

            • Roar Rookie

              June 20th 2018 @ 6:02pm
              piru said | June 20th 2018 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

              Yep – I’d be more than happy.

              If he goes for a spoil and it comes off that’s smart defence in my imaginary version of the game!

              Under current laws, there’s nothing that defender can do to prevent the try – even in Piru’s new and improved version he’s taking an awful risk ignoring the ball carrier and going for the ball.

            • June 21st 2018 @ 12:03am
              Go the Force said | June 21st 2018 @ 12:03am | ! Report

              Absolutely. Poor work by attackers, great work by defender.

        • June 20th 2018 @ 5:47pm
          double agent said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

          I like the rule. For some reason the refs are making more and more of a fuss about it in recent years which is annoying.

      • Columnist

        June 20th 2018 @ 8:32am
        Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        Most refs will penalize any attempt to ‘intercept’ one-handed and at full arm’s length (with no chance of keeping the ball off the ground). Some will go further and award an automatic YC, esp if it prevents a break or possible scoring chance…

        I don’t think there was any chance of either Timu or Foley catching the ball, and if they’d had Pascal Gauzere reffing (who’s the ref for the final Test) I think they would have gone.

        • June 20th 2018 @ 11:36am
          arthur rightus said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:36am | ! Report

          The whole problem with the law is that we now have refs having to decide if there was a clear overlap, a clear try scoring opportunity and all the other nonsense that just creates grey areas that frustrate players, coaches and supporters. Take all that BS out of the equation and make it black or white. Whether that be any attempted intercept that is not caught is an automatic penalty/yellow card or scrum, just pick one and make that the rule.

          I’m with the other Roarers here who think the NRL have it right in it being a scrum, no questions asked and if you can’t draw and pass, which almost seems a lost art these days, then that’s your bad play and it certainly shouldn’t result in the player who gets his hand to it spending time in the bin.

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2018 @ 5:19pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

            Sadly there are an increasing amount of laws which need a load of reffing interpretation and ‘feel’ for the play Arthur. This is one of them 🙂

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2018 @ 5:56pm
            Derm McCrum said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:56pm | ! Report

            So McGrath shouldn’t have been penalized or given a card for his DKO, it should just have been a scrum to Australia.

            Sounds okay to me…..

            • June 20th 2018 @ 6:31pm
              cuw said | June 20th 2018 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

              i think the ref will have to go to TMO to have a 2nd look

              to see if it was a deliberate slap down

              or an attempt at an intercept gone wrong

              or a strip off

              one area i think is contentious is when the ball is slapped down off a scrum half’s hands.

              i think in the world cup SBW was deemed to have knocked the ball off a player’s hands. but when it happens with a scrum half it is always penalty and at times a card.

              why is he treated differently to any other player?

            • Columnist

              June 20th 2018 @ 7:05pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

              Excellent point Derm – it’s licence for cynical play to prevent scoring opportunities 🙂

        • Roar Guru

          June 21st 2018 @ 6:36pm
          ThugbyFan said | June 21st 2018 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

          Penalty for deliberate knock-ons, no yellow cards. Close to the line, the attacking team still gets a penalty kick with 3 points or the dreaded rolling maul (aka legalised obstruction). Knock-on from a genuine attempt is a scrum with attacking side’s feed.

          Nicholas, if you want to talk of rugby trying to open up play, then why is it legal for the ball to be passed behind the front line thus removing any chance of contest for the ball? The only way to contest a maul is your 8 fatties can stop it moving forward or there is a collapse, but there is no contest for the ball. For the defending side no player can actually get his hand onto the ball because the first thing done in a maul is its passed back to prevent exactly that, so there is NO competing for the ball. It’s similar to a player falling over the ball in a breakdown, he removes any chance of a contest for the ball, but he is penalised. WR Law16 reads “The purpose of a maul is to allow players to compete for the ball, which is held off the ground.” I would like law16 changed to include “The ball can only be held by a player in direct contact with an opposition player. If the ball is passed behind the maul ends”. This would remove the sight of 6-7 players obstructing any opposition player from contest of the ball.

          • Columnist

            June 21st 2018 @ 8:04pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 21st 2018 @ 8:04pm | ! Report

            Penalty for deliberate knock-ons, no yellow cards.

            As Derm already pointed out, that would rescind Jack McGrath’s ‘knock-on’ on the deck then – no Y/C for that either??

            I think there’s an irrational fear of yellows behind all this. If you look at the raw data, dropping down for 10 mins to 14 players is not a game-changer by any means. In fact it tends to make less than 3 points per game difference on average – Ireland’s 13 points was the exception not the rule.

            If you want to reward cynical play/intent, be my guest – but the game is moving in the opposite direction, thank goodness…

      • Roar Rookie

        June 20th 2018 @ 3:55pm
        piru said | June 20th 2018 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

        I hate this rule – Rugby is the only sport I know of where you have to let the pass through unless you take it cleanly.

        No other sport protects the pass like this – perhaps if players had to contend with maybe throwing an intercept more often they might pay attention and actually work on their passing skills?

        • Columnist

          June 20th 2018 @ 7:07pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

          Does that mean you’re happy with the Jack McGrath incident Derm mentions above P? After all Jack was defending imaginatively!…. I can see him making his excuses now 😀

          • June 21st 2018 @ 8:01am
            mick said | June 21st 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

            Urgh, I don’t want to harp on about this as I think no-one is going to change their minds. But the difference between what Foley did and what McGrath did is light and day. One was an offence at the halfway line where if he managed to pull off an intercept it would have led to a definite try. The other was a guy trying to stop play dead by making it look like the halfback knocked-on – this is definite foul play that only had the intent to stop the action dead.

            Nick – you keep bringing up the example of forwards swiping at the halfback on the tryline but that is very different to attempting an intercept in open play. As you know in open play there is no offside line nor anyone with any sort of protected status as per the halfback at a ruck. By all means penalize cynical knock-downs, but if someone is to attempt an intercept with very good motivation and spill it I really don’t see how that can be interpreted as anything other than a knock-on.

            • Columnist

              June 21st 2018 @ 4:05pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | June 21st 2018 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

              The other was a guy trying to stop play dead by making it look like the halfback knocked-on – this is definite foul play that only had the intent to stop the action dead.

              So you are making a judgement about intent after all – but somehow this cannot be applied to bogus intercept attempts??

              Foley had no chance of intercepting the ball, when you’ve been around the block enough times you learn to spot what they call in Soccer simulation!

          • Roar Rookie

            June 21st 2018 @ 11:01am
            piru said | June 21st 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

            I don’t recall the incident in question, but if it was a defensive player knocking a pass away, then yes.

            I think it should be allowed, they are already giving up a scrum in most cases.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 20th 2018 @ 5:25am
      nothing if not critical said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:25am | ! Report

      Hi Nicholas, great write up, as usual. Ever since the English series, it’s been apparent to me that Genia is the key man in the Wallabies. You know if he’s playing the team has a good chance of winning. But without him they just don’t play with the same fluidity in attack and sorely miss his ability to spot an opportunity.

      I was really stunned at how bereft of ideas Foley and Beale – the two playmakers – were on the weekend when Genia went off. They both looked out of their depths. And you could see from their facial expressions that they could not see a way to counter the Irish tactics. And as a result, overplayed their hands. Whether that was kicking bombs from within the 22 or seeing opportunities where there were none.

      Will be very keen to see if Cheika can devise a new way to counter the Irish without any unforced changes to the backline. I really hope he can step up and surprise us all!

      • June 20th 2018 @ 7:08am
        ForwardsWinMatches said | June 20th 2018 @ 7:08am | ! Report

        The commentary on Foley and Beale just totally misses the point. Up to the 65 minute mark, or thereabouts, Australia had about 27% possession. If you had the Wallaby backs behind the Irish forwards in the same circumstances, I’m very comfortable in saying the margin would have been much greater.

        The fact is, we got comprehensively outdone up front and that is where the focus should be. Swapping MK for RH, as many suggest, is just tinkering around the edges.

        Our back row needs urgent attention. Pocock to 7 and the other two probably miss out except Hooper on bench perhaps.

        • Roar Rookie

          June 20th 2018 @ 10:48am
          nothing if not critical said | June 20th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

          The main point I was making was that even with the limited possession they did have, Foley and Beale didn’t seem to know what to do with it when they had it. And as Nick pointed out, in the first test they had similar amounts of possession for the game as a whole and did much more with it. Also, Cheika hooking Beale at the 54th minute speaks volumes – he’d lost confidence in him.

          • June 20th 2018 @ 2:40pm
            ForwardsWinMatches said | June 20th 2018 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

            So the overall possession was 40% due to a glut in the last 10-15 minutes, chasing the game. This is vastly different to 40% possession over the full 80. I’m not suggesting our backs were great but to focus on them after this game is a mistake.

            • Roar Rookie

              June 21st 2018 @ 3:51am
              nothing if not critical said | June 21st 2018 @ 3:51am | ! Report

              For sure – it’s a team effort and 15 guys on the field. But these two are senior players, and both looked spooked out there. And their on-field leadership was no-where to be seen!

      • Columnist

        June 20th 2018 @ 8:40am
        Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

        I think this is where the failure to develop alternatives behind both Genia and Foley is hurting Australia NINC…. Now Michael Cheika has to go back to Nick Phipps even though he can’t play the same role as Genia. I hope it’s not the decisive factor in the final match, but it could well be!

        • June 20th 2018 @ 9:40am
          Sgt Pepperoni said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

          Sadly, I think without Genia we’re toast

          Question: would Ireland be equally toasted without one C. Murray?

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2018 @ 5:30pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

            I don’t think so Sarge… After all he doesn’t play for Leinster and they are pretty good!

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2018 @ 9:51am
          Ralph said | June 20th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

          I keep thinking NZ will go into the RWC next year about half as baked as they were last one.

          But then I look at the development depth of SB and WB and think we aren’t so badly off.

          Next year might be the most open cup for ages.

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2018 @ 5:31pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

            I suspect you’re right Ralph, I think there will be a few sides capable of winning it – and there might even be a new winner!

        • Roar Rookie

          June 20th 2018 @ 10:46am
          nothing if not critical said | June 20th 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

          Yes, I think you’re right. Overall, coming into this series, Cheika’s selections were spot on except for the glaring omissions of a genuine second flyhalf in the squad and that Phipps was still Genia’s backup.

          Not only do I think it will prove decisive in this series, I think it’ll turn out to be his Achilles heel come World Cup time, too.

          All the same, still looking forward to the decider! Ireland by 3

          • Roar Rookie

            June 20th 2018 @ 11:23am
            tsuru said | June 20th 2018 @ 11:23am | ! Report

            OK, I’ll be the one to ask – who is this “genuine second flyhalf?” But yes, Cheika has to take at least one backup fly half and 2 or 3 of Powell, Gordon, Ruru, (Sorovi?) to Europe at the end of the year and give them a start..

            • Roar Rookie

              June 21st 2018 @ 3:56am
              nothing if not critical said | June 21st 2018 @ 3:56am | ! Report

              I’m not wading into that debate, tsuru! 🙂 Suffice to say, there have been (and still are) a few contenders for the backup role and only one has ever been given a chance under Cheika. Cheika has put all his money on one horse!

          • June 20th 2018 @ 2:05pm
            Markus said | June 20th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

            Beale is the genuine second flyhalf. For any limitations he has in the position, he is better than every other eligible flyhalf option barring an immediate return to top form from Lealiifano.

            • Columnist

              June 20th 2018 @ 5:33pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | June 20th 2018 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

              He may be better than the other options Markus, but he still hasn’t played the position at top level for a long, long time!

            • June 20th 2018 @ 6:34pm
              cuw said | June 20th 2018 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

              u have to wonder of his ability to direct play.

              in the 2nd NZ France test , NZ could not runaway playing against 14 for like 60 minutes.

              they had DMAC at 10 during the period.

              i believe someone like Cruden or Mounga would have made the French cry given that much of space and time….

              • Columnist

                June 21st 2018 @ 12:52am
                Nicholas Bishop said | June 21st 2018 @ 12:52am | ! Report

                Cruden yes – Mounga no.

                I honestly don’t what we could expect from KB right now at 10 (similar to Reece Hodge in the same position, but for diff reasons!).

        • June 20th 2018 @ 1:45pm
          cinque said | June 20th 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

          Phipps for Genia is a loss but it’s not all bad. Powell will likely get decent game time.
          Also, having 9-10-12 from one club is a plus. Wonder whether Cheika could go even further and start Rona, with Kerevi on the bench. Hodge for Koirobete and retain a 6-2 bench. Start Latu, Tui a starting 6, etc.
          It could all click. Or not.

          • June 21st 2018 @ 12:40am
            Sgt Pepperoni said | June 21st 2018 @ 12:40am | ! Report

            I’m not sure that Kerevi has really worked out in this series. So many pushed passes and lottery decisions. I had hoped for rona from the outset

            Ultimately, though we lost the last test up front. Like the idea about Latu. I think Timu and Hooper have struggled for impact

            • Columnist

              June 21st 2018 @ 12:51am
              Nicholas Bishop said | June 21st 2018 @ 12:51am | ! Report

              Samu just hasn’t had enough chances with the ball to make an impact. I expect he’ll stay for the RC.

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