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Matthew Hughes

Roar Rookie

Joined October 2015

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I love rugby and ranting about it on here means my girlfriend won't leave me. I'm a northern hemisphere boy at heart but I'll watch anything egg shaped, apart from AFL, that I don't get.

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Congratulations Ireland, commanding performance from a very good team! Proved me wrong and some.

England will break Irish hearts

Hi Nicholas,

Yeah I’m struggling to explain why Ireland have conceded so many tries. I realise League coaches have enormous pedigree in union and definitely wasn’t a dig at Farrell who I really like and has created a very effective Irish defence, which is probably stronger than their offence.

There’s actually some similarities between the English and Irish defences as far as I can tell, both seem to drop the wingers back and encourage a hard press from 10 and 12, with 13 sweeping up like a fish hook. Wingers seem to sit back to cover chips or breaks in the middle, or turn what was a rush defence into a sliding defence that uses the touchline as a last defender . However, if teams can get outside that 13 defender quickly (and without being intercepted) they will make ground.

As for the intercept against Scotland, I called that in my last article (point 3, https://www.theroar.com.au/2018/03/10/ireland-set-smother-scottish-hopes/). England won’t throw those looping passes, instead the man will loop around and they’ll look to swamp the Irish defensive line and find a gap for their pace to go through. If they can disrupt Ireland and get behind them, Ireland do regroup without concern for where certain players should be (league trait?), props at centre etc (but maybe all teams do?).

Either way, I’m looking forward to the game as a contest but I think this might be one for the purist; low scoring, hard fought, not so easy on the eye, but I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

England will break Irish hearts

Thanks Mzilikazi, yeah agree with your sentiment concerning refs. Hope Gardner has a good game, is consistent and the teams respond to his instructions. I hope Owens keeps quiet but guarantee he will call Gardner over to him at some point.

As for Eddie’s indiscretion, I’m just a little tired of the cynicism in the (English) media. This happened almost a year ago and some one has been waiting for the moment it will cause most disruption to release it. There’s been a notable shift in the coverage Eddie receives from English papers this tournament. Maybe he’s been too mean to them in the press conferences, doesn’t help he’s not winning anymore after looking so smug for two years.

England will break Irish hearts

Yeah fairly obvious disclaimers at the end there. Head says England mostly based on the Twickenham factor but Ireland are good enough to win anywhere. And they could win comfortably if they get a try early and English heads go down.

Plus I’m interested to see how the English players respond after the last few weeks. They are just as likely to implode under the pressure as Ireland. Could end up being a game with a lot of mistakes or nothing happens and it’s a stale mate. Either way looking forward to it!

England will break Irish hearts

Nick, i’m out the door for the game now and plan to be three sheets not long after!

Ireland set to smother Scottish hopes

If this was being played in Murrayfield I would agree with your tip for Scotland.

Ireland have flaws and if I was Irish I would be worried about their paucity in defence; 12 tries in 5 games should have Scotland believing they can do something special. Ireland’s inability to finish Sexton-led breaks without resorting to the pick-and-go from their forwards must also be a concern. Robbie Henshaw will be missed but Ringrose is back and if he’s fit he might go some way to solving this deficiency.

Basically Scotland have a chance but they had a chance in Wales and dominated territory in the opening 40 only to lose badly. I just don’t think Scotland have it in them mentally to repeat the England performance on the road, not yet anyway. Hope I’m wrong because a Scotland win would be great for the final weekend.

Ireland set to smother Scottish hopes

Thanks Mzilikazi!

The entire Scottish front row have been a revelation. That was supposed to be the area that they would be beasted in but they’ve held their own and some.

Ireland set to smother Scottish hopes

I find the best referees are the ones you don’t remember. However, in the spirit of the question I have always rated the French referees; Jérôme Garcès and Romain Poite are up there for me.

Nigel Owens is a legend but some of his calls nowadays are bizarre and I think any other referee making the same mistakes would not be given the same amount of leeway.

Wayne Barnes is very clear in the way he officiates and any 1st language English referee that tries to speak a little Italian or French is always good.

Ultimately the standard of refereeing is the best it’s ever been. Go on youtube and pull up any game before 2005 and it’s like a different world. A particular favourite is any game with André Watson in charge. He once penalised Graham Rowntree for having his head stamped on, like I say, a different world.

Ireland set to smother Scottish hopes

He’s certainly unique in his approach. I wouldn’t be surprised if world rugby started edging him out in the next couple years.

Reflections on an excellent Six Nations weekend

Yeah, this can only be a good thing for England in the long-term. I liked Eddie Jones interviews after, from what I’ve read he didn’t dodge and took responsibility for the result. He gave Scotland a lot of credit, too often you see coaches blame everything else before giving credit to the opposition. France will be interesting. Bloody hard to win away in this comp.

Reflections on an excellent Six Nations weekend

Joseph’s defence has got better as his potency in attack has dimmed. I think opposition defences have wised up to him. He looks for that same 13-wing space that Hogg exploits. He would stand up the opposite 13 by dipping to go inside and then back his pace to make the break on the outside. Defences know not to bite now, instead they stand off and shepherd him to the wing closing the space.

Saying that, he’s still a wonderful opportunist who has a habit of scoring when England need him.

As for Jones, I think you might be right. Bury Russell in praise and then see if he can stand up to the hype. Scotland need to be cautious and patient. If they go too hard too fast they might get sucker punched, like the interception try conceded against Wales. Build any sort of lead and put the pressure on England.

Like I say, I’m excited about this one!

Finn Russell is the key for Scotland

Yeah, I’m an English supporter but I really like this Scottish side. To think a couple years ago they couldn’t buy a try and now they’re running them in for fun. Great to watch!

Finn Russell is the key for Scotland

Thanks, glad you enjoyed the article and it appears that you are not alone in you’re view of Skelton. Watching this series, the Australian second rows are a massive weakness and it should probably be taken as a damning indictment of the quality of his competition that for the first time all series i saw a positive in Skelton’s aggression. His fitness, game awareness and handling are still poor, but he’s a lot better than he was a few years ago. If he continues to improve at his current rate then in two years he shouldn’t inspire such a passionately negative response from the roarers. But just to put Australia’s second row into context; England Saxons fielded Mitch Lees and Dave Attwood at second row against South Africa B. They are fifth and sixth in the pecking order for England and they are excellent players who would walk into the Aussie second row at the moment. Skelton is a lump but the rest are worse and i really liked him swinging arm challenging everyone, showed some aggression that had been missing. Then he was yanked at 55minutes so maybe i’m totally wrong on this and maybe I was looking a little too hard for positives…

Awards and reflections from the Australia vs England series

Ah i thought they’d been introduced but my bad! Referees seem to be trying to be more positive though, play the ball rather than look for the penalty, which can only make the game better for all. Eddie Jones definitely seems to be training England to play to the new rules and i do think the responsibility is on the players to make the scrum work; stop blaming refs and start blaming the props if we watch a game where 30% of the time is spent resetting scrums.

England will take out the Wallabies by a whisker

I didn’t think the changes for Australia would make too much of a impact at first but without Pocock on that list, it makes a heck of a difference. Pocock is a game changer and absolutely one of the best but if Aus muscle up on pure adrenaline then they have a chance. The noise from Cheika in the press conference was encouraging for aus supporters, calm and focused; aim for parity with this English pack and their backs can win it but try and monster them and it’ll end badly.

England will take out the Wallabies by a whisker

Saturday 11 June 2016

This might help, i think the AFL had another 13000 viewers than the union but i’ve no idea how they measure this.

England niggle and win, but Australia are not done

I only worry about the Aussie mentality, little bit of panic seemed to be setting in towards the end of the game (that final decision to go for the three points rather than the corner for instance). With this talk about the disallowed try and the discipline, there is a chance the Australia team might be letting themselves off a little easy- but should be a great game.

England niggle and win, but Australia are not done

Haha, like it! If he can get the Australia forwards fired up that would be a great contest to see. But going head to head with English forwards might be playing to the Eddie Jones gameplan. Australia, with their backline, don’t need to have dominance at the gainline, only parity, to unleash what are some pretty potent attacking threats.

England niggle and win, but Australia are not done

I get the feeling Jones would prefer a straight swap, Tuilagi for Farrell during the game. But I see the future of England, unless Ford rediscovers his form, being Farrell Tuilagi at 10/12. You’re right though, it would be interesting. I hope it’s a dry day and we get a good game, these teams are pretty even I think, Welsh experience should make them favourites but we just don’t know how good (or bad) England are yet, hence my prediction.

Six Nations preview: Eddie's England to pip Welsh in classic

With aggressive defences nowadays that usually rush up in the 10, 12 and 13 channel and have the winger and fullback drift to cover broken tackles in the midfield and then use the touchline as another defender, ideally your 13 needs to be the quickest in order to get around the rush and exploit the space left by the drifting defenders. Your 10 and 12 need to be distributers in order to get the ball away quickly but ideally you also want them to be strong so that they can go up the middle and test the shoulders of the opposite 10 and 12 and keep them honest. Basically you want to keep the defence trying to do two jobs, drifting to stop the pace and rushing to stop the charge and at some point a mismatch will occur. Catt/Tindall is a perfect example, Wales were rushing that day because Tindall wasn’t great at holding the man but he was a bull. Catt came on and suddenly the Welsh defenders needed to be conscious of defending more than one option. But in the end that game was settled by the magic of Robinson.

Six Nations preview: Eddie's England to pip Welsh in classic

Ah, I wouldn’t usually write an article like this but I had to do it for practical reasons- I can’t imagine that after the game I will be in any fit state to write a postcard nevermind a post-game analysis. There’s a good chance Wales will upset England, they’re certainly good enough but I think they may have peaked with this style and will need to change something to start beating the SH teams more often.

Six Nations preview: Eddie's England to pip Welsh in classic

It looks like Slade will be back this Saturday against Newcastle so i’d say Farrell’s days at 12 will be coming to an end soon but he’s done really well so far. I think no matter what happens this weekend Farrell will be retained at 12 for the France game and the summer tour will be used by Jones to explore his options. You’re right though, he’s got some playmakers, some power developing up front and options in the midfield; Ford/Farrell at 10, possibly Slade/Tuilagi at 12 and Joseph/Daly at 13. I can’t wait for the Aussie series, should be a classic!

Six Nations preview: Eddie's England to pip Welsh in classic

Problem is they are mirror images of each other, not a bad problem i know. Their pace works in that 13 channel and the only difference is that Daly has a siege canon of a boot. He nailed one today from 55 metres to put Wasps past 50 points against Sarries. Joseph has the shirt though and i can’t see Daly prizing it away from him anytime soon. Joseph needed today though, his form in the aviva had been mediocre recently. I think everyone is waiting for Slade to come back from injury to solve the 12 conundrum. As for Manu I just hope he can play again, I wince everytime he sprints, just expect something to pop.

Eddie's England are playing it safe

Cheers Colm and my apologies for Kilkenny’s exclusion from the list. Also, I reckon it’ll be sensible to only write about Ireland’s chances after we see them against France. You just can’t second guess that Joe Schmidt.

A blue cloud on the horizon for the All Blacks machine

England have a chance they just have to stop giving away penalties, that’s what killed them against Wales, and some terrible line out choices in the last 7 minutes of the game. They actually have some cracking backs for once, aren’t sure how fit Joseph is though, they kept him behind a curtain in training this week to shield him from the media. Not sure what to make of that.

My message to England's underwhelming forwards