30 Jul

Watch Out Jerry
by WAJ
30 Jul 2007

Only 15 sleeps to go and the excitement is just starting to creep in.
Melbourne is of course completely immune to it all, too busy focussed on
drugs, suspensions and sacked coaches in the AFL and their finals around
the corner as well.

Though I will say that the mighty Melbourne Rebels
have taken an early lead in the Aus Provincial Champs, and even managed
to attract close to 5000 for their debut game in Melbourne. Enough – I
know – who cares about non-rugby Aus sport!

More importantly the AB’s are in their final phase of their home

So we are about to find out how much past their peak this
team really is!?!? I see it this way – we have dominated on every NH
tour we have undertaken over the last 3 years and in fact are unbeaten
in doing so. We have beaten the best France, England and Ireland can
throw at us, often by considerable margins with mix and match teams, and
this after long S14 and International seasons.

This team plays well at
the end of the year! Of course we have the usual barrage from all and
sundry, especially over here, about the choking in the past and the
current hobby horse of being past it, though how a team with it’s best
XV having an average age of 26.9 and average caps of 40 (compared with
Aust of 28.0 and 51 respectively) is past it is beyond me. Still that is
the Aussie go – have a huge bash at the team considered their strongest
opposition in the hope it will get them some advantage.

Though somehow,
when Jerry Collins is making his umpteenth play of the game, he isn’t
going to suddenly think "oh shit we’re past it, better be a bit shy in
this contact". Good luck to them!

And how great is it to see Hawkes Bay in the Top 4 of the ANZC. All
power to them, and beating a top province like North Harbour will only
give them more confidence. And big Troyser launches his campaign to
usurp Jerry Collins on the blindside flank this Friday – pity is it’s
about 2 – 3 months too late!

And so to the games:

Counties Manukau v Hawkes Bay – you have to fancy HB continuing on their
merry way here. Recent results against North Harbour by both teams would
suggest a close win to HB. Both teams have talented individuals in the
backline, and this is where CM will need to get the best of Masaga and
Ta’auso to have any chance. But HB looked after the well credentialled
NH backline last week, and expect they will do it again. The big question
will be how many people turn up on a Thursday night?
Hawkes Bay 1 – 12

Southland v Northland – The inbreds v the potheads – surely a true
classic in the making. You could probably make a movie about it – say a
cross between The Waterboy, Good Bye Pork Pie and Up in Smoke – no rugby
but plenty of fun getting there. I fancy a close Southland win. They
have improved of late and will be too strong at home. Northland will
back themselves though, and if not winning have been super competitive -
won’t like the cold though, rain OK, cold no. Southland 1 – 12

Auckland v Taranaki – Taranaki always play well against Auckland, but
the mighty Auks are on a roll and will be far too strong, especially up
front with what is a fairly large and mobile pack – and I see they have
named a 5:2 bench as well. Taranaki will bring their usual gutsy effort
but will be blown away by this very good Akld team
Auckland 13+

Bay of Plenty v Otago – BoP will be disappointed to lose to Manawatu,
and seem doomed to haunt the bottom of the table this year – they simply
lack any class or experience in a lot of positions. Otago too are on a
low too but have enough to win this.
Otago 13+

Wellington v Tasman – The Trans-Cook Cup! Big brother will eat up little
brother and spit him back to where he belongs. Just too much experience
up front, and too much class out back, very typical of a lot of these
type of games in the ANZC where of course the S14 base teams will
dominate – a bit of a yawn really.
Wellington 13+

North Harbour v Waikato – NH have been pretty crap all year. Their most
dominant performance was against Taranaki in the 1st Shield defence and
they only just held on there in the end. They win enough ball, though
their scrum is a bit dodgy with the 2 young props, but something is not
quite clicking in the backs – is Wulf a 2 5/8, does Pisi control the
game well enough from 1 5/8, some of his option taking seems
questionable. Waikato will be nicely primed for this, back to full
strength and thus with a very solid set of forwards, if a bit light at
lock, and a mix of young and old in the backs led by the most improved
player in NZ rugby at 1 5/8. The Duck has really stepped forward this
year, and I for one roundly criticised him, but he has plugged away and
though he has the worst kicking style, he is mightily effective with it.
Needs to nurse his inexperienced midfield through this, especially the
challenge Tuitavake presents. But Waikato will be too good for a
disfunctional NH
Waikato 13+

Canterbury v Manawatu – refer Wellington v Tasman.
Canterbury 13+

Regards Waj

23 Jul

Good Enough!
by Paul Waite
23 Jul 2007

It was a wet night at Eden Park, but the All Blacks finally put together a performance good enough to see them off to the 2007 Rugby World Cup with confidence that everything is on track for a good showing there.

Although full of running and ambition, the sad fact for the Wallabies is that they spent the whole 80 minutes of this test without looking like they would cross the All Blacks’ line. Their only scoring options seemed to be through penalties, or the odd freak droppie from Mat “it’s a piece of cake” Gateaux.

Nevertheless, the first half was one of frustration for the All Blacks as they found the Australians very competetive at the lineout and the ruck, which denied them both posession and go-forward. At the ruck there was a lack of numbers, and out wide a few mistakes in the wet saw little in the way of scoring opportunities. Both teams traded penalties and went in at halftime with honours even and scores close at 12-9 to New Zealand.

The second half was a different story. The All Black forwards took the game by the scruff and dominated all around the park. The pick-and-go was used as an effective weapon, and the rucks were supported more keenly and with a greater vigour. The lineout, which had suffered a few steals against the throw, put in a perfect 10 performance in the second half as well, and for the whole 40 minutes Australia were starved of the ball for long periods, and were rendered even less threatening than in the first half.

Forward dominance resulted in the only try of the match as Woodcock forced over in the right-hand corner off the back of a ruck, which was formed after a burst by halfback Brendon Leonard – a player we will hear more of in this coming World Cup.

This was the final chance for the All Blacks to get some momentum after what might be loosely termed a ‘mixed’ Tri-Series. The Bledisloe Cup was on the line, as was the less important Tri-Nations Trophy, but the key element was the team had to put a performance on the track which gave them belief in themselves before the World Cup starts in seven weeks.

They did just that, whilst also knowing that they still have a lot of practice and refining to do in the interim.

The scrum remains a brutal weapon, when refereed by someone who actually knows what is going on. Kudos to Northern Hemisphere ref Nigel Owens for showing the likes of silly Marius Jonkers how it’s done.

The lineout, on close review, isn’t as bad as it first seemed. We had 19 lineouts, four or so of which went ‘bad’. All of these were marginal, and can be sorted with more concentrated practice.

Out in midfield the Toeava/McAlister combination faced down the stern test of the Giteau/Mortlock combination and did well. With Conrad Smith now in the squad and fully fit, we have some good options there.

In the locks Robinson showed his value around the park. He was into everything and moved bodies around at ruck time like a bulldozer at times. He’s also a good bloke to have on your side when things turn a bit ugly, as in the form of Dan Vickerman, who had his Comedy Breasts Wallaby jersey ripped to shreds in return for his petty shove in the back on Robbo at one stage of the proceedings.

The arrival of Brendon Leonard has also been a timely one. This lad seems to have a huge turn of pace out of the blocks, and surely the moment of the test was the way he snatched a pass from the Wallaby No.8 right off the tip of George Gregan’s nose. His crisp passing, darts and dabs have injected a lot of energy into the team.

So, the Wallabies are saying the gap has closed. That’s true enough, but there still is a gap, obviously, since the Wallabies know they spent 80 minutes without a sniff of crossing the All Blacks line.

Assuming the All Blacks prepare well, and bring their form back to the kind of boil we know that these players can produce, then we will see a lot of improvement between now and World Cup time.

Let’s see if the Wallabies can keep that gap from widening out again, come the crunch.

Time to take off the ‘chokers’ tag kindly donated to us by the Aussie media, and stick it back to them right where the Sun don’t shine.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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23 Jul

All Blacks v Wallabies, Auckland, 21 July 2007
by Tracey Nelson
23 Jul 2007

The usual analysis of the All Blacks game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums.

Please note Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. snuffing out the movement), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately. Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball runner gets away. Most importantly, I do NOT call a slipped tackle a tackle, it gets noted as a missed tackle.

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each total. An asterisk denotes a player that came on as a substitute.

Team: Muliaina, Howlett, Toeava, Rokocoko, McAlister, Carter, Kelleher, So’oialo, McCaw (c), Collins, Robinson, Jack, Hayman, Oliver, Woodcock. Res – Evans, Mauger, Leonard, Masoe, Thorne, Tialata, Mealamu.

Leonard replaced Kelleher and Mealamu replaced Oliver after 48 minutes, while Evans replaced Toeava after 75 minutes.

Point Scoring
NZ 26 1 try, 7 penalties
Aus 12 4 penalties
Penalties/Free Kicks conceded
18 penalties and no free kicks in the game
NZ 5 penalties
Aus 13 penalties

NZ’s penalty offences:
Tackle (going off feet) = 1 (Robinson/McCaw)
Ruck (offside entry) = 2 (Woodcock/Oliver, McAlister)
Scrum (binding) = 1 (McCaw)
Obstruction/taking out player = 1 (Robinson/McCaw)

Australia’s penalty offences:
Tackle = 4
Ruck (offside) = 2
Ruck (hands) = 1
Offside (general) = 2
Lineout (offside) = 1
Scrum (binding) = 2
Throwing ball away = 1

Turnovers conceded by NZ
12 (9 knock-ons, 3 kicks out on full)
First 3 to Breakdown
McCaw 33 (15+18)
Hayman 30 (18+12)
Robinson 28 (16+12)
Jack 28 (13+15)
Woodcock 24 (12+12)
So’oialo 20 (7+13)
Collins 11 (4+7)
Mealamu* 9
Howlett 9 (5+4)
Oliver 7 (5+2)
Muliaina 7 (2+5)
Carter 6 (1+5)
Kelleher 5 (4+1)
McAlister 4 (1+3)
Toeava 4 (1+3)
Rokocoko 4 (1+3)
Evans* 1
Completed Tackles (113)
and Assists (26)
McCaw 17 (7+10) and 4 (3+1)
Collins 15 (10+5) and 5 (2+3)
Robinson 14 (10+4) and 2 (0+2)
Hayman 11 (4+7) and 4 (1+3)
Woodcock 9 (5+4) and 1 (1+0)
So’oialo 7 (4+3) and 1 (0+1)
Jack 7 (3+4) and 1 (0+1)
Carter 6 (2+4) and 2 (0+2)
Howlett 5 (4+2) and 0
McAlister 5 (3+2) and 1 (1+0)
Oliver 5 (2+3) and 0
Kelleher 4 (4+0) and 1 (0+1)
Mealamu* 3 and 1
Rokocoko 3 (3+0) and 0
Toeava 1 (1+0) and 1 (1+0)
Evans* 0 and 1
Leonard* 0 and 1
Missed and slipped tackles (14)
McAlister 2
Rokocoko 2
Hayman 1
Woodcock 2
McCaw 1
Colins 1
So’oialo 1
Robinson 1
Jack 1
Howlett 1
Toeava 1
Mealamu* 1
NZ Lineouts
A total of 19 in the game
First half
NZ 7/11
Second half
NZ 8/8

Jack = 4/6 plus 1 from a miss by Robinson
Robinson = 3/5
So’oialo = 3/3
Collins = 2/2
McCaw= 1/2
Unknown jumper off camera = 1/1

Australia had 10 throws to their lineout, winning all 10. The All Blacks contested 7 of the 10 throws.

A total of 11 in the game, with 11 resets
First half (4)
NZ No feeds
Ausd> 2/4
Second half (7)
NZ 3/3
Aus 3/4
19 Jul

Get on Board
by WAJ
19 Jul 2007

Not one to blow my trumpet, but come on guys lift your game. Or is it
that being exposed to 7 games of rugby a week you are confused by it all
- mind you if you are a Southland or Taranaki supporter you bloody
should be. I see the lower divisions start this week – how the hell do
you a draw a line through that lot? Usual suspects I suppose, with a
good dose of guess work in the early rounds to back it up.

What is up with the likes of Wellington and North Harbour. Stacked with
S14 players, plenty of pedigree, but up and down like whore’s drawers.
No Umaga retiring or Weepu dropping occasion to fire up Wgtn this week,
and they seem to need that sort of spark, and NH continue to be bloody
awful, all class – no substance perhaps, though I suppose in fairness
they do have some very young players – a short RS reign though methinks.

The Aus provincial champs started last weekend using modified
Stellenbosch rules. Went OK too, though will reserve judgement until I
see a game played live – go the mighty Melbourne Rebels!!

This weekends games:

Northland v Tasman – Can Nthld continue their impressive start to the
ANZC? They have a good mix of old S14 heads and local players and in
typical no nonense Nthld style get on with it. Tasman have also been
solid this year but without Jack and away from home will struggle here.
Northland 13+

Waikato v Counties-Manukau – A good win to Waikato here. C-M are another
one of the erratic sides around, good one week, average the next. This
is the poor week, and whilst they will start with a hiss and a roar, the
all round strength of Waikato will see them through to a comfortable
victory. I see Messam is on the bench, even with Lauaki gone – needs to
show he can play it in the tight consistently as well as the loose stuff
I reckon.
Waikato 13+

Hawkes Bay v North Harbour – Hell this is a toughie. Harbour have been
crap away from home so far this year, well they didn’t look that flash
at home either to be fair, and Hawkes Bay have been a revelation. But
you would think Harbour have just enough class to see them home in a
close one.
North Harbour 1 – 12

Southland v Auckland – Plenty of changes for the mighty Auks and that is
probably the most interesting thing about this game. How will Taumopeau
go at hooker especially with his lineout throwing, will big Troyser have
some of his dash back, is using the back up loosies and 1 5/8 too much
of a risk, and great to see another Stanley out and about. Weather looks
OK, so Auckland by plenty against an improving Southland side who will
be out-paced and out-classed
Auckland 13+

Taranaki v Otago – Taranaki will want to make amends for last weekends
poor performance, and they have the opportunity against an average Otago
side. Home town wins are extremely valuable and Taranaki won’t want 2
home losses in a row. But Otago still may be to strong here and will win
in a close one.
Otago 1 – 12

Canterbury v Wellington – the game all Canterbury supporters dread -
will their bogey team strike again. I think not. It is looking more and
more like an Akld v Cant final already as both teams continue to post
impressive victories on the back of their huge player depth. This is a
good Cant team and, and they get to add Gear this week. Wellington are
too erratic, have lost their AB’s, and Umaga, and will struggle.
Canterbury 13+

Manawatu v Bay of Plenty – A pretty even match up this and very tempted
to go for Manawatu at home. But they just struggle to win at all. BoP -
well they are at the bottom of a rebuilding phase, but retain some
players who can guide them through this sort of game and for that reason
am backing them, again in a close one.
Bay of Plenty 1 – 12

Regards Waj

16 Jul

How Easy Is This
by WAJ
16 Jul 2007

Hawkes Bay’s Clint Newland gets 10 weeks I see, entirely appropriate that he doesn’t play again
this year I reckon.

And what about the crap flying around in the Aussie media of late. On one side we have Greg Growden reporting on all sorts of issues amongst the Wallabies coaching and support staff, and on the other Wayne Smith in The Australian saying there is no disharmony at all, just a bit of
robust discussion from time to time. All has gone quiet now, the Wobblies are in a 5 day survival camp (strange timing I would have thought 4 weeks out from the WC), but quite bizarre that 2 journo’s should square off in this manner. Who knows what to believe – can’t be helping though:-)

And I see Williams and Robinson, amongst others, sat out yesterdays practice game. Great, Williams plays 2 games and he gets injured. With Robinson injured again I wonder if Henry is wishing he had Flavell in his 30?

And don’t expect to see the selectors much this weekend – they will be
off scouting Romania v Neath and Portugal v Canada XV – wouldn’t want
any WC surprises!

So to round 3.

Bay of Plenty v Northland – Northland have been going very well so far
this season, perhaps, with Hawkes Bay, the surprise packet. Bay continue
to struggle with a lot of new faces, the loss of experience a telling
factor. Holwell in and Castle out swings it to Northland for me, but not
much in it.
Northland 1 – 12

Counties Manukau v North Harbour – CM will battle all season, no depth,
lack class in the inside backs, and Masaga and Ormsby can do little to
stem the tide. I think Harbour will cut loose this week after 2 tight
games. Either way it is an indicator of where Harbour are heading this
season, an unimpressive showing here will not augur well for the big
guns they have yet to face.
Harbour 13+

Tasman v Hawkes Bay – This game is a bit dependent on whether Jack is
playing. Both sides have had good starts, especially HB and more than
anything this will give them confidence. But the opposition will be
primed for them now. I think these 2 teams are pretty evenly matched,
Jack (in his final game for Tasman – so that makes it what 5 or 6 – a
great buy in the end) would definitely swing it, and on the basis he is
playing am going Tasman in a tight one.
Tasman 1 – 12.

Wellington v Manawatu – A thrashing. Nothing more or less will surfice
in Tana’s last game in NZ. Wellington need to start putting consistent
form on the board. Manawatu have nothing.
Wellington 13+

Auckland v Waikato – now we’re talking. Finally a game to attract some
interest. You would hope a crowd turns up for this, and I mean 25k plus,
or what does that say about the ANZC. We have two pretty evenly matched
sets of forward packs, the battle between the loosies should be a beaut.
Auckland look to be stronger in the backs, and this will be a good test
for some of the emerging players in the Waikato backline. The key will
be Waikato’s ability, or not, to shut down the free flowing Auckland
game and if Donald can dominate and Lauaki run a bit they could well
win. A better performance by Auckland last week though, and with the
addition of Braid to the starting lineup, and big Troyser off the bench,
means they will send Howlett off to the WC with a good win.
Auckland 13+

Otago v Canterbury – It wouldn’t surprise me if Canterbury rested some
players for the harder games to come in this match. Even at Carisbrook
Otago will struggle to be in this at halftime and will continue the
downward spiral, down, down, down……
Canterbury 13+

Taranaki v Southland – a top game for Sunday afternoon viewing, bound to
pull in spectators from all over the place. Sky must cringe when this
sort of game pops up on a Sunday. Southland have been a real
disappointment so far, a better performance last week against Waikato,
but still 0 for 2. Taranaki really took it to Harbour, and that form
should see them home but not by much
Taranaki 1 – 12

Regards Waj

15 Jul

Has anyone seen my patience..?
by Paul Waite
15 Jul 2007

Because I seem to have lost it.

There’s usually some kind of threshold for things measured or monitored. The lip of a glass you’re filling with water, a pass mark in an exam, tax (sorry for swearing) etc.

In this case the thing being measured is the perceived performance of the All Blacks.

Given the nature of the season, with rested All Blacks in the Super 14 and so on, we obviously had to cut them some slack for a few tests.

But the threshold for forgiveness of the heinous crime of an All Black team playing shit rugby was the final whistle of the Bledisloe Cup test at the MCG two weeks ago. This latest test had to be a good one, with most of the rustiness and form issues sloughed off and a much tighter, more accurate performance put on the track.

It didn’t happen did it. It was 24 carat shite wasn’t it?

Why is it, we wonder? It’s a definite puzzle, and without an “in” as to what’s happened and is currently happening inside Camp All Black, we won’t be able to do anything but make a few guesses.

The only real evidence we have is the progression of performances as viewed in each sequential test match this season.

But first, as a benchmark I reviewed a test match from last season, in November 2006, and the difference was marked. Here was an All Black team pretty well honed and at some form of peak. This was at the end of a test season, so is pretty much in the ballpark of where we should be about now, given we have only a single test of any ‘testing’ nature between now and sudden Rugby World Cup death.

Unfortunately it was like chalk and cheese – where the cheese in question has big blue gungy bits in it and is so rank it would fell a grizzly bear at 50 yards.

The 2006 test saw a very tight unit both on attack and in defence. Passing was crisp and most importantly of all, chances were taken in a surgical manner with speed and accuracy.

In fact pretty much a reverse image of everything which went on tonight, where the flattering win hinged on a young, inexperience Bok team getting spiked by a debatable sin-binning at a time when they were getting tired. That and a ‘miracle ball’ by Joe Rokocoko to make the first try.

The inadequacies of the team were such that, as in previous tests, in particular the one at the MCG, they created opportunities only to find they weren’t nearly sharp enough to take them.

Until the opposition got turned into 14 men, and tired sufficiently for big enough gaps to open up in the defence that is. Hardly a recommendation that they are Rugby World Cup winners-in-waiting.

So the forgiveness threshold has passed. With the kickoff of this test at Christchurch we needed to see a tight, controlled performance, with maybe a couple or three chances, crisply finished off and a solid defence to base a good win on. Nothing flashy, just good honest, tight test match play in the forwards, with some efficiency out wide to finish off opportunities.

It didn’t happen. So why are the team in these straits?

For the answer I believe you have to take a good hard look at the selections which have been made in the tests available to us this season.

In the previous two seasons the selectors have made a point of building depth, via the so-called ‘rotation policy’. This has brought us huge benefits in player depth and was wonderfully managed by Graham Henry, Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen.

But this season should have been more about honing a top 22, and getting those players to step up a level to achieve the kind of understanding of each others play that you only get by repetition. Instead we’ve had about the same levels of chop-n-change as we’ve seen before, and compounded by the reconditioning period in the Super-14 what we’ve ended up with now is a squad which isn’t anywhere near as fluid and together in any one of its many combinations as it should be at this time in the Rugby World Cup calendar. According to comments attributed to All Black second five-eighth Aaron Mauger, we aren’t the only ones to be confused by this policy either.

Graham Henry might have dismissed all these perceptions in his after-match interview tonight, but I’m not buying it. The problems we saw look like they are quite difficult ones to solve quickly. I’ve seen teams in situations like this take numerous games to come right, and they simply don’t have them. It isn’t something you can just put right on a training paddock either since the problems and solutions are only revealed in the pressure of a test match.

The All Blacks only have a week to find some answers. The Wallabies will have taken great heart from the difficulty the All Blacks had stringing things together against South Africa, and also from the way that the Boks challenged their defence which seems inconsistent and occasionally a bit soft this season.

In short, the Bledisloe Cup is very definitely up for grabs and unless some kind of miracle occurs in camp All Black, next week up in Auckland is going to be a very tough game for them to win.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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15 Jul

All Blacks v Springboks, Christchurch, 14 July 2007
by Tracey Nelson
15 Jul 2007

The usual analysis of the All Blacks’ game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums.

Please note Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. snuffing out the movement), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately. Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball runner gets away. Most importantly, I do NOT call a slipped tackle a tackle, it gets noted as a missed tackle.

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each total. An asterisk denotes a player that came on as a substitute.

Team: Muliaina, Howlett, McAlister, Rokocoko, McAlister, Carter, Weepu, So’oialo, McCaw (c), Thorne, Robinsonj, Jack, Hayman, Mealamu, Woodcock. Res – Evans, Smith, Leonard, Masoe, Collins, Tialata, Hore.

Leonard replaced Weepu after 53 minutes, Collins came on for Robinson after 64 minutes, Evans replaced Howlett, Hore replaced Mealamu and Masoe replaced So’oialo after 73 minutes, Tialata replaced Hayman and Smith replaced Toeava after 77 minutes.

Point Scoring
NZ 33 3 tries, 3 conversions, 3 penalties
SA 6 2 penalties
Penalties/Free Kicks conceded
18 penalties and 3 free kicks in the game
NZ 9 penalties and 1 free kick
SA 9 penalties and 2 free kicks

NZ’s penalty offences:
Tackle (not releasing ball) = 2 (Hayman, Howlett)
Tackle (playing ball off feet) = 1 (McCaw)
Tackle (sealing off) = 1 (McCaw)
Tackle (high) = 1 (Thorne)
Ruck (offside entry) = 1 (Mealamu)
Ruck (pulling down) = 1 (Robinson)
Rucking off the ball = 1 (Hayman)
Offside = 1 (Mealamu)

Free kicks = 1 (early lineout jump)

South Africa’s penalty offences:
Tackle = 4
Ruck = 2 (plus a yellow card – Wannenburg)
Offside = 2
Stomping = 1
Free kicks = 2 (scrum)

Turnovers conceded by NZ
19 (11 knock-ons, 4 spilled balls, 1 tackle, 3 ruck)
First 3 to Breakdown
Thorne 38 (16+22)
McCaw 36 (12+24)
Robinson 32 (21+11)
Hayman 31 (14+17)
Jack 26 (16+10)
So’oialo 20 (13+7)
Mealamu 17 (10+7)
Woodcock 16 (8+8)
Muliaina 14 (1+13)
Rokocoko 13 (1+12)
Howlett 11 (5+6)
Toeava 6 (4+2)
Carter 6 (3+3)
McAlister 6 (3+3)
Collins* 5
Hore* 3
Smith* 3
Leonard* 2
Weepu 2 (0+2)
Masoe* 2
Tialata* 1
Evans* 1
Completed Tackles (79)
and Assists (24)
McCaw 15 (10+5) and 4 (3+1)
So’oialo 10 (3+7) and 1 (0+1)
Thorne 9 (6+3) and 1 (0+1)
Jack 7 (3+4) and 3 (1+2)
McAlister 6 (2+4) and 2 (0+2)
Mealamu 5 (3+2) and 1 (1+0)
Woodcock 4 (3+1) and 2 (1+1)
Robinson 4 (3+1) and 1 (1+0)
Carter 4 (1+3) and 1 (1+0)
Weepu 3 (2+1) and 2 (2+0)
Hayman 3 (1+2) and 1 (0+1)
Rokocoko 3 (2+1) and 0
Muliaina 2 (1+1) and 0
Toeava 1 (1+0) and 1 (0+1)
Howlett 1 (0+1) and 0
Collins* 1 and 1
Leonard* 1 and 1
Missed and slipped tackles (7)
Woodcock 2
McAlister 2
Hayman 1
McCaw 1
Toeava 1
NZ Lineouts
A total of 16 in the game
First half
NZ 5/7
Second half
NZ 6/9

Thorne 3/4 (one overthrown)
Jack = 3/3
Robinson = 3/4 (one take ruled not straight, one early jump)
So’oialo = 2/2
Collins = 0/1
Masoe= 0/1 (overthrown)
Woodcock = 1/1

South Africa had 14 throws to their lineout, won 12 and lost 2. The All Blacks contested 9 of the 14 throws and manged two steals (Robinson).

A total of 15 in the game, with 6 resets
First half (9)
NZ 1/1
SA 7/8
Second half (6)
NZ 4/4
SA 2/2
13 Jul

The North Island Benefit Comp
by WAJ
13 Jul 2007

With apologies to Canterbury.

But some woeful performances from SI teams doesn’t augur well for the
rest of the ANZC, or for the Highlanders in the 2008 S14.

No wonder
Cooper moved! The highlight of last weekend has to be the performance of
Hawkes Bay, to win in Invercargill was a great effort. And Southland,
with 10 or so S14 players fronting, a disgrace!

And why aren’t more AB’s playing in the ANZC? I would be resting Woody,
Haymaker, the 3 loosies, Carter & Toeava. It is not as if the rest have
had an overtaxing season, with all apart from the aforementioned 7
having injury interruped seasons or part of the 22 or both. Don’t
Muliaina, Mauger and Big Kev need more game time? They are rugby players
for God sakes – so let them play rugby.

So to the games.

Tasman v Manawatu – intriguing match up this. Both didn’t disgrace
themselves last week, Tasman look to have strengthened up considerably
in the forwards with the addition of Jack, a good foil for Triggs the
main Manawatu lineout threat. Two pretty even teams really with home
advantage perhaps the deciding factor.
Tasman 1 – 12

BoP v Auckland – the loss of a number of players has seen the Bay drop
back to the pack after a few years of good results. They will be cannon
fodder for the mighty Auks, who have made a raft of changes as Lam tries
to find his best 15. These 2 teams best illustrate the gulf between the
haves(or S14 centres) and have nots (the rest). Wouldn’t Bay love to
have the luxury of rotating the likes of Braid and Macdonald.
Auckland 13+

Otago v Northland
– based on results Northland should win this, but I
think the kick in the pants they would have received as a result of the
loss to Wgtn will mean the Otago side will come out all guns blazing.
They are not a good enough team to run away with this, but at home will
win comfortably enough.
Otago 1 – 12

Hawkes Bay v Wellington – up yours says Weepu, and what a revelation he
was. Where was that sort of form in the 3N? A good performance last
week, admitedly against 15 revolving doors. Wgtn could give the ANZC a
bit of a shake up, plenty of depth all over the park, with a lot of NZ
Juniors make them 2nd favorites in my book. Expect a relatively easy win
against a good HB side that lacks the overall class of Wgtn and who now
won’t be taken as easy as previous form would suggest.
Wellington 13+

Waikato v Southland – well this is an easy game to sum up – Southland
need to pull the finger out of their collective arses or they will get
belted by an even larger margin than last week. Waikato obviously don’t
think much of them, resting Gibbes and Holah. Thus Southland will come
out breathing all sorts of smoke and ash, be very direct with their big
forward pack, but will still lose to an improving Waikato team.
Waikato 13+

North Harbour v Taranaki – NH would be the most erratic team around.
Capable of some quiet brilliant running rugby, but still battle a bit
with the basics and thus struggle. They look a bit stronger up front
this week and will need to be on their game for the full 80 minutes
against a typically yeoman like Taranaki. The Ranfurly Shield will
ensure NH are focused, and those classy backs will be the winning of
this game.
North Harbour 13+

Counties Manukau v Canterbury
– clearly the overall standard in the ANZC
has lifted this year. CM were very solid last week, and but for a bit
more class in some positions would have run Auckland a lot closer. Again
you feel this week will go along similair lines. How much better would
CM be with say Brett, Tuiali’I and Johnstone in their respective key
positions. They haven’t of course so that is all moot, but CM are a
good, gutsy team, well coached and capable of an upset or 2. That won’t
happen here with enough wise heads to see Canterbury home reasnobly
Canterbury 13+

12 Jul

The Mighty All Blacks v Jakes Jokers
by WAJ
12 Jul 2007

I first need to get one thing off my chest – WHY isn’t Jerry Collins playing tomorrow? When you are playing the Boks the first name written down should be J Collins – you don’t think the Boks are unhappy he isn’t playing. Instead we have……….nah I can’t go on – my feelings on that subject are well known. But why field your top props all 3N, yet muck around with your loosies, surely combinations are critical at this stage of the year.

The more and more I think about it the worse the Melbourne loss gets.
Last weekends Mandella Cup game puts it into perspective. How the hell did the Bok “B and 1/2″ team get within 8 points, and if the Tonguester(I can’t watch Hougaard kick for goal, his wondering tongue gives me the creeps) had kicked with any accuracy they would have won, and surely that is why he was in the team because he did fuck all else.
Oz were so ordinary I cannot understand how they got away with no, or very little, criticism. If you drew a line between the two Oz results over the past two weeks then this weekend would be a very close win to the All Blacks. Reality will be vastly different of course.

So to the game itself. With the most potent T5 fielded since Ali broke his jaw, great to see Robinson and his no frills tight game back, a captain keen to prove himself after a mountain of criticism, some warranted mind you, ditto for Dangerous Dan, and a midfield with plenty to play for with competition in this area very tight – the AB’s have plenty to prove. And lets face it they have to play and win well, otherwise team/squad selections must be at risk and even worse much needed momentum for the WC lost.
The Boks are very average. 2 rookies in the front row, an ageing lock who is only good in a lineout, a No.8 who has struggled with form all year, a 1 5/8 who when put in green turns blue and freezes, a midfield who lack any combination and a revolving door at fullback. Combine all that with the typical unimaginative Bok game plan and foreign conditions. The thought of Pieterson waiting under a bomb from Dangerous in the cold of Chch should put a chill into every SA heart, which would turn to frostbit if Jerry was playing mind.
Expect to see plenty of AB forwards carrying the ball, Weepu sniping, Dangerous keeping the ball in front of his forwards and the backs cutting loose in the last 10 minutes of the 1st half and 20 of the 2nd.

All Blacks by 35 – 40

3 Jul

Gobby Speaks Out
by Paul Waite
3 Jul 2007

Yes folks, it’s yet another idiot from across the Tasman speaking out on rugby matters through their nether regions. This time it’s your friend and mine, Mr. Rent-a-Rugby-Quote, the inimitable Gobby Eddie himself.

Let’s get to work analyzing his latest bout of oral flatulence in commenting on the recent Australia v All Blacks test match in Melbourne. We have passed this through the Haka Gob-O-Meter, which starts up at 100 (normal intelligence) and automatically deducts 10 pts for each piece of significant gobby stupidity that it detects. Eddie’s comments are all in italics, the Gob-O-Meter’s reasons for deduction are interspersed in normal type.

He may not coach the Wallabies now but Eddie Jones is saying plenty on where the All Blacks have it wrong

[Bzzt. -10 for being Gobby Eddie and making the unutterably stupid mistake of thinking anyone wants to hear what you have to say. IQ=90]

Graham Henry’s All Blacks reconditioning policy was always going to be questioned at the first sign of defeat, and the knives are out after the Wallabies outlasted the All Blacks in Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup opener in Melbourne.

Former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones is not impressed with what he has seen from Henry’s side this season.

[Bzzt. -10 for failing to notice the way they traveled to South Africa and beat the Springboks by a handy margin, which the Wallabies failed to do. IQ=80]

Jones does not think the All Blacks have been good this season, saying they were shaky against the Springboks and their reconditioned players are short of a gallop.

[Bzzt. -10 for failing to notice the way they traveled to South Africa and beat the Springboks by a handy margin, which the Wallabies failed to do. IQ=70]

Jones also points to the loss of first choice locks as hurting the All Blacks and says New Zealand has real problems in the lineout area. He believes the All Blacks are too conservative and do not mix their formations up enough, making them too predictable.

[Bzzt. -10 for stating the bleeding obvious and ignoring the facts. Yes we’ve had a string of injuries to our top locks, and yes that weakens the lineout. However the stats from the test in Melbourne and in South Africa showed the lineout is still in fact largely holding its own. Bzzt. -10 for not noticing that it is precisely because the All Blacks have been mixing things up enough that the stats are as they are. IQ=50]

Jones also sees a weakening of the ability of Richie McCaw to captain the All Blacks on the field. Jones says McCaw seemed unable to have an impact with the referee on Saturday, and suggests McCaw may have lost the respect of the referees due to his constant infringing in the rucks.

[Bzzt. -10 for imagining ANYONE could have an impact on a clueless jonker like Marius Plonker; Bzzt. -10 for suggesting that being polite and sportsmanlike to the referee and not whining and yelling like a stroppy toddler that wants all the toys in the toyshop as Gregan does LOSES you respect. BZZT. -20 for Getting The Facts Wrong yet again; McCaw does NOT constantly infringe in rucks, as born out by the statistics – McCaw only conceded one penalty on Saturday, and that was erroneous due to Plonker missing the fact that he was the tackler. IQ=10.]

In contrast, George Gregan was as much a mouthful as a handful, and while he is no longer the captain, Jones believes his influence is still as important as ever.

[Bzzt. -10 for supporting that bald whiny midget in his constant unsportsmanlike behaviour on the pitch. Gregan’s gob is the stuff of legend, as with all legends should be relegated to history. That kind of behaviour is on the IRB’s black-list, and the game should be rid of it as fast as possible. Anyone supporting it should be forced to listen to an endless loop of The Worst Rap Music Ever Recorded for 24 hours straight. Oh dear. IQ=0]

So, according to the Gob-O-Meter Eddie has a Haka IQ rating of precisely ZERO points. This value is unfortunately just less than an amoeba, which experiments have shown has an IQ of 1, because it DOES at least know the difference between its psuedopods and its vacuole. Which is why you never hear of an amoeba embarrassing itself by blabbering incontinent drivel to the papers, and anyone else who will listen.

Nevertheless we are sort of grateful that Eddie isn’t impressed with the All Blacks this year. The last time it was the Tri-Nations before a Rugby World Cup he actually was impressed with them, and look what happened to prove that was a lot of cods. This time around the value of his opinions should be no different.

For those of you of a technical bent (or just plain bent) the Haka Gob-O-Meter is a rather impressive piece of apparatus, here are a few details on it for the curious.

The words to be analysed are transcribed onto toilet paper using a special brown crayon (the very best kindergarten grade) then, after unsuccessfully trying to roll the paper back onto the roll, it’s usually just screwed up, thrown down the pan and the chain pulled. This normally startles the bi-furcular wobbit analyzer out of sleep mode, and some sounds rather like belching emanate from the bowels of the deep-space thrurgulator, indicating that both transcendental and orthodontal meditation is taking place. The operator then goes into a trance and, wearing his pointy tin-foil hat, begins to type the first things that come into his head. The results are then passed on to the Haka Editor, who ignores them and writes whatever he likes. Patent 324990213-2 Pending.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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