30 Nov

Game Stats: France v All Blacks, Marseille, 28 November 2009
by Tracey Nelson
30 Nov 2009

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

Please note Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. halting the movement and being the tackler according to the laws of the game), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately. Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball carrier isn’t stopped. 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 who came on as a substitute.

Team: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, Jerome Kaino, Tom Donnelly, Brad Thorn, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock.
Reserves: Cory Flynn, Owen Franks, Anthony Boric, Tanerau Latimer, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Luke McAlister.

Substitutions were: Franks for Tialata and Boric for Thorn at 65 min, Flynn for Hore, Latimer for Read, Donald for Carter and McAlister for Nonu all at 70 min, and Ellis for Cowan at 74 min. Tialata came back on at the 77min mark to cover tighthead prop for the sinbinned Owen Franks.

Points Scored NZ France
Tries 5 0
Conversions 4 0
Penalties 2/2 3/5
Drop goals 0/1 1/1
Total 39 12

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 12 2
France 5 0
Total 17 2

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackle Nonu(2), Franks 3
Ruck Tialata, McCaw(2) 3
LIneout Thorn 1
Scrum Front row, Kaino, McCaw, Woodcock 4
Foul play Franks 1 + YC
Total   12

Opp Penalty Offences
Tackle 2
Ruck 2
Scrum 1
Total 5

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons 3
Spilled 1
Pass to opposition 2
At the ruck 1
Accidental offside 1
Total 8

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 28 19+9
Woodcock 24 12+12
Hore 23 11+12
Read 21 10+11
Thorn 20 14+6
Donnelly 19 9+10
Tialata 18 12+6
Kaino 16 8+8
Sivivatu 10 3+7
Mulinaina 9 3+6
Smith 9 2+7
Carter 8 4+4
Nonu 7 4+3
Jane 6 4+2
Cowan 3 0+3
Boric* 2  
Donald* 2  
McAlister* 2  
Flynn* 1  
Franks* 1  
Latimer* 1  

Ball carries
McCaw 8  
Read 7
Hore 6
Donnelly 5
Woodcock 5
Kaino 3
Thorn 2
Tialata 2
Franks* 1
Boric* 1

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 15 (4+11) 5 (4+1)
Smith 13 (7+6) 2 (1+1)
Read 9 (6+3) 3 (2+1)
Kaino 8 (5+3) 1 (1+0)
Woodcock 7 (4+3) 4 (4+0)
Hore 7 (6+1) 2 (1+1)
Tiatlata 6 (3+3) 2 (2+0)
Donnelly 5 (5+0) 2 (2+0)
Nonu 4 (3+1) 1 (1+0)
Muliaina 3 (2+1) 1 (0+1)
Thorn 3 (3+0) 1 (1+0)
Carter 2 (2+0) 1 (0+1)
Boric* 2 0
Donald* 2 0
McAlister* 2 0
Sivivatu 2 (1+1) 0
Latimer* 1 1
Flynn* 1 0
Franks* 1 0
Cowan 1 (1+0) 0
Jane 0 2 (2+0)
Total 94 28

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Hore 2
McCaw 2
Carter 2
Tialata 1
Read 1
Muliaina 1
Total 9

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 6 7
Second half 7 7
Total 13 14

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Kaino 3 3
Read 3 3
Donnelly 2 2
Thorn 2 2
Quick throw 3 3

France Line-outs Won From
First half 2 3
Second half 7 9
Total 9 12

NZ Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 2 3
Second half 2 4
Total 4 7

France Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 3 4
Second half 4 4
Total 7 8

23 Nov

Game Stats: England v All Blacks, London, 21 November 2009
by Tracey Nelson
23 Nov 2009

The usual analysis of the All Blacks game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, ball carries, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums. (NOTE: Dan Carter became the highest points scorer for New Zealand with the 14 points he scored taking him to 979, over taking Andrew Merhtens’ previous record tally of 966 points).

Please note Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. halting the movement and being the tackler according to the laws of the game), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately. Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball carrier isn’t stopped. 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 who came on as a substitute.

Team: Mils Muliaina, Zac Guildford, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Sitiveni Sitivatu, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw(c), Adam Thomson, Tom Donnelly, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock.
Reserves: Cory Flynn, John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Jerome Kaino, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Tamati Ellison.

Substitutions were: Afoa for Franks, Boric for Donnelly, and Kaino for Thomson all at 57 min, Ellis for Cowan at 70 min.

Points Scored NZ England
Tries 1 0
Conversions 1 0
Penalties 4/6 2/2
Total 19 6

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 8 1
England 9 5
Total 17 6

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackle Nonu, McCaw(2) 3
Offside Thorn 1
Scrum Whole scrum, Woodcock 2
Taking player off ball Read 1
Foul play Cowan 1
Total   8

Opp Penalty Offences
Tackle 5
Ruck 2
Scrum 1
Foul play 1
Total 9

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock on 9
Forward pass 1
Spilled 1
Touch in goal from penalty 1
Accidental offside 1
Total 13

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 35 22+13
Woodcock 30 23+7
Franks 25 18+7
Hore 25 16+9
Thomson 23 17+6
Donnelly 19 14+5
Thorn 19 7+12
Read 17 10+7
Nonu 13 7+6
Smith 11 8+3
Carter 10 7+3
Guildford 8 5+3
Muliaina 5 3+2
Afoa* 4  
Kaino* 4  
Boric* 3  
Sivivatu 2 1+1
Ellis* 1  

Ball carries
McCaw 7  
Thomson 5
Hore 5
Read 4
Franks 3
Thorn 3
Woodcock 1
Donnelly 1
Boric 1
Kaino 1

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
Carter 13 (6+7) 2 (1+1)
McCaw 12 (5+7) 5 (1+4)
Read 12 (7+5) 0
Thomson 7 (7+0) 2 (0+2)
Franks 7 (4+3) 1 (1+0)
Thorn 6 (5+1) 3 (1+2)
Woodcock 6 (4+2) 2 (2+0)
Nonu 5 (4+1) 2 (2+0)
Smith 5 (2+4) 0
Hore 4 (2+2) 3 (2+1)
Guildford 4 (1+3) 1 (1+0)
Donnelly 3 (3+1) 2 (1+1)
Kaino* 3 0
Afoa* 1 0
Ellis* 1 0
Sivivatu 1 (0+1) 0
Muliaina 1 (0+1) 0
Cowan 0 3 (2+1)
Total 91 26

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Cowan 2
Carter 2
McCaw 1
Thorn 1
Nonu 1
Guildford 1
Total 8

Tackle turnovers won
McCaw 1
Hore 1
Thomson 1
Smith 1
Total 4

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 4 4
Second half 6 6
Total 10 10

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Donnelly 2 2
Read 2 2
Thomson 2 2
Kaino* 2 2
THorn 1 1
Not seen 1 1

England Line-outs Won From
First half 6 7
Second half 10 12
Total 16 19

NZ Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 3 3
Second half 5 7
Total 8 10

England Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 4 5
Second half 7 8
Total 11 13

20 Nov

Match preview: England v All Blacks
by Tracey Nelson
20 Nov 2009

Obviously the most important thing for the All Blacks to achieve this weekend is a win over England. Anything less will relegate the entire end of year tour as a failure. But there are some additional boxes that could do with some ticks too.

Thankfully the coaches have selected the same forward pack I would have, which is always a good start in my books. The naming of Thomson, McCaw and Read points to a desire for dominance at the breakdown and the combination of McCaw and Thomson on the flanks should provide the speed to outgun England there. I also like the options both Thomson and Read provide in the lineout.

The tight five are exactly that – a tight five who won’t roam about getting in the way of the backs, and all of them have shown willingness and ability to get to the breakdown in numbers and not shirk their duties in the ball security stakes. If there is one thing that would play into England’s hands this weekend, it would be the All Blacks reverting to the Fatties in the Backline style of play we saw the game against Italy degenerate into last weekend – they key to beating England and beating them well is to provide clean, fast, front foot ball and let our backline rip into it without having to sidestep their own forwards.

The first tick box I would like to see fulfilled (well, the second after actually winning the game of course) is for the backs to score tries. So far in the two test matches against Wales and Italy it has been the hookers who have scored the tries – and just one each, leaving a sad tally of one try per test. This needs to change, and Twickenham is the ground to do it on.

The other tick box is the requirement to keep our line unbreached. A win against England will be badly tarnished if they score a try against us, particularly with the way England have been travelling so far. They have selected a very defensive-oriented side, so it would be all the more galling to concede 5 points to them.

Of interest will be the shift of Zac Guildford over to the right wing – a position he feels is not uncomfortable for him, and one he opted to take in deference to his more senior counterpart Sitiveni Sivivatu who offered him the left wing spot. England have a Kiwi amongst their ranks in hooker Dylan Hartley (born in NZ but shifted to England as a teenager) in just his fourth run-on start. Hartley played in the same Rotorua Boys’ High School 1st XV with Liam Messam. They are also starting Ayoola Erinle at 2nd 5 this weekend which makes for a new pairing in the England midfield, and he will be head to head with Ma’a Nonu.

England have been slammed by their own press (and fans) as being boring and lacking any skills to play attacking rugby after losing to Australia and only just beating Argentina this month. Some of their better attacking players have been relegated to the bench (Mathew Tait, Shane Geraghty, Tom Croft), and whilst Simon Shaw is back from injury at lock the entire line-up looks remiscent of siege-mentality in what is likely to be an attempt to prevent he All Blacks from getting their running game going more than having a clue how to attack to win the game.

That doesn’t mean that powerful forward play should take a back seat, and I hope the All Blacks can also illustrate some good scrummaging (thankfully Stuart Dickinson isn’t refereeing this week!) and physical dominance at the breakdown. The All Blacks owe it not just to themselve and their fans, but to world rugby to ensure ball through the hand dominates the now in-vogue kicking game that has brought rugby union to the sorry state of being a kick-fest at international level.

16 Nov

The Italian Job
by Tracey Nelson
16 Nov 2009

With a total of 8 penalties awarded against the All Blacks at scrum time on Saturday night, the blame is flying back and forth between the New Zealanders and the Italians. We take a look at what was going on in the dark, dirty world of the scrums.

The Italians had 15 scrum feeds during the test and only two of those resulting in the halfback clearing the ball without a scrum reset, while the rest of the scrums involved at least one reset (one first half scrum resulted in three). More importantly, the All Blacks conceded 8 penalties and one free kick – all but one penalty going against the loosehead prop. What was going on that first Wyatt Crockett and then Neemia Tialata (who switched to the loosehead side when John Afoa subbed on for Crockett in the 59th minute) bore the brunt of the referee’s whistle?

From the very first Italian scrum it was game on, and following two resets Australian referee Stuart Dickinson awarded a free kick against Crockett for not binding. The next three Italian scrums resulted in penalties against Crockett, again for either not binding correctly or slipping his bind bringing the scrum down on that side. Crockett was up against the impressive Italian tighthead prop Martin Castrogiovanni, who had previously made mincemeat of the Springbok front row the prior weekend when premiership side Leicester had beaten the touring South Africans.

The All Black coaches claimed the Italians were boring in, so we decided to take a closer look and see if there was any truth behind this claim. In particular, we looked at the scrum set in the 45th minute of the game on the All Blacks’ 22m line. As the two packs ready themselves to engage, Crockett is standing slightly behind hooker Cory Flynn, while tighthead Tialata is standing level with his hooker. Meanwhile the Italian pack have aligned themselves so that their tighthead prop and openside flanker are slightly angled in towards Flynn.

On the engage call from the referee the Italians adjust their hit so that their loosehead and blindside flanker also angle in on Flynn, while both locks push their angle at our tighthead Tialata. This effectively means both sides of the front row are boring in on Flynn and pinning him – a technique known as "the wedge". The wedge puts the entire force of the Italian scrum onto Tialata and while he manages to hold his ground at first thanks to his lock (Tom Donnelly), the other side of the scrum isn’t faring as well.

Crockett has packed high and angled under Flynn while his lock, Anthony Boric, splinters away from his fellow locking partner either due to his flanker (Liam Messam) not binding tight and straight or in an attempt to adjust to the pressure he can sense coming through Flynn. The upshot of this is that Boric and Messam essentially wheel the scrum towards and onto Crockett, resulting in Crockett getting popped out of the scrum unable to hold his bind any longer.

The mechanics of the All Black scrum on the Italian feeds meant that only Tialata and Flynn were managing to maintain a straight angle, because the rest of the pack were flying helplessly and wheeling onto their own loosehad. It was very clever manouevering by the Italian pack, and worked effectively because while the wedge was driving Crockett inwards, the middle row of the Italian scrum still drove forward and for all intents and purposes looked straight to the referee. The Italian halfback also managed to delay his feed until the wedge was formed.

Further confirmation of what is going on can be seen by checking the Italian blindside flanker. He is stopping his prop from popping by leaning on his reat and pushing in a manner similar to the way you would attempt to push a car uphill. The two All Black flankers were not pushing in on their props, and therefore that resulted in the locks splintering and the scrum wheeling on the loosehead side.

It was some great artistry by Italy, and its difficult for a referee to detect, except… he missed the requirement for the Italian tighthead prop to bind to the opposition loosehead’s arm. Castrogiovanni (and his replacement later in the game) both let go of their bind, lift the shoulder and arm and slide under Crockett and Flynn, which should have resulted in a penalty against him. As far as we can see, Tialata was doing a very good job at TH and holding his ground but a combination of a couple of illegalities, a wonderful wedge driving forward and the All Blacks seeming to screw the scrum did us in.

Thanks to the ever-wise John Cawston for his knowledge on all things scrum-like, and confirming our suspicions that the Italians certainly did a job on us.

16 Nov

Game Stats: All Blacks v Italy, Milan, 14 November 2009
by Tracey Nelson
16 Nov 2009

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

Please note Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. halting the movement and being the tackler according to the laws of the game), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately. Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball carrier isn’t stopped. 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 who came on as a substitute.

Team: Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Tamati Ellison, Luke McAlister, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Mike Delany, Andy Ellis, Rodney So’oialo(c), Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Tom Donnelly, Anthony Boric, Neemia Tailata, Cory Flynn, Wyatt Crockett.
Reserves: Andrew Hore, John Afoa, Jason Eaton, Richie McCaw, Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Mils Muliaina

Substitutions were: Afoa for Crockett and Cowan for Ellis at 59 min, Donald for Delany at 63 min, and Muliaina for Jane at 67 min.

Points Scored NZ Italy
Tries 1 0
Conversions 0 0
Penalties 5/8 2/3
Total 20 6

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 13 1
Italy 12 0
Total 25 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackle Tialata, Ellison 2
Ruck Crockett, Latimer, Flynn 3
Scrum Crockett(4), Messam, Tialata(2 +YC), Front row 8
Total   13

Italy Penalty Offences
Tackle 5 (+1YC)
Ruck 2
Offside 4
Scrum 1
Total 12

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons 7
Forward pass 3
Incorrect tap 1
In the tackle 3
At the ruck 2
Lineout 1
Total 17

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
Latimer 28 14+14
Boric 26 13+13
Donnelly 23 12+11
Messam 19 12+7
Crockeett 22 15+7
So’oialo 21 10+11
Tialata 15 10+5
Flynn 15 8+7
Ellison 6 2+4
Smith 6 0+6
Sivivatu 5 1+4
McAlister 4 3+1
Ellis 4 2+2
Afoa* 3  
Jane 3 2+1
Delany 2 1+1
Donald* 1  

Ball carries
Boric 6  
Flynn 5
Tialata 5
So’oialo 4
Messam 3
Latimer 3
Donnelly 2
Afoa* 1
Crockett 1

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
Latimer 9 (5+4) 1 (0+1)
Tialata 4 (3+1) 0
Smith 4 (1+3) 0
Donnelly 4 (0+4) 0
Afoa* 3 0
So’oialo 3 (1+2) 3 (3+0)
Flynn 3 (3+0) 0
Delany 2 (0+2) 1 (0+1)
Crockett 1 (1+0) 3 (1+2)
Cowan* 1 0
Donald 1 0
Messam 1 (0+1) 0
Ellis 1 (0+1) 0
McAlister 1 (0+1) 0
Ellison 1 (0+1) 0
Sivivatu 0 1 (0+1)
Total 39 10

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Donnelly 1
So’oialo 1
Ellis 1
Sivivatu 1
Total 4

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 6 6
Second half 6 7
Total 12 13

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Donnelly 6 6
Boric 3 3
Messam 1 2
Latimer 1 1
So’oialo 1 1

Italy Line-outs Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 4 7
Total 9 12

NZ Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 4 4
No. of resets   1

Italy Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 9 10
No. of resets   15

16 Nov

Game Stats: All Blacks v Italy, Milan, 14 November 2009
by Tracey Nelson
16 Nov 2009

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

Please note Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. halting the movement and being the tackler according to the laws of the game), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately. Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball carrier isn’t stopped. 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 who came on as a substitute.

Team: Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Tamati Ellison, Luke McAlister, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Mike Delany, Andy Ellis, Rodney So’oialo(c), Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Tom Donnelly, Anthony Boric, Neemia Tialata, Cory Flynn, Wyatt Crockett.
Reserves: Andrew Hore, John Afoa, Jason Eaton, Richie McCaw, Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Mils Muliaina.

Substitutions were: Afoa for Crockett and Cowan for Ellis at 59 min, Donald for Delany at 63 min, and Muliaina for Jane at 67 min.

Points Scored NZ Italy
Tries 1 0
Conversions 0 0
Penalties 5/8 2/3
Total 20 6

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 13 1
Italy 12 0
Total 25 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackle Tialata, Ellison 2
Ruck Crockett, Latimer, Flynn 3
Scrum Crockett(4), Messam, Tialata(2 +YC), Front row 8
Total   13

Italy Penalty Offences
Tackle 5 (+1YC)
Ruck 2
Offside 4
Scrum 1
Total 12

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons 7
Forward pass 3
Incorrect tap 1
In the tackle 3
At the ruck 2
Lineout 1
Total 17

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
Latimer 28 14+14
Boric 26 13+13
Donnelly 23 12+11
Messam 19 12+7
Crockeett 22 15+7
So’oialo 21 10+11
Tialata 15 10+5
Flynn 15 8+7
Ellison 6 2+4
Smith 6 0+6
Sivivatu 5 1+4
McAlister 4 3+1
Ellis 4 2+2
Afoa* 3  
Jane 3 2+1
Delany 2 1+1
Donald* 1  

Ball carries
Boric 6  
Flynn 5
Tialata 5
So’oialo 4
Messam 3
Latimer 3
Donnelly 2
Afoa* 1
Crockett 1

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
Latimer 9 (5+4) 1 (0+1)
Tialata 4 (3+1) 0
Smith 4 (1+3) 0
Donnelly 4 (0+4) 0
Afoa* 3 0
So’oialo 3 (1+2) 3 (3+0)
Flynn 3 (3+0) 0
Delany 2 (0+2) 1 (0+1)
Crockett 1 (1+0) 3 (1+2)
Cowan* 1 0
Donald 1 0
Messam 1 (0+1) 0
Ellis 1 (0+1) 0
McAlister 1 (0+1) 0
Ellison 1 (0+1) 0
Sivivatu 0 1 (0+1)
Total 39 10

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Donnelly 1
So’oialo 1
Ellis 1
Sivivatu 1
Total 4

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 6 6
Second half 6 7
Total 12 13

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Donnelly 6 6
Boric 3 3
Messam 1 2
Latimer 1 1
So’oialo 1 1

Italy Line-outs Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 4 7
Total 9 12

NZ Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 4 4
No. of resets   1

Italy Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 9 10
No. of resets   15

13 Nov

Itlay v All Blacks: Match Preview
by Tracey Nelson
13 Nov 2009

There are 12 changes to the side that beat Wales last weekend after the All Black coaches named the team to take on Italy this weekend at the San Siro Stadium in Milan.

Mike Delany, Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith will all make their All Black debuts, with 61 test cap Rodney So’oialo named to captain the side for the fifth time from Number 8. Delany has been named to start at 1st 5 ahead of Stephen Donald, who again takes a seat on the reserves bench with Daniel Carter not considered due to his one week suspension for a high tackle in the test match against Wales. Ellison will play at centre, with Luke McAlister named at 2nd 5. Ben Smith takes his place on the right wing with Sitiveni Sivivatu back from his suspension after the Tokyo test starting on the left wing, while Cory Jane shifts from wing to fullback.

Crockett and Tialata start their second test in a row and are joined at hooker by Cory Flynn. Anthony Boric gets his first All Black game since 2008 joining Tom Donnelly as the locking duo. Liam Messam starts at blindside, and Tanerau Latimer makes up the loose trio at openside flanker. Only Boric (10), Tialata (39) and So’oialo (61) have double figure test caps, with the combined caps of the other starting forward only tallying 15.

With three uncapped backs starting, Sivivatu is the most experieced player with 40 test caps followed by McAlister (28), Ellis (11) and Jane (10). But while the average number of caps in the starting lineup is only 14, the reserves more than make up for it with an average of over 40 caps per player. The very strong bench should ensure a more than handy rescue mission should any problems be encountered by the inexperienced starting fifteen.

The All Blacks have played Italy 10 times and have won on all occasions. The last Test between the two sides was in June this year in Christchurch, where the Azzuri pushed the All Blacks hard for the full 80 minutes before the New Zealanders won 27-6. The All Blacks have played in Italy three times: in Bologna in 1995 (won 70-6), Genova in 2000 (won 56-19) and Rome in 2004 (won 59-10).

The team is:

1.Wyatt Crockett (2 Tests)
2.Corey Flynn (5)
3.Neemia Tialata (39)
4.Tom Donnelly (3)
5.Anthony Boric (10)
6.Liam Messam (2)
7.Tanerau Latimer (3)
8.Rodney So’oialo (61, captain)
9.Andy Ellis (11)
10.Mike Delany – uncapped
11.Sitiveni Sivivatu (40)
12.Luke McAlister (28)
13.Tamati Ellison – uncapped
14.Ben Smith – uncapped
15.Cory Jane (10)

Reserves:

16. Andrew Hore (45)
17. John Afoa (21)
18. Jason Eaton (15)
19. Richie McCaw (78)
20. Jimmy Cowan (29)
21. Stephen Donald (17)
22. Mils Muliaina (79)

12 Nov

Italy v All Blacks: Match Preview
by Tracey Nelson
12 Nov 2009

There are 12 changes to the side that beat Wales last weekend after the All Black coaches named the team to take on Italy this weekend at the San Siro Stadium in Milan.

Mike Delany, Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith will all make their All Black debuts, with 61 test cap Rodney So’oialo named to captain the side for the fifth time from Number 8. Delany has been named to start at 1st 5 ahead of Stephen Donald, who again takes a seat on the reserves bench with Daniel Carter not considered due to his one week suspension for a high tackle in the test match against Wales. Ellison will play at centre, with Luke McAlister named at 2nd 5. Ben Smith takes his place on the right wing with Sitiveni Sivivatu back from his suspension after the Tokyo test starting on the left wing, while Cory Jane shifts from wing to fullback.

Crockett and Tialata start their second test in a row and are joined at hooker by Cory Flynn. Anthony Boric gets his first All Black game since 2008 joining Tom Donnelly as the locking duo. Liam Messam starts at blindside, and Tanerau Latimer makes up the loose trio at openside flanker. Only Boric (10), Tialata (39) and So’oialo (61) have double figure test caps, with the combined caps of the other starting forward only tallying 15.

With three uncapped backs starting, Sivivatu is the most experieced player with 40 test caps followed by McAlister (28), Ellis (11) and Jane (10). But while the average number of caps in the starting lineup is only 14, the reserves more than make up for it with an average of over 40 caps per player. The very strong bench should ensure a more than handy rescue mission should any problems be encountered by the inexperienced starting fifteen.

The All Blacks have played Italy 10 times and have won on all occasions. The last Test between the two sides was in June this year in Christchurch, where the Azzuri pushed the All Blacks hard for the full 80 minutes before the New Zealanders won 27-6. The All Blacks have played in Italy three times: in Bologna in 1995 (won 70-6), Genova in 2000 (won 56-19) and Rome in 2004 (won 59-10).

The team is:

1.Wyatt Crockett (2 Tests)
2.Corey Flynn (5)
3.Neemia Tialata (39)
4.Tom Donnelly (3)
5.Anthony Boric (10)
6.Liam Messam (2)
7.Tanerau Latimer (3)
8.Rodney So’oialo (61, captain)
9.Andy Ellis (11)
10.Mike Delany – uncapped
11.Sitiveni Sivivatu (40)
12.Luke McAlister (28)
13.Tamati Ellison – uncapped
14.Ben Smith – uncapped
15.Cory Jane (10)

Reserves:

16. Andrew Hore (45)
17. John Afoa (21)
18. Jason Eaton (15)
19. Richie McCaw (78)
20. Jimmy Cowan (29)
21. Stephen Donald (17)
22. Mils Muliaina (79)

12 Nov

NZ 2010 Super 14 Squads named
by Tracey Nelson
12 Nov 2009

The New Zealand Super 14 Franchises unveiled their squads for 2010 yesterday. Haka takes a look at the squads and a likely first XV each franchise.

BLUES:
Tony Woodcock, John Afoa, Charlie Faumuina, Tevita Mailau, , Keven Mealamu, Tom McCartney, Anthony Boric, Ali Williams, Kurtis Haiu, Jerome Kaino, Peter Saili**, Serge Lilo (D)*, Tom Chamberlain**, Chris Lowrey, Viliame Maafu** +, Alby Mathewson*, Chris Smylie, Stephen Brett (D)*, Daniel Kirkpatrick (D)*, Luke McAlister***, Benson Stanley, Isaia Toeava, George Pisi***, Rudi Wulf, Anthony Tuitavake, Joe Rokocoko, Rene Ranger, Paul Williams.

The Blues have gained three players from the draft in Serge Lilo, Stephen Brett and Daniel Kirkpatrick. New to the Super 14 are Peter Saili, Tom Chamberlain and Viliame Maafu, while Luke McAlister and George Pisi both return after time away from the Blues. The squad has 12 past or present All Blacks. A likely first XV for the Blues is:

Woodcock, Mealamu, Afoa, Boric, Williams, Kaino, Saili, Lilo, Mathewson, Brett, Rokocoko, McAlister, Stanley, Wulf, Toeava

CHIEFS:
Nathan White***, Ben Afeaki**, James McGougan, Sona Taumalolo, Aled de Malmanche, Hika Elliot, Kevin O’Neill, Craig Clarke, Callum Retallick**, Romana Graham**, Jarrad Hoeata (D)**, Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Luke Braid**, Sione Lauaki, Colin Bourke, Brendon Leonard, Junior Poluleuligaga** +, Stephen Donald, Mike Delany, Callum Bruce, Jackson Willison, Richard Kahui, Lelia Masaga, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Dwayne Sweeney, Tim Nanai-Williams**, Mils Muliaina.

The Chiefs have only drafted one player (Jarrad Hoeata) while the rest of the squad is made up of players from last year’s side and the extended training squad. Nathan White returns to the Chiefs this year, while first time S14 players will be Ben Afeaki, Callum Retallick, Romana Graham, Jarrad Hoeata, Luke Braid, Junior Poluleuligaga and Tim Nanai-Williams. The squad has 11 past or present All Blacks. A likely first XV for the Chiefs is:

Taumalolo, de Malmanche, McGougan, Clarke, O’Neill, Messam, Latimer, Lauaki, Leonard, Delaney/Donald, Sivivatu, Donald/Bruce, Kahui, Masaga, Muliaina

HURRICANES:
John Schwalger, Jacob Ellison, Neemia Tialata, Anthony Perenise*, Andrew Hore, Dane Coles, Jeremy Thrush, Bryn Evans, James Broadhurst (D)**, Jason Eaton, Michael Paterson*, Victor Vito, Karl Lowe, Scott Waldrom, Rodney So’oialo, Nick Crosswell**, Piri Weepu, Tyson Keats (D)**, Aaron Cruden**, Willie Ripia, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Jason Kawau (D), Tamati Ellison, David Smith, Hosea Gear, Andre Taylor**, Cory Jane.

The Hurricanes have picked up James Broadhurst, Tyson Keats and Jason Kawau via the draft. New to S14 rugby are Broadhurst, Keats, Nick Crosswell, Aaron Cruden, and Andre Taylor, while Anthony Perenise and Michael Paterson come to the Hurricanes from S14 experience with other franchises. The squad has 13 past or present All Blacks. A likely first XV for the Hurricanes is:

Schwalger, Hore, Tialata, Thrush, Evans, Vito, Lowe, So’oialo, Weepu, Cruden, Gear, Nonu, C Smith, Ellison, Jane

CRUSADERS:
Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Ben Franks, Peter Borlase**, Corey Flynn, Ti’i Paulo***, Brad Thorn, Isaac Ross, Chris Jack***, Sam Whitelock**, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, George Whitelock, Jonathan Poff, Thomas Waldrom, Andy Ellis, Kahn Fotuali’i, Daniel Carter***, Daniel Bowden (D)*, Ryan Crotty, Tim Bateman, Robert Fruean**, Adam Whitelock, Sean Maitland, Kade Poki, Zac Guildford*, Colin Slade, Jared Payne.

Like the Chiefs the Crusaders have only one draft player in Daniel Bowden. Players selected for S14 honours for the first time are Peter Borlase, Sam Whitelock and Robert Fruean. New to the Crusaders are Daniel Bowden and Zac Guildford, while Dan Carter returns after missing the 2009 season due to his French sabbatical along with Chris Jack who is returning from two seasons overseas. The squad has 11 past or present All Blacks. A likely first XV for the Crusaders is:

Crockett, Flynn, Franks, Thorn, Ross/Jack, Read, McCaw, Waldrom, Ellis, Carter, Crotty, Bateman, Guildford, Maitland, Slade

HIGHLANDERS:
Jamie Mackintosh, Clint Newland, Chris King, Bronson Murray (D)*, Jason Macdonald, Jason Rutledge, Josh Bekhuis, Tom Donnelly, Hayden Triggs, Joe Tuineau**, Adam Thomson, Alando Soakai, John Hardie**, Tim Boys, Nasi Manu*, Stephen Setephano, Jimmy Cowan, Sean Romans, Matt Berquist (D), Michael Hobbs*, Jayden Hayward, Jason Shoemark (D), Kendrick Lynn, James Paterson**, Fetu’u Vainikolo, Ben Smith, Robbie Robinson**, Israel Dagg.

The Highlanders have picked up Bronson Murray, Matt Berquist and Jason Shoemark from the draft. New to the franchise are Muarry, Nasi Manu and Michael Hobbs, while first time S14 players are Joe Tuineau, John Hardie, James Paterson and Robbie Robinson. The squad has 5 past or present All Blacks. A likely first XV for the Highlanders is:

MacKintosh, MacDonald, King, Bekhuis, Donnelly, Thomson, Soakai/Boys, Setephano, Cowan, Berquist/Robinson, Paterson/Vanikolo, Hayward, Shoemark, Smith, Dagg.

In additional Super 14 news, the Bank of New Zealand has been announced as the new major sponsor of the five New Zealand Rebel Sport Super 14 teams. Meanwhile, Melbourne has been named as the 15th Super Rugby Team to join the competition when expansion occurs in 2011. The Melbourne-based franchise will play in the Australian conference under the new Super Rugby competition format from 2011, meaning they will play both home and away against the other four Australian Conference teams.

Key code
* = New player to a Franchise
** = New player to a Super Rugby squad (i.e. has not been selected in an initial Super Rugby squad before)
*** = Returning player
D =Draft

9 Nov

Game Stats: Wales v All Blacks, Cardiff, 7 November 2009
by Tracey Nelson
9 Nov 2009

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

Please note Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. halting the movement and being the tackler according to the laws of the game), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately. Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball carrier isn’t stopped. 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 who came on as a substitute.

Team: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Brendon Leonard, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (c), Jerome Kaino, Jason Eaton, Brad Thorn, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, Wyatt Crockett.
Reserves: Cory Flynn, Owen Franks, Tom Donnelly, Adam Thomson, Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Ben Smith.

Substitutions were: Cowan for Leonard after 49 min, Donnelly for Eaton after 54 min, Franks for Crockett after 59 min, and Thomson for Read after 64 min.

Points Scored NZ Wales
Tries 1 0
Conversions 1 0
Penalties 4/4 4/5
Total 19 12

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 14 0
Wales 9 1
Total 23 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackle Read, Smith/Crockett, Carter 3
Ruck Leonard, McCaw(2), Franks 4
Maul Eaton 1
Offside Tialata, Hore 2
Scrum Crockett(2), Tialata, Front row 4
Total   14

Wales Penalty Offences
Tackle 3
Ruck 3
Scrum 1
Deliberate knock on 1
Not retiring 10m 1
Total 9

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons 8
In the tackle 2
At the ruck 3
Spilled/pass to opposition 4
Total 17

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 34 15+19
Thorn 30 15+15
Hore 26 12+14
Tialata 24 15+9
Crockett 23 13+10
Kaino 23 11+12
Read 16 10+6
Eaton 13 8+5
Guildford 11 2+9
Smith 10 4+6
Jane 10 3+7
Donnelly* 8  
Nonu 8 4+4
Franks* 6  
Carter 6 1+5
Muliaina 5 0+5
Thomson* 4  
Leonard 3 2+1
Cowan* 1  

Ball carries
Thorn 6  
Hore 4
Read 3
Eaton 3
Kaino 2
Crockett 2
Tialata 2
McCaw 1

Breakdown Turnovers Won
Hore 3

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 11 (6+5) 3 (2+1)
Kaino 10 (6+4) 1 (1+0)
Carter 9 (6+3) 2 (1+1)
Thorn 8 (6+2) 4 (2+2)
Tialata 8 (6+2) 1 (1+0)
Nonu 8 (3+5) 1 (1+0)
Crockett 8 (5+3) 0
Read 7 (7+0) 1 (1+0
Smith 7 (4+3) 1 (0+1)
Eaton 6 (4+2) 1 (1+0)
Hore 5 (5+0) 1 (1+0)
Leonard 5 (5+0) 0
Franks* 3 0
Jane 3 (3+0) 0
Guildford 2 (2+0) 1 (1+0)
Donnelly* 1 0
Thomson* 1 0
Total 102 17

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Crockett 2
Thorn 2
Kaino 2
McCaw 1
Read 1
Carter 1
Smith 1
Guildford 1
Thomson* 1
Total 12

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 7 7
Second half 3 4
Total 10 11

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Read 3 3
Thorn 2 3
Donnelly 1 1
Quick throw ins 2 2
Eaton 2 2

Wales Line-outs Won From
First half 12 12
Second half 5 7
Total 17 19

NZ Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 3 3
Second half 9 10
Total 12 13

Wales Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 2 2
Second half 2 2
Total 4 4