23 Aug

Game Stats: Springboks v All Blacks, Johannesburg, 21 August 2010
by Tracey Nelson
23 Aug 2010

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. Dan Carter overtook Johnny Wilkinson as the highest test points scorer with his third penalty goal of this test match, his tally is now 1113 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 aretallied 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: Woodcock, Mealamu, Ben Franks, Thorn, Donnelly, Kaino, McCaw(c), Read, Cowan, Carter, Rokocoko, Nonu, Smith, Jane, Muliaina
Reserves: Flynn, Afoa, Whitelock, Vito, Weepu, Cruden, Dagg

Substitutions were: Weepu for Cowan at 42 min, Whitelock for Donnelly at 50 min, Dagg for Rokocoko at 57 min, Afoa for Franks and Vito for Kaino at 65 min.

Points Scored NZ SA
Tries 3 1
Conversions 1 1
Penalties 4/6 1/1
Drop goals 0 0/1
Total 29 22

Linebreaks
All Blacks Thorn, Carter(2), Nonu(2) 5

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 9 0
SA 8 2
Total 17 2

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackle Franks 1
Ruck Muliaini(2), Read, McCaw, Whitelock 5
Maul Read 1
Scrum   1
Foul Play Rokocoko(late charge/obstruction) 1
Total   9

Springbok Penalty Offences
Tackle 2
Ruck 5
Obstruction 1
Total 8

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons 9
Forward pass 1
Spilled 2
In the tackle 2
Into touch 1
Lineout 2
Total 17

Turnovers Conceded by SA
Knock-ons 6
Spilled 1
In the tackle 2
At the ruck 2
Lineout 2
Touch in goal 1
Total 14

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 36 20+16
Thorn 33 16+17
Woodcock 26 14+12
Smith 23 14+9
Mealamu 22 15+8
Read 22 8+14
Franks 16 10+6
Kaino 14 7+7
Whitelock* 13  
Donnelly 11 7+4
Nonu 8 3+5
Muliaina 8 2+6
Afoa* 6  
Rokocoko 6 4+2
Vito* 3  
Dagg* 3  
Carter 3 1+2
Jane 2 2+0

Ball carries
Mealmau 12
McCaw 9
Read 6
Kaino 4
Vito* 3
Thorn 3  
Donnelly 3
Franks 2
Woodcock 2
Whitelock 1

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 11 (3+8) 2 (1+1)
Read 11 (5+6) 0
Thorn 7 (3+4) 1 (0+1)
Donnelly 6 (4+2) 0
Mealamu 5 (2+3) 1 (1+0)
Woodcock 4 (2+2) 2 (0+2)
Nonu 5 (2+3) 1 (1+0)
Franks 4 (3+1)0
Kaino 4 (3+1)0
Muliaina 4 (3+1) 0
Carter 4 (2+2) 0
Whitelock* 3 0
Cowan 3 0
Smith 3 (1+2) 0
Weepu* 2 0
Jane 1 (1+0) 0
Total 77 8

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Mcaw 4
Read 4
Carter 2
Woodcock 1
Kaino 1
Total 12

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 6 7
Second half 1 2
Total 8 9

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Donnelly 2  
  Thorn 2 3
Thorn 2 2
Kaino 1 1
Whitelock 0 1

SA Line-outs Won From
First half 2 4
Second half 3 3
Total 5 7

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

SA Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 1 1
Second half 7 8
Total 8 9

10 Aug

Luck or favouritism?
by Tracey Nelson
10 Aug 2010

Did the Bledisloe test in Christchurch confirm the accusations thrown about by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers and former Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer in the past two weeks? Are the All Blacks getting favours from the referees?

Certainly if you compare the five TriNations test matches already completed there seem to be some rather glaring irregularities when it comes to the dishing out of penalties and yellow cards. The test match in Christchurch was the first of the five that saw 30 players remain on the field for the full 80 minutes, and yet there was an incident in that game which – going on incidents in the previous four – should have resulted in a yellow card.

The incident in question was in the second half when All Black prop Tony Woodcock led with the shoulder and deliberately charged into the back of Wallaby hooker Sai Faingaa as he was attempting to get up from the ground after rolling clear from a ruck. The entire stadium held its collective breath as the replay was shown on the big screen and referee Jonathon Kaplan signalled Woodcock and his captain McCaw over for a chat.

But instead of the expected yellow card, all Kaplan did was admonish Woodcock, give him a warning of "no more" and award a penalty to the Wallabies. This, after the yellow card Springbok lock Danie Rossouw received for simply pushing McCaw’s cheek and then exchanging half-hearted shoves three weeks earlier in Wellington – supposedly foul play. Equally, the first yelllow card Wallably winger Drew Mitchell received in Melbourne was for a marginally late two handed push on the chest of McCaw after he had passed the ball that was inexplicably deeemed a shoulder charge.

So if the Mitchell shove was deemed bad enough to warrant a yellow card, how did Woodcock get away with not only no yellow card, but also no citing after the game? If – and it’s a very dodgy "if" – Kaplan was under orders not to dish out yellow cards in all but the most serious offences, there should at least been a trip to the judiciary for an act that ticks the boxes under Law 10, Foul Play in the IRB lawbook:

Law 10.4 (f) Playing an opponent without the ball. Except in a scrum, ruck or maul, a player must not hold, or push, or charge into, or obstruct an opponent not carrying the ball.

The one thing we ask from referees is consistency, both during a game and across games. Up until the test match in Christchurch a very firm line had been drawn in the sand by the game’s top referees that foul play and constant offending would be dealt with the use of yellow cards. Suddenly there was an about face, and this time it went in favour of the All Blacks, not just during the game itself but also afterwards when the citing commissioner felt that there was no case to be tried.

If Paddy O’Brien (IRB head of referees) was offended that his personal integrity was questioned by Bob Dwyer after the Melbourne test, then he needs to front up this week and explain why his top referee decided not to yellow card Woodcock. More importantly, for the integrity of the game itself, he also needs to give a very good reason why there was no citing for that incident after the test.

9 Aug

Game Stats: All Blacks v Wallabies, Christchurch, 7 August 2010
by Tracey Nelson
9 Aug 2010

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: Woodcock, Mealamu, Owen Franks, Thorn, Donnelly, Kaino, McCaw(c), Read, Weepu, Carter, Rokocoko, Nonu, Smith, Jane, Muliaina
Reserves: Flynn, Ben Franks, Whitelock, Vito, Mathewson, Cruden, Stanley

Substitutions were: Ben Franks for Owen Franks at 42 min, Whitelock for Donnelly at 50 min, Vito for Kaino at 71 min, Mathewson for Weepu and Flynn for Mealamu at 76 min.

Points Scored NZ AUS
Tries 2 1
Conversions 2 1
Penalties 2/3 1/2
Total 20 10

Linebreaks
All Blacks Rokocoko(2), Donnelly, Nonu, Read 5
Wallabies Beale, Mitchell 2

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 11 0
AUS 6 2
Total 17 2

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackle O Franks, Thorn, Smith, Whitelock 4
Ruck O Franks, Woodcock, McCaw 3
Off side Nonu/O Franks, Mathewson 2
Scrum Woodcock 1
Foul Play Woodcock (shoulder charge off ball) 1
Total   11

Wallaby Penalty Offences
Tackle 5
Off side 1
Total 6

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons 7
Spilled 1
In the tackle 5
At the ruck 1
Lineout 2
Total 16

Turnovers Conceded by Australia
Knock-ons 6
Forward pass 3
In the tackle 6
At the ruck 4
Lineout 2
Total 21

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 42 22+20
Thorn 28 18+10
Woodcock 26 13+13
Mealamu 21 12+9
Read 18 8+10
Kaino 17 8+9
O Franks 11 11+0
B Franks* 10  
Donnelly 9 8+1
Whitelock* 8  
Smith 8 4+4
Vito* 7  
Rokocoko 6 5+1
Jane 6 2+4
Muliaina 5 0+5
Nonu 4 1+3
Carter 3 1+2
Flynn* 1  
Weepu 1 1+0

Ball carries
Thorn 10  
Mealmau 10
Read 9
McCaw 7
Donnelly 4
O Franks 4
B Franks* 3
Woodcock 3
Vito* 2
Kaino 2
Whitelock 1

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 26 (15+11) 5 (4+1)
Carter 18 (9+9) 3 (3+0)
Read 15 (5+10) 2 (2+0)
Thorn 13 (8+5) 3 (3+0)
Woodcock 9 (6+3) 8 (5+3)
Mealamu 9 (1+8) 3 (2+1)
Kaino 9 (5+4) 3 (3+0)
Smith 9 (5+4) 2 (1+1)
Nonu 8 (4+4) 3 (3+0)
Whitelock* 6 1
B Franks* 5 3
O Franks 5 (5+0) 3 (3+0)
Donnelly 5 (3+2) 2 (1+1)
Weepu 4 (3+1) 0
Vito* 3 0
Flynn* 1 0
Mathewson* 1 0
Rokocoko 1 (0+1) 0
Muliaina 1 (0+1) 0
Total 148 41

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Weepu 2
Nonu 2
Woodock 1
Mealamu 1
O Franks 1
Thorn 1
Kaino 1
Read 1
Jane 1
Total 11

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 6 7
Second half 5 6
Total 11 13

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Kaino 3 3
Read 2 3
Thorn 2 2
Donnelly 1 1
Quick throws 4 4

Aus Line-outs Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 7 9
Total 12 14

NZ Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 4 4
Second half 6 6
Total 12 12

Aus Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 3 4
Second half 2 2
Total 5 6

8 Aug

The 'D' In All Blacks
by Paul Waite
8 Aug 2010

The All Blacks arm-wrestled the Wallabies and won the contest 20 – 10 and two tries to one, in what was a true test match to put the Bledisloe Cup safely away in the trophy cabinet for another season.

The opening minutes of this test saw the teams going at breath-taking speed, recycling the ball and each endlessly probing the other in great lung-busting efforts of ruck-a-thon rugby. The accuracy levels were high on both sides, however the All Blacks showed that they don’t just rely on the drilled patterns the Wallabies produce, but can also bring out the X-Factor to score tries.

The first 15 minutes of the game brought two beauts, punctuated by an Aussie reply from an All Black turnover.

The first New Zealand try came from a couple of bursts up the left from Smith and Mealamu to put the Wallaby defence on the back foot. Rokocoko then took the pass at high speed, evaded the second-to-last line of defence before spinning it wide to Mils Muliaina who danced inside the chalk, evading the fullback as well as any winger ever has, to dot down. It was a classic try built on well-timed passes and speed.

The All Blacks were playing with tails well up in the air, however they over-reached themselves when Carter lost the ball trying to pop it up in the tackle just over half-way. With everyone pushed up it was a gift to the Wallabies and Pocock and Sharpe put Kurtley Beale away, albeit with what looked like a forward pass. Beale then ran the ball in with Carter in lone and futile pursuit.

Carter made amends by breaking the line a few minutes later, popping the ball up to Weepu who spun it left to Ma’a Nonu who was dangerous all game. With the Aussie defence struggling and out of alignment, he made the most of it by running into some space and then putting Conrad Smith over in the corner. The referee went upstairs to confirm the grounding, but it was fine.

Given this opening, it was hard to believe, after the game had ended, that the remainder of the test saw no more tries scored. The Wallabies gradually asserted themselves in the posession stakes, and showed themselves to be better at maintaining the ball than the All Blacks were. This meant they gradually climbed into the driving seat of the test, something which didn’t go unnoticed by the Three Wise Men.

A further penalty to the both teams saw the scores still quite close on 17 – 10 at halftime, and just before they came out for the second half, an interviewed Steve Hansen said the team had been told to step up their intensity and get back in control of the test instead of allowing the Wallabies to dictate proceedings.

In the event, that didn’t happen. The story of the second half was, basically, Australian attack versus All Black defence.

But the All Blacks showed that they once again have the mettle and abilities to defend what, in the current game, is a slender lead.

For the Wallabies, the lesson they will have learned is that you can drill away for hours developing the patterns that will enable you to keep the ball and recycle it endlessly, but against the top sides you need to do more than that. You need to have that X-Factor of variation and genius that will create the gap and the opening for the try scoring opportunity, and you have to take it.

After the test the Wallaby comment was they failed to take their chances. Well I thought they took all the ones that were on offer, in reality, and that was just the single one given to them by a Carter mistake.

Australia also sent it’s top pundit over, Matt Dunning (also affectionately known as Matt Dumpling amongst his friends). Matt was obviously there to offer the typically balanced and informed Australian sportsman’s viewpoint, and did so with statements like "we could easily have won that test but every time the Wallabies got the ball they gave it straight back again".

Well I’m not sure what Matt understands by the phrase "straight back" here, but from my viewpoint, the Wallabies did everything BUT that. The All Blacks couldn’t get their hands on the ball for 10 minutes at a stretch as Wallabies went through their recycling drills like a bunch of gym bunnies making an aerobics video for large blokes with masochistic tendencies.

No, the Wallabies had so much possession that they couldn’t even wag a finger at it, let alone shake a stick. It was embarassing how much of the ball they had, without scoring with it. That should be the point that Matt takes back with him over the Tasman. Matt could even use this as a nice little example of how not to play the game, in his up-coming book "Rugby for Dumplings".

The All Blacks now have a week off, whilst Aussies have to schlepp all the way over to South Africa for some sun and a good hiding from a fresh but very angry Springboks team. Lucky them.

I have to say that this season’s draw has been just about perfect for the All Blacks, and I would recommend that SANZAR have it this way around every year. None of that starting the series with a trip to South Africa, playing two tests then travelling to Sydney for one there rubbish.

After the week off the All Blacks will then travel to South Africa, nicely freshened up, to take on the Boks, hopefully by that time sitting sated with eyes glazed over, gorged on Wallaby blood.

So for now congratulations to the All Blacks for locking up the Bledisloe Cup for another season!

[That trophy is so much more important to New Zealanders than the Tri-Nations, it doesn't even bear talking about, so I won't mention it.]

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

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2 Aug

Game Stats: Wallabies v All Blacks, Melbourne, 31 July 2010
by Tracey Nelson
2 Aug 2010

The usual analysis of the All Blacks game,including First 3 to the Breakdown, ball carries, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums. Joe Rokocoko became the most capped All Black winger of all time when he started in this test match, while Tony Woodcock matched Greg Somerville’s record for appearances at prop (66 tests).

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: Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Tom Donnelly, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw(c), Kieran Read, Jimmy Cowan, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, COnrad Smith, Josevata Rokocoko, Cory Jane, Mils Muliaina
Reserves: Cory Flynn, Ben Franks, Sam Whitelock, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg.

Substitutions were: Weepu for Cowan at 33 min, Ben Franks for OWen Franks at 43 min, Whitelock for Donnelly at 57 min, Flynn for Mealamu and Cruden for Nonu at 70 min, Vito for Thorn at 74 min and Dagg for Jane at 75 min.

Points Scored NZ Australia
Tries 7 3
Conversions 5 2
Penalties 2/2 2/3
Total 49 28

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 13 2
Australia 8 2
Total 21 4

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackle Woodcock, Rokocoko, Jane, Nonu(2), Mealamu, Whitelock 7
Offside Woodcock, Weepu/Nonu 2
Scrum Woodcock 2
Lazy running/offside Vito 1
Foul play Owen Franks (no arms in tackle) 1+ yellow card
Total   13

Australia’s Penalty Offences
Tackle 5
Ruck 1
Foul play Mitchell (late & dangerous tackle) 1 +yellow card
Other Mitchell (intentionally offending) 1 + yellow card = red card
Total 8

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons 9
Ruck 1
In the tackle 2
Total 12

Linebreaks
Muliaina 1  
Rokocoko 1
Carter 1
Weepu 1

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
MCaw 37 19+18
Woodcock 31 21+10
Mealamu 24 12+2
Donnelly 18 14+4
Kaino 18 14+4
Read 16 8+8
Thorn 15 14+1
O Franks 12 12+0
B Franks* 11  
Whitelock* 11  
Rokocoko 7 1+6
Smith 5 2+3
Carter 5 1+4
Flynn* 4
Nonu 4 2+2
Jane 4 1+3
Muliaina 2 1+1
Vito* 1  
Weepu* 1  
Cruden* 1  
Dagg* 1  
Cowan 1 0+1

Ball carries
Kaino 11
McCaw 10
Mealamu 10
Read 9  
Thorn 6
O Franks 4
Vito* 3
B Franks* 1
Whitelock* 1

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 21 (6+15) 5 (1+4)
Donnelly 14 (4+10) 3 (2+1)
Woodcock 12 (2+10) 5 (2+3)
Kaino 12(3+9) 3 (2+1)
Mealamu 11 (7+4) 1 (0+1)
Read 9 (1+9) 8 (2+6)
B Franks* 9 3
Smith 9 (4+5) 1 (1+0)
Carter 8 (1+7) 0
Thorn 7 (2+5) 3 (1+2)
Whitelock* 6 0
Nonu 6 (3+3) 2 (1+1)
Weepu* 4 2
Cowan 3 0
Cruden* 2 0
Rokocoko 3 (1+2) 1 (1+0)
O Franks 2 (2+0) 0
Muliaina 2 (1+1) 2 (1+1)
Vito* 1 0
Jane 1 (1+0) 3 (0+3)
Total 144 42

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Smith 3
Flynn* 2
Woodcock 2
Mealamu 2
Kaino 2
Donnelly 1
McCaw 1
Read 1
Carter 1
Mulaina 1
Cruden* 1
Total 17

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 4 5
Second half 4 5
Total 8 10

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Donnelly 4 4
Thorn 2 2
Read 2 2
Cowan 1 1

Australia Line-outs Won From
First half 1 2
Second half 5 5
Total 6 7

NZ Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 0 0
Second half 3 3
Total 3 3

Australia Scrum Feeds Won From
First half 2 3
Second half 4 6
Total 6 9