10 Sep

RUGBY WORLD CUP 2011: All Blacks v Tonga game stats
by Tracey Nelson
10 Sep 2011

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

Some notes on these stats:

First Three to the Breakdown stats are looking for those players who are getting to the tackle/breakdown quickly and are also being useful by either cleaning out opposition players or setting up ruck ball. Anyone arriving and just leaning on the ruck isn’t included, so there are times when I will only tally one or two players. Likewise, if four players arrive simultaneously and perform a clean-out and setting up of a ruck, I will include all four in the stat.

Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. as the Laws of the Game actually described the tackler), 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 included slipped tackles in the Tackles Made stats, it gets noted as a missed tackle. Either you’ve made the tackle or you’ve missed it.

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each TOTAL. An asterisk denotes a player that came on as a substitute. This week: Ben Franks for Tony Woodcock at 44 min, Piri Weepu for Jimmy Cowan at 52 min, Sam Whitelock for Brad Thorn at 55 min, Cory Jane for Isaia Toeava at 61 min, Corey Flynn for Andrew Hore and Colin Slade for Dan Carter at 73 min, Anthony Boric for Jerome Kaino at 74 min.

Team: Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Victor Vito, Jimmy Cowan, Dan Carter, Isaia Toeava, Sonny Bill Williams, Ma’a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Anthony Boric, Sam Whitelock, Piri Weepu, Colin Slade, Cory Jane

Points Scored NZ Tonga
Tries 6 1
Conversions Carter 3 Morath 1
Penalties Carter 1/1 Morath 1/1
TOTAL 41 10

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 13 1
Tonga 6 0
TOTAL 19 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackler S Williams, O Franks 2
Tackled player S Williams, A Williams 2
Ruck entry Thorn 1
Ruck leaving feet Cowan 1
Ruck hands Hore 1
Ruck offside McCaw 1
Obstruction Thorn 1
Scrum B Franks, front row (2) 3
TOTAL   13

Tonga Penalty Offences
Tackler 2
Ruck leaving feet 1
Offside 1
Scrum 1
Early tackle 1

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons S Williams, Toeava, Hore, A Williams, Dagg(2), Nonu, Cowan, Kahui 9
Spilled ball Carter 1
Ruck   1
Tackle Thorn 1
Tackled into touch A Williams 1
Lineout   1
TOTAL   17

Turnovers Conceded by Tonga
Knock-ons 6
Tackle 4
Ruck 1
Maul 1
Missed touch from penalty 1
Lineout 4

Tackle turnovers won by NZ
Tackle McCaw, Hore (2), Carter

Kahui 2
Toeava 2
Nonu 2
Sonny Bill Williams 1

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 30 18+12
Hore 21 12+9
Thorn 18 11+7
Vito 17 11+6
O Franks 15 8+7
A Williams 14 7+7
B Franks*   9
Woodcock 9 7+2
Kaino 9 5+4
Toeava 6 4+2
S Williams 5 2+3
Kahui 5 2+3
Dagg 5 2+3
Boric*   4
Whitelock*   3
Cowan 3 1+2
Nonu 2 1+1
Flynn*   1
Jane*   1

Ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
Kaino 10 90
McCaw 9 50
A Williams 5 20
Thorn 3 12
O Franks 3 25
Vito 2 8
Whitelock* 2 9
Flynn* 1 5
B Franks* 1 5
Woodcock 1 3
Hore 1 2
TOTAL 38 229

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 16 (4+12) 5 (2+3)
B Franks* 10 4
Whitelock* 10 1
O Franks 12 (2+10 1 (1+0)
A Williams 9 (3+6) 3 (2+1)
Kaino 8 (3+5) 2 (2+0)
Hore 7 (2+5) 6 (1+5)
S Williams 7 (3+4) 1 (1+0)
Vito 7 (2+5) 0
Thorn 4 (3+1) 0
Carter 3 (2+1) 2 (0+2)
Cowan 2 (1+1) 0
Toeava 2 (2+0) 0
Nonu 2 (0+2) 0
Woodcock 2 (2+0) 0
Flynn* 1 0
Boric* 1 0
Slade* 1 0
Jane* 0 1
Kahui 0 2 (1+1)
TOTAL 105 27

Missed and Slipped Tackles
McCaw 2
Carter 2
O Franks 1
A Williams 1
S Wiliams 1

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 4 5
Second half 3 3

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Kaino 3 4
Thorn 2 2
Williams 1 1
Vito 1 1

Tonga Line-outs Won From
First half 3 4
Second half 4 7
TOTAL 7 11

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 4 4

Tonga Scrums Won From
First half 1 3
Second half 6 6

10 Sep

A Game Of Two Halves
by Paul Waite
10 Sep 2011

The All Blacks started the Rugby World Cup 2011 against Tonga in Pool A with a hiss and a whimper, playing great rugby in the first half, and an awful pile of rubbish in the second.

If Graham Henry intended to lull the opposition at this Rugby World Cup by convincing them that his side couldn’t last 80 minutes, could only scrum like Golden Oldies with the subs on, and can’t defend their line against determined (but predictable) pick-and-goes, then he probably succeeded.

The first half was pretty much as expected, with the All Blacks defence up hard on the one-dimensional Tongan attack snuffing everything out and turning their ball over. The only discordant note in the regular try-scoring was that most of them seemed to come from Tongan errors, or broken play, rather than from All Black control.

But the scoreboard was ticking over, and when they ran out for the second half we all expected it to mount to somewhere in the region of 50-something. Wrong.

Give the Tongans credit here for coming out with renewed energy and a more solid approach to defence, closing down the All Blacks attack more quickly. As we have seen against South Afrtica and lately against Australia in Brisbane, the All Blacks are vulnerable to this kind of defence, and seemingly still have no adequate answer to it. They tend to panic and make mistakes and this is what happened against Tonga. A littany of dropped ball, wrong options, and plain stupidity saw the clock being run down with no added points.

Tonga took heart from the changing fortunes and got some good field position in the All Blacks 22m late in the game. Seeing this as their chance to score a try they kept the ball in hand and simply drove at the All Blacks who visibly seemed to tire. With replacements on the field Franks for Woodcock (LH prop), and Whitelock for Thorn (lock) the All Black scrum suddenly went from having a marked advantage, to being under pressure. Repeated penalties to Tonga for collapsing 5m out from the All Blacks line were an effective ‘down-trou’ for the home team in front of their own fans, something they won’t relish watching on the replays.

After much pressure and an un-countable number of pick and goes, finally the irrepressible Taumalolo fired himself through grasping hands to score a deserved try. The positives that Henry, Hansen and Smith can take from this game are, in order of importance:

  • Kahui’s Man of the Match performance cementing him as a starting winger.
  • The SB Williams/Nonu combination showing promise as an option to the proven World-beating pairing of Nonu/Smith in midfield if injury requires it.
  • Kaino’s hard-hitting, bulldozing plays showing what superb form he is in.
  • Colin Slade improving with every game.
  • The maul is back as an attacking option!
  • No inuries.
  • Bonus point start to Rugby World Cup 2011

I expect that a lot of folks will be talking about how the Sonny Bill/Nonu partnership is now our best midfield option. Get a grip people, a few good touches against Tonga doesn’t trump seasons of proven World-beating partnership against the top sides in crucial tests. Great to see SBW looking sharp and to have him ready though.

The next team that Henry announces will be very interesting. Will he do more experimentation, or will it be (as I hope) his view of the Top XV + bench?

If you don’t pick you top starting XV in a World Cup and play it together in consequetive games, how can it possibly build enough rhythm to win a World Cup?

Make the right decision, Ted!

New Zealand 41
Israel Dagg (2), Richard Kahui (2), Jerome Kaino, Ma’a Nonu tries
Dan Carter (3 con, pen), Colin Slade (con)

Tonga 10
Alisona Taumalolo try
Kurt Morath (Con, Pen)

Paul Waite

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7 Sep

Wanted: An All Blacks First XV
by Paul Waite
7 Sep 2011

The team for the All Blacks first World Cup pool game against Tonga was announced this morning, and contained a few surprises. Have the selectors learned from previous failed World Cups that consistent selection through the pool games is essential?

All Blacks: Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (c), Victor Vito, Jimmy Cowan, Daniel Carter, Isaia Toeava, Ma’a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Israel Dagg

Reserves: Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Anthony Boric, Sam Whiltelock, Piri Weepu, Colin Slade, Cory Jane

I remember watching Tonga playing the All Blacks in the 1999 World Cup pool game in Bristol, UK and that day the match was remarkable for the number of reckless head-high tackles made by the team in red. One thing that Tonga always bring to a test match, particularly against New Zealand, is physicality, some of it ‘over exuberant’. The men in black were lucky to get away without serious injury in that one.

Looking at the team above, I can see a lot of large midfielder-type artillery in the backs, and some hard bastards in the forwards. Pretty much a perfect team to field against our pacific (or not so pacific) neighbours, in an World Cup opener. The only worries there are Kahui, a notable injury magnet at the best of times, and the precious Dan Carter. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him only completing the first half, if that, and Slade taking over the tiller for a large chunk of this game which would have the double advantage of protecting DC, and getting Slade some valuable match fitness.

Israel Dagg is picked over Mils Muliaina for this game, but I would expect Mils to get a run in the next. Henry has stated that both are ‘in competition’ now, so the fullback selection for the third pool game could be the telling one.

But all of this team tweaking, resting and ‘competition’ taken together with the usual forced changes due to injury has me concerned that the selectors are not focussed closely enough on selecting a consistent XV + bench for at least three games prior to the knock-out phase of the tournament.

If we look back at our best World Cup campaigns, 1987 and 1995, we see that this consistency was used to great effect in sharpening the team as a unit to a peak performance. In our failed campaigns this consistency was lacking and rotation was the name of the game.

I can’t agree with Hansen’s statements implying that playing a core 10-12 together is enough. World Cups are all about peaking, and squeezing that extra 0.5% of performance from the players. You can’t do that, in my opinion, without playing your top XV players and the best bench in 2-3 games prior to the knockout phase.

That knockout phase is where the All Blacks encounter teams which will pull out the extra-ordinary, and will only be beatable if they can reply with the extra-ordinary themselves. This has been the All Blacks’ achilles heel in all World Cups since 1987, except 1995.

Laurie Mains understood the need to peak a top XV, and but for The Incident Which Shall Not Be Named, would have brought back the cup then.

Let’s hope that the All Blacks selectors show us they have learned from 2007, and the rest of our World Cup history, and refine to a consistent team after this opener against Tonga.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

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