28 Jun

Super 15 — Round 18 Preview
by WAJ
28 Jun 2013

Chiefs v Hurricanes – And not a bad game to start with either. Both sides relatively unaffected by AB duties. In fact there are no starting Chiefs who started for the AB’s and only TKB got game time. Rennie and Hansen must be tight. So it is all in front of the Hurricanes – literally. A well rested Chiefs pack will be up for this with plenty wanting to show why they should have been playing last week. I think the Chiefs will be too good up front and provide the better ball for Cruden and co to run with. And some great match-ups for Hansen. And who would have thought Bundee Aki and Reynold Lee-Lo would be going head to head – love this side of the game.
Chiefs 1 – 12

Highlanders v Crusaders – I know that they probably need a break after the test series but it is a risk leaving Read, Romano and Davey all on the bench as well as Frank’s illness. If the Highlanders put on another performance like the last time they played then look out. Big question mark of course that!! But the Highlanders then bench Nonu and Smith – go figure?? Their last displayed form was outstanding – but then Tanaka did help Japan beat Wales B – so probably fair enough??? Anyway this is a hard game to pick, below strength Crusaders, who were only just winning at full strength before the break, against a resurgent Highlanders with nothing to lose. Might have to go with the Highlanders, with B Smith to make Fred look 2nd rate. The last 20 should be good when all the AB’s are on the park!
Highlanders 1 – 12

Sharks v Blues – Not overly confident here. Think this young Blues team will struggle with the intensity of South Africa. Though with nothing to lose they will throw everything at this game. They have to as a loss will make it nigh impossible to qualify for the play-offs. They will be fresher than their opposition as the Sharks had a few forwards in the Boks. If we can get parity at the set pieces, defend effectively at line-out time, and take advantage of any breaks from the likes of Saili and Piutau then we can get up. Though I am a bit non-plussed seeing Ranger on the bench. You know what the Sharks are going to serve – pressure rugby, they have become very conservative this year, so there should be no surprises – it is about the ability to counter this style. The other factor of course is Plumtree getting the arse, this has to be in the Blues favour.
Blues 1 – 12

Bulls v Kings – Even though the Bulls are resting a lot of Boks they will still win this easily at home.
Bulls 13+

Stormers v Cheetahs – Will probably turn into a tight grind, though no JDV for the Stormers might leave a few gaps for the Cheetahs backs.
Cheetahs 1 – 12

Wallabies v Lions – Managed to score a ticket to this and really looking forward to it. Changes in both sides make it interesting, with both sides probably stronger as a result. Kurtley at fullback adds real spark to the Wallabies and if they can get more out of their loosies and start well they are a real chance. Gatland has the luxury of being able to replace out of touch test class players with in form test class players. Thus Phillips and Croft are out and Youngs and Lydiate are in. The Lions will miss O’Connell, but Parling has been playing well. Probably the biggest risk for the Lions is the selection of that born, bred and named Englishman Mako Vunipola at loosehead. He needs a big scrummaging game as the Wallabies came at them hard in this area and the Lions will be disappointed they fell away. I can’t see the Lions fading as badly this week and think they will sneak this again for a series victory.
Lions 1 – 12

25 Jun

Game Stats: All Blacks v France, New Plymouth, 22 June 2013
by Tracey Nelson
25 Jun 2013

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. Some notes on these stats follow throughout the article.

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each TOTAL. An asterisk denotes a player who came on as a substitute. This week:

Team: Wyatt Crockett, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Victor Vito, Sam Cane, Kieran Read, Piri Weepu, Dan Carter, Rene Ranger, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Ben Franks, Stephen Luatua, Matt Todd, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Charles Piutau

Subs: Woodcock for Crockett and Kerr-Barlow for Weepu at 42 min, Mealamu for Hore at 64 min, Luatua for Vito and 71 min, Piutau for B Smith and Todd for Cane at 73 min, Barrett for Nonu at 78 min.

Points Scored NZ France
Tries 2 0  
Conversions 1 0
Penalties 4 from 6 2
Drop goal 0 1
TOTAL 30 0

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 7 1
France 9 0
TOTAL 16 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackler- high Cane 1
Maul offside Crockett 1
Lineout Romano 1
Scrum Crockett, O Franks, Front Row 3
Holding player back Kerr-Barlow 1
TOTAL   7

France Penalty Offences
Tackler 3
Ruck off feet 1
Offside from kick 2
Lineout 1
Scrum 1
Head butt 1 + YC
TOTAL 9

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons Read(3), C Smith(2), Dagg(2), Weepu, Vito, Kerr-Barlow, O Franks 12
Forward pass Weepu, Nonu 2
Ruck   1
Tackle C Smith 1
Accidental obstruction 1
Lineout 1
Scrum 1  
Miss touch from penalty Carter 1
TOTAL   20

Turnovers Conceded by France
Knock-ons 6
Ruck 3
Maul 1
Miss touch from penalty 1
TOTAL 11

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 pointlessly on the side of a ruck isn’t included in these numbers.

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
Cane 33 19+14
O Franks 26 14+12
Romano 25 12+13
Vito 21 9+12
Whitelock 18 9+11
Read 15 5+10
Woodcock* 16  
Dagg 14 6+8
Nonu 12 7+5
C Smith 11 5+6
Todd* 7  
B Smith 7 4+3
Carter 7 3+4
Ranger 4 2+2
Luatua* 2  
Kerr-Barlow* 2  
Weepu 2 2+0
Barrett* 1  
Mealamu* 1  

Forward ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
Romano 9 43
Vito 8 36
Whitelock 8 32
Read 8 22
Cane 4 16
O Franks 3 14
Hore 3 12
Todd* 2 4
Mealamu 1 8
Luatua* 1 5
Woodcock* 1 3
Crockett 1 2

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.

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
Whitelock 9 (5+4) 5 (1+4)
Romano 8 (2+6) 7 (1+6)
Cane 7 (4+3) 3 (0+3)
Vito 7 (4+3) 3 (0+3)
O Franks 6 (3+3) 5 (2+3)
Read 5 (4+1) 3 (2+1)
Carter 5 (3+2) 2 (0+2)
C Smith 4 (2+2) 4 (2+2)
Nonu 4 (4+0) 0
Crockett 4 (4+0) 0
Barett* 3 0
Luatua* 2 2
Kerr-Barlow* 2 2
Mealamu* 2 2
Hore 2 (2+0) 0
Todd* 1 1
Woodcock* 1 1
TOTAL 75 41

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.

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Romano 2
Carter 2
Hore 1
Weepu 1
Nonu 1
B Smith 1
Dagg 1
TOTAL 9

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 6 6
Second half 4 5
TOTAL 10 11

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Read 5 6
Romano 4 4
Whitelock 1 1
TOTAL 10 11

France Line-outs Won From
First half 7 7
Second half 7 7
TOTAL 14 14

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 1 2
Second half 3 3
TOTAL 4 5

France Scrums Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 7 7
TOTAL 6 6

15 Jun

Game Stats: All Blacks v France, Christchurch, 15 June 2013
by Tracey Nelson
15 Jun 2013

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. Some notes on these stats follow throughout the article.

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each TOTAL. An asterisk denotes a player who came on as a substitute. This week:

Team: Wyatt Crockett, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Sam Cane, Kieran Read, Aaron Smith, Aaron Cruden, Julian Savea, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock, Ben Franks, Jeremy Thrush, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu, Beauden Barrett, Rene Ranger

Subs: Hore for Coles at 58 min, Weepu for A Smith and Ranger for Savea at 59 min, Woodcock for Crockett and Messam for Vito at 62 min, B Franks for O Franks and Thrush for Whitelock at 68 min, Barrett for B Smith at 75 min.

Points Scored NZ France
Tries 3 0  
Conversions 3 0
Penalties 3 from 4 0
TOTAL 30 0

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 11 1
France 5 0
TOTAL 15 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackled player Crockett, Messam, Dagg, Cane 4
Tackler not releasing Nonu 1
Tackling player in air Savea 1
Ruck – hands Hore 1
Lineout interference Read 1
Scrum Crockett,B Franks, Vito 3
TOTAL   11

France Penalty Offences
Tackled player 2
Ruck offside 1
Collapsing maul 1
Scrum 1
TOTAL 5

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons C Smith (2), A Smith, Ranger 4
Forward pass Hore 1
Ruck O Franks 1
Tackle Messam, Savea 2
Lineout 1
Scrum 1  
TOTAL   10

Turnovers Conceded by France
Knock-ons 6
Ruck 2
Maul 1
Lineout 7
Accidental offside 1
Miss touch from penalty 1
Pass into touch 1
TOTAL 19

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 pointlessly on the side of a ruck isn’t included in these numbers.

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
Cane 19 9+10
Crockett 14 6+8
O Franks 14 7+7
Romano 13 7+6
C Smith 11 5+6
Dagg 10 6+4
Coles 9 7+2
Read 8 3+5
Messam 7 4+3
Nonu 7 3+4
Whitelock 6 5+1
Savea 6 2+4
Vito* 5  
B Smith 5 3+2
Woodcock* 4  
Thrush* 4  
Weepu* 2  
Ranger* 2  
Hore* 1  
A Smith 1 1+0

Forward ball carries No of carries Metres
Read 6  
Whitelock 5  
Romano 4  
Messam 4  
Cane 4  
O Franks 2  
Crockett 2  
Hore* 1  
Thrush* 1  

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.

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
Cane 20 (8+12) 2 (0+2)
Whitelock 13 (6+7) 7 (4+3)
Romano 10 (2+8) 0
Read 9 (3+6) 3 (0+3)
O Franks 8 (4+4) 0
Crockett 7 (3+4) 5 (2+3)
Coles 7 (4+3) 1 (1+0)
Messam 6 (3+3) 5 (1+4)
C Smith 6 (1+5) 2 (0+2)
Vito* 6 0
Weepu* 6 0
Thrush* 5 0
Cruden 5 (2+3) 3 (1+2)
Nonu 5 (1+4) 3 (1+2)
Hore* 3 0
B Smith 3 (1+2) 0
Ranger* 2 0
Dagg 2 (0+2) 1 (0+1)
Savea 2 (1+1) 1 (0+1)
A Smith 1 (1+0) 1 (1+0)
Woodcock* 1 0
Barrett* 1 0
B Franks* 0 1
TOTAL 128 35

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.

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Crockett  
O Franks 2
Cane 2
A Smith 2
B Smith 2
Barrett 1
Cruden 1
Dagg 1
C Smith 1
Nonu 1
Romano 1
Read 1
TOTAL 19

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 5 6
Second half 7 7
TOTAL 12 13

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Read 6 6
Romano 3 3
Messam 2 2
Whitelock 1 2
TOTAL 12 13

France Line-outs Won From
First half 10 16
Second half 10 11
TOTAL 20 27

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 6 7
Second half 0 0
TOTAL 6 7

France Scrums Won From
First half 1 1
Second half 5 5
TOTAL 6 6

13 Jun

GAME STATS: All Blacks v France, Auckland, 8 June 2013
by Tracey Nelson
13 Jun 2013

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. Some notes on these stats follow throughout the article.

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each TOTAL. An asterisk denotes a player who came on as a substitute. This week:

Team: Wyatt Crockett, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Brodie Retallick, Liam Messam, Sam Cane, Kieran Read, Aaron Smith, Aaron Cruden, Julian Savea, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Ben Afeaki, Victor Vito, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Rene Ranger

Subs: Mealamu for Coles at 56 min, B Franks for O Franks at 60 min, Kerr-Barlow for Aaron Smith and Ranger for Dagg at 66 min, Afeaki for Crockett and Barrett for Cruden at 74 min.

Points Scored NZ France
Tries 2 1  
Conversions 2 1
Penalties 2 from 5 2 from 3
TOTAL 23 13

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 9 0
France 10 1
TOTAL 1 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackled player Read, Romano, Messam 3
Tackler not releasing Retallick 1
Offside from chargedown Crockett, Nonu 2
Lineout obstruction Read 1
Scrum Crockett, O Franks 2
TOTAL   9

France Penalty Offences
Tackler 2
Ruck hands 1
Offside from kick 2
Scrum 5
TOTAL 10

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons C Smith, Messam, Nonu, Cruden, Cane(2), Kerr-Barlow 7
Spilled ball Dagg 1
Pass to opposition C Smith, Crockett, Retallick 3
Forward pass Dagg, Messam, Kerr-Barlow 3
Ruck   3
Tackle A Smith, Read, Retallick, Romano 3
Lineout 3
TOTAL   24

Turnovers Conceded by France
Knock-ons 10
Tackle 1
Ruck 2
Maul 2
Lineout 4
Scrum 1
Miss touch from penalty 1
Pass into touch 1
TOTAL 22

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 pointlessly on the side of a ruck isn’t included in these numbers.

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
Cane 22 12+10
Crockett 19 13+6
Romano 18 11+7
Read 12 10+2
O Franks 12 10+2
Retallick 12 8+4
Messam 10 4+6
C Smith 10 4+6
B Franks* 9  
Coles 7 5+2
Nonu 7 5+2
Afeaki* 4  
Mealmau* 4  
B Smith 4 2+2
Savea 3 3+0
Ranger* 2  
Dagg 2 1+1
Ker-Barlow* 1  
A Smith 1 1+0

Forward ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
Read 10 55
Retallick 10 35
Messam 7 32
Romano 6 32
Cane 4 27
Coles 2 17
O Franks 4
Mealamu* 1 5
Crockett 1 7

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.

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
Read 11 (6+5) 4 (1+3)
Cane 10 (5+5) 5 (3+2)
Retallick 10 (7+3) 1 (1+0)
Coles 9 (6+3) 0  
Romano 8 (4+4) 5 (1+4)
Nonu 8 (4+4) 0
Messam 7 (5+2) 6 (4+2)
O Franks 7 (5+2) 6 (4+2)
Crockett 7 (4+3) 4 (2+2)
C Smith 6 (4+2) 1 (1+0)
Cruden 5 (2+3) 0
B Smith 4 (1+3) 0
Savea 4 (2+2) 0
A Smith 3 (3+0) 1 (1+0)
Dagg 3 (1+2) 1 (1+0)
B Franks* 2 0
Kerr-Barlow* 2 2
Barrett* 1 0
TOTAL 107 36

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.

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Cruden 3
Nonu 2
Cane 2
Afeaki* 1
Coles 1
Crockett 1
Dagg 1
O Franks 1
B Franks* 1
Mealamu* 1
Romano 1
TOTAL 15

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 3 4
Second half 4 6
TOTAL 7 10

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Romano 3 3
Retallick 2 3
Read 1 2
Messam 1 1
Overthrown   1
TOTAL 7 10

France Line-outs Won From
First half 4 5
Second half 4 7
TOTAL 8 12

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 6 6
Second half 5 5
TOTAL 1 11

France Scrums Won From
First half 2 2
Second half 3 4
TOTAL 5 6

7 Jun

Super 15 — Round 17 Preview
by WAJ
7 Jun 2013

Probably not a lot of interest on the NZ side of the ditch in this round, but the Mighty Rebels are up tonight so here we go with round 17. A bit bizarre though that after this weekend the Aus sides will have played two more rounds than anyone else? But then the structure of this season is even more bizarre than ever – wonder what it will look like in Rugby World Cup year?

Brumbies v Rebels – Both teams have a lot of changes, unfortunately for theMR notall arebecause ofthe Wallaby training camp, with Saffy andGomer also injured. So who is the worst affected by the absences? Probably straight down the middle. The Brumbies havesome quality replacements with the likes of McCabe, Rathbone and Palmer all Wallabies. This depth may be a bit much for a very inexperienced Rebels line up. The halves especially are a total contrast. Can the improving Rebels get up here – playing lists, location and momentum are all against them. Not feeling the love for the Rebels here!
Brumbies 13+

Force v Waratahs – So the Waratahs havelost all eight of their starting pack and 4 backs on top of that! That contrasts to two Force players absent on Wallabies dutiesplus about half their first choice team backing up after the farce against the Lion s on Wednesday. Did anyone see that game BTW. Totally new and raw Force back fivemeant the Lions backs and loosies were always going to have a field day. So I reckon the Waratahs will brave, but inexperience and lack of combinations will mean they battle against a much more settled side who have caused more than a problem or two against the Waratahs in the past.
Force 1 – 12

Reds v Lions – The Reds are fielding their strongest available team, and it is more than capable of providing a few concerns for the Lions. Genia will of course be hugely missed, but they have a couple of experienced campaigners at lock to replace Horwill and Simmons, and 12 other Wallabies in the 23 hints at a team that will push the Lions all the way. A blinder might also see a Wallaby call up.The Lions have named a bit of a mix and match outfit. The loosies look strong with an all Welsh combo, but a T5 blend from Wales, England and Scotland could be problematical as was shown at lineout time midweek. The Reds will be targeting Farrell as he can blow up and thus reduce his effectiveness, and I fancy will try and get amongst the Lions in general and disrupt them – the likes of Robinson to to cause the odd distraction perhaps! Should be a great spectacle.
Lions 1- 12

All Blacks v France – how could you ever preview a game with France as one of the sides – you do not know what you are going to get. The All Blacks will be all about set piece accuracy, renewing combinations and hoping some players find form blah blah blah. So this game is probably more about where the French are. They look to have a strong pack and there will be little given at set piece time by either side. And the French are blessed with some genius in the backs with Fofana especially a player of rare talent. But they have an inexperienced halves pairing and the AB’s will look to get amongst these two. I wish Smith was at fullback and we had another gas man on the wing, as Smith is everything a fullback should be but lacks the extra yard of pace to be truly effective as a winger. A comfortable win for the All Blacks.
AB’s 13+

Regards Waj