30 Mar

It's Raining Men
by Rob Wallace
30 Mar 2003

Horrible wet weather in Auckland was not enough to prevent the Blues from thumping the Brumbies 41-15, their biggest score against the Canberra team.

The rain hosed down all day, and gave the new drainage system at Eden Park a decent workout. Having been a bit wary of the new ‘hard’ ground, after the match the Blues were full of praise for the new surface, which was a vast improvement on the previous puggy surface when wet. And it helps to win.

Rupeni Caucaunibuca may have scored 2 wonderful tries, but it was the forwards who deserved the praise for the win. They unsettled the Brumbies and didn’t allow them to play their usual game, drove them back in defence, and did enough in set pieces to keep possession.

Bill Young, who along with Feek is one of the most destructive scrummagers in the game, gave the Blues front row some problems, and George Smith competed well in the loose, but otherwise the Brumbies were second rate. Williams and Mika cleaned up the lineouts, and in loose play the Brumbies had no answer to the succession of Blues players who contested the ball. The Blues also looked to create play, despite the conditions, whereas the Brumbies looked clueless.

Devine and Spencer were merely tidy, while despite the rain Howlett and Caucau looked continually dangerous. Tuitupou had an ordinary game, with several mistakes, and I’m sure that it will do him good and improve his concentration. Sometimes it can be all too easy, and better to see the errors here than later in the season.

In other games the Crusaders beat the Highlanders 17-16 in a tight game. The Crusaders forwards look to be working toward some form but they really miss the control and organization that Mehrtens brings. Currently the Crusaders backline looks directionless and without impetus, and other teams have now caught up with them defensively. And they no longer have the forward advantage that enabled them to capitalise on mistakes.

The Hurricanes eased to 2nd on the table with a 24-14 win over the Chiefs, and Cooper finally seems about to deliver the impossible – a ‘Canes tight five that can actually hold their own. Meanwhile the Reds overcame their appalling season start to beat the hopeless Warratahs in Sydney and extend their winning streak against NSW, while the Sharks also finally managed a win against the Cats.

Finally, back to an old favourite – the yellow card. The sending off of Fava in the Blues game, from what I could see, was unjustified. There was nothing in it. Yet the Blues scored 14 points while he was off the field and that, in reality, was the end of the game. It would have been much better for him to be cited, and dealt with later with evidence from both the referee and the TV shots, than to have this effect on the game for what seemed a minor offence.

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