12 Nov

Game Stats: France v All Blacks, Paris, 9 November 2013
by Tracey Nelson
12 Nov 2013

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:

Team: Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Aaron Smith, Dan Carter, Charles Piutau, Ma’a Nonu, Ben Smith, Cory Jane, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Stephen Luatua, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Ryan Crotty

Points Scored NZ France
Tries 2 1  
Conversions Carter 1 Cruden 1 Parra 1
Penalties Carter 3/3 Cruden 0/1 Parra 4/6
TOTAL 47 29

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 12 1
France 7 0
TOTAL 19 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackled player Faumuina* 1
Tackler not rolling McCaw 1
Ruck entry ? 1
Ruck offside Mealamu 1
Offside from kick Messam & B Smith 1
Maul Crockett* 1
Scrum FRx2, Woodcock, Crockett*, wheeling 5
Pushing player Retallick 1
TOTAL   12

France Penalty Offences
Tackler 1
Ruck entry 1
Ruck off feet 1
Ruck offside 1
Scrum 3
TOTAL 7

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons Read(2), Nonu, Piutau, Messam, McCaw 6
Spilled ball Dagg 1
Tackle Piutau, Dagg 2
Lineout   1
Scrum   2
TOTAL   12

Turnovers Conceded by France
Knock-ons 6
Pass 2
Ruck 1
Lineout 2
Scrum 1
TOTAL 11

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 24 14+10
Retallick 15 5+10
whitelock 15 4+11
Woodcock 13 5+8
Mealamu 12 4+8
Franks 11 6+5
Read 10 4+6
B Smith 9 2+7
Dagg 8 5+3
Faumuina* 6  
Piutau 6 4+2
Jane 6 4+2
Nonu 6 1+5
Crockett* 5  
Carter 3 2+1
Messam 3 1+2
Cruden* 2  

Ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
McCaw 6 25
Whitelock 5 16
Woodcock 4 9
Mealamu 3 11
Retallick 3 5
Read 2 12
Messam 2 11
Coles* 2 8
Faumuina* 1 4

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 17 (6+11) 5 (3+2)
Read 16 (9+7) 2 (0+2)
Retallick 15 (10+5) 5 (2+3)
Whitelock 12 (7+5) 1 (1+0)
B Smith 9 (5+4) 1 (0+1)
Franks 9 (8+1) 0
Woodcock 8 (8+0) 3 (1+2)
Messam 8 (5+3) 2 (2+0)
Mealamu 7 (7+0) 2 (2+0)
Nonu 7 (6+1) 3 (1+2)
Piutau 7 (3+4) 1 (0+1)
Carter 7 (7+0) 0
Cruden* 5 0
Jane 4 (2+2) 0
Coles* 3 1
Faumuina* 3 0
Kerr-Barlow* 2 0
Dagg 2 (0+2) 0
Crockett* 1 0
TOTAL 150 26

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Nonu 5
Coles* 3
Woodcock 2
Messam 2
Piutau 2
Retallick 1
Whitelock 1
Carter 1
Dagg 1
Faumuina* 1
Crotty* 1
TOTAL 20

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

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Read 2 3
Whitelock 2 2
Retallick 2 2

France Line-outs Won From
First half 3 3
Second half 5 7
TOTAL 8 10

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 3 4
Second half 2 3
TOTAL 5 7

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

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

31 May

Super 15 — Round 16 Preview
by WAJ
31 May 2013

Crusaders v Waratahs
An interesting match to start the weekend off. Two teams who aren’t playing all that well despite the calibre of player available. The Crusaders have been doing well up front, but the spluttering efforts of the likes of Carter, Fred and Fruean has seen little attacking venom from the Crusaders, whose avenue to the tryline is mainly through the forwards. The Waratahs returned to their bad old ways last week, got lazy, failed to adapt to the ref, and failed to shut the game down when they were ahead. What is interesting, well I think so anyway, is that they consistently get more players in the Wallabies squad than any other Aussie team – perhaps explains why the Wallabies are all over the place at times! Anyway if the Crusaders stick to the pattern that has worked so well at home then they will get up, but don’t think there will be much in it. Would like to see the Crusaders show a bit more enterprise, they will need it if they are going to ultimately win the ntitle.
Crusaders 1 – 12

Brumbies v Hurricanes
This is the last chance saloon for the Hurricanes. Lose this and their chances of a playoff berth are all but gone. The Brumbies are a tough nut to crack in Canberra and the Hurricanes will need to find a way to beat the structure and territory game that the Brumbies are playing under Jakey boy. THe main problem for the Hurricanes will be up front, and only top class efforts from the likes of Franks, Coles and Vito will see them get up. Actually it is again interesting that the Hurricanes can get so many forwards in the AB squad from a pack that has never really been consistently dominant – 6 AB squad members should give you some clout in a game! Results have been pretty even between these two teams but I would expect the Brumbies to win reasonably comfortably at home.
Brumbies 13+

Highlanders v Blues
Ha! Very bullish here. Just the type of set up the Blues need to show once and for all where they stand this season. Indoors, average opposition, the knights bollocking still ringing in their ears – they should win it in a canter! Some great match ups in the backs – Piutau v Smith, Halai v Gear, Weepu v Smith, the midfields. And we have the two (supposedly) senior AB hookers both on the bench! I am looking forward to the spin from Hansen to justify both getting picked for the French tests, if that happens. If the Blues play with the mind set we have seen from them in their better performances this year (ie not last week) then they should win. How can the Highlanders win??
Blues 13+

Reds v Rebels
What to make of this one? Heart v Head again here, and I gotta say the head is in front. Though who could say the Rebels won’t get up again against the odds? They have become extremely resiliant, better in defence, though far from perfect still as individuals drop off too many one on one tackles still, but they keep scoring points themselves from multiple avenues – Higginbotham (what a player he is turning into), Woodward, English, Inman are all shining in attack and Bieber back in adds another dimension. And against an out of sorts Reds, who have made a lot of changes, maybe, just maybe they can win, and the MR have shown little fear away from home in recent weeks. Genia and Cooper are of course the key and defending against the long flat passes that both throw. Study the tape of how the Stormers and Cheetahs bottled them up, copy that, win the game???
Rebels 1 – 12 (the heart won in the end)

Stormers v Kings
Yawn of the week. Might even get to see a try if you are willing to put yourself through the torture of watching how ever long that will take.
Stormers 13+

Cheetahs v Bulls
Could be a game worth watching – the contrast of the adventurous Cheetahs against the pragmatic Bulls. Think the structure of the Bulls will win it, though the Bulls are developing an interesting centre combination as well, great match up in the centres between the two pairings of up and comers.
Bulls 1 – 12

Regards Waj

6 Jul

Super 15: Round 20 Preview
by WAJ
6 Jul 2012

So how is any self respecting sports fanatic supposed to get through the next 5 or so weeks without 1) life threatening sleep deprivation, 2) loss of job, 3) divorce!! Wimbledon, Tour de France, Olympics, cricket (yeah I know we are crap but still it is on and – OK fair enough we could miss that)- and then there are the oval ball codes…. It is enough to drive anyone to upgrade their plasma to a bigger size!!!

Some great games this weekend – well the first 3 are, then it pretty much turns to crap – so enjoy tonight then watch replays of Federer v Djokovic (probably the match of the weekend between guys who aren’t overly fond of each other).

Chiefs v Crusaders – Oh the hype for this game, hope it lives up to it. Should be a beauty. Lots of great match ups, the need for points from both sides and their earlier encounter all bring a great edge to this. The keys for me – will the Chiefs scrum hold up this time, the midfield defences of both teams and the form of Dan Carter. The Crusaders will no doubt attack the Chiefs scrum, and with the Crusaders scrum wanting to prove a point but more importantly gain an edge in this game it is crucial the Chiefs hold up. I thought the Crusaders failed to use their scrum advantage as much as they could have last week and need to get that right, Read will of course help that as McCaw seemed to struggle at times with his timing last week. Then the Crusaders need to hold SBW, but equally the debutante centre in Horrell will be tested by Fruean and Fred – tackle drop offs here could well mean points. The match up of Carter and Cruden is of course critical to edge sides fortunes. Cruden is playing great rugby, consistent, inventive and accurate, he has arguably been the player of the year so far for the Chiefs. Carter will need to be at his best for the Crusaders to get a win here – the Chiefs defence is up there with the best and there is none better that Carter at breaching defences, whether by hand or foot. And I’m just looking forward to seeing the front rows square off, Romano v Retallick, Cane v McCAw, TKB v Ellis, Carter v Cruden and on it goes. Weather looks good – can’t wait. And I just think the little extra class will come through in the end.
Crusaders 1 – 12

Reds v Highlanders – What a great follow up. So two teams here that are hanging on to play off hopes by the skin of their teeth and really need a bonus point win to stay in the hunt. This brings a different pressure to bearof course and I wonder if the Highlanders have it in them to score those 4 tries, especially away and having Ellison out also a handicap. Still they will give it their all as usual and cause problems with their disruptive game plan. But the Reds are looking batter and better and turned in some quality play last week to have the Rebels done and dusted quite early on. Diggers is a big out, but they still have plenty of speed out wide and with the Burglar geting more match fit each week they will ask plenty of questions.Expect the forwards to break even with the more stable and creativeaxis of the Reds to steer them to a win.
Reds 13+

Sharks v Bulls – And then we get this beauty. The Bulls were fantastic last week. They switched off late, but prior to that were almost scoring at will, including an absolute cracker from Basson (arguably the individual try of the season). On that form they will be very very hard to beat. The Sharks had a bye last week and whilst that will freshen up their test players nicely, the changes they have made may well offset that in terms of stable combinations. The bus that is Frans Steyn is a great in for the Sharks,but his combination with Freddie is uncertain, and a new 8, 9, 10 in itself could be problematic though they are all experienced players. I think the more settled Bulls team in great form will shade this one.
Bulls 1 – 12

Blues v Force – hard to get enthused about this. Crowd numbers could be a worry. The Blues should get up. The Force have been as horrible as the Blues and with some key players missing will struggle. The Blues have a good blend of youth and experience and should have too many options for the Force.
Blues 13+

Waratahs v Brumbies – this is an intriguing game. The Waratahs have been horrible this year, shocking tactics, woeful execution and just plain dumb. So what do they now the season has gone, pull a selection rabbit out of the hat and go with a new halfback ( Grayson Hart no less) and a rookie 1 5/8. The rest of the back-line are all tried and tested Wallabies, some in good form and they will be up for this. Apart from Queensland this is the game they really set themselves for. The Brumbies need to keep winning to ensure themseleves a play off spot, any slip ups and the Reds could well take that one spot that seems likely for the Australian conference. There consistency has beenthe key, but they looked a little shaky last week and will need to tighten their defence.
Waratahs 1 – 12

Cheetahs v Stormers – The Cheetahs were horrible last week, the Stormers weren’t that flash themselves though they have that defence. And how does a side with that much talent in the backline score so few tries?
Stormers 13+

Lions v Rebels – Mmmmm. The mighty Rebels have too many outs for me.
Lions 13+

Regards
Waj

25 Oct

Four More Minutes Boys
by Paul Waite
25 Oct 2011

mccaw-at-ruckThat’s what Richie McCaw might have been thinking as he got to his feet after effecting the final turnover in the Rugby World Cup Final. Four more minutes to suck out of the time-keeper’s clock. Four more minutes to hang onto that ball. Four more minutes to win the World Cup.

The image of the New Zealand captain crouched at a ruck with hands poised, deftly pushing the referee’s patience with the pick-up, will stay with me forever. It epitomised both the man and the moment. There was no panic or worry on his face, just an expression of complete concentration and faith in what he and his team needed to do. A certainty that he had the William Webb-Ellis trophy as firmly within his grasp as he did the ball.

For their part, the French had just spent a full five minutes in possession throwing everything they had at the New Zealand defence. The Black Wall had hurled them back, keeping them between half-way and the 10m line and denying them the territory they needed for drop-kick or penalty.

Rightly loath to kick the ball, they flung it wide from a scrum with a miss-out pass to Rougerie who waded through a Conrad Smith missile attack, and shrugged off Sonny Bill Williams for good measure, before the Black wave crashed down once again and McCaw drove through the final ruck with such force he caused replacement halfback Doussain to fumble.

That final turnover, to a New Zealand scrum four minutes from time was the last that the French saw of the ball.

The story of the final up to that key point was a much different tale than many fans had expected.

A lovely Woodcock try in the 14th minute, from the same lineout move they pulled on Australia a couple of seasons ago seemed to be just reward for All Blacks pressure and control of the game, but three misses with the boot by half-time from the normally reliable Piri Weepu had the worm of doubt working on the home fans.

That anxiety was only heightened at the half-hour mark when Aaron Cruden went down awkwardly in a tackle as he took on the French defensive line and limped off the field to be replaced by Stephen Donald.

For those unfamiliar with Donald’s history with the All Blacks suffice to say he has never impressed, and his appearance on the field with 50 minutes still to play in a World Cup final was probably not greeted with uniform optimism by the fans.

With both teams running off at halftime with only 5 points between them, it was still all to play for in the second half.

After two minutes of play France got the chance to get on the board with a penalty shot from wide, but Yachvili narrowly put it outside the right post. Two minutes later they conceded a much simpler chance to the All Blacks, and Stephen Donald strode forward to claim to ball. The TV cameras caught a rather huffy look on Piri Weepu’s face as he did so, but he had had his chances and time had run out. Donald wasted no time in knocking the ball through the sticks, and the fans breathed a little easier though nobody was relaxing at only 8-0 up, and of course nobody knew that those three precious points would win the World Cup for New Zealand.

A darting run by Dagg floundered badly as All Blacks all left their feet at the ruck, allowing Rougerie to step through and hack the ball loose. Weepu then favoured the French attack by stabbing a toe and deftly chipping it right into Trinh-Duc’s arms, whereupon he set sail for the All Blacks line. A few rucks later the All Blacks were all behind the ball and seemed to have regained their composure but unfortunately Donald’s lack of time with the team told as he came up out of the line and marked the wrong Frenchman, leaving a large hole for outstanding French No.6 and captain Thierry Dusautoir to surge over the line and force by the foot of the right-hand post.

The conversion made the scoreline 8-7 to the All Blacks, with a further 31 minutes to play. With a one-point lead, and a French opponent now pumped and ready, everybody knew the All Blacks had a fight on their hands.

Obviously Graham Henry thought the same, and he sent in reinforcements, substituting Ali Williams on for Whitelock, and Andrew Hore for Mealamu. Piri Weepu took the restart, kicked it out on the full, and was immediately replaced by Andy Ellis. Although the two things were probably not linked it seemed that way, and marked the end of a poor game by Piri’s usual standards. After the game it was reported that he had suffered a troubling groin injury in his warm-up, which may go some way to explaining the lack of form.

The game turned into a gigantic arm-wrestling contest from that point onward, but the only real scoring chance that France had from there until the end of the game was a 45m penalty attempt in the 64th minute from right out in front, which Trinh-Duc missed handsomely.

From there the All Blacks simply backed their defence, as the French had a long period of posession and hung onto it greedily. There is always talk of how tiring it is to defend for long periods, as if the attacking team expend little or no energy themselves. That isn’t the case, and a well-drilled defence can sap the will of an attack if it can knock it backwards consistently. This happened to the French, as they tried everything to break though.

This final underlined what we always learn when we watch these Rugby World Cup Finals every four years. They stand apart, even from semi-finals, in terms of the level of mind-altering pressures brought to bear. Apart from 1987 when nobody really understood what a World Cup was, every final has produced this kind of concentrated grimly-fought rugby contest, and so it will probably always be.

The All Blacks deserved to win this World Cup, make no mistake about that. The single point of difference on the scoreboard was a fair reflection of the teams as they played on the day, the All Blacks were just that tiny bit better in defence and it gave them a win.

Only those teams strong enough in mind as well as body can win these contests, and in seeing it done by your own team, it gives you a new appreciation of the achievements of the Australian, South African and English teams which have won it in earlier years.

Congratulations to Richie McCaw, his All Blacks, and the coaching staff for bringing the Cup home!

All Blacks: 8
T Woodcock try, S Donald pen

France: 7
T Dusautoir try, F Trinh-Duc con

HT: 5-0

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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24 Oct

Rugby World Cup 2011 FINAL: All Blacks v France, Eden Park, Auckland
by Tracey Nelson
24 Oct 2011

RWCThe 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: Donald for Cruden at 33 min, Ellis for Weepu, Hore for Mealamu and A Williams for Whitelock at 49 min, and SB Williams for Nonu at 75 min.

Try scorer: Woodcock.

Team: Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (c),Kieran Read, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Richard Kahui, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Cory Jane, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Adam Thomson, Andy Ellis, Stephen Donald, Sonny Bill Williams

Points Scored NZ France
Tries 1 1
Conversions 0 1
Penalties 1/3 0/2
Drop Goals 0 0/1
TOTAL 8 7

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 7 0
France 10 1
TOTAL 17 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackler Nonu 1
Ruck hands Weepul McCaw 2
Playing ball on ground A Williams 1
Collapsing maul Read 1
Scrum Woodcock, Hore 2
TOTAL 7

France Penalty Offences
Offside 1
Tackled player 2
Tackler 2
Ruck offside 1
Ruck hands 1
Ruck off feet 1
Scrum 2
TOTAL 10

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons Kaino, Thorn, Nonu 3
Pass to opposition O Franks, Weepu 2
Tackle Read, Dagg, Smith 3
Lineout 2
Run into touch Jane 1
Miss touch from penalty Dagg 1
Restart out on full Weepu 1
TOTAL 13

Turnovers Conceded by France
Knock-ons 6
Pass 1
Ruck 3
Tackle 2
Maul 2
Lineout 2
Kick out on full 2
Miss touch from penalty 1
TOTAL 18

Breakdown turnovers won by NZ
Tackle Woodcock, Weepu
Ruck McCaw, Hore
TOTAL 4

Linebreaks
Dagg 1
Donald 1
TOTAL 2

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 45 20+25
Woodcock 34 17+17
Thorn 35 17+15
O Franks 23 14+9
Kaino 10 11+8
Mealamu 18 13+5
Hore* 15
Read 15 7+8
Whitelock 10 9+1
Jane 10 5+5
A Williams* 8
Smith 8 4+4
Dagg 5 4+1
Kahui 5 2+3
Weepu 4 3+1
Nonu 4 3+1
Donald* 3

Ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
O Franks 8 21
Read 7 30
McCaw 6 15
A Williams 5 12
Thorn 3 10
Mealamu 3 7
Kaino 3 7
Hore* 2 2
Woodcock 1 10
TOTAL 38 114

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 15 (6+9) 2 (2+0)
Read 13 (4+9 0
Smith 12 (3+0) 0
Kaino 10 (6+4) 2 (1+0)
O Franks 10 (6+4) 2 (0+2)
Donald* 10 2
Nonu 8 (3+5) 4 (1+3)
Whitelock 8 (6+2) 0
Mealamu 8 (7+1) 0
Woodcock 6 (1+5) 3 (1+2)
Thorn 6 (2+4 0
Hore* 4 2
Jane 4 (1+3) 1 (0+1)
Weepu 4 (1+3) 0
A Williams* 2 1
Kahui 1 (1+0) 1 (0+1)
Cruden 1 0
TOTAL 121 20

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Woodcock 2
McCaw 2
Nonu 2
Smith 2
Franks 1
Thorn 1
Weepu 1
Donald* 1
SB Willaims 1
TOTAL 13

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 9 10
Second half 5 6
TOTAL 14 16

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Read 5 5
Thorn 4 6
Whitelock 2 2
Kaino 1 1
Williams 1 1
Quick throw 1 1

France Line-outs Won From
First half 8 9
Second half 7 8
TOTAL 15 17

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 3 3
Second half 4 4
TOTAL 7 7

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

21 Oct

Head to Head: All Blacks vs. France
by Paul Waite
21 Oct 2011

rhinosYou often see those player-to-player comparisons in the newspapers, where they compare each player with the player wearing the same jersey number on the opposition team. These are misleading because the game isn’t a simplistic man against man competition.

This ia an attempt to do a better job by comparing the two teams in terms of each player’s contribution to their areas of play, and the value of each combination. The assessment has been made on current World Cup form as observed in pool play, quarter-finals, and semi-finals, with most importance attributed to the semis.

The areas of play are kicked off with the tight-five forwards who, together with the loose-forwards, generally determine the outcome of the game. The scoring here involves players value at the set-pieces such as scum and lineout, plus their contribution around the field in the maul, at the ruck, on defence, and on attack.

The loose-forwards are the second most critical ‘pod’ of players in a team, and the scoring here is determined by how they perform at the breakdown, carrying the ball, at set-pieces, and in general play supporting on attack, and tackling on defence.

Moving to the backs we have the play-makers, or ‘halves’ at Nos. 9 and 10 respectively. These are scored on their abilities to use the ball the forwards provide to create plays and chances to score, and on their defensive qualities.

The mid-field pair are a critical element in the team’s defence and attack out wide. These guys essentially control traffic up and down the sides of the rugby field. They must be strong defensively, with an ability to organise both halve and back-three, and they must be able to challenge the opposition midfield on attack.

Finally the back three are the fullback and two wing three-quarters. All must be good in the air, and each wing should be able to read the game well, kick well, and chase attacking kicks. The fullback has to be a great last line of defence, as well as chiming into the back-line on attack.

In all of these areas, there is a high element of combination involved, where the old adage ‘a team is greater than the sum of its parts’ holds true. The scoring here is a judgement on how the various groups of players gel to make that happen, and to produce an effect which is something more than just individualistic play.

All Blacks France
Tight-five
Tony Woodcock 10 Jean-Baptiste Poux 8
Keven Mealamu 10 William Servat 8
Owen Franks 10 Nicolas Mas 8
Brad Thorn 9 Pascal Pape 9
Sam Whitelock 8 Lionel Nallet 9
Combination 9 7
Loose forwards
Jerome Kaino 10 Thierry Dusautoir 9
Richie McCaw 10 Julien Bonnaire 9
Kieran Read 10 Imanol Harinordoquy 9
Combination 10 8
Halves
Piri Weepu 10 Dimitri Yachvili 10
Aaron Cruden 7 Morgan Parra 7
Combination 8 7
Midfield
Ma’a Nonu 10 Maxime Mermoz 9
Conrad Smith 10 Aurelien Rougerie 9
Combination 10 9
Back three
Richard Kahui 9 Alexis Palisson 9
Cory Jane 10 Vincent Clerc 9
Israel Dagg 10 Maxime Medard 9
Combination 10 8
TOTAL 190 170

In the tight-five the New Zealand front row of Woodcock, Mealamu and Franks has shown us that it is peaking perfectly. Against Australia they seemed to be able to destroy their scrum at will. In their semi against a good Welsh scrum the French held their own, but it was even. Looking at value around the field, Owen Franks is currently besting Richie McCaw in presence at the ruck, Mealamu’s ball-carrying is as superlative as ever, and Woodcock’s work-rate is also getting up there. All in all this front row is, in our opinion, the best in the World, with the French sitting at a good 80% of that.

At lock the Thorn/Whitelock combination seems to be rock solid at the lineout. Whitelock is also adept at the occasional steal. However the French are very good in this phase of the game, and Whitelock is still relatively inexperienced, hence the French shade this area, though not by much because Thorn and Whitelock are possibly a little more value in general play.

The combined value of the tight-fives is in the All Blacks favour on the back of their awesome display of forward power against Australia. The ‘Black Tide’ was evident as the tighties worked as a unit for the full 80 minutes, and we haven’t seen the same kind of thing from the French.

The loose-forwards are very close, but the trio of Kaino, McCaw and Read are the best in the World right now. Kaino’s form is simply stellar. Even so the trio they are up against is also World class, and this tussle will be the most fascinating and possibly decisive one.

In the halves both teams have selected pairings that would not have been foreseen before the tournament. France have picked two halfbacks, whereas New Zealand have lost two first-choice No.10s to injury, bringing in Aaron Cruden for the semi-final. Both halfbacks are World class, and equally influential to the way their teams play and create chances. Each of them kicks goals well. At No.10 the scores are low-ish and again equal. Cruden is better on defence than Parra however this is offset by Cruden’s inexperience of test rugby. The combination goes in New Zealand’s favour because Cruden has had more time playing outside Pirir Weepu than Parra has had outside Yachvili.

In mid-field we have the World’s best pairing in Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith. The threat these two pose on attack is an immense worry for any team. On defence they are rock solid, so they get solid 10s. For the French we also have a World class pair in Mermoz and Rougerie, but they lose out to the long-standing combination of Nonu/Smith.

The back three are fairly evenly matched. France’s Palisson, Clerc and Medard have shown they can open up defences in that inimitable French style, and they are solid on defence. For the All Blacks however, we see the development of something special, with Jane and Kahui both possessed of an innate cunning when running the ball at defences. Israel Dagg is simply a nightmare to defend against, as he showed against Australia, and all three are commanding under the high-ball. Taken together this trio are hard to keep out, and very hard to get past.

The above overall advantage, on paper, to the All Blacks is a confirmation of why the betting agencies are all already giving the trophy to New Zealand.

Unfortunately for All Blacks fans, there is the small matter of having to actually win the game first. France will not be rolling up and running onto Eden Park to make up the numbers at a New Zealand Wins The Cup party.

A test of this magnitude only comes along for a player once in a lifetime, if that. Also, France live to play the All Blacks and beat them, and have done so on Eden Park itself before now. They always raise their game massively for the All Blacks, no matter what their form has been in previous matches.

With that in mind, literally anything can happen on Sunday. The above score-sheet indicates what shoould happen, but there is no way that any All Black will be thinking along those lines.

Here’s to the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final being the show-piece of rugby that it deserves to be and may the best team on the day win the trophy.

(That’s the All Blacks, in case you were wondering)

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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