8 Jun

Test Season Starters: Review of Games
by WAJ
8 Jun 2012

Whilst the the motivation for the scheduling of the various tests throughout the Southern Hemisphere this weekend is the money, I admit to quite looking forward to test rugby, especially the AB/Wallaby/Bok games (Argentina are also playing Italy and Scotland must be lurking somewhere as well). It also gives the Blues players a chance to find form, the Chiefs and Crusaders to gather injuries, the Wallabies every chance to suffer further embarrassment and the Boks to start a total rebuild.

All Blacks v Ireland – I like the look of this AB XV – every one of them is in good form, with a question mark over Fred, but he is such a big match player that he will surly play a blinder. There are plenty of combos carried over from Soopa teams – C Smith and Savea, Fred, Guildford and Carter, 4 Crusaders forwards – as well as 6 of the 8 WC winning pack that the hope is this team should settle reasonably quickly. There is a question mark over Read/A Smith/Carter axis because they have not played together before, but hopefully we will see Smith focus on passing to Crter or the next forward up , just do the basics as he familiarises himself with test rugby. We should be fartoo strong for this Irish side which will be under huge pressure at scrum time where they have a pretty inexperienced tight 5 and we will have too many weapons out back against a set of Irish backs which would be classified as solid and nothing more. With weapons in Carter, SBW, Savea and Fred, the finishing ability of Guildford and the guile and organisation of C Smith this has the potential to be a night of great promise for the AB’s. They would expect plenty of high kicks to test Guildford and Savea, and yes there may be a question mark in that area, but then the counterattacking from Fred can equally bring huge rewards. So a typically tight first 20 – 30 minutes, and then it will probably open up.
All Blacks 13+

Wallabies v Wales – Deans is under huge pressure to get some wins on the board, a couple of losses in this series and it would be hard to see him keeping his job, even with O’Neill firmly in his corner. The Wallabies do not have a lot of time to put Tuesday behind them and get this XV gelling. The makeup of the XV is interesting with 7 starters from the Waratahs, the least successful of the Aus Soopa teams over the last 6 weeks!! How 7 of the worst team can make the team of the best players is puzzling to say the least. Wales have selected a very strong side – they are well rested and full of class, have a strong scrum, 3 good loosies and outside backs with size and pace. They won the Six Nations on the back of some really gutsy play, and never say die attitude and will really test this nervous Wallaby team. I find it very difficult to split them and can see a welsh victory 1st up.
Wales 1 – 12

Springboks v England – This is a very hard game to predict. A new Bok coach has picked a side with plenty of changes from the side that played in that WC quarterfinal, only 6 back up from the starting XV v Aus. And then only 2 forwards. The Boks will want to make a statement here and this game will be as ferocious in the opening 30 minutes as any for a while as this new set of Bok forwards endeavours to make its mark. How will the Poms respond – they have a few hard heads in the forwards themselves and won’t be taking a backward step. With Steyn Inc, Kirchner, even Capt de Villiers the Boks don’t come across as a team that is looking to play free flowing rugby,well when have the Boks ever done that of late anyway? So the Bok halves will be putting in frontof the forwards, use the likes of the Flash to chase the kicks down and dominate at set piece – yada yada yada. How the Poms get around, over or through this is their big question? They do have a more adventurous looking backline, plenty of pace and a big guy at centre who will need watching. Still a lot of unknowns on both sides and will be a game worth watching just to see how it unfolds.
Springboks 1 – 12

Regards Waj

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