30 Aug

The house of bog
by Zand Moloney
30 Aug 2004

Poor, that’s all that can be said of the game against Otago. It describes the playing surface, the standard of play and of course the entertainment dished out to the fans.
To be honest it was always going to be hard to have a good game considering the state of Carisbrook, I think that Otago should have organised another (neutral) place for the game to take place, perhaps Canterbury because ‘The Brook’ was terrible.
The game itself had it’s moments but with the cold and the state of the ground it was always going to be hard to get the passes to stick. Wellington, as is there want, were constantly pushing the pass which led to far to many knock on’s and dropped balls. Someone (ie Mr So’oailo) should have said to the boys ‘Hold on to the pill, go to ground rather than throwing the pass’ but to be honest you can’t take that sort of game away from Wellington teams.
In many ways Wellington were lucky to get a draw, but did well to defend for so long without any possesion or field position. Ben Herring stood out for me, he was constantly on his feet trying to steal the ball, great to see him back from injury and fired up. Kristian Ormsby wasn’t really seen on attack but was great on defence, his work rate was outstanding. The scrum was solid throughout, the lineout was up and down, both teams seemed to be able to steal oppostion ball but struggled to hang onto their own.
David Holwell again showed how important he is to the Lions controlling the game, his kicking very important and his understanding with Piri Weepu seems to be getting better and better. Otherwise the backs had a quiet night, although Ma’a Nonu seems to be getting back into form.
Rodney So’oailo played alot better, hitting the ball up, offloading in the tackle well but there are major problems with his game which will preclude him getting back into the All Blacks. First of all he has to stop his aimless kicks which cause all sorts of problems, turning promising attacking situations into defensive nightmares. I have seen it work once during the Super 12 but otherwise it is diabolically bad. John Plumtree should fine him everytime he does it.
The other thing that worried me was his ill-discipline especially evident during Otago’s rolling mauls. Although the ref warned him that the next player caught doing it would be sent off he continued to try and pull down the Otago pack, not something one would expect from a potential All Black and NPC captain.
The most interesting thing though is the Mr Plumtree finds himself in that rarest of situations for a Wellington coach, having an embarrasment of riches. In almost every position there is competition for places and it will be interesting to see how he rotates the squad, especially in the loose forward and centre combinations. Bring on North Harbour!

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