A Great Day For Northern Hemisphere Rugby

13 06 2010

Yet another great day for northern hemisphere rugby sides on tour down under! Whether it was Ireland’s unbelievable pushing of the self destruct button, England’s anonymity behind the scrum or France’s wilting under the power of the Springboks – it all came together to show just how big the gulf in class is between the two hemispheres. The one bright light was Scotland’s victory over Argentina which, whilst Argentina are not one of the big three, shouldn’t be sneered at as wins in Argentina are not easy to come by.

New Zealand vs Ireland

To begin with Ireland; what was a moment of madness by Jamie Heaslip turned what could have been a reasonable contest into a rout. This was further exacerbated by Ronan O’Gara’s incredibly stupid (for their is no other word) tackle of a All Black player without the ball, which meant that for 10 minutes of the first half the Irish were down to 13 men. During this time several tries were scored, John Muldoon and Mick O’Driscoll limped off injured, and the Irish looked like they were shell shocked men playing in a daze. Even O’Driscoll, who can normally be trusted to stand up in these situations looked lost, several times in the first half running sideways and looking like he was trying to avoid contact.

The Irish rarely give up though and in the end, after what must have been some team talk from the normally relaxed Declan Kidney, came out and scored three second half tries. Undoubtedly the All Blacks had probably taken their foot off the pedal at this point but the Irish should be praised as it is a rare thing for any side to score 4 tries in a game against them. At the centre of this mini renaissance was Brian O’Driscoll, atoning for his first half uncertainty, Andrew Trimble who looked sharp all the way through and David Wallace who did what he always does. Sadly though the damage had been done earlier on and whereas the likelihood is that the AB’s would have probably had too much even with the Irish at their full compliment, it would have probably at the very least been competitive.

Jamie Heaslip as expected has been cited today and will go up before a judiciary panel later this week. He will almost certainly serve a ban for his actions. The Compulsive Hooker firmly believes that Ronan O’Gara, on the other hand, should be dropped from the next test match giving Jonny Sexton a further chance to reestablish himself. It has ever been the story with O’Gara; a rush of blood to the head, a glaring missed tackle or an appalling game interspersed with some good ones. These very human frailties that he exhibits with regularity are, unfortunately for him, why he won’t be regarded as a truly world class player by the annals of history but merely as a very good one.

The Kiwis served notice that their production line of running backs is still in good order with a brilliant display from the young 15 making his debut, Israel Dagg. Admittedly it will always be easier to break the line when there are one or two players missing from it, yet the number of times he did it, and particularly the ease with which he did it astonished.

Australia vs England

In many ways this was a more encouraging performance by England who dominated Australia upfront and particularly at scrum time. Unfortunately however this dominance up front could not ultimately be transformed into points as the Australians defended determinedly against an English back line that had few good ideas. We aren’t going to talk about this much as it is simpler perhaps to direct any new readers to articles we have written over the past few months (we have covered the current English rugby railings ad nauseam); but there are still one or two things we have to mention:

  • The kicking game. Until the last 10 minutes when suddenly it became do or die, Toby Flood and Danny Care kicked away possession again and again. Both of these players are quite attacking players at club level, yet in an England shirt yesterday they were automatons programmed to bore the socks off English supporters. Like the Kiwis, the Wallabies have very dangerous runners in broken field rugby meaning that a bad kick can be a recipe for disaster. This isn’t a new problem and is clearly Johnson’s favoured way of playing rugby. What he needs to remember though is that a kicking game executed correctly can work; but done as England did yesterday simply means you gift the opposition possession.
  • A centre partnership of Hape and Tindall was hardly likely to set the rugby playing world alight and possibly was part of the tactical call involving the plans mentioned in the above point. Tindall, it must be said, had a good game making a couple of good breaks. Bring our other Kiwi (Flutey) back and we feel that it could be a productive partnership.
  • So essentially, better from England but still not good enough. This wasn’t a vintage Wallaby side and probably should have been turned over.

South Africa vs France

We didn’t see this game but it worries us when the Six Nations champions, and a side that is rated so highly up north, should be turned over so convincingly. Come on France, we northerners need you to show that actually we can play rugby up here!

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2 responses

13 06 2010
Steve

England showed the most heart of the three losses by northern sides. Very impressed with the front row play. I also think Tindall ran hard and showed tremendous resolve.

I did see the RSA-France game. It was not a pretty sight for French fans. South Africa played with more intensity and showed more pace. The Bok wings both played great, particularly Apion. France had a bunch of first choice players out there like Clerc, Poitrenaud, Rougerie and Dussatoir, so you cannot say that the French did not play good players. South Africa just got some heavy payback from the loss last fall in Toulouse.

14 06 2010
Bradders

Thanks for commenting Steve.

I would have been interested to see how our front row went against the Aussie first choice front row though – we were playing against novices! Tindall definitely silenced a few doubters – always been a fan of his so glad to see him play like that.

The rugby up north worries me at the moment – I for one thought that France might be in with a shot at the weekend!

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