State of the Union Week 5 – Rebels and Reds Finish Poorly

Super Rugby Players TJ Perenara, Pone Fa-amausili & Bryce Hegarty

Here we are, week 5 of Super Rugby Aotearoa, Round 2 of Super Rugby AU. Plenty happened this week including fantastically the absence of Phil Kearns during Saturday nights fixture between the Force and the Waratahs. That game almost gave me one of my favourite headlines of all-time but it wasn’t meant to be.

In positive news, we’ve had a relatively quiet Rugby news week without much controversy!

So here it is, the State of the Union Week 5.

Well That Was Anti-Climactic

The Rebels vs Reds game got off to a slow start the first half featured a 6 – 0 halftime scoreline (to the Rebels) and 1000 knock-ons. As the rain started to subside and the players adjusted to the conditions. The second half was much more entertaining.

An early penalty goal by James O’Connor quickly followed by a contentious 51st-minute try had the Reds in front 8-6. That was short-lived with Reece Hodge crossing the line 3 minutes later. Then in the 68th minute, it seemed like Bill Meakes had put the game away with this intercept effort putting the Rebels in front 18 – 8.

James O’Connor once again with his boot kicked a penalty goal in the 75th minute to put the Reds within 7.

With about 2 minutes to play and the Rebels in possession of the footy, I figured they’d just hang onto the ball, let the forwards carry and recycle the ball and just watch the clock tick down. Then this happened.

Again James O’Connor’s boot added the extra points and tied the game up. At this point everyone seemed kind of confused until the referee called for extra time, or, “Super Time” as they’ve decided to call it, which is just Super Rugby’s answer to Golden Point.

At this point, I got amped! Finally, I’ll get to see another drop goal.

Well during the two 5 minute extra-time periods we saw the return of the knock-ons from the first half. Unfortunately, this meant the 50 scrums they packed ate into most of the extra time.

The only real scoring opportunity came via a penalty goal attempt by Bryce Hegarty from 50. It missed short and right. Then with extra time expired he inexplicably did this.

This pissed me off. It felt to me like he just thought ‘oh well, near enough is good enough’. In a very up and down game, that featured one of the most boring 1st halves ever (slight exaggeration). This was an opportunity to attempt something memorable and instead, they just gave up.

You may think I’m being harsh, but I am a high-performance rugby 7s coach. In a semi-final, the team I coach was granted a penalty right on half-time. the score was 7-5 in our favour. They backed themselves ran their tap move and right at the last pass (we would have scored) the opposition took a flukey intercept and scored. 10-7 HT score.

The players apologised to me, I said “f**k that you backed yourselves and it didn’t come off. But next time it will.” I believe there’s some footage somewhere of me saying this. We lost that game 15 – 12.

Anyway, two weeks later, this time at full-time we’re down 3 and are awarded a penalty. Then they did this (start watching at 55 seconds).

I truly believe that if we hadn’t had that moment two weeks earlier she wouldn’t have had the confidence to take that tap with the game on the line.

Moral of the story? It’s round 2, roll the dice you might win or you might learn something. What did you do? Give up and in my view, no one learnt anything and everyone lost, including us… The fans.

I Love When a Prop Is The Star Of The Show

I don’t know if any of you have played tighthead prop. But in a game that features more than 10 scrums (as the game above did), it’s one of the toughest positions on the field. Usually, in a game like this, props are far too tired from scrummaging and inspecting rucks to take on too many ball carry’s or make many tackles outside of the fringes.

Well, Pone Fa’amausili showed everyone what happens when a prop puts in a proper pre-season (or in 2020 two pre-seasons).

He put this shot on straight out of halftime.

Maybe this shot was the reason Hegarty gave up in Super Time?

Then, about 5 minutes later he showed no regard for his safety (or anyone else’s for that matter) to produce this absolute beauty of a carry.

 

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🎳πŸ’₯

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Keep it up Pone, show the world what the fat kids can do!

Crusaders Proved Me Right But The Blues Proved They Are No Joke

I happened to watch this one with my Dad. Being Brumbies supporters we’ve had some epic battles over the years with the Crusaders. And, we both have this weird hate/respect thing going on with them. But I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights of the chat Dad and I had while watching the game.

Scene: Crusaders player flys in from the side of the ruck to cleanout and additionally leaves his feet in the process.

Me: “Dad explain to me why that’s not a penalty?”

Dad: “Because it’s f*****g Canterbury”

Scene: Rieko Ioane just crashes over for a try, putting the Blues up 15-9

Me: “Blues came to play tonight”

Dad: “You watch, these p****s [Crusaders] will win this game, they always do”

Scene:

Dad: “See! It’s starting”

And that’s exactly what happened. After that charge down, it was all oneway traffic. Starting with this masterstroke from Richie Mo’unga.

Then about 5 minutes later the Crusaders produced this one, off a beautiful ball from you guessed it… Richie Mo’unga.

The Crusaders would run one more in for good measure with about 5 minutes to go. Putting the game just out of reach for the Blues at 26-15.

As I alluded to last week, the Crusaders are going to be tough to beat. they don’t make mistakes, they’re calm, they’re proven to perform under pressure and they execute so well, it’s hard to find areas to exploit when playing against them. Even the try above was just fundamental skills executed to perfection. It’s a pleasure to watch as long as they’re not playing the Brumbies.

The Blues and Crusaders will play again in round 10, this time at Eden Park. Since there’s no finals series, this game will more than likely be for the inaugural premiership. And, I’m very excited to see how the rest of the season plays out. Hopefully, both teams roll into that game with even or close to even points and we get the last round we all deserve, after a pretty crap 2020 (so far)!

Western Force Showed They Belong In Super Rugby

At halftime when the Force lead 14-7 I had the headline for this article ready to go.

“So Does This Mean NSW Gets Kicked Out Of Super Rugby Now?”

It would have been worth it for no other reason than the abusive emails, twitter comments and text messages I would have received from my privately educated, white male friends currently living in Sydney.

The Force drew first blood with a penalty goal. Then, in the 29th minute, the Force scored their first try in Super Rugby since 2017.Β  Some skilful passing lead to a silky finish from Byron Ralston.

Ian Prior knocked two penalties over the crossbar and the force led 14-0.

Just before halftime, the Waratahs scored this one.

Over the next 22 minutes, they’d score another 16 unanswered points to run away with the game 23-14. And, in the process ruining my headline!

Never the less, the Force belong in Super Rugby and they should be very proud of their effort tonight. Mark my words they will win some games in this competition and turn some head.

And to my friends Tim and Angus, congratulation to you both on your Super Rugby debuts, we’re very proud of you guys.

We Were Spared Phil Kearns For One Game This Weekend

What an absolute treat, we were spared, Phil Kearns’ witty, balanced, well prepared and non-monotone commentary for the Force vs Waratahs game.Β  It was much more pleasant and enjoyable. Although, maybe that’s because for about 50 minutes it looked like the Force was going to upset the Waratahs.

In any case, maybe this is a sign of things to come?

Is TJ Perenara the Best Footballer in NZ?

I have this argument with my friends a fair bit. What I mean by this is that someone may not necessarily be the best player at their position, but they can still a world-class footballer. Meaning, their football ability/skills make them good at their position, but their real value is being able to play multiple positions at a high level. Is that making sense?

I was a little bit like this as a player (but obviously with less talent). I could cover all three front row positions, I was good, but not elite at any one of those positions. So, there was always someone ahead of me. But, I was consistently picked in teams for higher honours because I was versatile. However, only called upon rarely to start games.

I’m not trying to compare myself to Perenara but I think you see my point.

I think we can all agree that TJ is not the best halfback. That honour still belongs to Aaron Smith. Who showed some real class during the Hurricanes defeat of the Highlanders.

But I’ll ask you this. How many players could do this while playing halfback…?

Then slide across to fly-half for a significant portion of the game. And produce a ball like this that almost lead to the try of Super Rugby Aotearoa so far.

Also, it’s unclear why Hurricanes flanker Devan Flanders decided he was playing basketball and butchered this try. But hey, they got the win anyway so it didn’t end up being too costly. But, still a bit disappointing.

Anyway, back to the point. I think that TJ Perenara might be the best footballer in NZ. He plays the halfback position well, has a unique skill set that allows him to be successful in playing multiple positions and consistently pops-up in the right areas of the field.

His versatility was key in the Hurricanes win this week. I’d love to see him continue to get opportunities to show just how good a “footballer” he is.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Power Rankings

  1. Crusaders –
  2. Blues –
  3. Hurricanes β–²
  4. Highlanders β–Ό
  5. Chiefs –

Super Rugby AU Power Rankings

  1. Brumbies –
  2. Reds –
  3. Rebels –
  4. Waratahs β–²
  5. Force β–Ό

 

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