Monday, November 13, 2006

what I did at the weekend #2

Watch some rugby matches. Couldn't see all of them as there were some scheduling clashes, and it would have been anti-social to park myself in front of the television for the entire afternoon and evening, but....

Wales 38 Pacific Islands 20

This is the one I managed to see all of - a Welsh XV showing 14 changes from the previous week's starting line-up, but they looked pretty sharp. The final score flatters the Pacific Islands team as Wales took their foot off the gas a bit in the second half; it was 31-5 at half-time by which time the match was over as a contest. Gareth Jenkins will have a bit of a selection headache now, especially in the key decision-making areas at outside-half and inside centre, as there are at least four players (Stephen Jones, Ceri Sweeney, James Hook and Gavin Henson) competing for two spots. There was some talk of playing Henson at full-back, a position he'd probably be quite well-suited to (robust defence, massive kicking boot), but that would mean moving or dropping Kevin Morgan who's done nothing wrong defensively and injects some serious pace in attack. Tricky....

Ireland 32 South Africa 15

Ireland looked pretty sharp, too. I was a bit surprised they won so easily (as with the Wales game, there was a late score which put a more flattering gloss on the scoreline) as the Springboks turned over the All Blacks not so long ago (at the tail end of the Tri-Nations, I think). They've got their decision-making axis all sorted out with O'Gara, D'Arcy and O'Driscoll, and they've got some quick wingers. Strength in depth might be an issue, though - what happens if O'Driscoll gets injured?

England 18 Argentina 25

Oh dear oh dear. As a Welsh supporter you can't help but have a little bit of a chuckle to yourself over this one. It was always going to be a bit of a potential banana-skin as the Argentinians are a pretty good side these days. They've sorted out their historical problem of having a massively formidable pack but no-one who can do anything with the ball once it's been won; players like Pichot and Contepomi (ex-Bristol boys both) know exactly what they're doing.

Even so I would have expected England to win, but it looks like they don't really know what they're trying to do at the moment. There seems to be a desire to play open expansive rugby, but I don't think they've got the backs to do it; either that or they're not picking them. Anthony Allen looks to have a bit of a brain, but he's had a difficult first two games. Otherwise there's a lot of big lumbering oafs like Tindall, Cohen and Noon but not a lot of creativity. Maybe England should go back to what they do best, i.e. grinding everyone else into the dirt up front and kicking sackfuls of penalties. Trouble is Hodgson seems to have a serious case of big-match nerves, so they can't even rely on the penalties at the moment. Ah, schadenfreude.

Scotland 48 Romania 6

Comfortable enough by the sound of it - Romania aren't the team they were back in the 1980's when they were pretty formidable. Doug knows more about this than I do, and I didn't see it anyway, so if you want in-depth analysis try this.

New Zealand 47 France 3

I didn't see this one either, but given that France were meant to be the main rivals to the All Blacks for world #1 team and 2007 World Cup favourites status this is pretty terrifying. Suddenly England's problems last Sunday don't look so bad! Everyone else will just have to hope they're peaking between World Cups like they have done for every one since 1987. Don't count on it though.


Anonymous said...

Nice roundup bate.
I only saw the Scotland game, but did hint to Anna that I thought Wales might have "eased up" after seeing the half and full time scores. As I've posted on my blog, your boys in red seem to have great strength in depth at the moment, are you ACTUALLY going to be positive about your chances in the 6Natia this year?
I didn't manage to read a report of the Welsh game either. Did Any of our South Pacific Bristolians play? Alfie? Josh?
Regarding the Ireland game, I didn't see that either, but I know the Springboks were effectively fielding a second string.
England played apallingly badly by all accounts, and Sanderson(8)allegedly made our Shaun look like a numpty all afternoon. So AR substituted Shaun, not Sanderson?! I read in the paper today that AR has been given 2 weeks effectively, to save his job, from Squeaky. 2 tests against a below-strength South Africa. I don't know why England are in such disarray. They have the potential, looking at their players, to win consistently and win well?
And finally, the Pumas. Argentina have been "on top of" Wales in the IRB world rankings for some time, and have NOW leapfrogged above Scotland AND England!

Shabba Rankings-


Can't see that table remaining the same for long though, not for youz anywayz...

Anonymous said...

and as for the All Blacks-
yes, like everyone else, my heart hopes they 'bottle' it in the World Cup, AGAIN, but my head says they won't this time.
They are 4-6 ON to carry the trophy off at the moment.
You know, horribly enough, those probably are quite fair odds...

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