Super Rugby Round 1: Review

super logoIn the first game of the year, the Rebels beat the Force 30-23. When this game was scheduled as the Super Rugby opener, I’m sure the majority of rugby supporters looked at the match with the same amount of enthusiasm as a child ogling the socks he got for Christmas. Not expecting much, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of running shown by Australia’s two orphan teams.

There was nothing in it stat-wise with the teams sharing possession of the ball and the match could have easily ended in a draw had Kyle Godwin’s boot been as tuned in as James O’Connor’s.

What was considered the Australian derby, Brumbies against the Reds, turned out to be a messy affair and penalty feast at the breakdowns. With the pinch-king David Pocock making his Brumby debut, that probably didn’t come as a surprise. The Brumbies in the end won comfortably, 24-6.

Neither of the first choice kickers were on song and whilst the Reds stuck with Mike Harris, the Brumbies displayed four sharpshooters. The Reds’ attacks got smothered and although they defended better, the Brumbies found the holes with Jesse Mogg dotting down twice – his second as the result of a floating pass by Quade Cooper.

Round 1’s Super Trooper award has to go to Alfie Mafi who crossed the white wash twice and had the Rebels’ defense stretched on more than one occasion.

The Brumbies vs Reds match really didn’t live up to expectations; tempers were flying, we saw a lot of silly pushing and shoving, a penalty feast at best. Therefore, considering the level of entertainment provided in the Super Rugby opener, I’m giving the Best Battle award to the Rebels vs Force game as not even the three yellow-carded franchise jumpers disrupted play to any real effect.

Stupid mistakes are often part of rugby and often enough a turning point in the game. My Howler of the Week has to go to Quade Cooper as his floater got intercepted by Jesse Mogg, actually allowing the scoreline to flatter the Brumbies.

Happy reading to you all and watch this space for news related to selections for Round 2.

By Jackie Smit

7 thoughts on “Super Rugby Round 1: Review

  1. I think the real interest was in the Brumbies-Reds game. And although the game was not attractive to watch, there were a few glimpses of what can be a tendency for the season, which made the game really interesting:

    First, Pocock’s contribution to his team was enormous. The team built their success around him. He lead his team to winning the breakdown battle, which ultimately put the Brumbies into a position to win the game.

    Second, there was hardly anything else but the breakdown battle. Put it down to early rounds or to a ref who didn’t impose himself at the breakdown, but the signs for the future are worrying if teams do not manage to sort this approach to the breakdown. I would think this is more relevant in Australia (the country with more fetchers) than it is in New Zealand or in SA (the country with less fetchers) but I hope this tendency is bettered by the best teams of NZ and SA (Bulls, Crusaders, etc…) or otherwise the games will become a bore like 2009.

    Third, it’s early to tell but the Brumbies seem to have been building from last year’s great campaign and with Pocock they probably have a real shot to become the force they once were. Youngsters like Mogg and White are also promising.

    Fourth, probably the Reds need a rethinking. They looked flat without Horwill and Genia.

  2. I agree Sesenta, probably all the interest was on the Brumbies-Reds and it was a real let down. There were too many handling errors and penalties. Even though we saw 3 yellow cards in the Rebels-Force match, I think that ref handled the match much better and therefore we were treated to a more entertaining game. Australian rugby was a horrendous bore last year and hopefully the issue lies with them and not the players’ interpretation of the laws. Isn’t the 5 second rule suppose to make the game faster and more fluent?

  3. Thanks for the review, Jackie. I was wondering about TRB’s coverage of the SR this season. However, the article lacks information wise and you don’t mention the impact some of the star players made. Pocock definitely ruled the breakdown and he wasn’t penalised nearly as much as indicated, and the ref obviously didn’t have a clue. Pocock is a ROCKSTAR!

    1. Hi Jasper, although only four teams featured this past weekend, there will be 7 matched played each week from now on. In an effort to keep reading short and simple, we decided not to do in-depth reporting.

      I will, however, be choosing a Team of the Week, where players will get more individual praise. So watch the space below for my TofW for Round 1.

  4. I would think so, Flying pig, but the five second rule only applies when the ball is clear to be played by the halfback.

    The problem is that often the tackled player does not even have the chance to release the ball when he’s tackled.

    There’s virtually no time between being tackled and players joining the ruck to grab the ball. I don’t even know when a player is playing the ruck or when he’s a tackler assist…

    I don’t even know when he should join “from the gate” as he is in a ruck or from anywhere as he is tackling…

    So the breakdown, as it was last weekend, is a mess.

  5. You make some very good points, Sesenta. The rucks are messy and slows the game down an awful lot. Maybe they should put a limit on the number of players allowed in a ruck?

    The rules basically say the tackler is the player who brings the ball-carrier to ground. The TA (tackler assist) has a right to the ball immediately if he manages to stay on his feet. The tackler must always release the ball-carrier as soon as he’s been brought to ground and roll away to allow him to place the ball to his side.

    The problem arises when all the other players join the ruck from both sides and start pushing and shoving each other, I see way too many players going off their feet at these breakdowns.

    A ruck is formed as soon as two or more players from each team are involved in a tackle situation, all other players then have to join from behind the last feet on their side.

    And I agree with you, breakdowns tend to be messier with fetchers on the field. And I don’t have a problem with them, they are hard workers. I have a problem with the players throwing their bodies in after the fact. More often than not they push their own players off their feet and that is obviously not the desired effect.

  6. Result:
    Rebels (30) – Tries: Ged Robinson, Hugh Pyle, Richard Kingi. Conversions: James O’Connor (3/3). Penalties: O’Connor (3/3). Yellow Card: Scott Higginbotham

    Force (23) – Tries: Alfie Mafi (2), Richard Brown. Conversion: Kyle Godwin (1/3). Penalties: Godwin (2/3). Yellow Cards: Alby Mathewson, Chris Alcock.

    Brumbies (24) – Tries: Jesse Mogg (2). Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (0/1), Ian Prior (1/1). Penalties: Lealiifano (0/2), Nic White (2/3), Mogg (2/3).

    Reds (6) – Penalties: Mike Harris (2/5).

    Super Rugby Team of the Week – Round 1

    15. James O’Connor – Although it was difficult to look past Jesse Mogg’s try-double, the Rebels fullback looked the better all-round player and with a 100% kicking record, who wouldn’t want him in your team.

    14. Richard Kingi – Playing on the wing for the Rebels, the versatile busy body was all over the park and although he misses more hits than he makes, he is a strong runner and flamboyant finisher.

    13. Mitch Inman – Nothing much happened in the 13 jersey and the only thing that lifted the Rebels centre’s mediocre performance above that of the rest, was his ability to pilfer the ball a couple of times.

    12. Kyle Godwin – Much to the disappointment of many fantasy managers, Christian Lealiifano’s had a very bad day with the boot and although Godwin only had a 50% success rate and Lealiifano being the better defender, the Rebels midfielder kept to opposition quite busy.

    11. Alfie Mafi – Undoubtedly the shiniest star of Round 1. Not only did he clock the most running metres, besides O’Connor, but he broke through several tackles, and dotted down twice – even though his efforts were in vein and not enough to change the fate of the Force.

    10. Quade Cooper – Another area of mediocrity which forced me to choose the Reds flyhalf even though he had a scarcely above average game compared to his own high standards. He is not big on tackling though and my midfield now looks rather vulnerable. They’ll be dangerous on attack though and should just keep possession of the ball.

    9. Nic White – Will Genia is by far the best Australia has to offer in the halfback department and as he did not play, I had to go with the only other option on display. His useful boot saved Lealiifano from further embarrassment, helped the Brumbies secure their first win and therefore edged him ahead.

    8. Gareth Delve – The Rebels skipper was as rock solid as always. He carried the ball well, put the tackles in and led by example. Mention must go to Richard Brown for the immediate impact he made; in the 20 minutes he spent on the field he threatened the defence on a couple of occasions and scored a try.

    7. Liam Gill – Although David Pocock surely made his presence felt during his Brumby debut, the ever improving Reds flanker was as much of a nuisance, but carried the ball better and with more force.

    6. Angus Cottrell – This hardworking backrower has a habit of making the most of every opportunity he gets and yet again showed how he thrives on contact situations.

    5. Luke Jones – This young Rebel followed his breakout season up with a strong start to the 2013 season. His versatility makes him hard to replace and he didn’t put a foot wrong in the season’s first match.

    4. Hugh Pyle – His exceptional understanding of the line-out and formidable presence makes this blossoming second rower an asset for any team. He rarely misses a tackle and his strong ball carrying skills managed to get him across the chalk line once again.

    3. James Slipper – The Reds’ tighthead prop just managed to edge out Tatera Faulkner as he is a more concrete option on defence.

    2. Ged Robinson – It isn’t every day that you see Stephen Moore take the backseat, but even without taking into account his 5-pointer, the Rebels hooker made his presence felt right across the park.

    1. Greg Holmes – There was really nothing in this decision as none of the loosehead props did anything to write home about. Forced to choose between Greg and Pek Cowan, I opted to flip a coin.

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