AB's XV - A pretty dour match where not too many people would have made much of a case for being promoted. Maybe I am being a bit harsh given the 30c, but it all looked pretty rusty, and at times didn't even have the quality of a Super Rugby match. We should have won by a much more comfortable margin.
Black Ferns v Canada. It looked like it was going to be another romp, but Canada showed some grit and made a pretty impressive comeback, somewhat off the drop in accuracy and intensity from the BF's. In the end, a pretty comfortable win.
AB's vs Argentina. With a decidedly shaky start, we got many points early with some good touches. Initially, I was a little worried our forwards weren't up for it, but they controlled set piece and stretched a pretty unenthusiastic and uninspired Argentina side. It wasn't nearly as good in the second half and to be honest, the scoreline flattered us with Argentina being as bad as I've seen them in recent years. I expect SA to be a significantly more robust challenge, though we are showing signs we are up for it. Lots of talk about DM taking the starting 10 against SA but really!? He was a pretty mixed bag. Some nice touches, but several characteristic mistakes. Clarke didn't help his case any I don't think.
Started off jumping between the ABXV (why they can’t just be the NZ XV, I don’t know. Well actually I do. The All Blacks label sells tickets) and the Warriors/Eels game. Pretty quickly gave up on the Union and stuck with the League. I can only assume the ABXV exists to keep replacements match fit?
The Black Ferns have the flair, but get exposed by the rolling maul (dumb rule). The men’s game seems to have some counters to it, but not the Black Ferns yet.
I wonder if the low sun angle had any impact on the ABs/Pumas game? The ABs clearly had the edge, but not being able to see must make it even more difficult. Hence a clear ascendancy in the first half but more even in the second.
The first minute charge-down had me thinking “Oh no, here we go” but the ship was righted fairly quickly. The whole game may have been different if the Argentinian player had got to the ball first, leading to high Argentinian spirits and a bit of shell shock for the ABs.
I wouldn’t expect McKenzie to start against SA, I would think Mo’unga would be 10 with McKenzie off the bench and Barrett staying at fullback. The coaching team seem very keen on the “two play-maker” concept. And I remember when Carter injured himself at training during the 2011 RWC. I would rather have 3 match fit 10s available. The only thing is, Mo’unga is a specialist 10, Barrett and McKenzie 10/15.
I also think it’s time to put Fainga'anuku in instead of Clarke. While some Super Rugby teams showed Fainga'anuku could be negated, he has the ‘X Factor’ whereas Clarke’s play is one dimensional. I wonder if Fainga'anuku’s departure at the end of the year is colouring the selector’s thinking. I hope not.
The Lord/Barrett combo at lock worked well and gives me heart that that position is covered when the old warhorses (Whitelock & Retallick) hang up their boots.
As far as I’m concerned, any pitch invader gets what they deserve. That individual should thank his lucky stars Cane only leg tripped him. If he had tackled him like he did some of the Pumas players (worthy of “Smashed ‘im bro!”) he would have stayed down. The only thing Cane did wrong was feeling he needed to apologise.