Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Super-Sefa back for the Rising, Wykes  to lead the Spirit

Both semi-finals will be a replay of round 4 encounters. On Friday September 11th the Perth Spirit flew east to Melbourne to be heavily defeated by the Rising by 20 points. Not to mention, the Rising got a bonus point in that game, they got a bonus point in every match they played in the regular season.
Compared to the XV that played the Spirit on Round 4 Sean Hedger’s Rising have made only 3 changes, whyle David Wessels has made a wholesale of changes for the Spirit.

Melbourne Rising

Sefanaia Naivalu
One of the Rising's changes is forced by injuries: Telusa Veainu’s season ended with an hand injury, two by international duties, with Luke Jones and Sean McMahon called by the Wallabies for the End of the Year Tour. To replace the two internationals the Rising will call up on local talent with Harlequin’s duo Sione Taufa and OJ Noa in the third row along with Lopeti Timani.
On the bench another local talent form the dual Dewar Shield champions Harlequin, Angus Hamilton, will hope for a Buildcorp NRC debut.
Also on tour Tom English, who started on the bench on round 4 as well as in the last regular season match played by the Rising.
Stability is one of the keys of Rising's success, with very few changes done every week by Hedger to his starting XV; the careful introduction of new players in a well oiled line-up has provided fresh blod when needed.

Perth Spirit

Sam Wykes
On the contrary Perth have named a team completely changed from the XV that took the pitch at AAMI back in September and also from the team that travelled to Dubbo to face the NSW Coutry Eagles.
Wessels has injected experience in his team with Western Force regulars Pek Cowan and Sam Wykes in the scrum and will have a formidable 9-10 combination in Prior  and Holmes.
Force's Stander will start at blindside flanker and he will definitely use his experience to try to pressure his less navigated opponent.

The teams

Both teams named for Saturday's semifinal looks strong and powerful, one of the winning points of the Rising has been the strenght of the scrum and the speed of locks and flankers to re-gain the ball launch the attacks from the incredibly fast backs. The new backrowers, Taufa and Noa know each other very well and have played a key role in Harlequin's success, will they be up for the challenge at National level?
I think so. But the expectations are for a much tougher game, it's finals time.

Melbourne Rising:

15 Jonah Placid (Melbourne Rebels)
14 Rennie Lautolo-Molimau (Endeavour Hills)
13 Sefanaia Naivalu (Box Hill)
12 Mitch Inman (Southern Districts/Melbourne Rebels) (Vice Captain)
11 Joe Kamana (Moorabbin)
10 Jack Debreczeni (Endeavour Hills/Melbourne Rebels)
9 Nic Stirzaker (Endeavour Hills/Melbourne Rebels) (Captain)
8 Lopeti Timani (Footscray/Melbourne Rebels)
7 Sione Taufa (Harlequin)
6 OJ Noa (Harlequin)
5 Cadeyrn Neville (Foostcray/Melbourne Rebels)
4 Sam Jeffries (Melbourne Uni/Melbourne Rebels)
3 Paul Alo-Emile (Power House/Melbourne Rebels)
2 Pat Leafa (Box Hill/Melbourne Rebels) (Vice Captain)
1 Toby Smith (Melbourne Uni/Melbourne Rebels)

Reserves: 16 Tom Sexton (Power House/Melbourne Rebels), 17 Fereti Sa’aga (Melbourne Uni), 18 Cruze Ah-Nau (Footscray/Melbourne Rebels), 19 Pom Simona (Harlequin) (Vice Captain), 20 Angus Hamilton (Harlequin), 21 Luke Burgess (Melbourne/Melbourne Rebels), 22 Lloyd Johansson (Harlequin), 23 Martin Naufahu (Foostcray)

Perth Spirit:

15 Dane Haylett-Petty (Cottesloe)
14 Luke Morahan (Kalamunda)
13 Ammon Matuauto (Associates)
12 Solomoni Rasolea (Cottesloe)
11 Marcel Brache (Perth Bayswater)
10 Zack Holmes (Associates)
9 Ian Prior (Nedlands)
8 Alex Rovira (Associates)
7 Kane Koteka (Wests Scarborough)
6 Brynard Stander (Nedlands)
5 Brent Murphy (Perth Bayswater)
4 Sam Wykes (captain) (Wests Scarborough)
3 Oliver Hoskins (Cottesloe)
2 Robbie Abel (Cottesloe)
1 Pek Cowan (West Scarborough)

Reserves: 16 Harry Scoble (UWA), 17 Joe Savage (Palmyra), 18 Chris Heiberg (Perth Bayswater), 19 Kieran Stringer (Cottesloe), 20 Richard Hardwick (UWA), 21 Justin Turner (Associates), 22 Davis Tavita (Nedlands), 23 Christian Joubert (UWA)
By Unknown on 18:08 No comments so far More

Sunday, 19 October 2014

With the last round of the first stage played over the week end the Top League team have been devided in two groups for the second stage of the tournament.
The first 4 classified in the first stage from each of the two groups have been assigned to the group that will contest the final win, the second four will compete to avoid relegation.
Each team will start the second phase with 1 to 4 bonus points corresponding to its final position in the first stage.

Group A:
With the first four position already fixed Panasonic Wild Knights topped the group thanks to a large win against NTT Communications Shining Arcs and overtake Toshiba Brave Lupus, who lost at home against eventual third ranked Yamaha Júbilo.

Group B:
More drama in the group B, where Kinetsu Liners missed the cut despite a comfortable win against Coca-Cola Red Sparks, Toyota Verblitz went through in fourth position thanks to a 13- 12 win away against Ricoh Black Rams.
Both team ended with 22 points, but Toyota had a better points difference (+12) than Kinetsu (+4)

Championship Group:

NTT Shining Arcs (A4)
Canon Eagles (B3)
Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers (B1)
Suntory Sungoliath (B2)
Toshiba Brave Lupus (A2)
Toyota Verblitz (B4)
Panasonic Wild Knights (A1)
Yamaha Jubilo (A3)

Relegation Group:

NEC Green Rockets (A6)
NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes (B8)
Kintetsu Liners (B5)
Kubota Spears (A5)
Coca-Cola Red Sparks (B7)
Toyota Industries Shuttles (A7)
Munakata SANIX Blues (A8)
Ricoh Black Rams (B6)
By Unknown on 18:43 No comments so far More

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The resignation of Ewen McKenzie at the lowest point of the recent Wallabies' story.

After a tumultuous week culminated in a last minute loss at home against the All Blacks Link has had enough and left. His tenure will not go down in history as legacy a remarkable one: 22 games, 11 wins, the worst loss against New Zealand, the first win of Los Pumas in the Rugby Championship.

It is difficult to single out a cause of Link's personal failure, a mix of errors, misfortune and circumstances has brought him down.

Well before the Beale-Patston affair emerged, McKenzie had his faults in the way he managed the player. After the lows of the Lions' series the player had a resurrection season at the Waratahs playing at 12, but the Wallabies Head Coach saw him as a flyhalf, played him has such and Beale failed. This has triggered the nervousness around the fragile player. Can the despicable circumstances that will most likely put to an end his Australian union's career be seen as the symptoms of a this? It may be a stretch, but it is likely that a more calm and relaxed Beale would have acted differently.

Beale at first receiver was not the only tactical error of McKenzie, but certainly the more evident. His Wallabies have often played out of position in the midfield and a general lack of pecking order has caused several players to doubt about their stand in the starting XV.
Most of all the Wallabies have lost their last three games in the second halves, when the lack of depth of the Australian bench has allowed their opponents to come back and win. A unprecedented series of injuries are the main reason of the lack of front rowers, the self imposed ban on foreign based players has contributed dramatically to the cause.

With the World Cup starting in 11 months where Wallabies have been drafted in the group of death, whoever will succeed him has a tough job in front. Without mentioning the End of Year series in Europe starting with a warm up game against the Barbarians in due term.
The punters have two names for McKenzie's succession, Jack White and Michael Cheika.
The first one will bring tactically the Wallabies back in time at least 10 years, and the players will have limited time to adapt to his way of playing; the second one will require less time to lead a team morphed on his winning 2014 Waratahs, and may save Beale from being sacked.

Regardless of who will be the new coach, ARU has only one way to save the Wallabies from disaster. Allow foreign based players to wear the green and gold.
By Unknown on 13:52 No comments so far More

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The solution is not in the coach, it is in the players

According to recent media speculations Jack White may be the next Wallabies head coach.

Without any doubt White has made an excellent work with the Brumbies and his past cannot be denied, but do Australian rugby really needs a win at all costs mentality?

White won a World Cup in 2007 with the Springboks and took the Brumbies from a very critical situation to Super Rugby final.
Last year White's resignation from the ACT team come as a shock: after he unsuccessfully applied for the Wallabies job after Dean’s dismissal, he decided to go back home and coach the Sharks with the clear goal to win the Super Rugby title. After only one year at the lead of the Durban based franchise White left the club to pursue an international career. Looking at the international field, open positions at his level are rare, and none is vacant.

Honesty I don’t think that White could get blood out of a stone, the player he will have will be the same as Link has, you can turn Izzy Folau in a up&under fullback, nor get one of Australia’s back to drop goals from the midfield, and Australia’s front row isn’t as powerful as the Springbok one.

Scores of fans have cheered the running game of the Super Rugby winners Waratahs, thousands are celebrating the fast paced style of rugby on show in the Buildcorp NRC, the South African way of playing rugby can be incredibly effective, but, let’s say it plainly, it is boring.

Link has come under scrutiny after the worst loss in a Bledisloe Cup match in Auckland and two consecutive losses in the Rugby Championship. The Beale-Pastson saga has exposed behavioural issues in the lockers room and the series of injuries, especially in the front row the lack of depth of Australian Rugby.

If ARU really wants to see success at short term, then it has to review its own inflicted pain and allow overseas players to wear the green and gold. Matt Giteau has been named best Top14 player, Nick Cummins is still one of the best winger in the world, even if he is struggling in Japan, Ben Mowen is a great player that may lift again the backrow.

Get these players in the end of the year tour and you will see better results.
By Unknown on 16:42 No comments so far More

Friday, 10 October 2014

In an highly entertaining game at Pirtek Stadium the Rising win 58 - 40 after trailing at half time 21 - 24.

The Rams prove to be a hard opponent, but at the end the Melbournians take another BP win to send another clear message to the competition. The loss may be the last time the Rams have taken to the field in 2014.
Both teams played an open game with ball ran from all over the pitch, the scrum for the Rising was yet again a good platform for the backs despite the good opposition offered by the Rams front row, thanks to Wallaby Benn Robinson who played the first half.
A match in the match was played between exciting stand-offs Ben Volavola and Jack Debreczeni, with the latter becoming the first Buildcorp NRC player to score more than 100 points.
With both team tiring in the heat, the Rising were able to seal the game in the dying minutes, thanks also to fresher legs - the Rising were coming off their week bye. Ben Meehan has proved to be an excellent replacement, scoring a wonderful try after a break from prop Cruze Ah Nau, just two minutes after his involvement in the game.
Rising's players celebrating after the final whistle
Melbourne Rising 58 (21):
Tries: Debreczeni, Stirzaker, Kamana, Inman, Meehan, Jones, Placid (2)
Conv.: Debreczeni 6/8

Greater Sydney Rams 40 (24):
Tries: Holloway, Seavula, Taefu, Sigg, Batger
Conv.: Volavola 5/5

By Unknown on 23:09 No comments so far More

Verblitz and Green Rockets in hard games for the race for the top 4 spots.

The top tear Japanese tournament comes back after 2 weeks pause for the last two rounds of the first phase.

Group A:
Top 3 Brave Lupus, Wild Knights and Júbilo are all playing away, with the Panasonic team facing the trickiest opponent, Nemani Nadolo's Green Rockets.
A win for the Green Rockets may keep alive their hopes to qualify in the play off group for the second phase.
Similarly Elton Jantjies' NTT Shining Arcs will put to the sword Yamaha Júbilo.

Group B:
Front runners Kobelco Steelers host Toyota Verblitz in a very important game for the visitors as well as second placed Sungoliath visiting Kinetsu Liners. Both Verblitz and Liners are in the fight for the top 4 spots and Canon Eagles may profit in an easier game against second from bottom placed Coca Cola Red Sparks.

11 October
12:00BRicoh Black RamsNTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes
14:05AKubota SpearsToyota Shuttles
12:00BKobe Steel Kobelco SteelersToyota Verblitz
14:05BKinetsu LinersSuntory Sungoliath
13:00ANEC Green RocketsPanasonic Wild Knights
12 October
13:00BCanon EaglesCoca-Cola Red Sparks
14:05AFukuoka Sanix BluesToshiba Brave Lupus
13:00ANTT Communications Shining ArcsYamaha Júbilo
kick off in local time
By Unknown on 16:57 No comments so far More

An almost unchanged Rams' team will face competition benchmark in a do or die match

The GSR will welcome back Wallaby Benn Robinson in their starting line-up after his international duties. Robinson has played the first four NRC games for the Rams before getting the call from Link to beef up the national team's front row.

Along Robinson the other changes for the GSR are the return from injury of lock Jed Holloway and the inclusion of scrumhalf Mark Swanepoel.

As reported by the Rams' internet site, Director of Rugby John Manenti was very happy to see Robinson and Holloway back in the starting XV: “Benn Robinson was outstanding for us in his pre-Wallabies Tour games, and though we’ve been delighted with the form of Jed Gillespie and being able to bring in a guy with his experience and scrum knowledge, and he’s contributed really well, we’re obviously excited to have Robbo back."

The inclusion of Robinson will be a key to the front line battle, with Rising's scrum often being the foundation of their attacks. Robinson will combine with hooker Peni Ravai and tighthead prop Guy Millar, both have played all Rams' games so far.

The Melbourne Rising have enjoyed a week bye and used the time to recharge and prepare for the finals. The pause gave them the opportunity to regain some of their injuried players, with fullback Jonah Placid, prop Toby Smith and outside flanker Sean McMahon all fit and ready to start.
Tom English and Luke Jones, chosen for the Wallabies 32-men squad for Bledisloe #3 will try to impress the selectors even more in today's game.

Rising's head coach Sean Hedger has chosen two local players on the wing, with Endeavour Hills' Rennie Lautolo-Molimau on the right and Moorabbin's Joe Kamana on the left, as reported by Rising's internet site: “Rennie and Joe are highly capable footballers who have demonstrated their ability to play at this level,” Hedger said. “Joe has featured in every game this season and has been a real stand-out for the Rising, while Rennie’s debut against NSW Country was impressive; he needs to reach that level again, and push himself even further, and I am confident he will.”

With a bye scheduled for next week the Rams have to win this game to hope for a play off appearance, the Rising are already sure of hosting the semifinal at AAMI Park, but don't expect a complacent team.

The teams:

Great Sydney Rams

1 Benn Robinson
2 Peni Ravai
3 Guy Millar
4 Jed Holloway
5 Dylan Sigg
6 Hugh Perrett (C)
7 Chris Alcock
8 Pat Sio
9 Mark Swanepoel
10 Ben Volavola
11 Tom Hill
12 Henry Taefu
13 Henry Seavula
14 Jarome MacKenzie
15 Ben Batger

Reserves: 16 Hugh Roach: 17  Jed Gillespie; 18  Dave Lolohea ; 19  Steve Mafi; 20  Michael Kovacic; 21  Jai Ayoub; 22  Apolisi Latunipulu; 23  Dane Chisholm

Melbourne Rising 

1 Toby Smith
2 Pat Leafa
3 Paul Alo-Emile
4 Sam Jeffries
5 Cadeyrn Neville
6 Luke Jones
7 Sean McMahon
8 Lopeti Timani
9 Nic Stirzaker (C)
10 Jack Debreczeni
11 Joe Kamana
12 Mitch Inman
13 Tom English
14 Rennie Lautolo-Molimau
15 Jonah Placid

Reserves: 16 Tom Sexton; 17 Tuiatua Tuia; 18 Cruze Ah-Nau; 19 Pom Simona; 20 Reuben Rolleston; 21 Ben Meehan; 22 Lloyd Johansson; 23 Martin Naufahu

The Greater Sydney Rams-Melbourne Rising match at Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta kicks off at 3:00pm
If you are not in Sydney, you can catch the game on-line courtesy of the Rams at
By Unknown on 16:04 No comments so far More

Sunday, 5 October 2014

SANZAR should act on spectators using lasers to distract kickers

The remarkable, historic and deserved first Pumas’ win in the Rugby Championship has once again showed the ugly side of some spectators, or shall we say idiots, using a laser pen to distract the kickers. Bernard Foley missed an east kick in the 70th minute which could have changed the final score. The Wallabies kicker was also disturbed in his two successful conversion’s attempts in the first half.

Last year Jaco Peyper allowed Aaron Cruden a second attempt in last year's win for New Zealand when the All Black stand-off was similarly distracted. This year Nigel Owen didn’t acted.

He should have gone under the posts and awarded a penalty try. Harsh? One-eyed? No, I’ll say this under any circumstances. The act was a disgrace by one or two singles, but has shamed a nation of rugby supporters and shall never happen again. A penalty try would have set the bar to clear the waters from any doubt, this dirty tricks do not belong to the sport.

This should not being seen as an excuse for Wallabies loss, but the play field should be level. We are already used to the typical boos of disrespect during kicks, but a limit shuld be set and the Mendoza's affair has to have consequences.
By Unknown on 16:07 No comments so far More
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