After one week of trans-Tasman rugby, the Aussies are doing better than expected

Before I start, let me put on record that I’m an optimistic person.

The New Zealand teams have a plethora of talent and are a class above in terms of ball handling and strategy. But having said that, did the Aussie teams make an impression?

In short, yes.

Firstly, the Drua did extremely well against the top-of-the-table Blues. They’re not part of the Australian set-up but deserve a mention.

To lose to the top New Zealand team by a relatively small margin – and potentially a try toward the death making it a ten-point difference – is a result for World Rugby and Super Rugby Pacific. The Drua have been fantastic additions and will thrive in years to come.

When it comes to the Australian teams against our brothers across the ditch, we clearly need improvement.

After the Force-Moana Pasifika match was cancelled we were left with eight games.

Waratahs versus Chiefs.

The Chiefs were dominant from the start, largely thanks to Ill-discipline from the Tahs, though the pleasing thing to take away from the game was that when the teams were level, so were the Tahs.

The scoreline might suggest otherwise, but the Tahs have improved immensely from last season. Next week’s game will be telling, but they have to improve their discipline if they’re going to beat any Kiwi opposition. But they’ve definitely improved, and I’m picking them for one New Zealand scalp this year.

Alex Nankivell of the Chiefs runs with the ball.

(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Reds versus Hurricanes

Well, what do you say about this game? The Reds have some outstanding players, but they’re young. To be outscored 30-0 in the last 50 minutes is not great. There were individual standout performances spread across the Reds, but error rate was way too high.

Fraser McReight is the next Wallabies No. 7 without a doubt after Michael Hooper, and Harry Wilson’s intensity is outstanding. If both can be squeezed into the Wallabies 22-man squad, it must be done.

But the Reds have definitely slid from last year. I was hoping for a 3-2 result from the Reds against Kiwi opposition this year, the Hurricanes being one of their victories, but I think we’d be happy with one. It depends on what Brad Thorn does, but losing so emphatically will weigh heavily on them. I’m now hoping for two wins for the remainder of the season

Rebels versus Crusaders

Everyone knew this would be a tough game for the Rebels. Despite heroic moments, they have failed to string together consistent form. The first 30 minutes were solid, but it then turned into a rabble. It’s like watching the Tahs last year.

I don’t see them winning a game against Kiwi opposition, but I’m happy to be proved wrong.

Brumbies versus Highlanders

Yes, this was the top Aussie team playing the lowest Kiwi team, but it had some real intent to it. Out of the Australian Super Rugby teams, the Brumbies appear to be the only ones able to stick to their structure. They dominated from the begging and applied points pressure when the Highlanders came back. They are one from one and I’m picking another two.

The week in summary

The Australian teams have improved immensely, and at least two teams have the capacity to win pretty much any game, but their mental headspace is not right.

I still think we need another year to be competitive for three teams, with maybe another year on top of that for the remaining two.

I know the Kiwis will laugh, and I’m sure you’ll come at me for this article, but the Aussies are coming good.

I have estimated six wins from 25 – not including the Force for now – which is not ideal, but it’s better than last year, and the youth, if they don’t go to Japan, will be better for every performance.

Let’s see how it pans out, but the Brumbies and Reds can go for 80 minutes, and Tahs under Darren Coleman will take another year or two.

In short, the Aussies are competing, and I like what’s in their future – if we can keep them.

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