I have no idea what the possession and territory stats were but if it wasnít at least 70-30 in the Highlanders favour then I wasnít watching the right game. However, I did think that when Qld failed to kick the ball back to the highlanders that they utilised it better than the highlanders. Its just that they kept kicking the ball back and/or Reds forwards couldnít get the ball back without infringing. Then by adopting this kicking game they failed to compete at the lineout. Now WTF??
I thought Qld might have had the advantage in the loosies but was I ever wrong there.
Qld did have some telling points. When they got hold of the ball in the Highlanders 22 they did cash in due to Latham, who must be one of the first Wallabies to be picked. Both tries were of very high quality and after a bit I was hoping that Latham would continue in the forwards. Also Flatley was Mr 100% for the night with quite a few squeaking over the crossbar and his running was on song as he exploited Walker, which is something he wouldnít have been able to do around Brown.
Sharpe was the best forward for Qld without a doubt and must be close to getting one of the lock positions in the Wallabies. His run in the opening minutes that lead to the first try was good and it made Randle look ordinary. Unfortunately it was the only time in the game that Randle looked out of sorts.
Excluding Sharpe and T. Kefu who wasnít playing, the rest of the forwards will not make the Wallabies as they were seriously found out again or not up to that level yet. The potential exception to this rule is Croft who tries hard and gets involved but wonít crack the test level yet especially with Smith and Waugh in his way. If you check back through the previous reports that have dribbled from this side of the Tasman and even the look at the squad review, I have had my doubts about the forward pack confirmed. Damn it.
However, not all is lost as a couple of the forwards wonít be there to stuff it up next year. (Good voodoo dolls. Its just a pity that it sometimes takes the dolls at least a year to work). It also again raises the serious argument that Australia needs another level between club and Super 12 to get the next tier of players up to standard. This would also allow for greater competition to actually make the Super 12 squads as well.
It is going to be interesting to see if McBain survives the end of season purge. At last count there were around 3 starting players defiantly not there and about another 5 (either squad and starting players) that rumours are circulating about that wonít be there next year.
Hopefully Qld will get a couple more Kefuís involved next year, as at least one more is a loosie. Cockbain your time is up. All I can say in regards to the season is that we beat NSW again and yes watching NSW getting the S**T kicked out of it by the Crusaders did improve my mood!
On a positive note I want to see a thank you for the Qld side for the injuries to Oliver and Kelleher from the Canterbury side. Even though Qld didn't cause them.
Now in regards to the Wallabies.I wonder if ĎChuckyí remembers why the Wantabees looked so insignificant in Europe. Thatís right itís the lack of forward momentum. Anyone noticing a theme here? What they need to pick this year are for players in next years RWC that have the necessary skill level and disciplined mongrel that will allow them to get ball back off the opposition when they need it, either by legally stealing it and/or by applying so much pressure that the opposition cough up the ball. I am not worried about the backs as I think the Wallabies have some serious talent there.
Who would I like to see in the Wallabies forward pack? Well Iím going to tell you.
The front row. I want to see a front row that can kick some serious arse. I want the scrum stable and dominating and not, I repeat not, circling around and capitulating like a drunken whore. I have some confidence in some of the props but not in the hooking department.
If I was awarded dictator for the day I would use a combination of Noriega, Moore and Young. Noriega is an excellent example of Argentinaís ability to produce world class scrummagers. He has the ability to play either lose or tighthead. Moore is ahead of Darwin and the Qld tightheads donít deserve a look in. I would select Young ahead of Stiles. Stiles is still suffering from the 2nd year uni student syndrome and hasnít learnt to shut the #### up and do any work.
In the hooking spot I would select Cannon ahead of Paul. At the moment I believe that Cannonís throwing is fine. The ball is travelling sweetly and it is where it should be. The problem is in the timing and I think it is the jumperís fault. If this can be fixed then he should be ahead of Paul as he appears to be a far better scrummager. Since the last world cup they keep selecting Paul in the opening test games and then have had to go back to someone who can organise a scrum i.e. Foley. Itís just too bad that he and McBain didnít get on, as he was needed in the Qld pack. Ahh bloody Foley phone-gate.
In order to provide a tight-five who can actually do something useful a great pair of hard working and disciplined locks who can jump have to be chosen. This automatically rules out Harrison. The plank loses his temper far too often and immediately adopts the ACT approach Ďthat you are all out to get meí. His former partner in crime Giffin (out until the end of the year?) does the same thing. The Hurricanes game highlighted Harrisonís attitude. So without Eales to put them into line they are both liabilities.
Sharpe would be my first choice. He meets the required characteristics as he T. Kefu and Croft were the best forwards for Qld week in and out. I would then select Bowman. I am just disappointed that Knuckles didnít last one more year in Qld as he was all set up to poach Bowman until Knuckles didnít get his contract renewed. As this would have given Qld a great second row combination that could have slotted straight into the Wallabies.
I think Bowman is getting back to his best and even some Kiwiís admit he did a lot of damage to them in the 1998 test series. I swear Bowman and Sharpe used to provide a great and stable locking combination in the U21 side. I am struggling to understand why he was dropped for the Qld game as I thought he was doing a massive amount of work in the lead up games.
If they can get this combination working again I think they would provide a mountain of work in both the loose and tight situations. Note: Sharpe would have to play a lot tighter in this situation than he does for Qld as he is often the go-to man when Kefu isnít around.
For the loose trio I would have the following combination Lyons, Smith/Waugh, and T. Kefu.
Lyons has been outstanding for NSW but he is not better than T.Kefu. Lyons should be in the number 6 jumper as he works a damn site harder and cleaner than both Finegan and Cockbain. I think he would work very well there and he still provides a very good third jumper at the lineouts.
I cannot separate Smith and Waugh. One will start and the other will get the reserve spot.
While T. Kefu was sensational for Qld and they really missed him in the last couple of games for Qld. If Latham wasnít playing, Kefu would have been my choice for Australian Super 12 player of the year.
This loosie combination would be very competitive and provide plenty of hard running when required. I would then include Finegan on the bench as hopefully he can't cause too many penalties and he can cover 4, 5 and 6. While the reserve prop, hooker and other loosie has already been mentioned.
Oh well back to my dreams as ĎChuckyí will not select this side, as it doesnít have enough ACT players in it.
Side note, its going to be interesting to see who is in the NZ Maori side that will beat the Qld side on June 4. Because by then Qld will not have sorted out the problems in the tight five.