Qld v MaoriBallymore, Brisbane 7:30pm, Tues 4th June 2002 Referee: Peter Marshall QLD 28 : MAORI 25 25 : 13 half time
Brisvegas was having a couple of its 28 days of winter and it rained for 2 days solid before the kick off. It is shocking when it only gets up to 20 deg C during the day! When this was combined with: 7 players being rested for the Wallabies; a further 4 squad members in the U21 side; and 3 key people out with injuries (Tune, S.Kefu and Palesasa) it kept the crowd numbers down dramatically.
So in other words Qld fielded a new set of locks, a new half combination and the only member of the backs to see any game time during this year’s Super 12 was Scotney. Admittedly Smith’s was recalled for his last couple of games for Qld (Saturday against Fiji ‘A’). While the Maori was basically full of players who had at least, serious Super 12 experience.
So like many people I thought Qld should lose the game but I went along to enjoy watching rugby. I thought everything had played into the Maori’s hands, it was wet and cold and they were facing a team that was missing 10 starting/ main bench players (i.e. 7 wallabies and these 3 injuries). It was a real test of the depth of Qld rugby.
At the game I’m surrounded by kiwi’s and kiwi supporters. Wasn’t that impressed with the new Haka. It also looked like they were standing in a bowling ball formation and I was wondering if Stiles would try and attempt to bowl them over by crash tackling them before they finished.
Anyway onto the game and what’s this? Qld cross for the first points in the game and its Smith. You bloody beauty! What a try! Why wasn’t Smith playing this year for Qld? Oh that’s right he costs less than simple Sailor so of course Sailor must be better. He scored as many tries for Qld in this one games as as Sailor did all year!
The Maoris played like they had already won the game and like Nathan assumed that it was just a training run. (Sorry Nathan I just couldn’t help myself. 40 points my arse. Qlders do not capitulate like NSW). So the ball went wide and often. However, as it was best described by a commentator during a game in last years Super12 “Spencer is so creative even his own side doesn’t know what he is doing”. In my opinion the only bit that is missing out of that quote is: “Or in fact himself”. Spencer can be brilliant but when he is off it is even worse than watching a demoralised Burke. (Now how the #### did he get VC for the Wallabies. Damn it looks as though he will be carried for kicking again).
Unfortunately for the Maoris the rest of the side was infected with the Spencer disease. Here catch this pass! Opps its just a bit -------------- (insert answer)
A) forward B) behind you C) over the sideline D) of a knock-on E) of an intercept
Such poor back play made it easy for Qld to remain in the game and Smith in particular exploited everything that was on offer. His two tries and his setting up of another try really highlighted the fragile nature and poor communication that was going into the Maori backline.
There were some problems in the Qld backs. I especially didn’t like the way Scotney kept crabbing sideways before unleashing a hospital pass to the outside backs. Despite this I thought Ramsamy illustrated why he is such a dangerous runner of the ball and if Pelesasa was there they would have racked up more tries.
The Qld forwards dominated the game in the first half. Special mention goes to both new second rows who were outstanding in every facet of the game. While the Qld loosies dominated the breakdowns and special mention goes to Roe for his kicking duties. Croft’s impact will be talked about later. (I’m not looking forward to the Lyons experiment at no. 7. You would think after the huge trouble the AB’s had with no real dedicated no 7 that they would have learnt not to stuff around with that position).
Hopefully by blooding these players now they will be ready for a good Super 12 season next year and fix up some of those problems in this years forwards.
In the latter stages of the first half the Maoris really lost the plot and decided to play rough and dirty. But it just didn’t work. The intimidation tactics failed and it really looked as though their discipline was shot. This lack of discipline really held them back and cost them in the end.
I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the Maori change room at half time. Can you imagine the talking down the players would have received. A bit like the NZ public execution of the AB’s after the last world cup.
The Maoris decided to use their forwards to work the ball up but they kept giving it to the backs. And the backs didn’t seem to learn anything after the break. The most enterprising players (or people who could actually hold on to the ball) were their subs. If the Maoris had just kept the ball in the forwards and gone for penalty shots they would have won the game.
However, one of their biggest problems was again the breakdown. Croft dominated the breakdowns and his pilfering was exceptional. He is again exceptionally unlucky not to have forced his way into the Wallaby squad. He showed up Parkinson and highlighted why Parkinson was dropped out the starting Auckland squad. (Anyone noticing a trend with the Auckland boys?) Croft went after that ball faster than a kiwi after a ewe in the long grass. Croft’s defensive efforts also highlighted the other main pillar of the Qld game plan. Strong defence.
The Maori’s dominated the possession and territory stats in the second half but their inability to turn pressure into points was even worse than Ch 7 providing decent coverage of the Super 12. Qld defence shut them down time after time. Then yet again ill discipline cost them the match with a penalty by Scotney just before full time.
Question becomes if Qld can beat the Maoris, with, lets face it, at best its second team then does Qld deserve another side in the Super 12? Lets face it 14 members weren’t available and they still beat the Maoris.
The only bad thing about the game is that it was the second last time this year I can support the Qld side. I spose I’ll just have to barrack for the Wallabies winning the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe again.