Crusaders, Leinster, Waratahs, Cardiff, Stormers. Could the Celts be in Super Rugby’s future?
The Roar: This shapes as a really interesting weekend of rugby. I reckon Round 11 has a bit of a ‘moving weekend’ feel about it.
There are two groups of teams that this applies to: the Crusaders we already know are going to be there or thereabouts, but the three teams immediately behind them on the table – the Hurricanes, Bulls and Highlanders – have a really good chance to put one over teams in and on the fringe of the top eight.
Below them, the Sharks, Brumbies, Waratahs, and the Blues all have a chance to remind the top eight teams the they need to keep an eye over their shoulder. So here’s some Round 11 talking points:
- Is Super Rugby’s future Celtic?
- Rise of the third bananas?
- Make or break week for the Blues;
- Will Steven Bradbury top the Australian conference? And..
- Neutral referees: I reckon it’s happening.
Bernard Foley launches his last ditch penalty, with the Wallabies’ RWC2015 future on the line. Image: ABC Grandstand
The Wallabies have pulled off the great escape, with a 79th minute penalty enough to get them home over Scotland in the 4th Quarter Final this morning. Here’s my reaction for The Roar, written straight after the game, and with the nerves and heart-rate still racing..
There may not be a more relieved man in the world currently than Wallabies prop James Slipper, whose errant intercepted pass very nearly sent Australia packing from the Rugby World Cup.
So typical of a stuttering Wallabies backline performance in this match, Slipper found himself amid some very typical midfield confusion in the 74th minute, when Scottish outside centre Mark Bennett plucked off his desperate pass.
Skipper Greg Laidlaw kicked his seventh goal for the game to put his side 34-32 up with five minutes to play, before Scotland were ruled to have regained possession in a offside position off the back of a lineout stolen by the Wallabies, as they scrapped to find one last score in the dying minutes..
Wallabies players react as Bernard Foley’s 79th minute penalty is successful. Image: ABC Grandstand
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw was in tears after the heartbreaking 35-34 loss. Image: ABC Grandstand
Wallabies outside centre Christian Lealiifano is tackled against Scotland at Murrayfield. I suspect he’ll end up back at inside centre against Wales in Cardiff. Image via Wallabies Facebook
The Roar: They’ll maintain that it wasn’t, but there can be little doubt that the escapades of the Dublin First XV were a major distraction that clearly affected the Wallabies’ preparations in Edinburgh.
The evident lack of midfield cohesion, and a return of the same second phase defensive realignment issues that plagued the side during The Rugby Championship all point to a less than ideal build-up to the Scotland match, and indeed, to the cobbled-together nature of the matchday squad.
The records will show that the Wallabies have recorded their first win over Scotland since 2006, 21-15 and two tries to nil, but it’s hard to imagine that the squad will be much more than ‘happy to get the win’.
You can read the rest of this train of thought over on The Roar today, where I also look at some likely changes for the Test against Wales this coming weekend, and offer my two cents on the state of the ground surfaces in the north this month.
The Roar: It’s been a busy old week for me, this week, mixing rugby and cricket. Even stranger has been the recording of several rugby clips and podcasts in the middle of writing cricket articles!
Scott Allen had me back on his Let’s Talk Rugby vodcast this week, and were joined by a really good up and coming rugby scribe from Scotland, Jamie Lyall (who shocked us afterwards by telling us he’s only 20!).
The show was recorded before we knew Matt Toomua was out injured, which means that my smokey suggestion of Christian Lealiifano at outside centre now looks like a moment of genius!