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The Experience - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Wed, 29 Oct 2008 08:39:00 GMT
And so the first round of the World Cup has come and gone just as quickly as a Kiwi fan looking for the nearest exit after Sunday’s farcical start to the tournament by New Zealand.

Luckily for the black and white Trans-tasman soldiers, there was something a little more embarrassing than their performance. Try TV coverage of the actual game being delayed by more than an hour.

It turns out that that thousands of school children had to go to bed early as a result.

Not that they missed out on much and I’m sure when they grow up, they’ll thank their parents for sparing them the misery of watching such a lackluster game which was equally as bad as doing homework.

We still don’t have any real answers to why the Kiwis were so bad in our post-match autopsy. There are several theories on the matter however.

Some think the Haka didn’t work as well as it should have. Perhaps there was some underlying jet lag we didn’t know about. Or maybe the Aussies were just always going to win.

Not always I believe. Had former coach Brian McLennan been retained I believe the awful performance by New Zealand in the Centenary Test earlier this year would have been turned around.

The Kiwis need a new halfback and clearly must do everything they can to bring McClennan back on board to help Stephen Kearney and Wayne Bennett. If those two issues aren’t resolved, it’s all over red rover.

McLennan achieved a lot in his very short period in charge of the Kiwis and the NZRL should simply admit they made a mistake letting him go and try and bring him back in some capacity even though he has stated in the past he would not return to the post.

Clearly Australia had too much depth and skill but the Kiwis didn’t have to turn a little spill into a big mess like they did. Until they attitudinally develop as a team in pressure situations, I’m not expecting much from them.

Trips to Canberra are fairly common for me but this one will stand out after covering my very first Rugby League World Cup match between France and Scotland. You never forget your first time and I won’t.

Who would have thought that 9,000 plus folk would have suddenly realized they had Scottish heritage and turned up knowing the tunes to whatever it was being played on the bagpipes.[Note: my apologies for the lazy journalism. I think I’ll use the Lawsy philosophy about now. I’m an entertainer not a journalist}

My favourite fan was the bloke on the ground level with the Peter Garrett chrome dome painted blue and white while walking around waving the Scottish Flag .Now that’s passion doing overtime.

The only downer in the game was not the game itself but the bloke who pinched my program guide on my desk right near my WC notebook. He won the “Pepe La Pew Dodgy” award for slick handling.

I digress. Time to get serious and hand you my world class analysis of the game.

France moved one step closer to challenging Australia’s status as Rugby League World Campions after leaving league lovin’ nuts in the nation’s capital begging for more via a 36-18 win over Scotland at Canberra Stadium.
With New Zealand pummeled, humiliated and thrown over the edge of no return in this year’s tournament care of 30-6 mismatch in front of a swell Sydney crowd hours later, that means there is now room for a new team to surpass the ordinary Kiwis as challengers to the World Cup title.
And the French may very well have devised an effective means of bringing down the great wall of Aussie Aussie Aussie..oi oi oi.
First they’ll turn up to play in front of a small, almost non-existent crowd of supporters and have to cheer themselves on instead. Think of this as extra mental development.
Then they’ll pretend to be ill-disciplined in the opening quarter of the game, score first and let the opposition hit back almost immediately so as to lure the underdog rivals into thinking it’s game on before scoring back-to-back tries and never conceding the lead again.
It’s called role playing and it’s very effective in testing the quality of the opposition’s best players in particular situations.
To make France harder to pin down for opposition coaches, instead of using a member of their backline to score most of their touch-downs, the French have gone looking up-front for point-scoring ingenuity in this world cup.
And that’s what we saw in the form of French captain Jerome Guisset who scored not one but two four-pointers.
“I’m not used to scoring many tries so I can’t really explain much. I was in the right place at the right time I guess.”
Don’t believe a word of that. The French want us to believe it was all good luck but you and I know that this is called thinking outside the circle and they did it very well. Shhhh…don’t tell the other teams.
Scotland got within 6 points [24-18] of pulling off an upset but when you’re playing a side that boasts 11 players from the same team in the English Super League, Les Catalans, familiarity more often than not will douse youthful enthusiasm.
Best player of the afternoon was French five-eighth Thomas Bosc who kicked six conversions from six attempts and set up several tries via his short-kicking.
Due to a very important engagement [Tenpin Bowling] in Canberra on Saturday evening, I was unable to watch full coverage of the showdown between PNG and England.
However I did win both games. Game 1 – 118, Game 2 – 124.I hope Darren Lockyer was right and I do get better as the tournament progresses [laughs].
Racing back to my accommodation, I did catch the last 15 minutes of the clash and was very surprised to hear that PNG lead 16-12 at the break.
Britain as was expected did respond in the second-half and scored 20-unanswered points before PNG took out last honors with a try to Paul Aiton in the 75th minute.
The fact that Britain couldn’t put them away by a big score does concern me ahead of this week’s showdown with Australia but having said that all teams I imagine will experience at least one underdone showing somewhere along the way and yes that even includes the Aussies (Hopefully in Australia’s case and for my sanity, it will be in the World Cup final)
Papua New Guinea did win back respect courtesy of their never-say-die performance and I think they have the right amount of skill, patience and creativity in attack to upset a New Zealand team that is down on fluency and luck.
Glad I didn’t have any money on Ireland on Monday night.I would have had a stroke after they blew a 20-18 lead with 6 minutes remaining. Still kudos to the Wolfhounds and their coach Andy Kelly.
They showed glimpses of aggression that I didn’t think they were capable of producing against what looked to be a very intimidating Tongan side. But the Irish stood up and made their efforts count.
Tonga will really need to lift their game a lot if they want to beat a Samoan side containing Nigel Vagana, Ali Lauititi, Francis Meli, David Solomona and plenty of other big name stars next Friday night at Penrith Stadium. BRING IT ON!
AUSTRALIA 30 (I Folau 2, G Inglis, J Monaghan, B Slater tries; J Thurston 4, C Smith goals) bt NEW ZEALAND 6 (S Manu try; S Matai goal) at Sydney Football Stadium. Referee: A Klein. Crowd: 34,157.
TONGA 22 (Michael Jennings, Cooper Vuna, Etuate Uaisele, Esikeli Tonga tries; Joel Taufa'ao (2/3), Tony Williams (1/1), Feleti Mateo (0/1) goals) IRELAND 20 (Damien Blanch (3), Michael Platt tries; Pat Richards (2/4) goals) Crowd: No comment.
ENGLAND 32 (L Smith 3 A Gardner 2 M Gleeson tries K Sinfield 4 goals) bt PAPUA NEW GUINEA 22 (P Aiton J Chan R Griffin G Keppa tries J Wilshere 3 goals) at Dairy Farmers Stadium. Referee: S Hayne. Crowd: 10,780.
FRANCE 36 (J Guisset 2, J Taylor, J Wilson, S Rqguin, C Moly tries; T Bosc 6 goals) SCOTLAND 18 (J Steel, O Wilkes, D Colton tries; D Brough 3 goals) Referee: L Williamson Crowd: 9,287. - Read More, Here