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Thread: The Force is not there yet - Comment by Mark Ella

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    The Force is not there yet - Comment by Mark Ella

    March 15, 2008

    B]RUGBY league legend Peter Sterling used to say that the Queensland State of Origin team had the scoring power to turn six points into 12 and 12 into 18 very quickly.[/B]

    In the days when the Maroons were made up largely of the Wayne Bennett-coached Brisbane Broncos, they had an attacking mindset, which made them dangerous for the entire 80 minutes. Even if they were not playing well for 70 minutes, opposition teams still had to watch them like a hawk for the other 10 because they could suddenly explode into action.

    The same can be said of the Crusaders, who are rugby's equivalent of the Maroons and Broncos, because coach Robbie Deans has had a similar influence to Bennett on the Kiwi side.

    Last Sunday against the Western Force in Perth the Crusaders proved once again that belief in themselves can overcome any hurdle, in any circumstance.

    There were all the signs of an upset in Perth: the Crusaders travelled to Australia from South Africa two days later than the Force, the scorching heat should have been more of a problem for the Kiwis and the distraction of heading home to Christchurch immediately after the game would have been on their minds.

    The Crusaders played poorly for much of the match, particularly in the first half. They were passive, just not themselves.

    Many critics, including myself, have lauded the Force for their sterling performance against the Crusaders, almost outplaying them at their own game.

    But at the end of the day it was a missed opportunity for the men from the west and if they had some more experience they would have secured victory with 30 minutes left in the game.

    Leading 24-12 with half an hour to go, the Force sat back and watched the irresistible Crusaders completely dominate the rest of the match to almost casually get their game back together and do just enough to win.

    Up until this period in the match the boys from Western Australia were better than their much-fancied opponents in just about every aspect of the game, but the home side allowed the Crusaders to take over.

    In the first half the Force were superior at the breakdown, putting pressure on the Crusaders by reacting quickly and transferring the ball wide whenever it secured turnover possession, and it looked far too simple scoring against one of the competition's best sides.

    It was at this stage that the Crusaders looked like they were suffering from the effects of an arduous tour of South Africa, more so than the Force. But champion teams know how to respond to a challenge.

    Great teams win against the odds, just like the Broncos, and no doubt Force coach John Mitchell will be annoyed that his team is still not at a stage where it can shut down a game.

    Maybe it was their own inability to maintain pressure for the duration of the match under the scorching sun in Perth. But I would have thought those conditions favoured the home team.

    The result proved again that Australian teams are still a long way from being contenders.

    For as long as I have watched the Crusaders they always play their rugby at a frenetic pace and they are physically conditioned to come home strongly, which is exactly what they did against the Force.

    What hampered the Force, and in all likelihood the other three Australian Super 14 teams, is that we play the game in stanzas rather than attempt to be explosive when the opportunity arises.

    It is true that the Crusaders were off their game for much of the match against the Force, but the fact is they always kept within striking distance and when it mattered the most they delivered with clinical precision.

    The same set of circumstances can be applied to the Wallabies, whose tactical approach in recent years has left them vulnerable to teams like the All Blacks, who like to play an expansive game based on speed and control.

    They may not have won last year's World Cup in France, but there is no doubt that the All Blacks have set the standard for modern rugby and the challenge now for future Wallaby teams is to raise their own standards to be a consistent competitive force.

    The Wallabies' reliance on kicking and slowing down the game hasn't done them any favours and incoming coach Deans will test their stamina when he takes over in June.

    The Force has another opportunity to prove they are a worthy contender for the title when they face the Blues in Auckland.

    Like the Crusaders, the Blues have started this season with a flurry and, based on early form, they are one of the teams to beat, so it will give the Force a chance to redeem themselves for last Sunday. The Blues will play the game at pace and if the Force can't stay with them, the match will slip away again.

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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    was just about to post this but you beat me to it Gerry

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    Player stejwill's Avatar
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    Frankly - fair comment.

    However, nice to see positive comments from the East (save for the SMH of course).

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    Champion oxleymoron's Avatar
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    I agree with Mark Ella - we are not feared by many teams (except Cheetahs and Lions maybe) and our inability to win across the ditch is a monkey on our back, just like how long it took to break the subi hoodoo.

    Here's hoping the monkey is removed today or definitely next week in Queenstown.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Well, after watching that performance, I expect to see a retraction or at least a well done, you showed me from Ella next week. The did exactly what he said they coudn't do, which is, get behind, take some pain and stay close enough to close the game out in the end.....great stuff!

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    C'mon the

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    Legend Contributor slomo's Avatar
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    bring on the SMH match report and the australian team of the week.....

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    Apprentice mattm's Avatar
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    yeah look forward to that...SMH gave the boys 0% chance of winning...

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    My call for team of the week, it'll be seven Waratahs, three reds, three brumbies, Giteau and Brown

    Performances have no bearing on that team!

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    C'mon the

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    Legend Contributor slomo's Avatar
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    waugh and lote will still be picked although they didn't play this week, they'll be selected on previous form......

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    KNOCK KNOCK

    Mark Ella: Who's there?



    We have arrived.

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    Champion MI5_Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    My call for team of the week, it'll be seven Waratahs, three reds, three brumbies, Giteau and Brown

    Performances have no bearing on that team!
    Considering the woefultahs have a bye this week I'd expect you're right if they name that many in this weeks team.

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    Veteran pieter blackie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oxleymoron View Post
    I agree with Mark Ella - we are not feared by many teams (except Cheetahs and Lions maybe) and our inability to win across the ditch is a monkey on our back, just like how long it took to break the subi hoodoo.

    Here's hoping the monkey is removed today or definitely next week in Queenstown.
    Slowly but surely they will start to fear us The Force is one of the top 4 Super rugby teams. The only guys that doesn't realize it just yet is the Force team them self. But just give them a bit more time. They learned a lot from the Blues game

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    I think rea;isation has started to dawn Pieter, Sharpie's comments after the game seemed to be very much business as usual, He wasn't making a huge deal about beating the Blues in Un Zud, rather he was commenting about the disappointing start! I think we've got a lot more of this in our cupboard, a Home semi is certainly not out of the question!

    I'm upgrading them to three on my prediction, with a shadow on 2nd!


    Still think Canturbury will be a bloody tough place to win your first flag though...not that good yet!

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    C'mon the

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    Veteran Contributor JediKnight's Avatar
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    Can't wait to see the make-up of the next team of the week.....I bet there's some Tahs in there somewhere!!!

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    CHEERLEADERS ROCK!!!


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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    In all seriousness, the SMH Aussie team of the week will be a VERY interesting read this week.....Brumbies hammered, Reds about to be, tough win. Lots of ugly rugby going on, and some opsitions where there's a likelihood that anybody could get it. AJ's a lock at #1, but I'm not sure about 3.....Hooker is still a mystery, how will Moore play? Halfback...probably Phibbs, in a badly beaten team......Number 4 will be interesting, Tom was (again) adequate, but his youth is still apparent. no Vickerman, who do you pick?

    Centres, Ryan was SO closely marked this week, he mightn't catch the eye, but who else is there?

    Could be fun to see, might be a hard one to argue with this week though!

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    C'mon the

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