With less than a week to go before the Magners League and Aviva Premiership (which we WILL remember is no longer anything to do with Guinness by the end of the season, promise) put boot to ball, we assess a rather busy week in Rugby land, considering…
With two games left of the seemingly never ending Tri Nations, South Africa came back from a dramatic opening in which visitors Australia scored 14 points in the first four minutes to win 44-31. Sadly for the Springboks, it’s still nowhere near enough to catch up to table leaders New Zealand, who’d better get the brasso out to keep that trophy shiny.
Meanwhile, the Women’s world cup has thundered on so quickly we can barely keep up. The most exciting news is that the England Ladies have fought their way through to Wednesday’s Semi Final at the Twickenham Stoop, where they will battle it out with Australia for a place in the final, with defenders New Zealand fighting against France for their opportunity to make history by remaining the only side to ever take the title.
Sadly, our other home nations were not so lucky and Scotland and Ireland will go on to play for their ranking between 5th and 8th place while our poor lovely Wales ladies are going to be trudging on to claim their ranking between 9th and 12th place.
As ever, Manpilez will be cheering on all four home nations but as you can imagine we’re all hoping that England show those Black ferns a bit of what for and bring that trophy to the homeland!
Bloodgate has continued to make headlines as the enquiry by the British Medical council got underway to determine the fate of the doctor who got mixed up in the whole sorry mess. Sadly, this story reached the point where everyone was past caring nearly a year ago so the stories served only to help us take mid-commute naps…
Following on from last week’s retained captaincy update, this week we got the breaking news that the new captain of Stade Francais Sergio ‘The Big Man’ Parisse will now also be known as ‘The Big Daddy’ after his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby. Aaaaw!
Closer to home, news came in from Ospreylia that in order to concentrate on Wales’ World Cup efforts, Ryan Jones will no longer be wearing the armband for this season but it will be ably filled by none other than Mr Alun-Wyn Jones. We tried to write a non-hormone led reaction to this news, but we failed so let’s just say that we’re very pleased, yeah?
In Ellie’s homeland, Cardiff, the Blues got their campaign under way in a last gasp friendly in the form of a testimonial for good ole Nugget. We couldn’t make it ourselves but after speaking to some reliable sources, here’s our Ellie with a report …
Cardiff Blues V. Newport Dragons – 27th August 2010
Well, I’m sorry to say that I missed the first Blues friendly match on Friday, and seeing as it wasn’t on the telly I can’t give you a personal view of how it went. Still, I’ve talked to a few friends who made the tripand have since read some fans’ reactions, and it all sounds promising! Our new fly half, Mr. Dan Parks, went down very well with his tactical kicking and general level-headedness, and Martyn Williams (whoseTestimonial game it was) played a blinder as ever. We love you, Nugget – NEVER LEAVE US.
Bradley Davies and Richie Rees are just getting better and better every time we see them, full stop. Great tosee Richie getting to play with Parksy, in what’ll hopefully become a classy double act, and Bradley paired up with lock-in-crime and head honcho, Tito. Tiiiito.
Judging from the pictures, Pencey’s beefed up big time over the Summer and was apparently almost unrecognisable with his beard and minus the previously omnipresent scrum cap. There seem to be a few worried mutterings going round that the new bumper sized Pencey might be a wee bit slower too – only time will tell!
Shanks appears to be back on top and working extremely well with Casey Laulala, our excellent signing from last season, the pair of them guarding the field with everything they’ve got. He scored one of our three tries too, but did go off in the second half with what looked like an injured wrist – here’s hoping it’s nothing serious – I want him back and giving old Jamie some competition.
Two more tries were scored by Ma’ama Molitika and Lloyd Williams, while the Dragons’ only points came from a penalty kick by the ever-sharp Jason Tovey.
Scott Morgan and Robin Sowden-Taylor – both Blues boys last season, now Dragons – both caused some nice trouble around the pitch, but the Dragons were definitely having some difficulties due to a current swathe of injuries. Jonathan Evans was their only fit scrum half, and so was required to play the whole match.
All in all, a solid friendly to start the season. Three yellow cards (we expect no less from a Cardiff/Newport game!) and a good crowd of 10,016 supporters.
Cardiff Blues Squad: 15. Chris Czekaj 14. Leigh Halfpenny 13. Casey Laulala 12. Tom Shanklin 11. Tom James 10. Dan Parks 9. Richie Rees 8. Xavier Rush 7. Martyn Williams 6. Maama Molitika 5. Paul Tito (c) 4. Bradley Davies 3. Scott Andrews 2. Rhys Williams 1. Tom Davies
Replacements: 16. Sam Hobbs 17. Kristian Dacey 18. John Yapp 19. Deiniol Jones 20. James Down 21. Tom Brown 22. Michael Paterson 23. Sam Warburton 24. Lloyd Williams 25. Ceri Sweeney 26. Gavin Evans 27. Richard Mustoe
Newport Gwent Dragons Squad: 15. Matt Evans 14. Will Harries 13. Tom Riley 12. David Bishop 11 Aled Brew 10. Jason Tovey 9. Jonathan Evans 1. Hugh Gustafson 2. Tom Willis (Capt) 3. Ben Castle 4. Adam Jones 5. Scott Morgan 6. Joe Bearman 7. Robin Sowden Taylor 8. Hugo Ellis
Replacements: 16. Steve Jones 17. Nigel Hall 18. Pat Palmer 19. Ali Mckenzie 20. Adam Brown 21. Danny Lydiate 22. Lewis Evans 23. Jevon Groves 24. Matthew Jones 25. Tom Cooper 26 Adam Hughes 27. Nicky Griffiths 28. Matthew Pewtner
Words by Lauren and Ellie