Wales RWC 2019 Thread

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Post by miaow on Mon 26 Nov 2018, 1:41 am

First topic message reminder :

WALES’ 2019 RWC SQUAD:

Forwards: Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Rhys Carre, James Davies, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Ken Owens, Aaron Shingler, Nicky Smith, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright.

Backs: Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Dan Biggar, Aled Davies, Gareth Davies, Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Hadleigh Parkes, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin, Liam Williams, Tomos Williams.




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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 3:24 pm

Even better still though in my opinion with Owen Or Scott Williams at 12

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Post by mikey_dragon on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 3:32 pm

Or Owen Watkin at 12, has that x-factor that Scott Williams doesn't.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 3:35 pm

Presuming Ed wrote:The only thing I can say on this point is that the reason Wales are going into next weekend with a probable GS in their sights is Hadleigh Parkes. He has been immense for Wales and the man to build the team around going in to the RWC.
Obviously hope Ireland win next weekend but Wales have been solid and error free this 6N and thoroughly deserve their position with Hadleigh Parkes personifying the Welsh approach to the fore.


Last season yes, as he was the glue that held our backline together. This season, no. He's lost the ball too often on the crashball, and he's too slow which makes him vulnerable in defence. He was good yesterday but I'm not sure why he was MOTM, JD2 was better.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 3:44 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:
Presuming Ed wrote:The only thing I can say on this point is that the reason Wales are going into next weekend with a probable GS in their sights is Hadleigh Parkes. He has been immense for Wales and the man to build the team around going in to the RWC.
Obviously hope Ireland win next weekend but Wales have been solid and error free this 6N and thoroughly deserve their position with Hadleigh Parkes personifying the Welsh approach to the fore.


Last season yes, as he was the glue that held our backline together. This season, no. He's lost the ball too often on the crashball, and he's too slow which makes him vulnerable in defence. He was good yesterday but I'm not sure why he was MOTM, JD2 was better.

JD2 could have been MOM last week too. Superb performance.

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Post by miaow on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 3:46 pm

maestegmafia wrote:Even better still though in my opinion with Owen Or Scott Williams at 12

Watkin's shown he doesn't have the power of Parkes. Nor does Scott Williams. What Parkes has done is, quite literally, replace Roberts' crashball game, with added finesse due to the way he enters and spins out of contact...but also with the added skills that Roberts were severely lacking in. Like basic passing.

Scott Williams is the best all-round centre other than JD2 but I'm not sure he's the best decision maker at international level. It's frustrating as he comes across as a natural leader but has never been trusted in that way for Wales - Gatland messed him around for years and, now, I'm not sure he has the quality experience at this level. Too many forced passes, or choosing to run into contact etc. - minor things that the coaches will hate. He's also lost a yard of pace now and I can see him missing out on the RWC squad if Wales go for 3 centres.

Watkin's the one for the future and it would be interesting to see how he develops if he gets a run of games without injury/at a functioning club team. But, at the moment, as long as Parkes' pace isn't exploited (not sure if the England game was a sign he's over the hill, or just a one off: never seem him look so slow before so hopefully the former) he's not going to replace him yet. Doesn't add the physicality Parkes does and that's what's so impressive about him/his biggest asset to Wales. Still a lot to 'learn' at test level in some ways, we think of Parkes as an established international but, in reality, he's still getting used to it so hopefully he can get slightly better with experience, and despite him not really pulling up trees, Watkin hasn't either in the chances he's been given.

You look at the best 6Ns teams - England have Tuilalgi/Te'o; Ireland have Aki -  and they're all playing a crashball player at 12. Parkes is comfortably Wales' best crashball 12. Sorted.


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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 3:46 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:Or Owen Watkin at 12, has that x-factor that Scott Williams doesn't.

Yes, definitely a candidate, my preference is for a footballing inside centre like Owen Williams.

I don’t think Scott Williams has played badly, more that he hasn’t played due to injuries. When fit he has been in great form.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 3:55 pm

If you're playing Anscombe at 10 then another footballer at 12 makes sense, Anscombe doesn't kick out of hand very well. Owen Williams has slipped away. Patchell at 12?

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 4:11 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:If you're playing Anscombe at 10 then another footballer at 12 makes sense, Anscombe doesn't kick out of hand very well. Owen Williams has slipped away. Patchell at 12?

He was in great form at Gloucester playing outside Cipriani

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Post by LondonTiger on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 4:24 pm

I have to disagree about Owen Williams form. He has been average at best this season, hence why he is not a regular starter. Wales have much better players.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 4:28 pm

Be great to have Williams back at the Scarlets.

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Post by miaow on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 4:33 pm

The days of having a second playmaker at 12 have gone. NZ pick SBW there. Nonu's trying to make a late charge as well. Even their better ball playing 12s - Goodhue, Crotty, Lienert-Brown etc. - are physically powerful and can truck it up as and when required. Can't get away with being weak at 12 - Patchell at 12 is obviously ridiculous, that's computer game stuff. Owen Williams didn't really impress there in the last AI game he played. As LT says he's not exactly pulling up trees in England. I'd pick Jack Dixon over either - and I think Gatland would too.

SA picked de Allende at 12 - another powerful player. Australia tried with a 2nd playmaker in Beale and Foley. Won 1/3 - against Italy - and looked poor.

There is a use for a 2nd playmaking force in a backline. But in the second-half, when the game is breaking up a bit. I'd say it's integral to find one considering Wales will use Biggar around the 60 minute mark from now on, taking away Anscombe and effecting going to 0 playmaking players. Ansombe showed why he's not a test 15 yesterday - as several other teams have shown as well, it's vital to have a specialist 15 in that position. Wouldn't want him going there unless in an emergency...although he does look better in attack when in the wider channels, not sure it's worth sacrificing that defensive quality/positional knowledge. And we have LW and LH - two good 15s with very different skillsets.

A creative 12 cannot be picked if it means sacrificing a power runner in that position. The starting 12 has to be powerful: Wales struggle for that and I'd prefer Scott Williams to Parkes overall but he's been injured and doesn't set a platform from set piece moves or short balls like Parkes does, even if he's better a breaking the line through space/scoring tries. You can't really argue with performances - potential is only useful if it's realised.

Watkin's the closest Wales come for a creative 12 kind of player...but even then I wouldn't call him a playmaker. Just someone who has good passing and kicking skills, who likes to run the ball. Would like to see him get game time in the summer and really flourish - didn't really happen in Italy and needs the minutes.

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Post by Pie on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 7:43 pm

I am one who thinks Parkes should be dropped. Lets see what he does this weekend when the pressure is really on. Deserved MOM last week

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Post by carpet baboon on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 8:19 pm

Pie wrote:I am one who thinks Parkes should be dropped. Lets see what he does this weekend when the pressure is really on. Deserved MOM last week

As an outsider I would rather be facing anscombe and Parkes, than Biggar and Williams/Watkins.
I think anscombe is a brilliant 15, but not a top class international 10, and I think Parkes is very good but not your best option at 12

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Post by miaow on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 8:20 pm

Agree with that. There are question marks over him, no doubt. It's not a position of strength for Wales. But you also get the sense, as with Anscombe, the more...backward...Welsh fans will get on his case because a. they want a scapegoat and b. they dislike the fact he's not born and bred in Wales and so channel that dislike into hateful criticism.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 8:27 pm

There are still patchell and Jarrod Evans in the running for the ten shirt post six nations.

With regards inside centre Parkes, Scott Williams, Owen Williams and Owen Watkins

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Post by carpet baboon on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 8:30 pm

miaow wrote:Agree with that. There are question marks over him, no doubt. It's not a position of strength for Wales. But you also get the sense, as with Anscombe, the more...backward...Welsh fans will get on his case because a. they want a scapegoat and b. they dislike the fact he's not born and bred in Wales and so channel that dislike into hateful criticism.

Anscombe I rate extremely highly, it's just as a 15 not a 10, but when you have Williams and 1/2p I can see the logic of playing him at 10.
Parkes is a great player, but swap him for an inform Watkins or Williams, and your whole backline is just more dangerous.
And I'm with you on the simpler fans looking for an easy target to blame. "Local shop for local people" spring to mind

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Post by miaow on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 8:31 pm

On a related point, what happened to the centre who plays for Leicester?

EDIT: Jack Roberts https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Roberts_(rugby_union)

Apparently plays for the Blues! Who knew...

EDIT EDIT: Apparently he doesn't play for the Blues...

https://cardiffbluesblog.com/2018/07/18/injury-woes-continue-for-jack-roberts/

Wonder if he was being lined up for the RWC and, due to injury, Parkes snuck in ahead of him? Any Blues fans able to shed any light on this?

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Post by miaow on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 8:37 pm

Also mentioned in that article is Harri Millard. And Owen Lane moving to 13. Of what I've seen of them, I'd keep Lane on the wing, personally, doesn't have the game to be a centre. But Millard looks like JD2's eventual successor. Someone a bit more in the Jonathan Joseph or Mark Bennett mould than a recent Welsh centre. Tricky and deceptive.


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Post by miaow on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 8:46 pm

carpet baboon wrote:
miaow wrote:Agree with that. There are question marks over him, no doubt. It's not a position of strength for Wales. But you also get the sense, as with Anscombe, the more...backward...Welsh fans will get on his case because a. they want a scapegoat and b. they dislike the fact he's not born and bred in Wales and so channel that dislike into hateful criticism.

Anscombe I rate extremely highly, it's just as a 15 not a 10, but when you have Williams and 1/2p I can see the logic of playing him at 10.
Parkes is a great player, but swap him for an inform Watkins or Williams, and your whole backline is just more dangerous.
And I'm with you on the simpler fans looking for an easy target to blame. "Local shop for local people" spring to mind

I 100% agree that Anscombe looks great with ball in hand further back/in the back field/playing in the second wave of attack.

But a 15 has to be good defensively - Daly, Henshaw and Huget have found that out so far. Anscombe nearly did yesterday:

First incident: https://youtu.be/u60MtaEvaiE?t=1397

(Watch for 20 seconds - Anscombe fields kick, feeds Biggar, standing near to Biggar when Wales kick back - then look at his positioning when Russell kicks the ball. Not a 15)

Second incident: https://youtu.be/u60MtaEvaiE?t=2603

(Unlucky bounce? Yes. Is it substandard positioning and defending for a test 15? Also yes.)

Very lucky to get away with both situations here. Scotland were very, very poor in terms of converting chances yesterday. A better team would have taken the lead and forced Wales to try and take it back. But the main point- Anscombe's not a good enough 15. Not just positioning, either. Not fair to ask him to be the last line of defence.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 10 Mar 2019, 9:27 pm

miaow wrote:Also mentioned in that article is Harri Millard. And Owen Lane moving to 13. Of what I've seen of them, I'd keep Lane on the wing, personally, doesn't have the game to be a centre. But Millard looks like JD2's eventual successor. Someone a bit more in the Jonathan Joseph or Mark Bennett mould than a recent Welsh centre. Tricky and deceptive.


Harri Millard looks a real talent, this RWC May be to early for him. Though if we suffer as many injuries as last time he may get a run out.

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Post by miaow on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 8:25 am

Definitely should be challenging in 1-2 years time. Only seen him in fits and bursts, and think he's playin for the u20s this tournament, but looks like he has more about him than Tyler Morgan.

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Post by miaow on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 10:52 am

With Wales now on a 13 game winning run, it's worth just having a look at Wales from the 'outside'.

Not pulling up trees, still too tentative in attack, but actually a lot more clinical in terms of scoring tries when they get field position and ball control. If the 4 disallowed tries they 'scored' against France and Italy had stood, they'd be a lot closer to securing the 6Ns outright.

However, the most intriguing thing for Wales is this winning run. Gatland's Wales has always been streaky when at its best i.e. when the get that much fabled 'momentum' from game to game, they've looked unstoppable. Think 2011 RWC (for a time), 2013, and of course 2008. But this feels different. Firstly, they often fell off quite dramatically after those streaks - 2008 saw them pumped away in South Africa, 2014 was a rough season post Lions (with the reserves losing out in Japan in the summer of 2013) and 2011 obviously ended with the semi final horror. If you discount the semi-final (which you shouldn't, the point is not taking chances/taking the step up beyond a 6Ns title) and include the 2012 Grand Slam, then Wales lost a series 3-0 out in Australia from winning positions, and lost games in the autumn to drop to 9th in the rankings. Shocker. Wales have neither been able to go on a streak as long as this current on, or play as 'dull' as this and still win - they haven't played brilliant rugby, the best they played with ball in hand was out in Argentina with the reserves. But they're still winning games.

If...IF...they beat Ireland, Wales will have beaten 7 of the top 10 teams in the world, having not played Fiji and NZ in that period (the other top 10 team being Wales). Italy and Tonga sit outside the top 10.

It isn't the most impressive winning streak imaginable. But there have been 2 wins against SA, 1 v Aus and 1 v Eng in there. Home advantage definitely key as well, but it's a sign that Wales' baseline isn't as poor as it used to be - again, as I said in the OP, I think competition and a lack of complacency is the reason for this.

No doubt Wales will lose 1 if not 2 or 3 of the warm up games. In some ways, this helps - if they do beat Ireland, it would take the pressure off from the media, going into a RWC and potentially breaking the winning streak record in the groups (they'd be on 17, 19 to break the record I believe) when the SOLE focus has to be on beating Australia to top the group, and doing whatever possible to beat Fiji as well. In the minds of the players, though, IF IF IF Wales beat Ireland, lose a few warm up games, the mindset will be that they've been undefeated in proper, competitive test matches for over 12 months. And if they beat Aus...well, that would surely give them huge confidence knowing the streak they have behind them.

https://www.world.rugby/rankings/mru?lang=en

http://www.rugbydata.com/wales/gamesplayed/between/2018/03/11/and/2018/11/24/

All getting ahead of ourselves there, really, but one eye STILL has to be on the RWC this campaign. It's where all roads meet and as great as a Grand Slam would be, Japan is still the main focus...if not quite this week.

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Post by maestegmafia on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 11:11 am

I don’t disagree with you Miaow. There is very little interest in wales as a threat. Every Irishman I know is confident they’ll beat us this Saturday, nobody is predicting wales to top their group at the pool stage of the RWC.

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Post by miaow on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 11:19 am

Australian teams are looking hot and cold in Super Rugby, but when they're hot they look very good. Quade Cooper and Genia back playing together at the Rebels.

Everything screams that Wales should be getting into Australia and finally battering them - not just beating them - in a competitive game that matters based on the two teams' fortunes in the last 2 years. But I have a sneaky feeling Australia will pull it out the bag for the Wales game, top the group, and make another semi or even a final (where they get hammered) having got the easier side of the draw.

Not a clue about this game to be honest. Might even be 'better' for the World Cup if Wales lose it - particularly if it's a case of Wales not finishing off chances. Force the coaches to accept there does need to be 'more' at times against certain teams. That said, I think the awareness is there; can't beat Australia without taking some risks. Wales were well on top in 2015. No excuse to have a repeat of that game - but, again, the tries scored against England and Scotland after 10+ phases are very, very encouraging that Wales are learning to build pressure in attack in a way Australia, at their best, are maybe the best team in the world at doing.

Bringing this back on topic to selection, the key areas will be lineout: so hookers, second rows and back rows. Big game for Beard, and a good chance for Ball to come on and make so amends after a...mixed...performance against Scotland. The Irish locks are on par with the English, maybe even better at the dark arts. Huge test.

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Post by BigTrevsbigmac on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 12:24 pm

In assessing the truth of the OP, should the most recent performance using most ‘second string’ players ie. against Italy be dismissed?

The win was the most that could be taken from this game.

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/italy-v-wales-player-ratings-15806205

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Post by miaow on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 12:43 pm

What do you mean exactly/specifically?

The team Wales will pick against Ireland is missing a host of 1st choice or arguably 1st choice players: Faletau, Cory Hill, Shingler, Ellis Jenkins, Rhys Webb, Leigh Halfpenny, Scott Williams.

The strength in depth refers to the current 1st team. Particularly as many of them have also recently replaced the likes of Warburton, Charteris, Brad Davies, Jamie Roberts, Lydiate etc. to a combination of injury and retirement. They've stepped into the leadership gap well.

One game - a comfortable, if unimpressive game away from home in the 6Ns, which is never easy - doesn't chane that.

But be interested to hear your thoughts on what you meant? Do you disagree with the notion? Why?

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Post by BigTrevsbigmac on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 12:54 pm

Well the general consensus on the Italy v Wales game was that the players that were given their chance for Wales failed to take it.
This was the most recent game giving a start to most players that were not likely starters.

That was my point.

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Post by miaow on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 3:48 pm

Not so sure about that. Won the game without ever looking like losing. A number of players were making their first 6Ns starts, which will be great experience for the RWC and beyond. But even some, like Biggar and JD2, struggled despite their experience. Fairly typical considering the changes they made en masse - and as I said, some of those positions are down into the 5th and 6th choices. Great depth for Wales to have.

More a case of Wales 'doing enough' to get through that game when, clearly, all the focus was on training for the England fixture - a gamble that paid off in both games.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 6:53 pm

The team that faced Italy should have done a lot better based on their previous performances against Arg, Tonga, etc. Whilst the win is what mattered the most, it was a poor game and very difficult to watch, full of mistakes. Hopefully it was a one-off but saying that the first team seem to be making way too many errors.

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Post by BigTrevsbigmac on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 9:27 pm

miaow wrote:Not so sure about that. Won the game without ever looking like losing. A number of players were making their first 6Ns starts, which will be great experience for the RWC and beyond. But even some, like Biggar and JD2, struggled despite their experience. Fairly typical considering the changes they made en masse - and as I said, some of those positions are down into the 5th and 6th choices. Great depth for Wales to have.

More a case of Wales 'doing enough' to get through that game when, clearly, all the focus was on training for the England fixture - a gamble that paid off in both games.

A win is a win but I agree with Mikey it was a rubbish game & very few players shone. It could so easily have backfired as Gatland admitted afterwards. I’m not sure on the 5th & 6th choices but as you say not even the first choices showed up.

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Post by miaow on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 9:57 pm

Ok. Not sure the point you're making tbh.

One game, heavy rotation, away win in the 6Ns. Point is Wales still have better strength in depth than at any time in the pro era/maybe ever. No Welsh players have really 'shone', per se, this tournament - and yet they're still winning games with efficient, effective rugby. The Italy performance was like that, albeit at a lower standard than the other 3 games.

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Post by The Oracle on Tue 12 Mar 2019, 10:27 pm

Yep, I agree. A few years back if we were missing a number of 1st choice players, and had a number of recent retirees/out with the old guard, we wouldn’t have been able to rotate as we had in Argentina and against Italy this 6N and against Tonga in the AIs and come away with wins. In fact, we probably wouldn’t have rotated at all so players would get less rest and some would get less exposure. So I agree with the OP that there is more depth there now than in the past. I think that’s all he’s saying. The 2nd or 3rd ‘wave’ of players waiting to fill in for injury and absence are of better quality than we’ve had in the past. The step down is not as big as previously. Gatland was loathe to drop any of his favourites previously, and copped a lot of flak from fans for this at times, but I think that was because he was not happy with the quality of the replacements so the likes of Roberts, Cuthbert, Lydiate, Adam Jones were picked perhaps when they were not really in form (and they fitted in with the game plan too I expect). Now Gatland seems happy to chuck in players with little experience - Dillon Lewis, Elliott Dee, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams, Adam Beard, Cory Hill - all recent examples and not just to cap ‘em as they’ve got a lot of game time, and they’ve worked out well. Maybe Gatland himself has developed the confidence to do this as a coach, but I think it’s more that he’s happy that those players are of sufficient quality to warrant inclusion compared to squads further back in his 10 year tenure (‘10 year’/‘tenure’ - haha, who knew!) so doesn’t have to rely on just 15-20 front liners come rain or shine.
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Post by miaow on Wed 20 Mar 2019, 5:57 pm

Right, 6Ns went about as well as could be hoped for. Where does this leave the team and squad?

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Post by miaow on Wed 20 Mar 2019, 8:40 pm

BACKS

15
- Liam Williams (started all games): 9/10. Great attacking threat v France before leaving field with injury. Aerial game superb v England and Ireland. No big mistakes. Just about perfect.

14
- George North (Fra, Eng, Sco, Ire): 7.5 Tricky tournament. Defensive lapse v Fra followed by 2 opportunist tries from good defensive chase. Injured v Ire early on. Not much chance to attack v Sco and Eng but great in the air v latter. Getting better all the time but more to come in attack.
- Jonah Holmes (Ita): 6. Didn't add much from the autumn but didn't take anything away either. Some awkward moments near tryline with ball in hand but very solid chasing back/defensively.

13
- Jon Davies (all, capt. v Ita): 8.5. One botched pass against Italy but otherwise solid in attack throughout. Some textbook outside breaks and a nice score v Scotland. Ridiculously good in defence, captaincy against Italy average but good experience for WC. Nice clearing kick v Ireland from goal-line.

12
- Hadleigh Parkes (all bar Ita): 8. Solidity personified. Physical strength v Sco and Ire immense. Try saving tackle on Stockdale makes the tired chases v Tuilagi and May make sense - not lack of outright pace, but simply shattered v Eng. Looking more like Parkes of 18 months ago.
- Owen Watkin(Ita, rep in all others): 6.5. Didn't have too much game time from the bench but didn't really stamp his authority in the Italy game either despite scoring a try. A solid 6 - closer to a 7 than a 5 - but no higher.

11
- Josh Adams (all): 9.5. Just about the perfect championship. Set up the first try v France. Scored decisive try v England. Made the crucial score by himself v Scotland. Exceptional under the high ball, very good kicking game (including improvised clearance from dead ball line v Ireland), and very solid in defence. One moment of stupidity/poor fortune with the trip on Earls, and more importantly a few mistakes in the second half v Scotland, tarnish what was otherwise a perfect tournament.

10
- Gareth Anscombe (all bar Ita): 8. Not the best kicking game v France but played his part in second-half revival. Decent against Italy, a few great touches v England (touchfinders excellent throughout tournament), ran backline very well v Sco and great at 15 v Ireland. Looking good controlling play in a second wave - rarely first receiver and looks much better for it. Wales looked more threatening with him in the team.
- Dan Biggar (start v Ita, rep for rest): 9. Despite a great tournament for Anscombe, Biggar had a better one. Two imperious performances v Ire and Eng from bench marred by an underwhelming game v Italy. Aerial, kicking, tackling game world class - tackle on Hastings v Sco was incredible.

9
- Gareth Davies (start v Eng, Sco, Ire, rep v Fra, Ita): 7.5. Reacted well to being dropped. Brought control to Fra game in the wet. Excellent v Eng, spot blitz and charging Farrell throughout crucial. Off the ball stuff v Eng helped turn the game and get crowd into it; petulant play off the ball had opposite effect. As well as he's played for Wales but a few stupid mistakes and poor box kicks bring his score down.
- Tomos Williams (start v Fra): 6.5. Much heralded after excellent autumn and backed up winning the 9 shirt with good try v France. Lacked control at times in tricky conditions. Injury robbed him of playing more than 53 minutes.
- Aled Davies (start v Ita, rep v Eng, Sco, Ire): 5.5. Poor kick out on full v Sco from bench, but otherwise solid against Eng and Sco in other 2 big games. Unremarkable v Italy; feeds 10 well but lacking control.

23
Hallam Amos (rep v Ita): 6 13 minutes v Italy. Hard to score.

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Post by miaow on Wed 20 Mar 2019, 8:59 pm

FORWARDS

1
- Rob Evans : 8.5. Excellent tournament. Part of scrum that dominated most opposition, typically useful in the loose, and no stupid penalties. Really solid tournament.
- Nicky Smith 7.5. Very good off the bench against England. Good breakdown threat and did his part as a replacement.
- Wyn Jones 6.5. Didn't get too much game time but don't remember anything negative from him.

2
- Ken Owens 8. Excellent in the loose and undoubtedly one of the leaders of the team. Cannonball run helped set up Parkes' try v Ireland. Played his part in a poor lineout operation, so loses marks in what would other be a 9-9.5.
- Elliot Dee 7. Very good from the bench. Added intensity and pressure on the opposition whenever he came on. Like Ken, part of a poor lineout, even when starting v Italy.
- Ryan Elias 6. Didn't get much of a chance to shine.

3
- Tomas Francis 8.5. Really came of age this year. Didn't see too much of him with ball in hand but he remains a really solid defender, even when in the midfield. But him scrummaging was superb - took England and Ireland to the cleaners.
- Dillon Lewis 8. Similarly excellent 6Ns. Most pleasing thing will be he was solid in the scrum - physicality against England in the carry was very good.
- Samson Lee 6.5. Tricky tournament for Samson. Put under a bit of pressure against France and didn't play very much. Has lost the starting shirt and is now in danger of dropping out of the 23 due to Lewis' emergence as a viable scrummaging option.

4
- Adam Beard. 8. Bit of a mixed tournament. Sometimes a bit underpowered, sometimes disappointing at the lineout, but then shone in the final game v Ireland - carrying with power around the fringes, securing lineout ball, and disrupting opposition maul. Good experience but not the finished article at all yet.
- Cory Hill 9. Heroic performance v England and excellent try. Only started one game due to injury after Engl but it's enough to secure the shirt going forward. Reliable lineout ball.
- Jake Beard 7. Again, a mixed bag. Looks good and provides a platform but a bit sloppy at the lineout and v Ita in general. Also an awkward cameo v Sco involving knocking the ball on and ignoring an overlap (perhaps correctly) in quick succession. Lacking match fitness but looked good v Ire from the bench.

5
-AWJ (start all, capt., rep v Ita). 9. Player of the tournament but his stats won't reveal his true impact. Some issues at the lineout, and a careless penalty v Sco at the ruck. Nice handling out of the tackle all tournament and helped turn the game v Ita from the bench. Looking like a true captain and leader of the team.

6
- Josh Navidi (all, start @ 8 v Ita): 9. Excellent tournament. Has secured the 6 shirt. Powerful upright tackling in the tight v every opposition. No big mistakes, quietly did his job. Man of the match v Fra.
- Aaron Wainwright (start v Ita, rep for rest): 7. Decent from the bench. Put in a big shift in terms of tackles every time he played. Didn't really shine v Ita.

7
- Justin Tipuric (start all bar Ita). 8.5. Quietly excellent alongside Navidi. Again, nothing standout, but no mistakes, he slows down opposition ball/draws players into rucks, and ties the backs and forwards together very well. A quiet leader who's gone under the radar but was right up there for Wales.
- Thomas Young/Tom Jung/Tim Yan/Tom Fun etc. (start v Ita): 7. Nearly scored try on his debut and one of the better players on the pitch v Ita. Comfortable at this level - good over the ball, looks dangerous ball in hand. Good to see him against better opposition at some point.

8
- Ross Moriarty (start all, rep v Ita) 8.5. Another absolutely excellent campaign by a back rower. Right up there with Navidi and Tipuric in terms of impact. Has upped his carrying massively and is now more of a reliable gainline threat. Happy to hammer into contact rather than be the one doing the tackling - more draining, more dangerous, more likely to lose the ball, yet he's doing it well. Fielded restarts well throughout and apart from a lapse v Ire off the ball, discipline was great throughout.


Last edited by miaow on Sat 23 Mar 2019, 11:45 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Forgot to actually update this...)

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Post by Pie on Sat 23 Mar 2019, 9:26 am

Ok so now what...

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Post by miaow on Sat 23 Mar 2019, 11:50 am

Winners
- Francis
- Navidi
- Moriarty
- Cory Hill
- Anscombe
- Adams
- Dillon Lewis

Most of these are understandable. Players have come in and done enough to keep the shirt for Japan. Moriarty probably the only one there who won't automatically make the 23 now due to Faletau/#20 option, but he probably will ahead of Wainwright. Won't get in ahead of Faletau but good to know he's a true 8 option if needed to play.

Losers
- Samson
- Shingler
- Ellis Jenkins
- Sam Warburton
- Aled Davies

Injuries have been costly to the first 3. Warburton's captaincy doesn't look quite as good as AWJ's - always felt a more natural fit for the team and although probably still not quite as good as Warburton at the ref management/decision making, he's improved from 2 years ago. Aled the only player really to not look up to it still. Everyone else looked solid enough.

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Post by miaow on Sat 23 Mar 2019, 12:01 pm

Despite the back 3 options being really good this 6Ns - the main 4 of Liam, Adams, North, 1/2P are nailed on and will make up the 3 starting and 1 bench option - can't help but feel Gatland might regret not having a look at Owen Lane or Aled Summerhill in the autumn.

Watching them pick apart an admittedly dreadful Scarlets team last night was a sign that they do offer something. Not sure they're test level necessarily, but they could become it - and Gatland's good at taking raw talent and making it work for Wales i.e. Cuthbert.

Dislocated elbow for Navidi probably ends his domestic season now: https://twitter.com/CardiffRugbyWeb/status/1109211023649722368

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Post by miaow on Wed 03 Apr 2019, 11:32 am

Slightly worrying about Navidi: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/47797666

Should be fit for the RWC summer camps.

At the moment, Wales have their two first choice 6s - Shingler and Navidi - out injured for relatively long term and very long term durations. Ellis Jenkins, who is arguably third choice 6, hasn't played since November either.

This really leaves the door open for Wainwright to nail his place on the plane. It also gives Lydiate/another 6 a glimmer of hope as well.

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Post by Pie on Thu 04 Apr 2019, 5:20 am

I see our strength in depth is causing NZ press to cry foul out loud. now if any nation's press were best qualified to opine on abuses of player importation it is the NZ press cadre. Bravo gents, keep that bottom lip wobbling lol. Very Happy

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Post by miaow on Thu 04 Apr 2019, 10:07 am

Yeah, bit soft/clickbaity from the NZ Herald. The notion that all 4 players - Parkes, Anscombe, Haloholo, and McNicholl - would become talwarts of the team seems based more in ignorance of Wales' talent than anything else.

Parkes probably has 12-24 months left as a test player. Maybe less. He's also been picked out of desperation that we suffered with a no-longer-fit-for-purpose Jamie Roberts for the last 3-4 years of his test career, and have been unlucky with injuries (not least the tragedy with Owen Williams) and he's come in under the radar as a solid option in the absence of the current lack of strength in depth. Likewise, that's why Haloholo is being discussed - in normal circumstances he wouldn't be. That said, can't really see Haloholo getting in ahead of JD2 (Lions man of the series in NZ, so no excuse really to not know who he is from the Kiwi press) although he would be a solid addition in either the 12 or 13 shirt, where Wales are obviously weak at the moment.

McNicholl's probably in a similar position to Haloholo. Clearly a very good Pro14 player, adds some quality above what we're used to seeing, but also a bit inconsistent. And, crucially, can they step up the international rugby? Do they have the physical attributes, first of all, to make the step up - is McNicholl fast enough? I'm not sure he is to play on the wing, which would leave 15 - and I'd have him comfortably behind Liam Williams and behind 1/2P on the basis of 1/2P's defensive and kicking abilities. As a winger, he's behind North and, currently, Adams, who is younger, quicker, and has taken to test rugby like a duck to water. McNichol can be quality but he can also be flaky - it's the kind of thing that sees many talented rugby players hit a glass ceiling at club rugby. No guarnatees he'd make the step up.

All 4 are decent players, no doubt. But it seems more a case of Kiwi back-patting in the form of performative outrage than anything else. It's the new form of victim banana swinging that exists in the modern age - humble-bragging, in a way? "This is unacceptable - players who were nowhere near an All Blacks call-up are going to be playing test rugby for Wales. Nowhere near! Not even close!"

Of course, Anscombe was picked ahead of Barrett at 10 for the Baby Blacks, and had he stayed in NZ I think he would have picked up at least a couple of caps by the time he retired - perhaps as a utility back. The other three all played Super Rugby on and off, which isn't bad going, and although Parkes and Haloholo were unlikely to get capped, it's not inconceivable that McNichol might have flourished had he stayed and been in with a shout if there were injuries etc. They're not bad players, Wales has really poor strength in depth and the club game is absolutely in tatters - I don't like the rule, and think it's good we're likely about to see the end of such caps as qualification becomes 5 years on residency, but there's no major issue here.

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Post by quinsforever on Tue 09 Apr 2019, 9:36 pm

was v impressed with Wales ability to win ugly this 6N. if i'm honest they've never really looked like they can do that. and i think winning ugly is an absolute bedrock of future performance as it builds belief and resilience.

i'm obviously wanting England to do well in the RWC, but I think Wales really are contenders.

never before have Wales looked like they have the strength in depth that their ferocious game plan needs over a RWC.

at 7/1 Wales look a really good bet to me.

OK OK OK OK

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Post by miaow on Wed 10 Apr 2019, 11:39 am

If Wales can beat Australia - which is a huge, huge ask because they will be far better than we've seen in the years since the 2015 RWC - I make them genuine contenders, for sure. I think they have enough about them that they can comfortably beat an Ireland or an England in a knockout contest by playing 'ugly', as you say, if they get their gameplan right. Not that the game will be comfortable, but it can be - 2011 v Ireland etc. If they avoid NZ's side of the knockout stages they're in with a chance.

The real test is/always will be the SH. Still don't think the mentality is there to not crumble against SA/Oz or, in particular, NZ in the last 10 minutes of a test match. Saw it in the last World Cup in many ways - the game was a gruelling arm wrestle, admittedly, but failure to go for the jugular at times always left them open to something like the decisive try with 5 mins to go (Cuthbert's poor defence being exposed).

Not a betting man but Wales winning it isn't out of the question. As I said in the (really long) OP - this might not be the best Welsh team of the pro era, or even Gatland's era, but it's the best squad and that could make all the difference in a RWC.

Just this 6Ns I think the flanking partners of Tipuric and Navidi are looking better than Warburton and Lydiate, even if Warburton was in that rung of players you'd consider competing for the tag of world class. The current two are certainly more adaptable. Add Shingler in there if he can make it back, or Ellis Jenkins if he's fit in time, and Faletau who didn't play this 6Ns, and you have a genuinely brilliant back row unit. Those 5-6 players are the best in the 6Ns in my opinion, and could maybe be challenging for the tag of best in the world, which seems a crazy situation but that's how good they are. Wales don't have that same quality right through the squad and if Rhys Webb were available I think everyone would be a lot happier, but Wales winning in Japan isn't out of the question.

Everything hinges on the Australia game, and not slipping up against a very good Fiji team.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 10 Apr 2019, 3:53 pm

I don’t think Ellis Jenkins will be available but Faletau, Shingler, Lydiate and Navidi should be. Tipuric, Moriarty and Wainright haven’t done anything to lose their place so I think Lydiate could be the one to miss out.

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Post by miaow on Wed 10 Apr 2019, 4:27 pm

Likely to only be 5 back row positions, 6 at most with a utility. Wainwright likely to go ahead of Shingler based on form and lack of fitness.

In order, I still make it:

Faletau
Tipuric
Navidi
Moriarty
Ellis Jenkins

After that it's:
Shingler (if proved fit, below Wainwright if not)
Wainwright
Lydiate
Thomas Young
Josh Turnbull
Seb Davies
James Davies

and then the likes of Cracknell, Ollie Griffiths etc.

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Post by miaow on Wed 10 Apr 2019, 4:29 pm

This was the 60-man squad WalesOnline said made the camp in the autumn. Apparently Harrison Keddie is out in front of Cracknell - which is fair enough I suppose:

Loose-heads (6)

Rob Evans, Nicky Smith, Wyn Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Rhodri Jones, Rhys Gill.

Hookers (6)

Ken Owens, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Scott Baldwin, Kristian Dacey, Richard Hibbard.

Tight-heads (6)

Samson Lee, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis, Leon Brown, Aaron Jarvis, Scott Andrews.

Locks (8)

Alun Wyn Jones, Cory Hill, Bradley Davies, Luke Charteris, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Rory Thornton, Seb Davies.

Back row (13)

Ross Moriarty, Aaron Shingler, Dan Lydiate, Aaron Wainwright, Josh Turnbull, Justin Tipuric, Ellis Jenkins, Josh Navidi, James Davies, Ollie Griffiths, Thomas Young, Taulupe Faletau, Harrison Keddie.


Scrum-half (5)

Gareth Davies, Aled Davies, Tomos Williams, Lloyd Williams, Rhodri Williams

Fly-half (6)

Dan Biggar, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Priestland, Sam Davies, Jarrod Evans.

Centre (6)

Hadleigh Parkes, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin, Scott Williams, Jamie Roberts, Owen Williams.

Back Three (9)

Leigh Halfpenny, Jordan Williams, Liam Williams, George North, Hallam Amos, Josh Adams, Steff Evans, Owen Lane, Tom Prydie.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 10 Apr 2019, 4:53 pm

I’m not actually sure how big the world cup squad is or many back-row we’d take, but for me Shingler is there if he’s fit. He had quite a nasty injury though and didn’t return in December when we expected him to do so; another knee injury and his career is done. Assuming that he’s okay and returns to that good form he’s first choice 6. I imagine the squad will be cut down right after the World Cup warm-ups so that’s going to be make-or-break for Shingler and some others.

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Post by miaow on Wed 10 Apr 2019, 5:25 pm

31 man squad. 5 or 6 back row positions depending on the backs:forwards and hookers:flankers splits.

I'd take Shingler as well, nobody else like him for Wales, maybe the best lineout forward etc., but he's hardly played since 2018 6Ns. No suggestion he'll make it back/not break down and effectively end his career. Just like with Rhys Webb, Gatland isn't a risk taker - he's not going to break his neck fitting him in if he can pick Wainwright.

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Post by miaow on Wed 17 Apr 2019, 5:56 pm

double post


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Post by miaow on Wed 17 Apr 2019, 5:56 pm

The English thread's suggesting pick your first XV, 2nd XV, and then add another player to get the squad. This is where it stands for Wales:

1. Rob Evans / Nicky Smith
2. Ken Owens / Elliott Dee
3. Tomas Francis / Samson Lee
4. Cory Hill / Jake Ball
5. AWJ / Adam Beard
6. Josh Navidi / Aaron Shingler
7. Justin Tipuric / Ellis Jenkins
8. Taulupe Faletau / Ross Moriarty
9. Gareth Davies / Tomos Williams
10. Gareth Anscombe / Dan Biggar
11. Josh Adams / ??
12. Hadleigh Parkes / Owen Watkin
13. JD2 / Scott Williams??
14. George North / ??
15. Liam Williams / Leigh Halfpenny

A few issues here. Those marked in colour are currently injured: the colour indicates the severity from dark red to yellow/green, also counting how 'nailed on' they are/were prior to injury, as well as how likely they are to be back before the squad is announced. 6 is clearly an issue then and Aaron Wainwright, and Dan Lydiate as well, stand a good chance of nicking a place at the last minute. Might be a few injuries I've missed out but no serious ones I don't think.

The other issue is Wales' second choice wingers are likely to be their 15s. And why, for me, this model doesn't necessarily work as I imagine we'll see Liam/LH line up at 15 in one game in the group stage, and then 14 in another, against possibly weaker opposition. But if you HAD to, you'd probably go with:

11. Steff Evans
14. Jonah Holmes

Which would then leave one final position for either another Prop, Hooker, Scrum Half, or Flanker. So between Dillon Lewis, Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Lydiate/Wainwright/Thomas Young, and Aled Davies. Take your pick really.

However, I cannot see Steff Evans or Scott Williams touring. I think Jonah Holmes is a decent shout, but only has an outside chance at this stage. due to covering several positions. North covers 13 as well, Parkes can move around if required (though don't think we'll see that, backline is built around his crashball). I think we're much more likely to see Gatland stack the forwards with an extra few players, and hope the backs come through it.

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