Centre Willie Lafaele stole Christian Cullen's thunder as a Wellington XV beat Hawkes Bay 38-11 in a representative rugby match on a soggy Maidstone Park in Upper Hutt yesterday.
All Blacks selector Mark Shaw and most of the 1000-plus crowd had come to see All Blacks discard Cullen make New Zealand coach John Mitchell eat humble pie, but left none the wiser after the fullback produced an unconvincing display.
It wasn't that Cullen played badly. He scored a good individual try, sparked several counter-attacks, including engineering a 60-metre effort to wing Sireli Bobo.
But he kicked aimlessly at times and generally appeared to lack the urgency of a player who should be on the brink of World Cup selection.
In contrast, former NZ Colt Lafaele was a ball of energy, outstanding in all aspects of the game.
Looking at the finalc score, it wasn't a close game.
@mikey07 I feel your pain, we've got the players but they just seem like they don't give two shites. They are a rabble and their attitude stinks. I mean half the team were just sitting back and watching on Sunday. Disgraceful.
@Canes4life I totally agree with this statement he offers flair without too much of it if that makes any sense something we need with our forwards, i mean Fidow, Numia Coles Aumua all have it and it’s definitely better then boring hopeless at everything vanilla Prinseep and Blackwell
The standard of officiating at this level is so poor. Vince Aso's try for Wellington was CLEARLY a knock on and so was Jonty Raes try for Northland. The level of officiating is almost as bad as Matt Johnson's performances at 13 for Northland.
Yes, its strange to think that, but for a poor conversion and stupid pass to Ioane, we could possibly be unbeaten at this stage. In reality I really don't think that we deserve to be unbeaten however. We just can't seem to capitalize on the advantage and "put a team away".
And yes, that decision to continue scrumming rather than take a penalty kick was odd in retrospect. Some of the tactics in general were odd actually and ultimately unsuccessful. One thing that is noticeable this year is the chip (or grubber) kick beyond the defensive line out to a waiting player which seems to be working for some teams. I saw them practicing it in the warmup using Narawa but was never used during the game.
Despite my negativeness and cynicism there is plenty to be happy about this year. It would have to rate as the best year for a long time with many players excelling and a minimum of injuries (possibly).
Like Kiwipie said, the permutations for the finals are beginning to become apparent. I still think that on our day we can beat anyone but no win is guaranteed but this year we seem to be more consistent .
@Higgins and look at to Owen Franks now? the game is evolving so along with core roles, props need mobility,speed,covering/sweeping like a loose fwd and the way the game is heading the "high intensity/fast pace", you need to keep up and do more then just "scrum". And remember the Lions front row are young Fidow 21, Aumua 21, Numia 20. still boys and still developing. and re them being boys getting paid a mans wages?? mate the game turned professional a long time ago. keep up with the times higgy! they are the most exciting front row in the game right now. Lions/Canes are lucky to have them and i am excited to see them grow and develop. cut them some slack
There were patches in this game that we probably looked the best we’ve been this season. But credit to Welly for applying scoreboard pressure.
Our tight forwards struggling with the pace and our loosies aren’t really impacting at the collisions.
Backs are ho-hum. We don’t have any real imagination out there with someone to create with little space. We are relying on good ball to make impact. We’ve at least had game breakers in previous seasons.
All bang on. In the loose forwards it all looks good on paper when you can pick Whitelock, Douglas, Prinsep, Harmon and Christie but in reality there are issues. Harmon has guts in droves but he's small, his back up is yet to show anything at this level, Prinsep is no more than a workmanlike journeyman, Douglas isn't having the same impact he's had for the Crusaders and Whitelock is also struggling to assert himself. What we really need in that trio is someone like an Ethan Blackadder to throw himself into the collision and blow over rucks. Is Cullen Grace worth a crack on the blindside?
I think the second row is fine with Dunshea back. We're not getting much around the field from our props though which is odd given we can select from a bunch of Super rugby players there too.
Enari has been good aside from a propensity to put up ineffective box kicks, and we have Drummond to come back in and share duties as well.
Cameron looks like a guy who pulled out one really good season as a relatively unknown quantity, and his midget stature is really starting to hurt him. He's reluctant to challenge the line, probably because he gets tossed around too easily, and it's a pop gun punt he's packing so we struggle to exert field position pressure or clear well.
Midfield I've covered. Ennor at 13, Bateman 12 should give us more punch and having Bateman ourside him can only help the dwarf running the cutter. Poihipi offers grunt off the bench.
There's pace out wide in McKay, Gilbert and Punivai but the latter needs to back himself more in half gaps, and the former needs to run it up harder from the back. Really lacking depth here though. If only we'd hung onto Alaimalo and/or Will Jordan.
yep agree with all of that pretty much how we look in 2019
One guy who hasn't been mentioned but had a massive game was Marcel Renata. He's been good all season, but was exceptional in this game. Hopefully the Blues have already gotten his signature.
Was good to see all the bench players making positive contributions when they came on. Also smart move by the coaches to not bring Clarke and Sotutu on because we needed experience out there to finish this game.