A. Maori Magic can define the rest of our season
The Maori match was an historic occasion and a great match; it was well worth my £20 and well worth whatever the club paid them to appear. But more than that it can now be referred to as a focal point for two very different styles of Rugby football. Our rucking was a world apart, the modern ruck was invented in Otago but Louis Deacon and co. brought it to a new level against its inheritants. I can’t remember too many Heineken Cup matches fought with such intensity at the breakdown and this match could be a powerful aide memoir when the heat comes on, whether that is away to Ospyres, at home to Toulouse or hopefully beyond, we can now summon up the spirit of this match to know deep down in the seat of your pants that we CAN go the extra mile.
And also we must look at some of the Maori play and draw inspiration from it. Their ball retention was very good and the support work was magnificent. If we can get our forwards in particular flooding the channel looking for the quick pass we could become an attacking juggernaut. Pat Howard’s team was probably the best Tigers side at this and it is where some of the top teams like Leinster and Quins have the wood on us.
B. Balmain proves doubters wrong.
Fraser Balmain’s debut must have prompted some red faces in Newcastle. The ex RGS pupil was branded “nothing more than a good local player” and not even offered a contract when he finished school 3 years ago. Thankfully Tigers scouts had more about them and won the battle for his signature with Northampton. It is hard to fathom how any scout could come to that conclusion after watching him destroy the Maori scrum, it goes to show your academy is only as strong as your scouts!
C. Tait is great but Niall is the Full back business.
Matt Tait made his first start for 13 months and at the less than usual position of full back. He showed what a class player he was with some lovely touches and some ferocious tackles; but also showed why he isn’t the successor to Geordan Murphy. Letting several balls bounce will be punished on other occasions and his position for other kicks was poor. The less said about his kicking the better.
You can’t be too hard on a players come back game, but when the rest of his performance was so good the errors stood out even more. In the second half he switched with his winger Niall Morris and looked far more comfortable getting stuck in to the action. These two together could provide a tandem partnership in the vein of Stimpson and Murphy if they fulfil their promise.