Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Andrew Goodman scouting report

After receiving a warning from The Literal Police (ie a commenter on Reddit), I should point out that this is NOT a professional “scouting report”. Proper scouting can only really be done when you are actually at the game and can focus on the player in question.  As I say in the piece, this was done from a recording of the local TV broadcast.  It’s meant to be a light-hearted post for the most part.  I know most of you get that, but it seems I need to clarify for some who don’t :-)




I didn’t have a Leinster Rugby match to review this week…that job was ably filled by Ginine & Liz Power, but still I felt I wanted to get stuck in to some rugby analysis, so I got my hands on a recording of the Tasman Makos’ shock victory over Canterbury last Friday so I could run the rule over Leinster’s new signing Andrew Goodman.

I have to hold up my hand and say I don’t know a whole lot about the Independent Timber Merchants Cup, though to be fair I’m not sure many Kiwis would be able to tell us much about the RaboPro12 either.  I do know enough, however, to realise that the competition is split into two tiers and this result was a shock because the Makos are in the second while the visitors had won the previous four provincial championships on the bounce, all under new Munster boss Rob Penney.

So given the two provinces are neighbouring each other, hopefully I’ll be forgiven for making the comparison that this matchup was a bit like Connacht playing Leinster?

Anyway…according to the commentators, the Canterbury lineup was below strength.  It sure didn’t look like it.  Matt Todd, Robbie Freuan were all on display as well as the usual Cantabrian quota of Whitelocks; also outhalf Tyler Bleyendaal got a lot of Super Rugby game time for the Crusaders this season as backup to Dan Carter.

As for the Tasman Makos (click here if you’re curious what a mako is) side, well there was only one name that stood out, that of the guy I was “scouting”, though throughout the course of the game I did become familiar with the name of their number 10 Hayden Cripps; maybe that was more from the commentators pronunciation of “Crupps” (though he did impress for the most part)!

The home side had most of the early possession, but it wasn’t of much use to me because they were primarily going through the forwards.  Still, I was to see plenty to give me a decent assessment of Andrew Goodman.

He’s the club captain of the Tasman Province, and in this match he showed exactly why.  He had the experience to know when to join the play, and each time he did it seemed to lead to a Makos try.  In the screengrab above you see him throwing a perfectly weighted pass to set up the second, and he had similar involvement in the first.

He also has the place-kicking duties (maybe he’s a bit spoiled when it comes to receiving his kicking tee!), though I’m afraid his first few efforts were off the mark. Still, he did nail a couple to help his side create an 18-15 advantage going into the last ten minutes of the contest.

Although it can be said that despite their lineup Canterbury weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders, the Makos defence was extremely hard to break down, and I’m happy to say they seem to use a system very similar to Leinster’s; if so then Joe Schmidt & his team have chosen wisely.  Goodman was right in the thick of the tackling count as well.

With possession secured inside his own 22 and the clock winding down, the Tasman skipper took the ball into contact only for it to be stripped by Matt Todd and the turnover created an overlap which sent winger Johnny McNicholl in for what seemed like the match-winning score.  However, I’m not so sure Goodman is entirely to blame for this…the new IRB laws were in effect and previously his experience would have led him to go to ground and allow his scrum-half to kill the clock.  I reckon this turnover was more a case of the new laws seen to be working rather than a bad error on his part.

But even if he was responsible, he more than made up for it by helping with the actual matchwinner.  The Makos heaped pressure on the Canterbury line in the final seconds until a turnover gave Bleyendaal a chance to clear.  His kick was blocked, however, and the ball appeared to take a vicious spiral into the air.  Retrieval of this block was crucial and responsibility fell to Goodman, who had the presence of mind to not only take it but protect it so it could be quickly used and before you knew it replacement Kieran Fonotia was barging over the line to seal the four points.

Fittingly for me it was Goodman who added the extras and the match was over – the 2012 ITM Cup had kicked off with a thriller which ended in a major upset.

One side note was the scrums…the referee had good control of the contest and used the new “crouch-touch-set” call exactly as it was meant…if he saw something in the hit he didn’t like rather than reset he gave the free-kick or penalty.  Scrum connoisseurs won’t be happy with that I know, but hopefully if most refs follow this lead then we’ll see more legal hits which should lead to more actual scrums.

Back to the scouting brief…apologies for the obvious pun but it seems that Leinster have signed themselves a “good man” for the number 12 jersey, and based on this performance I can see him settling in extremely well at the RDS.  He does also play 10, and should Ian Madigan become unavailable at any stage he could also be useful there.

We won’t see Goodman until his Makos side go out of the competition; however, so I suppose a part of me hopes they don’t go on to build on this success.  Maybe I’ll give them a pass next week though – they have a rare crack at the Ranfurly Shield, aka the “Log o Wood”, when they take on Taranaki, best of luck to them….if they play like they did on this occasion they certainly have every chance of bringing it home. JLP

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