I think it’s taken a good long while to see the fruits of Madge’s coaching and strategy, i.e. players to really find their place in the structure and weed out our weaknesses.
The season is still rather lumpy overall and I think some people are basking in the current good wins and hating on Ivan-influenced 2018.
Fact is 2018 were 7th best defence based on points conceded. There is a general perception of 2018 that we burned a lot of energy in scramble defence and that sapped our attack, which is somewhat supported by the stats:
- in 2018 we scored 377, conceded 460 points (-83)
- to date 2019 we’ve scored 467, conceded 461 (+6).
So we have only slightly conceded more points whilst demonstrably improving the attack (last 2 weeks helpful).
However we also need to note that we won 5 lost 3 of our last 8 matches in 2018 and currently we are 4 wins 3 losses in our previous 7. So whether or not you believe “we got tired” in 2018, we can only match (and not beat) that outcome in terms of wins 2019.
I like the direction the team is going and I think there is good cohesion. I think the roster is pretty average and also highly inexperienced, to consider we started a forward pack yesterday of Clarke-Matto-Mikaele-Garner-Lawrence-Huth (bench Grub-ET-Twal-MCK) compared to Dragons Graham-McInnes-Vaughan-Ford-Leilua-Frizzell (bench Sims-Lawrie-Kaufusi-Kerr). That’s 877 matches experience vs 1078 matches experience.
I think Brooks played consistently well last year, has been a bit patchy this year, but arguably as well as he’s ever played when he does play well. So I think he’s growing into Madge’s coaching. Benji has certainly wound back the clock, I’m a real fan of what’s happened 2018.
Very happy with the blooding of Mikaele and Clarke, the way Madge obviously challenged guys like Huth, Nofo, ET, Mommers at the start of the year to try and break into the side, and it’s worked out very well the past few months.