21 November 2012

Mornings do not get better than this

As the Starks say, winter is coming.
Winter, today, consisted of steady rain on a darkened morning. Chilly, without being cold. My head stuffed up with cold, but everything seemed alright, as The Blue Nile's 'Hats' was playing.

There's something about Paul Buchanan's music, it's impossible not to be happy, or at least relaxed, when he's whispering in your ears. It's like being enveloped by whisky fumes. Aural seduction.

Hats and A Walk Across The Rooftops have just been re-released with bonus discs. While you're picking those up, Mid Air has also been released with a bonus CD. And yes, even though I bought the vinyl I succumbed to it. He is that addictive.
Here's Paul on Jools Holland.

b (blissed out - OOHHH vinyl releases in time for xmas....)

15 November 2012

Autumn Internationals Wk1 and 2

Autumn Internationals Week 1 and Week 2 predictions

This time before the matches kick off. Radical or wot?!

Italy v Tonga  28 - 23  my pick, italy by 10
I don't think anyone watched it, really, why would you? Close, suggesting either Tonga have improved (unlikely) or Italy are worse than I thought (probable). What we can take from this, potentially the ABs will break 100 this weekend. Italy may score a couple of penalties, maybe a try, but if they break double figures, it'll be a win for them.

Aus v France  6 - 33  my pick France by 3-5
Notable for the fight, actually I say that as that's all I've seen of the match. I thought about watching it, but decided my hair care routine was more important. France, the team who came 2nd in the World Cup, turned up - rather than France, the 15 men on a pitch as they've no-where else to go. And so the Aussies went down, like a roo to an 18 wheeler. Result!

Wales v Argentina  12 - 26    my pick Wales by 5-10
The match fitness of the Puma's came through. Wales looked kinda lost, and the two tries by the Puma's were straight out of the Southern Hemisphere playbook. Comments by the UK press focussing on the forwards had given away that they didn't know much about the Puma's, and my pick that the backs were going to be very competitive with the Welsh was proven true.

Scotland v All Blacks  22 - 51  my pick NZ by 20+
The Scots turned up to play, indeed if they play like that in the 6 nations they would make the top 2 or 3. But they won't. I'm getting used to that, makes me homesick as a Wgtn supporter…
The speed of the All Black ball use highlighted the difference between the Northern and Southern hemisphere teams, quick clearing of ruck, maul and scrum ball gives the backs more time to demonstrate their skills. Scotland did well, but were ultimately the victim of poor defence giving away three tries in quick succession, ruining any chance they had of holding the mighty blackness.
It's not looking good for other 6 nation teams…

England v Fiji  54 - 12  my pick, Eng by 20+
England were on a hiding to nothing here. They beat the Fijians by a significant margin, as they should, but really they didn't look very good. And they're a professional team, Fiji come together for these matches from all over the world, with little time to develop combinations. This shows with their lack of structure in defence and attack. A continual problem with Fiji 15 a-side teams. 
England, contrary to the English press, are not looking good. Their turnover ball is slow, the backs don't seem very organised, and the forwards seem back to the lumbering best. Ok, possibly not quite as bad as in the past, but certainly not as fast and skilled as other countries. England's buy-in of other country off casts is paying off, or rather Leicester's purchase policy as a feeder team for England, is paying off.

Ireland v South Africa  12 - 16  my pick SA by 10-15
Ireland, since the last 6 nations, and through the World Cup, have looked tired and uncreative. I suggest a kidney transplant. 
I never said it was a good joke. 
South Africa are not looking much better, but they were quicker. And that's always going to pay off. Dull and boring game, which Ireland did not deserve to win, and honestly, never looked like winning.

This weekend….
Wales v Samoa
Wales have rolled the changes, over the half the team, following last weeks game - and resulting from (mainly) injuries. 
Samoa will hit hard, but I don't think they've got the structure to compete for 80 minutes. I also suspect the Welsh are fitter.
Wales by 10.

Italy v NZ
Pasta eaters will be on the field looking like smurfs. That's about as positive as it gets.
NZ by 60+

England v Australia
Could be the most interesting of the games this weekend. Aussie are playing like crap, and should be pretty embarrassed by their surrender to the cheese eaters. This should hopefully make them go out and take it to the English. 
I suspect the English will win. But in the spirit of grumpiness, I'll stick my neck out and say:
Aus by 5.

Scotland v SA
If Scotland play as they did against the ABs they should win (presuming they tighten their defensive holes). Sth Afr are not looking very quick or creative at the moment, and Scots do have some world class players at the moment.
Scotland by 7.

France v Argentina
Good France turning up twice? It's possible, but unlikely. I also think the Puma's are still underrated by the press here, so I'm going for:
Argentina by 3-7.

10 November 2012

Rugby Autumn International Series

Bit late, but well, it's not like that's a surprise.

Wales v Argentina
this should be the best of the matches. I suspect the UK press has underestimated the Pumas, and their emphasis on the Puma scrum suggests they haven't seen much of their recent play. The logical money should be on Wales, although their tight 5 have been, as usual, decimated by injury. What might be more of a factor is that Argentina are battle hardened from the Aus/NZ/SA/Arg series, whereas this is the first Welsh test for awhile.
I would expect the Welsh fitness to be higher, as thats something they do focus on, so the clincher is likely to be Welsh discipline - they do give away a lot of penalties, and the Pumas have good kickers.

Pick: Wales by 5-10.

England v Fiji
The press has been trumpeting a new beginning to English rugby, as they do every year, and every year howls of derision are heard outside of the RFU. Stuart Lancaster does seem to have a clue on how to meld a team, and the complete restructure of the RFU does hold out some hope. Having said that, if they don't beat Fiji convincingly then Lancaster maybe following the house of L last King (Henry VI).

Pick: England by 20.

Ireland v SA
Not the best season for SA, but unless Ireland have found some fresh ideas and new blood, SA should still win this. The lack of tighthead props in Ireland has been dramatically exposed with a new boy, from NZ, being parachuted in - of the four major Irish rugby teams, three have foreign tightheads, and the only local boy is injured. Heh heh.

Pick: SA by 10-15.

Italy v Tonga
Couldn't care less.

Pick: Pasta eaters by 10

France v Aussie
Could be an interesting game, not sure if it's on TV tho'. France could play very well, and Aussie are not having a great time of it. So it should be close. The French provincial teams are playing well, so I think I'd back the French.

Pick: cheese eating surrender monkeys by 3-5.

Scotland v NZ
Scotland haven't beaten NZ in 107 years of rugby. This weekend will not change that. The potential exists in the Scottish team as their players are good, and play well as a team - mainly as they're drawn from the Glasgow and Edinburgh Euro teams so know each other well. NZ are on a blinder, and are probably playing better now than they did during the world cup, new blood is performing well (that is not a twilight reference), and I'll try to avoid bringing it up on Tues.

Pick: NZ by 20+.

Love, B