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Worcester Match Observations
Posted by: centenary stand jim
Date: 08/10/2018 20:14
Firstly, I'll confirm I'm a long time reader of this forum, bristol rugby passionate and not a troll! Don't normally post, but my shock at the weekends performance has led me to - cathartic I hope!

Like many, I'll start by saying what a dreadful outing that was. Shocking. I've witnessed some awful moments at Sixways, but that performance was way off the scale and was truly painful to watch, not least because of it being a "bottom 6 rival". Fair play to Worcs, but my observations are about Bristol...what the hell went wrong?

I was a little surprised to see the team coach pull up at 3 minutes to 2 o'clock - is this usual preparation? (if so, fair do's but away coach is normally parked up behind south stand at the gate wen i arrive around half one i think)

Individual and collective performances were equally poor, but a few things that I left to reflect on:

Has early pre-season allowed us to peak early and now we are knackered, is the high speed 7's game plan too much for the oldies by the end of the block of pre games and it caught up with us or, have teams worked us out? Either scenario worries me since it'll only get more attritional with time in this league and at the moment we don;t have a plan B. After watching players struggling to play plan A at champ level often last year, is this an insistence on a rigid system rather than players adapting in the moment with heads up rugby?

Talking of plan A, my biggest concern was the incredibly high risk nature of throwing the ball around with gay abandon miles behind the gain line before the season started. My issue other than general execution, is incredibly easy to read as we have no variation. No effective driving mauls, forwards running hard and good lines 5 m from the ruck base. Just in / out check it down the line. What happened to being able to adapt to offer different questions in attack and thus keep powder dry for when you do go wide where there is more space because its not always expected?

My biggest worry of pre-season was seeing plan A last year and then watching forward recruitment to presumably fit this mould (i.e. mobile ball players). Half of the season is played in mud, wind and rain. Not having a chunky pack option when required to stabilise forward play in winter conditions is a concern. Any second row combo we put out (admittedly not seen Muldowny) is lightweight at this level - which, given we are playing a flanker at 8 and a very light (albeit lively) hooker compounds things.

Squad always looked like a good first 15 with questionable depth depending on how youngsters and championship recruits stepped up. At the minute, it looks to me like prop depth is yet to be proved, we have one pre lock in Vui right now and our choices at 8 are a flanker, an unproven at this level youngster and Jordan Crane. Whilst we have some young talent, they need more support - hoping for a ball carrying athletic lump from the southern hemisphere in the second row and at 8 before the weather turns to bolster pack options.

Once our first choice full backs return the wide backs are fine. Centres were ineffective on the weekend ball carrying.Both are tidy players but when you are having to make hard yards because the forwards aren't / can't / it's not part of plan A, it is way easier to nullify them as an opposition surely?

Only other things I wanted to mention were:

Half back recruitment worried me over the summer in terms of experience and depth. Losing Searle was a shame but fair do's Sheedy has done alright. Madigan was not at the races on the weekend but would like to see more game management and height on restarts a la bigger the other week.

Scrum half recruitment and "ready right now" depth looks disappointing - Uren has done ok but surely the plan was to nurture him as the season went on...not to be our starting 9!

Defense - what the hell? Is this because Muldoon is transitioning in after Thomas? Rookie coaches didn't work last time round....brave move by Lam and i hope it works!

Well - still love Bris. That's off the chest. No more "learnings" please...sort the defence, by a prem quality second row to partner Vui and a mobile smasher at 8 and think again about the 9 recruitment for the season. Give Mads his blue boots back as they seem more lucky, fingers crossed the champ props will make strides in the euro time and Charles comes back firing and we can all put the miserable memory of last weekend to bed.

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