The haka this weekend was interesting. Breakdown of the teams I've seen after two games: Ireland: I only saw one game, and they were unlucky to lose this one. The teams were pretty evenly matched and Ireland did pretty well despite missing some key players. Big props to Mike McCarthy, who brought Eben Etzebeth to a shuddering halt. Big game from him. They conceded because Heaslip went off and while they likely would have done had he stayed on, they might have had a better chance at striking back. Scotland: brave as ever. They've taken two thumpings but that hasn't put them down. Against New Zealand a leaky defence let them down but they were encouraging in attack, scoring tries for the first time in ages. Teams, especially teams that far behind, don't often front up to NZ in that way and despite the scoreline the signs were encouraging. Against SA, things didn't go quite as well. The relentless hammering the 'boks dished out meant that they leaked in a couple of tries, and watching Adriaan Strauss run in a 20m intercept try has to be among the most depressing things an international defence coach can see (although I like Strauss). There are definitely signs of life in the Scottish team, but they did seem to have big problems when Gray went off. England: only saw the Australia game. Now, while everyone will be shouting at Joe Marler over his scrummaging, Robinson was consistently binding on the arm and I wouldn't be surprised if the Aussies were jumping the hit early most scrums (I wasn't paying enough attention). There was also some chronic burrowing from the Aussies on one side in a few scrums, and the England front row had about three caps between them. They had something of a lesson in the Dark Arts. Marler's round-the-pitch play, on the other hand, was bad. The rest of England, were good but not sparkling. The Aussies, particularly Barnes, seemed to have the measure of the rush defence and yet England didn't adapt to cover that. They also looked bereft of really good ideas in attack, and I'm still not convinced by the 10/12/13 axis. Tuilagi needs to start but I would peg him as a 12, personally, as long as he learns to pass. Ashton just isn't getting the ball.Waldrom- big carrier but that seems to be it. I think they might be better off, and I hate to say this, with Haskell there (assuming Morgan's still off-form). I heard he got so excited watching Australia v France that a neuron fired, and the ensuing rampage ensured he didn't get picked. France: putting teams to the sword. Sadly the French team are only playing the most-depleted of the big three sides this time. Their slaughtering of Australia through their forwards was great to watch, and after both matches I'm prepared to revise my opinion of Szarzewski (sp?). Their back three are demons around the pitch and will only get stronger when Dusautoir returns (NO MORE HARINORDOQUY!); it was great to hear the commentators shout "Louis Picamoles; une machine!" last night. With the correct accents on the letters, of course. On top of that, their new back-line set-up is working wonders. Fofana makes for a great winger, Mermoz is very solid and Florian Fritz has been playing an absolute blinder (MotM against Argentina for me, above Nyanga). Problem is, as ever, that it's France. Hopefully this coach can bring forward this form to the 6N- as much as people love to hate France, no-one dislikes watching this sort of rugby being played. Wales: too many problems. Short breakdown: JJD and Lydiate, no experienced TH yet, terrible line-outs, no attacking options, no good set-pieces, the worst breakdown work I've ever seen, leaky defence, Priestland lacking in all confidence and unclear as to what to do (God I hope Biggar's fit, he actually did well until that 'legal' (fuck off JD) clear-out), top-class wingers that we drift into the touchline, no real captain, Roberts regressing in his attack patterns (thank God he moved; Top14 will use his potential, I hope), headless kicking, no good 4/5 pairing available (best is usually AWJ/BBD; Charteris needs a scrummager with him and Evans can be a penalty machine), Warburton's form (I noticed he's got a lot of head padding now and he's complained of headaches. Shame; as a biased person I think that on-form he's World Class) and 1/2p not good enough to carry the team (bright side: he can always get parts in Peter Jackson films), Faletau needs some work (he's got skill but he got outmuscled). Gethin needs to get used to being an impact sub until his scrummaging gets better or he gets more game time. Dire. Start to finish. AB will likely slaughter us. Samoa: can reliably claim to be a Tier One nation since they turned the Aussies. Played with the usual PI gusto but had some tactics and tight/set-piece work to back it up. Still concerned that they're not quite clear on what arms are, but that might be the bitterness talking. They might also struggle against teams willing to match them physically. Go and win your other matches. I still think NZ were silly not to try and nab Fotuali'i. Argentina: I'm still not convinced that all the talk of "one season of TRC making them better" is correct. Partly because it reeks of the sort of "SH is just better. Always" spiel that kinda helps no-one but those teams, and partly because they came into the RC performing at that level. It's more likely that the development the IRB have put into them and the time Argentinian players have spent in the UK and France has turned them into a scary unit. Their pack are properly terrifying and JMF Lobbe is turning into a Parisse-type high-performance talisman for his team. Except with a good team around him. South Africa: battering all and sundry into submission since inception. They've got a good attacking option with Lambie, who will be Goosen's back-up when he returns. Pienaar is playing phenomnally well. They've got a pack of golems who never seem to be able to turn their monstrosity into good scrummaging technique (their tightheads beyond Mtawarira are not good) but will run the ball all day long. Adriaan Strauss may well fight BdP for his shirt (phenomenal workrate, but BdP is BdP). Alberts and Etzebeth in particular are not men you want running at your line, and JDV is still battering defences. Although they have a solid defence they do seem to be more manageable if you deny them the ball, but they have been doing a decent job retaining it and making turnovers. Oh, and don't let them maul. Hilariously, Scotland refused the maul twice (clever) from a lineout and the 'boks just went for them anyway. BOKKE SMASH. Australia: who the fuck knows? They blow hot and cold more often than France at the moment; despite being so badly depleted, they've got the mental strength to hold on and beat an England team who really should have stuck it to them. The France match they got destroyed; they couldn't get any clean ball or make an attacking platform for themselves and they didn't have much in defence. Against England they seemed to rely fully on experience to make defence and the breakdown easy on themselves (not convinced the breakdown wasn't iffy) and then Barnes had the measure of the English defence and was, with Beale, able to unlock it. New Zealand: battered Scotland. Great support lines, incredibly quick at the breakdown with a good pack. Still New Zealand. I hear the Italy game was, scoreline permitting, not quite as good. Dan Carter still the best player around for international games; something in his head just makes him sublime when he's on form. Likely to go 4-0 this time around, unless England cause an upset. Right, that's me done. What does everyone else think?