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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tom Croft's brilliant try and try-saving tackle against Harlequins

Tom Croft played a key role in Leicester Tigers' 33-16 Aviva Premiership semifinal win over Harlequins at the weekend, scoring a great try and making a very impressive try-saving tackle. They will face Northampton Saints in the final on May 25th.

Croft spent a large part of the season out recovering from a serious neck injury, but this year has returned strong, showing the kind of form that excited fans when he first came onto the scene.

The 27-year-old put in good performances in England's last two Six Nations game, and has found his straps with Leicester, culminating in a Lions call up for the tour of Australia.

"We know how good Crofty can be. We have been very patient with him, and he's been very patient with us. Our loyalty to those guys who get injured is always the same," said Richard Cockerill.

Croft's brilliant 50m sprint in the second half followed on from a vital try-saving tackle he made before the break, stopping Danny Care getting in for what looked like a certain try.

"The tackle on Danny was probably more important than my try because I should have been on the blind-side anyway," Croft said. "We knew we could not give Quins a chance, and the defence was superb today, and that is what has won us the game."

Harlequins' Conor O'Shea paid tribute to both Leicester, and specifically, Croft. "Tom Croft is a very special athlete. But it is also the physicality he brings to the game - he is an incredible competitor."

View his fantastic try saving tackle | View Highlights from the match

Would Tom Croft be in your Lions loose trio to start against the Wallabies?

Page: 123View All

Posted at 12:25 pm | 35 comments

British & Irish Lions 2013 squad announcement

Tom Croft discusses England recall after injury layoff

England forward Tom Croft discusses his team-mates

Tom Croft on the comeback trail after neck injury

Andy Goode red carded for high hit vs former team Leicester

Late Tom Croft try sneaks win over Bath for Leicester

Tom Croft's two great tries vs Harlequins

Tom Croft 60m winning try vs NZ Maori in Churchill Cup

Posted in Great Tries

Viewing 35 comments

UpTheLowEnd May 14, 2013 7:00 pm

Crofty is looking on fire! Bring on Oz! (not to mention the finals)

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steve May 14, 2013 7:48 pm

Yes he will be! Him at 6, Warburton at 7 & Falateu at 8! What a backrow!

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Owen May 14, 2013 8:08 pm

No, he wont he doesn't offer enough shunt for a Gatland pack and is lazy at the breakdown. The backrow will be Warburton, Tipuric and Faletau

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browner May 14, 2013 9:00 pm

Blodwyn Owen, The coal dust has pickled your brain ........ 8's don't do anything special nowadays, Faletau is midweek filler... as is Tipuric

Croft, Warburton, O'Brien [or Lydiate] IMO

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Tc May 14, 2013 9:03 pm

I fear you may be right, but hope that gatland doesn't follow through with this seemingly all Wales agenda. He has created a problem for himself picking warbuton as captain, because there's better 7s and 6s in the squad. Should have picked odriscoll as tour captain and then picked a match day captain for the tests

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Reality May 14, 2013 9:44 pm

I'm inclined to agree with Owen. Croft is fast, yeah, but I'd prefer a powerful blindside who gives his team go-forward ball than a fast one. Pierre Spies is really fast as well, but he's a fairly average number 8.

Although I definitely don't agree with Owen's all-Welsh backrow. Maybe the openside, but at 6 I'd have O'Brien and at 8 I'd have Heaslip who has been on fire for the last few weeks. Warburton or Tipuric at blindside is quite simply ridiculous if O'Brien is fit.

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Tc May 14, 2013 10:12 pm

Spies was awesome in his day. Not sure if the comparison is fair with croft as they are different types of players. Spies was / is an out and out ball carrier, a luxury player in a good pack. Croft has a more rounded game, but isn't quite the same powerful carrier. He needs more space to run. Morgan should have been included as he's probably the best carrier in the NH after picamoles

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Kevin May 14, 2013 8:20 pm

before that excellent run, he had played 60 mins and only had 8 tackles, 3 carries and 10 metres made. that wont be enough to get onto Gatlands team.
He did put in a crucial try saver and scored an exellent try so in that regard he had a big influence. but he must be making more of a sustained 80 minute performance with 15+ tackles, and 10-15 carries out wide and in support of the backs. Then combine that with 3+ lineout wins and then he may be included.

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Tc May 14, 2013 8:49 pm

If you used purely stats for selection, then you could argue away half of the squad and replace them with AP/rabo journeymen

Croft adds an extra dimension to a back row with his pace and line out presence. Rugby isn't just all about carries and tackles. You forget that rucks need clearing, nuisance needs creating and dummy runners are always used, to name but many functions of the game. so if you want none of the above, watch rugby league because that is all about metres and tackle counts

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Kevin May 15, 2013 12:55 am

yes i know rugby is not as black and white as just tackles and metres. i just used those examples because they were already on display in the actual video. and they do serve as a good (not perfect) indicator of a players performance.
they are competing against pocock, hooper and the likes. these guys will go off the scale in tackles, metres, turnovers and still have plenty left for the rucks, dummy lines and whatever else needs doing.
I was just trying to say that Croft still needs to produce more to get on the starting team. its all well and good offering pace and athleticism but unless he uses it abundantly than he won't make enough influence against the wallaby backrow

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Tc May 15, 2013 4:44 pm

I'll just ask, if you expect your loose forwards to carry 10-15 times out wide, how many carries should a centre or wing have in a game?

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Kevin May 15, 2013 7:28 pm

oh no sorry i meant 10-15 but mostly out wide cause he's most effective out there.. but yeah he would do quite a few in tight to

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coops May 14, 2013 10:55 pm

If we are talking about stats, then Chris Robshaw should be in the Lions squad ahead of Warburton and Tipuric. And anyone should be in ahead of Lydiate (in terms of stats this season)!.

O'Shea also came out and essentially referred to those who doubt Tom Croft's physicality as idiots. His work rate is excellent and considering Harelquins didn't have the ball in the second half, 8 tackles in one half is not bad by any stretch of the imagination.

You are right though in that the backrow requires balance - but Croft IS the form 6 at the moment.

My reviews, highlights and player ratings are here: www.ruckedover.blogspot.com

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Reality May 14, 2013 11:32 pm

I think Sean O'Brien might disagree with you about who the form number 6 is.

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Facepalm May 16, 2013 1:14 pm

If you're looking for the form 6 then look at the last international games. Croft was nothing, O'Brien was nothing and Lydiate didn't even play. Selecting anyone other than Tipuric and Waburton as your flankers is nonsensical to me.

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Reality May 16, 2013 10:26 pm

Two opensides doesn't really seem like the best option to me. And if I remember correctly, O'Brien has been in pretty good form. He suffered from being on a crap team in the Six Nations, but he still did all that could have been asked of him.

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lets add some more r May 20, 2013 2:32 am

Tom croft may have been "nothing" in his england game but just remember it was his first international game this season and only his 5 or 6th game this season? He has only got better from then on as he has got fitter and game time!

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matt May 15, 2013 12:26 am

Even if some of the criticism of croft turns out to be true, this Lions team desperately needs some dynamism, and since it looks like it won't come from the backs, you need a man like croft hanging around a dominant tight 5 to pounce.

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Aero May 14, 2013 8:23 pm

Would Croft be in my Back Three? Would be a positional change and whilst he is quick I dunno if he's as quick as Ioane and O'Connor, but would be interesting and worth trying in an earlier tour match

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quade May 15, 2013 12:45 am

At 6 it has to be either O'Brien or Croft with one of them providing versatility off the bench. Warburton and Lydiate don't offer enough in attack to start at 6.

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DrG May 15, 2013 1:17 am

"Floody is down" - Sorry WHAT? "Did you see that?" - Again wtf? Are you a referee/AR or are you one of the lads?

Hard to base Crofts position on just this single play. It was a brilliant run, but with fast Aussie backs would the Lions not be better handing the shirt to a relatively slower player with much more bash?

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Canadian content May 15, 2013 6:51 am

What's most impressive about the run is that he pulls away from Manu and the Leicester wing, 2 outside backs struggled to keep up with him!

Croft plays thé exact type of game needed to beat the Aussies, speedy and dynamic. He'll run down the Ozzie backs and support the big lions backs as a link player. Hooper would beat Obrien to the ball in 13 channel 9/10. Croft not so much. If garland wants to play a bang up tight game croft may not be his choice and Obrien will be more effective. One of the backrow must be a ball carrier, which will probably be the eight. Nice to have another but croft isn't really a banger, neither is warburton. Ahh Stephen ferris why of why did ye have to play so beautifully and waste yourself. You'd be the 6 for sure

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DrG May 15, 2013 11:11 am

Problem I see with Tom Croft if all he has is being a large fast runner, is that the Aussie backs are not afraid to put in good hits, and Croft is no steam roller, so of course get him into a big enough space and he'll make some ground, but again the Aussie backs are damn fast. I know that is no excuse to write him off completely, I just wonder if he has/had more hard graft to his game he'd be more useful as an out and out pain in the arse flanker..

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hamsandwhich May 15, 2013 10:21 am

As much as his overall stats can be up for debate, you can't help but admit that Tom Croft is one of those players who, every so often, does something that just leaves you smiling like an idiot

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maverickmak May 15, 2013 11:09 am

Croft has been in exceptional form for a while now. All over the park. The little bit of bulk he added has made him more robust in the tight, while he has lost none of his pace. And he has a knack of scoring tries at the moment.

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Stringer May 15, 2013 11:14 am

I do really love what looks like Dan Cole taking out Toby Flood. Saw it on the day I thought it was quite good then. Cracking bit of tackling.

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DrG May 15, 2013 11:38 am

Don't mean to change the subject, but sad news about Joe Ansbro being forced to retire.

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stroudos May 15, 2013 10:20 pm

Has he? Nothing to do with the long-term effect of that headbutt celebration (with Kellock?) when they beat the Strayans that time?

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DrG May 16, 2013 12:36 am

Strokosch not Kellock, but no, apparently in the warm up to the Autumn tests or Summer tests :S he broke his neck.. still has all movement etc, but has been advised by medical staff to not continue.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/22537531

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DrG May 16, 2013 12:39 am

"sustained the injury while playing in a pre-season match in August." ...so I was a little off, but yeh..

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Leadbitter May 15, 2013 12:28 pm

His Lions selection despite being back only relatively soon after injury tells you everything you need to know about how well regarded Croft is. There is simply no other no.6 in playing in Britain that can do what we have just watched.
He has to be in the team - who else is going to catch the air ball pass pasties that Davies and Roberts will be sending out towards the touchline?

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Bunn May 15, 2013 1:36 pm

I comment about Croft not having enough power doesn't really hold up at he did fine in South Africa who play a much more physical game, two tries if I remember correctly. He's also a top quality line-out option which mean you can do more with the rest of the pack. I'm not saying he should start, just that because he doesn't run over lots of people doesn't mean he shouldn't play. Northern Hemisphere rugby has too much focus on running over people

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brawnybalboa May 16, 2013 12:38 pm

I am really intrigued as to how Gatland will approach this tour. I have a feeling a lot of his selections will be based on how he wants to play the game.

If he wants brute force to smash the aussies, I would imagine his XV would be:
Front Row: Healy, Hibbard, Jones
Lock: O'Connell, Evans
Loose Forwards: O'Brien Warburton Faletau
Halfback: Phillips, Farrell
Centre: Roberts, Tuilagi
Back 3: North, Cuthbert, Halfpenny

Ball carriers galore (Healy, Hibbard, O'Brien, Falatau, Roberts & Tuilagi) and lots of power and bulk

But then if he wants to play a bit of rugby:
Front Row: Jenkins, Youngs, Cole
Lock: Parling, Wyn-Jones
Loose Forwards: Croft, Tipuric, Heaslip
Halfback: Youngs, Sexton
Centre: Davies, BOD
Back 3: Halfpenny, Kearney, Bowe

A lot more pace in the pack, plus more creativity in the backs.

Personally however Gatland picks, I would love to see Tipuric and Croft on the field together, probably the two fastest back rowers in the home nations.

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Lewi May 17, 2013 11:43 am

8's don't do nothing, get away they do so. Croft isn't good enough on defence and rucking for a back row. He only had pace, the Australians will be hitting through 9 and 10 and he needs to be there to tackle and then turn over ball which he doesn't do, surely he cannot be picked

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dave May 18, 2013 8:33 am

I would be so down for stuart lancaster to try tom croft out on the wing, it's probably a dumb idea but you have to admit having 4 backrow forwards on the field might be an advantage not too forget that we got destroyed by big wingers by wales, maybe he could have neutralized Cuthbert in that game?

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