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The Drawing Board

with David Shipton


Welcome to The Drawing Board, Who’s Playing Who’s new blog covering all things rugby. To kick things off, all our thoughts and are with those who are suffering in Japan and Christchurch. Disasters like these put sport into context, that at the end of the day it is just a game.  However, sports like rugby can have an amazing power to unite and uplift a group of people. This leads nicely onto our first bit of news.

 

Big news announced during the week- Christchurch will not host any of its Rugby World Cup games. This is a bit of a disappointment, but is understandable given the state of AMI stadium.  On to brighter things, here is the Super 15 wrap for the last round.

 

Crusaders 52 – 10 Brumbies

A strong second half display by the Crusaders left the Brumbies in a bit of a shambles. The men from the ACT were playing well to begin with, up 10-0 early thanks to Matt Giteau, and had the Crusaders under some serious pressure. To be fair, the red and blacks were not playing that well. The key moment of the game came when Giteau was somewhat harshly sent off for a professional foul.  After that it was one way traffic as the Crusaders ran in 6 tries, Sean Maitland grabbing a record equalling four tries.  The Brumbies looked awful in the second half. Maybe they should stop sacking coaches?

Rebels 32– 34 Sharks

The most entertaining game of the round occurred in Melbourne, where the competition leaders the Sharks were pushed all the way by the Rebels. Eight tries were scored in all with the lead changing hands several times during the match. Danny Cipriani played well and scored a superb first super rugby try to give the Rebels a 25 – 18 lead, but the Sharks showed their experience to claw back the lead before a brain explosion by Cipriani near his line ultimately cost the Rebels the game.  Probably wanted some Vodka after that horrific pass.  However, they played well enough to show that they should not be taken lightly this year.

Stormers 18 – 6 Highlanders

The Stormers ended the Highlanders winning streak in Cape Town with a penalty-fest. Maybe they saw the try fests that had occurred earlier in the day and decided enough was enough. The Stormers ground out the win with great defence, but have yet to show the attacking flare that was so great to watch last year. Unfortunately for the Highlanders their streak ended, but they have shown that this year they are not the easy beats they were last season. Interestingly, for a competition noted on the amount of tries scored, the team who has the second highest points on the table has scored only the one try!

Hurricanes 29 – 26 Chiefs

The Hurricanes overcame a 22-day rest to get the on edge the Chiefs in an error ridden display. Neither side looked great – the Hurricanes can be forgiven for the massive break between games – as there was plenty of dropped ball.  The referee didn’t have the best of games either, making a few blunders along the way. All things considered the Hurricanes should be pleased that they managed to grind out a win after a long layoff, even if it ment that they sent the Tana-saurus home without the win. The Chiefs will be looking for a better performance, as there is no excuse for their rustiness.  Controversial try awarded to the Hurricanes could have won them the game.

Force 22 – 22 Blues

The Blues managed to scramble a 22 all draw against the Force in Perth on Saturday night. Both teams scored one try a piece, with the rest of the points coming off the boot.  The Force looked like they had the goods when a James O’Conner penalty put them ahead 22 – 12 with 20 minutes to go. A late converted try by Keven Mealamu and a last grasp penalty by Stephan Brett left the Force rueing their ill discipline at the end. Both teams will also be frustrated at this performance as they could have done much better. A draw always leaves a bitter taste.

Cheetahs 20 – 25 Lions

Did anyone get up to watch this one? If you did you would have seen a rare sight, a Lions victory. They are playing better rugby this year under the guidance of former Force coach John Mitchell.  Two first half tries to one and some good kicking were enough to hold off the Cheetahs, who look like they were missing Juan Smith badly at the end. Still a decent game for the Lions.  A loss is a loss for the Cheetahs and they would be disappointed that they couldn’t get up for one of the more winnable games of the year for them.

Bye: Waratahs, Reds and Bulls (4 points for doing nothing is great isn’t it? If only life was the same…)

 

 

Tips for Round 5

Chiefs v Sharks – Sharkies to win by up to 12. The Chiefs will push them hard at home, but have not shown enough to me that they are able to close out games, whilst the Sharks seem to be on fire at the moment. Should be a relatively high scoring game.

Reds v Rebels – This should be an interesting one, as barring the first game the Rebels have not done that badly this year. However, away from home may be a different story. Especially against a Reds outfit who had the bye last week. Reds to win by 12 and under.  Watch out for the Quade Cooper v Danny Cipriani battle.

Highlanders v Crusaders – A game to watch. However much I am enjoying seeing the Highlanders doing well, I cannot see them winning against a Crusaders team seem intent on steamrolling through everyone. The Highlanders also don’t have a great prospect of coming straight back from South Africa to play this game. Crusaders to win by more than 13

Blues v Hurricanes – Hard one to pick really. Blues are coming back from their road trip and are not really on great form at the moment. The Hurricanes haven’t had that much game time recently and were sloppy against the Chiefs.  However I think they will be slightly fresher, Hurricanes by 12 and under.

Waratahs v Cheetahs – Should be an easy game for the Waratahs, Cheetahs don’t tour well and haven’t won a game this year. Waratahs by 13 and over (cricket scores anyone?)

Lions v Force – Another close game. I’m picking the Lions to just edge this as I think they will have taken a lot of confidence out of the last few weeks. Another one that has potential to be high scoring, especially up in the Highveld.

Bulls v Stormers – One of the games of the round will be contested by the two South African heavyweights. The Stormers have a good defence, but are lacking on offense it seems. The Bulls have a decent attack but have an average defence.  Bulls to edge this one as they will take the most of their opportunities/drop kick attempts/penalty attempts.

 

 

Headlines

  • Crusaders have decided to take their match against the Sharks to London.  This should mean that at the end of this exercise they should be in a good enough financial position to keep the rest of their home games in their franchise.
  • England is on track to win the 6 Nations. Wow. They are actually looking decent for the first time in years.  Wales scored a controversial try to steal a win from the Irish. The biggest news from here is that…
  • ITALY BEAT FRANCE!! Yes it is true, the “cowardly” French lost to the might of Italy 22-21 which is amazing for the Italians. Now if only they can only do something like that later this year…
  • John Afoa is going to play for Ulstar next year.  Nathan Sharpe may want to join him overseas as he was snubbed by the ARU by not getting a contract top up. Just threaten to go overseas Sharpey and then see if that will change their minds.
  • All Blacks to play a Quake relief match on the 22nd of July against an unknown team at an uknown place. Watch this space!
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