Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (25/3/11)

The Drawing Board (25/3/11)

with David Shipton

Welcome back to the Drawing Board for this week. Well, wasn’t that a great week of rugby action? The Super Rugby season is in full swing and it seems like the conference system is working. Elsewhere the 6 Nations gave us another drama filled weekend. Let’s start with the week’s news.

Headlines

  • Dunedin looks set to host the extra All Blacks test against Fiji at the new stadium. Also, they look like they could gain an extra couple of RWC games with Invercargill, North Harbour (north shore of Auckland) and Nelson looking likely for the other games.
  • Dan Carter has put future plans on hold for the moment as a result of the earthquake.
  • Bakkies Botha has been cleared of any dangerous play after being sighted in the match against the Stormers.
  • The NZRU have reached an agreement over the use of “Ka Mate” as their haka.
  • Robbie Robinson will be given team discipline over an incident where he was pepper sprayed by police and then held overnight in police custody. He was not charged.
  • Stephan Donald and Mills Muliaina are out with back injuries.
  • The Crusaders have covered their costs for the game in London with 30,000 tickets already sold.
  • Ireland, France and Scotland all won in the 6 Nations over the weekend, but it was the English who won the trophy (but couldn’t manage a grand slam).
  • Gloucester claimed the Anglo – Welsh cup, beating the Newcastle Falcons 34 – 7 in the final.
  • All Blacks may swap their silver fern on their jerseys for a red one as a once off for the quake victims.

 

Super Wrap

Looks like I got shown up a bit on the weekend.  2 out of 7 is not a great return (could I get one for calling the Brumbies getting 4 points for the bye?), but I’ll claim that the teams were just doing it to make a mockery of me in my first week. Anyway, here is the round wrap for this week.

Chiefs 15 – 9 Sharks

No tries in this one, however the conditions didn’t really allow both teams to run the ball too much. The Chiefs finally muscled up and put in a brave performance to beat the previously undefeated Sharks. It was a tight game with both teams lacking fluency as the rain came down in Hamilton. Tied up at 9 – 9 with 12 minutes left, Mike Delany slotted two late penalties to see the Chiefs home. Both teams will be looking for better performances next week, although the Chiefs will be happy with the way they closed the game out.

Reds 53 – 3 Rebels

After impressing against the Sharks last week, the Rebels were very disappointing as a refreshed Reds side racked up a record 50 point victory. That by the way is the largest winning margin for the Reds in Super Rugby. After an early Danny Cipriani penalty it was all the Reds as they ran in 7 tries, with new recruit Mike Harris (being dubbed Aussie Mike by some in the NZ media) grabbing two tries. Greg Sommerville gets the butchered try of the week (and maybe year) with this effort (he is at 2:29).

Highlanders 13 – 44 Crusaders

A scrappy first half saw the Crusaders leading by 13 – 6 at the break. It could have been a lot better for the Highlanders if their goal kickers were on target. However they were not and the Crusaders were clinical at taking their opportunities (although some of the tries looked a little dubious). They had a superior scrum and lineout, and more game breakers then the Highlanders. Also, they were very good at the breakdown. Not a perfect performance by any means but they got the job done.

Hurricanes 17 – 41 Blues

This was shaping up to be a really good game with a tense finish until a controversial sending off of Hurricane Andrew Hore allowed the Blues to romp home.  After two tries in the first half, the Blues lead 20 – 14, but a Dan Kirkpatrick penalty mid way through the second half set up what looked like a close finish, only for the Blues to romp home with three tries in the last 10 minutes of the game. I guess sometimes luck goes against you.

Waratahs 3 – 26 Cheetahs

I don’t think anyone saw this result coming. What seemed like an easy win turned out to be a nightmare for the Waratahs. All credit to the Cheetahs for playing out of their skins, but the Waratahs were awful in this game. Two second half tries to the Cheetahs along with some penalties were enough to have the crowd at the SFS booing the Waratahs off the field. After not converting early pressure into points, the Waratahs were left to lick their wounds as they were outplayed in the second half.

Lions 15 – 27 Force

Two tries and an excellent kicking game from whiz kid James O’Conner helped the Force overcome a disappointing Lions side. Both sides used admirable handling in the heavy rain. However, the Lions could not cross the line for a try, with all their points coming off the boot of Elton Jantjies. They were widely tipped to do better than this, but the Force took control of the game in the last quarter as the Lions discipline let them down.

Bulls 13 – 23 Stormers

Former Bull Bryan Habana scored the decisive try in a tight game between the two South African heavy weights. The Stormers had control of the game for large parts and should have probably won by a few more, but they will take the win up at Loftus. Habana scored 10 minutes from the end to rectify a mistake that saw him concede a try to new Bull Bjorn Basson (one of the two Springboks sent home from last year’s northern tour). Stormers fly half out kicked his counterpart Morne Steyn to add the remainder of the points for the night.

Bye: Brumbies

 

Tips

Now let’s see if I can do better than last week’s predictions…. I hope so!

Rebels v Hurricanes – I can’t see anything but a Hurricanes victory. Although they were not up to their best against the Blues, they should have too much for the Rebels.  The Rebels are not going to be in a great space for this week so my pick is the Hurricanes by 13 +

Reds v Cheetahs – As much as I would like the Cheetahs to repeat last week’s performance, I don’t see it happening against a Reds side that are beginning to hit their straps. Cheetahs should hold in for the first 60 minutes or so before the Reds run away with the result. Reds to win by 13 +

Chiefs v Blues – Blues should have more than enough firepower to win this game, although the Chiefs have shown that they can win ugly. Should be a tight game, but I think that the Blues should edge it. If the conditions suit it, this one should be a good feast of running rugby as both teams like moving the ball. Blues by less than 12.

Brumbies v Waratahs – Both teams would be looking to get their campaigns back on track. The Waratahs were dismal last week against the Cheetahs and the Brumbies haven’t hit top form yet. Should be a hard fought game as all derbies are, but my pick will be the Waratahs to win by less than 12.

Stormers v Western Force – Stormers should be too good for the Force at home. Even though they have yet to unleash their backline in the same way as they did last year, their defence should still be far too strong for the Force. My prediction is that the Stormers will win by 12 and under.

Bulls v Lions – Should be a really good game as the South African teams generally fire up when they play each other. The Bulls on paper should have more than enough class to beat the Lions, but then again the Cheetahs did beat the Waratahs so anything can happen. Bulls should be too good at home after 2 consecutive losses so my pick is the Bulls to win by less than 12.

Crusaders v Sharks, Twickenham – Historic game as the Crusaders will be playing the Sharkies in London for the first Super Rugby game to be played up north. Should be a good game as both teams have shown some decent form this season; however I think the Crusaders should edge this one by less than 12.

Form teams: Crusaders and the Stormers are my picks for form teams this week. They look on song, but both have their faults that teams can look to exploit. It is early season yet but I think these two are really showing their class. Reds seem to be clicking again which should be good for everyone who enjoys plenty of tries!

 

I’m pumped for the weekend’s action. This should be a good round to view. So, until then I’ll leave waiting on the first game on Friday (Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes after…wards!!!) evening. Until the next instalment, Kia Kaha.

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