Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (7/4/11)

The Drawing Board (7/4/11)

Welcome back to another instalment of The Drawing Board. Unlike at WrestleMania on Monday, the hits during round 7 of Super Rugby were real and not put on.  Another great weekend of rugby was seen, with action happening in all corners of the globe.

The Top 14 is heating up with Toulouse sitting pretty on top of the premier French domestic competition. The Leicester Tigers are sitting atop the English competition (renamed the Aviva premiership) whilst Munster are leading the Magners League. The Heineken Cup is heading into quarter-final action as the teams make an assault on the top prize in European rugby. The French have four quarter finalists (Perpignan, Biarritz, Toulouse and the big spending Toulon) whilst the English (Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints) and Ireland (Leinster and Ulster) have two each. Look out for tries in these games; they are almost as rare as real punches were WrestleMania. On the back of that, here is the News.

 

Headlines

  • Blues centre Jared Payne is off to Ulster, whilst Kahn Fotuali’i of the Crusaders is off to the Ospreys. They will be setting themselves up for a nice pay check, but it will be loose change compared to…
  • Dan Carter’s reported offer of NZ$2.2 million a season to go play for French club Racing Metro for 3 years. So, anyone up for $42,300 a week?
  • NZ has won the Adelaide Sevens to take control of the World Series
  • James Slipper somehow escaped unpunished for a spear tackle during the Lions game
  • Sam Whitelock, Berrick Barnes, Matt Hodgson and Phil Waugh are to miss the next round through injuries whilst million dollar man Dan Carter looks doubtful
  • Jake White looks to be in the running to take over as Brumbies head coach.
  • The Broncos and Eels look to have gone off signing Quade Cooper
  • The Rebels look set to announce the signing of Denan Kemp according to reports
  • Dean Mumm will lead the Waratahs in Phil Waugh’s place

 

Super Wrap

Highlanders 26 – 20 Brumbies

The Highlanders’ impressive start continues as they notched up their fourth victory over the Brumbies at home on Friday night. They had to grind it out though as the Brumbies were constantly applying pressure at the breakdown and at scrum time. However, some woeful kicking from Matt Giteau and missed opportunities allowed the Highlanders to maintain a decent lead throughout the game. They were clinical when they needed to be and held their discipline towards the end to condemn the player empowering Brumbies to their 5th consecutive loss since sacking their coach.

Waratahs 23 – 16 Chiefs

The Waratahs managed to see off a determined Chiefs side to close the gap on the conference leading Reds.  A woeful first half display by the Chiefs was too much for them to overcome, as they never recovered from a poor scrummaging display. There was a spell of around seven minutes where there was scrum reset after scrum reset. Eventually the ref had enough and sent Chiefs player Nathan White off and awarded a penalty try. Eventually I, along with a whole host of others, will give up on scrums if the IRB don’t sort this farce that they have created out. Back to the game, the Waratahs took their opportunities, but would have liked a better second half after being up 20 –  6 at half time.

Blues 29 – 22 Cheetahs

The Blues withstood a fantastic comeback by the Cheetahs to claim a bonus point victory.  Up 14 – 3 at half time (and 24 – 3 in the second half), the Blues let the Cheetahs come back into the game with three tries in 21 minutes. The Cheetahs will be ruing a slow start as that effectively cost them another upset. Both teams contributed to a good game of rugby, with all the tries of good quality. The Blues should be pleased with the way they went about their business for most of the game, but should be concerned about the way they let the Cheetahs back into the game.

Hurricanes 14 – 23 Bulls

The Bulls continued to get their season back on track with a valuable victory on the road against the Hurricanes. This was a typical Bulls performance, gathering points whenever they could, usually off the boot of Morne Steyn. The Hurricanes were disappointing again, with squandered opportunities in both half’s costing them the game.  They were in it up until a late Francois Hougaard try put the game beyond doubt.  This victory leaves the Hurricanes at joint last in the NZ conference whilst the Bulls move up to second in the RSA conference.

Force 25 – 26 Rebels (Game of the round)

The Rebels have done it! They have managed to get an away win!! In an incredibly tight game, the Rebels managed to pip the Force to achieve an incredible win. The Force ran out to a 15 – 3 lead thanks to a couple of tries from their forwards, but a Mark Gerrad try and a few penalties from Danny Cipriani had it back to a one point ball game by half time. The Rebels started well in the second half, grabbing two tries on the way to a 26 – 18 lead mid way through the half. A try with 12 minutes to go made the game a tight one, with whiz-kid James O’Conner missing a late penalty to hand the Rebels their first win away from home.

Lions 25 – 30 Reds

The Reds managed to finish the game better then the Lions did to take the four points in Johannesburg. The Lions lead 19 – 10 with a try just after half time, but will rue an awful kicking display from Andre Pretorius who left at least 10 points on the park. For the first time in nine years the Reds managed to put four consecutive victories together as they overcame some sloppy handling in the first half to finish strongly. Quade Cooper led the comeback superbly, with a well taken try towards the end as a just reward.

Sharks 6 – 16 Stormers

The Stormers continued to show they are experts at grinding out victories as they maintain their unbeaten start to the season with an important win over the Sharks. Unseasonable rain made the game a forward dominated exchange between the sides, with the only try coming to Schalk Burger in the 13th minute. The Stormers again showed that it is going to be hard to get through their defence this year as they were superb to keep the Sharks at bay.

 

Tips

To ensure that my recent picking form will continue I am going to phone my bookmaker in Pakistan and ask him to fix the results of the games. Or I could just bribe the players myself? However this is a more interesting and entertaining way of doing things so maybe I’ll leave that until later in the competition…

Highlanders V Cheetahs – This should be a good game between two sides that have been surprisingly competitive. The Highlanders should have more confidence and know how to win now, so they should take this one. Would not be surprised if the Cheetah’s were to win, but my pick is the Highlanders to win by less than 5 points.

Crusaders V Bulls – the win last week against the Hurricanes has taken a bit of pressure off the Bulls in this road trip but the Crusaders should just have enough after coming off the bye. Should be closer than expected as the Crusaders will not be at full strength, however they should still run away with the game by 13 points or more.

Brumbies V Hurricanes – Hardest game of the round to pick as I don’t know which team will play worse. Both teams have had a really bad start to the season, with both playing way below their potential. The draw may be a good option here, but I’m going to go with the Hurricanes to see out the victory by less than 12 points.

Force V Waratahs – As well as the Force played last week, I cannot see them winning this one. The Waratahs are getting on a bit of a roll and seem to be getting their set pieces into gear and should take this one out by 12 points or less.

Stormers V Reds – This should be too tough for the Reds to handle. They have looked good this year, but haven’t really been tested all that often and this game represents a big step up in quality. Whilst their attack has yet to fully click into gear, the Stormers have a mighty defence and should be able to shut the Reds out of the game. I can’t foresee them getting a huge score, so I’ll take the Stormers by less than 12 points this week.

Sharks V Lions – Whilst the Lions have shown that they are not the easy beats that they were last year, they are still struggling to win games. This should again continue against a Sharks side that would be desperate to get back to their winning ways. They shouldn’t get too far away from the Lions, so another 12 points or less victory here.

Super XV for Week Seven:

I have decided to include a form side for each week to show who has been playing well. Here we go…

15. Isaia Toeava 14 (Blues).  Kade Poki (Highlanders) 13. Digby Ioane (Reds) 12. Jean de Villiers (Stormers) 11. David Smith (Western Force) 10. Quade Cooper (Reds) 9. Sarel Pretorius (Cheetahs) 8. Duanne Vermeulen (Stormers) 7. Adam Thomson (Highlanders) 6. Schalk Burger (Stormers) 5. Victor Matfield (Bulls) 4. Sam Wykes (Western Force) 3. Greg Somerville (Melbourne Rebels) 2. Keven Mealamu (Blues) 1. Jamie MacKinstosh (Highlanders).

 

Well that’s me for another week. Catch you next week for another instalment of the Drawing Board.

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