Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (20/4/11)

The Drawing Board (20/4/11)

Welcome to another instalment of your favourite rugby blog, The Drawing Board. Hopefully you have your Easter plans sorted.  I would love to say that I will be in for a few days of watching rugby but I have to go on a camp, so that has ruled me out for the weekend. However, I still will be keeping a keen eye on the matches whenever possible. Enough of that, let’s get going on this week’s proceedings. After a couple of weeks of slightly less tries, this week contained (yes I was surprised too) 49 tries across 7 games (at an average of 7 a game, it’s kind of entertaining)

Headlines

  • Former All Black Marty “give me a” Holah  has signed for his old province of Waikato for the upcoming ITM cup whilst Keven Mealamu has re-signed with the NZRU post World Cup
  • Matt Hodgson has re-signed with the Force for another 2 years and James Horwill will stay on at the Reds for another couple of years
  • James O’Connor looks set to move from the Force to either join Kurtley Beale at the Rebels or head over to the Reds after the World Cup
  • ARU chairmen John O’Neil says that the All Blacks and Wallabies will make the World Cup final. He is still unsure about who he is backing to win
  • Colin Slade looks to have dashed his World Cup hopes with a second broken jaw ruling him out for 10 weeks. Ouch.
  • Dave Rennie will coach the Chiefs from next year onwards
  • The NZRU is battling to find an opponent for the July 22nd Christchurch quake relief match with Samoa unavailable and diplomatic relations with Fiji causing problems. Argentina have been approached apparently.

North of the Border

In the Aviva premiership, Leicester Tigers managed to maintain a lead despite a 41 all draw against Gloucester. They picked up a valuable bonus point, something that second place Saracens didn’t despite beating Exeter Chiefs 33 – 12. It is tight though, with only two points separating them. There is a bit of a drop till 3rd placed Gloucester, who leads Northampton by a single point.

In the Top 14, Toulouse is still leading by four points despite a shock loss to Toulon at the weekend. The battle for the all important top 6 is heating up with positions 2 – 7 separated by only four points. With only a couple of rounds remaining, this is shaping up to be a photo finish.

The Magners league continued over the weekend with Munster tightening their grip on the tournament with a tight fought win over the Scarlets. The race for the crucial home advantage in the semi finals is quite tight with only a handful of points separating numbers 3-5 on the log.

Super Wrap

Now I know that most of you probably didn’t read the above paragraph (if you did you are a legend), so instead of the usual content in the Super Wrap I’ve decided to instead review the European games! On second thought, I’m too lazy to do all those games, so maybe I shouldn’t joke about that if I can’t be bothered going through with it. Anyway, here is the Super Wrap for Round 9.

Chiefs 16 – 34 Crusaders

The Chiefs managed to show that the Crusaders might be beatable this year, pushing the competition leaders in a slightly messy game in Hamilton.  The game was tight for most of it, with the Crusaders leading 17 – 13 at half time thanks to some superb counter attacking. Their excellent support play continued into the second half as they effectively had the game with their third try. A dubious forth try gave them a valuable bonus point. The Chiefs will be pleased with what was their best performance of the season, effectively shutting down the Crusaders midfield.

Rebels 18 – 40 Highlanders

The Highlanders produced a superb display to thrash the Rebels in Melbourne, in doing so becoming the first Kiwi side to win there. In what was supposed to be a close game between some of the surprise packages of the competition, the Highlanders were too clinical at taking their chances on the night. The Rebels defence was weak and the Highlanders exposing this with both Adam Thompson and Siale Piutau grabbing doubles.

Blues 31 – 17 Waratahs

A first half blitz by the Blues was enough to see the Waratahs off and gain a vital bonus point. The game was effectively killed off as a contest when the Blues lead 31 – 7 at half time. They would be disappointed that they failed to score in the second half, but the Blues will look at the first half for how they can play.  The Waratahs were blown apart by 5 tries in the first half and never really recovered from it, but can be pleased with their efforts in the second half.

Reds 39 – 30 Bulls

My first bold prediction failed to materialise as the Bulls lost to the Reds in a highly entertaining game. Quade Cooper had a superb game as the Reds free-flowing game was too much to handle for the defending champions. The Bulls managed to keep in touch through a couple of tries and the boot of Morne Steyn. However, they left their charge too late and in the end, the Reds showed that they will be serious title contenders this year.

Lions 19 – 33 Stormers

The Stormers bounced back from last week’s first loss of the season to record a victory over the Lions. Most of the points were scored in the first half as the under strength Stormers managed to grind out a win against a determined Lions outfit. They missed getting a bonus point, but will do with the win given they were under strength. The second half was a tight affair with a late try sealing it for the Stormers.

Cheetahs 47 – 50 Hurricanes

The Cheetahs were denied a great victory as the Hurricanes scored a try in the last-minute to seal a high scoring thriller in Bloemfontein. The points-fest looked to be going the way of the South Africans until the Hurricanes launched one late, desperate bid for victory off a turnover deep inside their own half allowed them to score down the other end. The lead changed multiple times as both side turned to all out attack with defence only being an optional extra. Both sides can be pleased with the display; however the Cheetahs will be disappointed that they let another close one get through.

Brumbies 19 – 27 Force

James O’Conner inspired a Force side to victory over the Brumbies, who are going through a tough season. David Smith scored a second half double and O’Conner scored 15 points as the Force overcame a 6 point deficit to ensure that the Brumbies did not get their first victory over another Aussie team this year. The Brumbies failed to take their chances when they came, and paid the price with the Force putting in a great second half display.

Bye: Sharks

Tips

I shall be putting away my bold predictions for this week as they have not seemed to work for me. For the past two weeks I have underestimated the Reds, who seem to have shown their title aspirations. Should be another good weekend, hopefully with some close games and plenty of tries.

Blues v Rebels – The Blues should be too good for the Rebels, especially at home. Based on last week’s defensive effort by the Rebels, the Blues should have some nice holes to run into. Should be an easy game for the Blues to win, I’ll take them to win by 13+.

Crusaders v Highlanders – the Crusaders are in good form at the moment and should have Richie McCaw back in the starting line up for this one. Again the Highlanders should test them, but the Crusaders counter attack should see them punish any Highlanders mistake. Crusaders to win in Nelson by 13+.

Reds v Waratahs – this is going to be a good game between the two top Aussie teams. The Reds should be good enough to take it, with the Waratahs still with injury concerns. I’m backing them after two weeks of doubting, Reds to win by 12 and under.

Force v Bulls – Bulls need to win this one, and I think that even though they are lacking a bit of form on the road, they should be too good for a Force side lacking the forwards. The Bulls to win but not to be rampant with a 12 and under win for them.

Sharks v Hurricanes – coming off the bye the Sharks should be fresh, whilst the Hurricanes will have some confidence after their first win in a while. However, I think the Sharks should be too good in the Shark Tank and should edge the game by less than 12 points.

Lions v Chiefs – Chiefs have to travel for this one, but it are the lions who I think will be the more tired of the two sides, having played 10 games straight. Chiefs should be too good for the Lions, who should be good enough to restrict them to 12 points or fewer margins.

Super XV for Week Nine:

15 Ben Smith (Highlanders), 14 David Smith (Force), 13 Jared Payne (Blues), 12 Luke McAlister (Blues) 11 Hosea Gear (Hurricanes), 10 Quade Cooper (Reds), 9 Sarel Pretorius (Cheetahs), 8 Kieran Reid (Crusaders), 7 Matt Todd (Crusaders), 6 Adam Thomson (Highlanders), 5 Andries Bekker (Stormers), 4 Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes), 3 John Afoa (Blues), 2 Keven Mealamu (Blues), 1 Ben Franks (Crusaders)

Well that is me for another week. Enjoy your Easter break. I hope you will make the most of the long weekend. Join me next week for the next instalment of the Drawing Board.

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