Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (28/4/11)

The Drawing Board (28/4/11)

Welcome to the Drawing Board for this week. Well, I hope you enjoyed the Easter (and ANZAC) break. Hopefully you’re well refreshed from the break and are ready to get into it. Just to lighten the mood I thought you might like this: http://youtu.be/vAtVD-SnVIo . Had enough of the pies? It’s been an intriguing week of rugby, with several interesting results making a mockery of the so called experts. I won’t keep you waiting for any longer, here is some news.

Headlines

  • Former Springboks mentor Jake White has been appointed Brumbies coach for four Super Rugby seasons from 2012.
  • Blues Lock Kurtis Haiu has been ruled out of Super Rugby with a cancer scare. All the best for his recovery.
  • Brian O’Driscoll has revealed that he considered joining a Super Rugby side before deciding to sign a new deal with Leinster.
  • Tony Brown (aged 36) is being touted as a possible All Black Fly half back up
  • NSW Waratahs coach Chris Hickey has laughed off French newspaper reports linking Frederik Michalak with the Super Rugby franchise.
  • Former Wales centre Gavin Henson has been fired by Toulon for breaking the club’s disciplinary rules.
  • Drew Mitchell is hopeful of making a recovery from a sickening dislocation in last week’s game in time for the Rugby World Cup.
  • The Crusaders have recalled former All Blacks captain Ruben Thorne due to an injury crisis.

North of the Border

Over to England now where the Leicester Tigers have maintained their lead over Saracens (by a single point) with a 24 – 13 victory over the Newcastle Falcons. Saracens however have managed to secure a home semi final, which leaves an interesting battle developing for the remaining semi spots.

Not to be Royally out done, the French Top 14 is also nearing its conclusion with teams battling it out for the all important top 6 spots.  Toulouse have secured a semi final spot with a round in advance with a 33 – 0 thumping of Bourgoin-Jallieu. With one round to go there is a lot to play for with 9 teams in with a shot of making the top 6.

The Magners league was doing its thing as well over the weekend with only a round and a few rescheduled games remaining. Munster beat the Ospreys in a thriller by 22 – 20 to guarantee themselves a home semi. The race for the other three spots is tight as there is only a handful of points separating the next four teams.

Super Wrap

Anzac weekend was upon us with all of Australasia joining in arms to remember the fallen in wars across the years. Throughout both World Wars there was an Anzac spirit that existed between the troops of Australia and New Zealand. This was not evident on the field. I can tell you that in 2011 the rugby played was pretty much war. It was an intense weekend of super action, so let’s check out the results.

Blues 40 – 23 Rebels

A superb start and finish by the Blues was enough to overcome an erratic Rebels side. Sandwiched in between these two superb periods of play by the Blues was a muddling display. After gaining a 17 – 3 lead after 20 minutes, they then proceeded to let the Rebels close the gap significantly before pulling away towards the end. The Rebels should have been down and out at half time had the Blues continued their start, as their defence was seriously lacking and couldn’t handle the Blues backs.

Crusaders 18 – 26 Highlanders

The Highlanders proved that the Crusaders are beatable this season with a hard fought 26 -18 victory. The Crusaders were missing key players such as All Blacks Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read but they could have few excuses, outplayed across the park by a Highlanders team which impressed in the forward exchanges and with some uncompromising defence. They attacked the break down and were generally the hungrier side on the night.

Reds 19 – 15 Waratahs

Now I know that these two states are not the best of friends on the sporting field, but this was brutal. Both teams were fired up for this game and came hard at each other, with fists flying at several occasions during the game. Quade Cooper put in a masterful display as he scored a full house (try, conversion, penalty and drop kick) on his way to 19 points. The Reds defence withstood a barrage of attacks to just hold out the Tahs. Bit of controversy in this match, with Drew Mitchell suffering a brutal injury. The Waratahs are claiming that Scott Higginbotham deliberately stepped in front of him and tripped him up. Ouch.

Force 26 – 21 Bulls

The Bulls title hopes took a big dent as they suffered another loss on the road, this time going down to the Force. The Bulls looked as if they were going to stampede over the Force, only to be cut down by a good kicking display by James O’Conner and a late Cameron Shepherd try sealed the game. The Bulls will be kicking themselves for letting this one get away as they got out to a big enough lead.

Sharks 40 – 24 Hurricanes

A second half surge by the Sharks saw them beat the Hurricanes and pick up a vital bonus point.  The game was even until the 55th minute where the Hurricanes reverted to their normal game plan for this year- play bad. Poor discipline didn’t help the cause, with two yellow cards hampering their play. The Sharks scored four tries in the second half, of which a couple can be put down to Hurricanes errors. Patrick Lambe had a good game, contributing 15 points.

Lions 30 – 34 Chiefs

The Lions again lost a close one that they could have won. They stormed back into the game after trailing 16 – 31 in the second half. However, two converted tries late on in the game led to a nervous ending for the Chiefs. A Stephan Donald penalty towards the end of the game sealed the game. This would be worrying for the Chiefs as they should have pushed on and closed out the game better. Against better opposition they might not be so lucky.

Tips

Well, I chose all the sensible options last week and got upset by them. What is going on? It’s probably because all the players and coaches read this blog and have conspired against me in crucial games. So here we go, let’s see if we can overcome this little set back.

Highlanders v BluesThis one is going to be hard to pick as the Blues have the game breakers, but the Highlanders have made a habit of overcoming better teams on paper this season. The Blues will not be able to have a repeat of the middle part of last week’s game. I’m going to jump on the band wagon and say the Highlanders by less than 12 points.

 Cheetahs v BrumbiesThe Cheetahs will be refreshed after the bye and have several key players back whilst the Brumbies will be ready after also having the week off to prepare. I’m going to go for the Cheetahs by 12 points or less as I think they will have the edge at home

Hurricanes v RedsThe Reds should have too much fire power for the Hurricanes. They are really showing their title credentials, and should be too good for a Hurricanes side that has to travel back from South Africa. Reds to take this one by 13 points plus a super awesome try celebration.

Waratahs v RebelsWhilst the Waratahs have not been 100% this year, they should have more than enough to see off a Rebels side that is defensively in need of a makeover. Waratahs to take this one by 13 plus and get a much needed win

 Force v Crusadersthis is interesting as the Force have been somewhat of a bogey team for the Crusaders in recent years. However, I will stick with the Crusaders and will say that they will win by 12 points or less.

 Bulls v Chiefsthe Bulls at home is always tough and this will be no exception. They were OK during their overseas tour, and the Chiefs have not been great this season. I’ll take a Bulls victory by 12 points or less with some fries and a drink please.

Stormers v Sharksbig game for both sides as they are the top of the South African Conference. Hard to pick but I’ll take a gamble on the Sharks to win this one by less than 12.

Super XV for Week Nine:

15. Mils Muliaina (Chiefs) 14. Luke Morahan (Reds) 13. Jared Payne (Blues) 12. James O`Connor (Western Force) 11. Zac Guildford (Crusaders) 10. Quade Cooper (Reds) 9. Will Genia (Reds) 8. Nasi Manu (Highlanders) 7. Scott Waldrom (Chiefs) 6. Jerome Kaino (Blues) 5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force) 4. Anthony Boric (Blues) 3. Chris King (Highlanders) 2. John Smit (Sharks) 1. Tendai Mtwarira (Sharks).

Well that is me for this week. Until the next instalment of the Drawing Board, have a good one guys.

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