Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing (wait for it) Board- 5/5/11

The Drawing (wait for it) Board- 5/5/11

Welcome to the Drawing Board for this week. Well, I hope you enjoyed the last week of rugby as much as I did. Things are getting interesting in the Super Rugby world.  All the games have been meaningful and interesting to watch, but by my reckoning there are only 36 of the remaining 49 that will have an impact on the semi final spots. Realistically there are only about 8 teams in the running for the top 6 spots. Before we go any further with Super Rugby, let’s hit the news.

Headlines

  • Blues fullback Isaia Toeava will miss the rest of the Super Rugby season for the franchise with a recurrence of a stress fracture to his hip.
  • Master rugby league coach Wayne Bennett has confirmed he will help the Wallabies in their Rugby World Cup preparations.
  • All Blacks confirm that they will play Fiji on July 22nd.
  • John Smit has been confirmed as captain for South Africa’s defence of their Rugby World Cup crown.
  • Expensive tickets and over-priced accommodation are deterring Australians from snapping up tickets for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, travel agents have warned. Or maybe it is the fact that it’s in NZ is the more pressing issue.
  • London Irish and England fullback Delon Armitage has been banned for three weeks.
  • Danny Cipriani has been stood down by the Melbourne Rebels following a second breach of team protocol.

North of the Border

Big news out of the northern hemisphere is that the Heineken Cup finalists have been found. Leinster produced a performance of rare quality to defeat Toulouse 32 – 23 in somewhat of an upset of the dominant team in this competition. Northampton then turned in a powerful display to beat the last remaining French hope Perpignan by 23 – 7. Nothing much really happened in the other major leagues over the weekend as they all decided to take a break to watch these two games!!!

Super Wrap

Well another good week of Super Rugby that produced exciting games laced with tries and drama. In my opinion there are realistically only eight teams left in the competition, with the Hurricanes in ninth with too much to do. Even the Bulls look like a bit of a long shot, although you can never say never in this competition.  Anyway, here is the Super Wrap for this week.

Highlanders 10 – 15 Blues

The Blues proved that they could win, and win ugly against the much fancied Highlanders on Friday night. The match, which was dedicated to Blues lock Kurtis Haiu, was not one that contained glorious tries, but didn’t lack intensity or drama. The Highlanders were outplayed on the night, as some inconsistent refereeing and good Blues defence proved too good on the night.

 Cheetahs 47 – 36 Brumbies

The Cheetahs eventually prevailed in a crazy match against the Brumbies. Both teams will have to sit down and reassess their defence, especially in the first half. The Cheetahs raced into a 25-0 lead with tries by Sarel Pretorius and props Coenie Oosthuizen — the man of the match — and WP Nel. But the Brumbies managed to exploit some week defence to be right back into the match at half time, trailing 32 – 26 at the break. The game was a lot tighter in the second half with Cheetahs fly half Sias Ebersohn booting them to a well deserved victory.

Hurricanes 28 – 26 Reds

A last gasp Aaron Cruden penalty allowed the Hurricanes to secure the upset of the round over the Reds. Ewen McKenzie’s side fought back from 22-5 down at half-time to lead 26-25 in the 79th minute. The Hurricanes had the better of the first half, but failed to kick on in the second, almost allowing the Reds to snatch it at the death. After four tries in the first 34 minutes, the Reds will be pleased by the way that they fought back, but would have felt that they should have beaten an out of sorts Hurricanes side. This loss puts a dent in the Reds hopes of finishing tops.

Waratahs 28 – 9 Rebels

In a largely expected result, the Waratahs managed to maintain pressure on the Reds with an easy victory over the Rebels. The Waratahs welcomed back Berrick Barnes to the fray, but lose hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau to concussion. They were, however, always in control of the game, but would have loved to have scored a vital bonus point. This could prove crucial in later rounds. The Rebels put up a spirited display, but there was a sense of inevitability when the Tahs pulled away in the second half.

Force 30 – 42 Crusaders

The Crusaders managed to score two converted tries in the last 10 minutes to come away with a thrilling victory against the Force. In what has traditionally been a hard ground to win in for the Crusaders, they looked as if they had thrown the game away by being too loose. The visitors had eased into a 15-3 lead early on following two tries from fullback Israel Dagg but the Force rallied with Cameron Shepherd scoring two tries and fly-half Willie Ripia also touching down. The boot of James O’Connor ensured that the Force went into the final 20 minutes leading despite a try from Sonny Bill Williams. The Force will be disappointed as they could have sealed an historic victory with better defence and scrummaging in the last 10 minutes.

Bulls 43 – 27 Chiefs

A powerful surge just before and after half time saw the defending champion’s steam roll the Chiefs. The Pretoria-based side had lost their past three to slip down the standings and looked set for another reverse to virtually end their title defence when they fell 20-3 behind in the first half. But they then went on a scoring blitz either side of half-time with Wynand Olivier twice touching down while Morne Steyn did not miss a kick as he added 23 points. Gerhard van den Heever and Pierre Spies also touched down to secure the bonus point. The win could potentially be a crucial one in the Bulls season, but that will come to light in a few weeks.

Stormers 32 – 12 Sharks

The Stormers sent out a warning sign to all of their opponents with a resounding 32 – 12 win over the highly rated Sharks.  In a bruising match between the country’s two leading teams, it was the home side who won the battle of the breakdown against their much-vaunted opponents.  The game was all but sealed at half time, with the Stormers leading by 22 – 9. They will be very pleased with this result, as they also secured a four try bonus point to boot.

Tips

Another cracking round of Super Rugby awaits us with the tipping only getting tougher as we go along. This is getting down to the business end of the competition, with the race for the top spots intensifying. A pivotal round is in store for us as leading competitors take on each other.

Hurricanes v Bluesthe men from Wellington have a good recent record against the Blues but have been lacking in form of recent. The Blues are on a roll, but injuries are taking their toll. However, they should be too good for the Hurricanes in a tight encounter, winning by 12 or less.

Rebels v Reds – the Reds will be fired up after last week’s loss and will be looking to take their revenge out against a spirited, yet all be it limited Rebels side. Should be relatively close for 60 minutes before the Reds run away with it and take it by 13 and over.

Lions v Cheetahsbig game for both teams, not really in terms of the competition. The Cheetahs will be on a high after finally getting a home victory and will be buoyed by the fact that they have climbed the ladder. They should have enough fire power to win this one by 12 points or less.

Chiefs v HighlandersHighlanders should be able to grid out another win over an out of form Chiefs side that has travelled back from South Africa. Should be an important game for the Highlanders, and they will take it by 12 points or less.

Waratahs v Forcea tough one to pick as the Force have improved over recent weeks. They beat the Bulls and pushed the Crusaders all the way, but should have a tougher proposition away from home to the Waratahs. Waratahs are on a bit of a roll and I am picking them to win by 12 and under.

Stormers v CrusadersGame of the round for sure. The Stormers are looking impressive, but they are running into a machine in the form of the mighty Crusaders. Both look like real title contenders, with both showing good form throughout the competition. The Crusaders have been more impressive on attack, but the Stormers strength is in their defence. The deciding factor will be Dan Carter. I feel that the Crusaders will miss him and they will lose by up to 12 on the weekend.

Sharks v Brumbies – Sharks should be way too good for a poor performing Brumbies side. At home, the Sharks should thrash the Brumbies by at least 13 points.

Super XV for Week 11:

15. Israel Dagg (Crusaders) 14. Luke Morahan (Reds) 13. Jaque Fourie (Stormers) 12. Jean de Villiers (Stormers) 11. Hosea Gear (Hurricanes) 10. Aaron Cruden (Hurricanes) 9. Sarel Pretorius (Cheetahs) 8. Nasi Manu (Highlanders) 7. Adam Thomson (Highlanders) 6. Beau Robinson (Reds) 5. Andries Bekker (Stormers) 4. Dean Mumm (Waratahs) 3. John Afoa (Blues) 2. Andrew Hore (Hurricanes) 1. Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs).

Well, I hope you enjoyed that. Until next time, have a great week!!!

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