Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (25/5/11)

The Drawing Board (25/5/11)

Welcome to another instalment of the Drawing Board, Who’s Playing Who?’s one stop rugby shop. Another great weekend of rugby action has been and gone with trophies up for grabs in the northern hemisphere, and Super Rugby moving to an exciting climax. If you’re reading this you probably won’t have been taken by the rapture (what a bad person you are!! :)). No worries though, I didn’t either, so we are all good.  Here are some post rapture events that may interest you.

News

  • Richie McCaw has signed on to play for the All Blacks for another four years in a deal that is reported to be similar to Dan Carter’s current arrangements.
  • Wallabies star James O’Connor is one of four prominent Western Force backs ruled out of Friday’s Super 15 rugby match against the Hurricanes in Palmerston North.
  • South Africa won the London Sevens, but it was New Zealand who took out the crown as this seasons overall winner. England, the nearest challengers, failed to make the quarters, meaning they now cannot catch New Zealand with one round left.
  • Prolific All Blacks winger Joe Rokocoko will play in France after signing with Bayonne for two years.
  • English club London Irish have signed two-test All Blacks lock Bryn Evans on a two-year deal.
  • Gavin Henson will not be offered a new contract with Toulon next season.
  • The Brumbies re-sign lock Peter Kimlin for a further years, while also acquiring the services of rising Sydney back Cam Crawford
  • Sonny Bill Williams looks set to stay in New Zealand. Watch this space.
  • Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium has been confirmed as a venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup hosted by England.
  • The Bulls say their Springboks scrumhalf Fourie du Preez will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a right knee injury that will probably rule him out for the rest of the Super Rugby season.

North of the Border

Only two matches played in the major European rugby scene this week, but both were worth trophies and were pretty important to those involved. We had the Heineken Cup final being played out between Leinster from Ireland and the Northampton Saints from England. On top of this we also witnessed the Amlin Challenge Cup Final (kind of like the Europa League in football, this is sort of like a Heineken Cup second division) played out between Harlequins from England and Stade Francais from France.

Let’s review the Heineken Cup final first off.  Leinster produced an amazing second-half comeback to beat Northampton 33-22 in an enthralling Heineken Cup Final. In a game of two halves,  fly-half Jonathan Sexton orchestrated Leinster’s record-breaking blitz with two tries, four penalties and three conversions as his side bounced back from a 22-6 half-time deficit to blow their English rivals away and claim Europe’s top prize for the second time in three years. Northampton will be ruing a missed opportunity as they were much the better side at half time. Their inability to close out the game with a bit lead showed that they were not champion material this season.

To the Amlin Challange Cup Final now where a gutsy Harlequins snatched a dramatic 19-18 victory over Stade Francais. A 77th minute conversion from man of the match Nick Evans (the former All Black), following a last-gasp try from winger Gonzalo Camacho, saw the Premiership side edge out their French rivals and complete a hat-trick of victories in the competition – but more importantly, claim a place in next season’s Heineken Cup. A commanding second-half performance had seen Stade Francais take control of the contest after the Harlequins lead 9 – 6 at half time.  However, the Harlequins refused to concede defeat and despite having been dominated for the vast majority of the second period, they dug deep to conjure the match-winning score and claim a stunning victory.

There will be more finals rugby played next week with both the Aviva Premiership and Magners League playing their finals on the weekend.

Super Wrap

This week proved another interesting one as the top of the table becomes more congested. As it stands at the moment, the Reds are top and look an almost certainty to take the top Australian conference spot. The Blues are still second, with a close race developing for the top spot between them and the Crusaders (4th overall). There are only two points separating the sides, with both still having to play each other. The Stormers (3rd) are still top dog in the South African conference, leading by five points now. The Waratahs and Highlanders wrap up the top 6, with both the Bulls and Sharks right behind (in fact the Sharks only miss out on the fact that they have won fewer games then the Highlanders).

Blues 26 – 28 Stormers

What a difference a week can make. The Stormers produced a superb come from behind victory to beat the Blues and end a run of successive losses. After trailing 19 – 3 at the break, the Stormers rallied in the second half thanks to 3 tries, the last of which allowing a conversion to win the game. This being after the Blues had dominated the first half and made the Stormers look ordinary.  They will be bitterly disappointed that they could not protect a good lead against a good side and with the way their defence fell apart in the second half. For the Stormers, it’s more valuable points on the road.

Crusaders 25 – 19 Chiefs

Dan Carter produced an assured display to guide the Crusaders to an important victory over the Chiefs. In a tight match, the Crusaders showed their class by producing a strong second half display to take the game. The Chiefs tried to keep in touch, but fell too far behind, with a late try making the score look respectable. They lacked the ability to get up and put points on the Crusaders. Rocked by injuries, the Crusaders still managed to look in charge of the game, with the back-line operating more smoothly.  

Waratahs 29 – 12 Lions

A superb first half display by the Waratahs ensured they bagged the points against the Lions. After the teams traded tries at the beginning of the first half, the Waratahs let loose scoring five tries and all their points before half time.  The Waratahs momentum subsided in the second period as the Lions fought back. The visitors’ improved efforts were rewarded with 11 minutes remaining with a try. The Waratahs will be disappointed that they were not able to put some more points on in the second half, but should be pleased with their efforts in the first half.

Force 13 – 13 Brumbies

The Force managed to draw their second game of the year, this time pulling a blank with the Brumbies. Draws always leave a hollow feeling for both sides, and it would have been no different in this one.  The Brumbies responded to the mid week slamming they got from their coach to start strongly with a try in the 3rd minute. The Force hit back with a try before half time, with the scores being level at 10 – 10 at the break. A late James O’Conner penalty looked to have put the Force in a position to win the game, but Matt Giteau slotted a penalty two minutes later to ‘save’ a draw for the Brumbies. As to further show that the Brumbies lacked a bit of spirit, they refused to play for the win after extra time, kicking out a free kick to end the game

Cheetahs 41 – 21 Rebels

The Cheetahs managed to continue their surge up the ladder with a 4th straight win, overcoming the Rebels with some ease. The Cheetahs scored 3 tries before the break and could have had more if they were more patient. Mark Gerrard gave the Rebels a glimmer of hope with a try on the hour mark, but the Cheetahs finally pulled away from them with a couple of late tries. The Rebels’ South African adventure ended on a high note when they managed to get a late penalty try. However, they were never really in the game as the Cheetahs showed that they were a cut above the Melbourne-based side.

Sharks 23 – 32 Bulls

The Bulls gave their playoff hopes a massive boost when they defeated the Sharks. The visitors appeared to be cruising to victory after reaching the interval 23-6 ahead after two first half tries and 13 points from the boot of fly-half Morne Steyn. They pulled further clear with a penalty from Steyn shortly after the resumption of play but then the Sharks came to life, racking up two tries of their own through Bismarck du Plessis and Adi Jacobs. The Bulls managed to withstand this fight back to take out the game and make some ground on the Top 6.

Bye:  Highlanders, Hurricanes, Reds

Tips

The draw and an unexpected Stormers win messed up a potential 100% week last week, but I will remain positive and say that this will be the week. If the Reds manage to beat the Crusaders this week, they will look odds on bet to take out the top overall spot. They are close to getting top spot in the Australian conference, but a win here could just about see them home and dry at the top of the ladder. Elsewhere the battle for the Top 6 is getting interesting, with several teams in contention playing each other over the next few rounds.

Hurricanes v Force the Hurricanes will be fresh from the bye and will see their best backline all season play this game, with Conrad Smith back from injury. With the big news that James O’Conner is out, I don’t think the Force will have enough punch to beat the Hurricanes. So for this week, I’ll take the Hurricanes by 12 points or less (and pray that there will be no draw!!)

Highlanders v Lionson paper this looks like an easy game for the Highlanders, with the Lions not really offering too much this year. However, I am nervous to completely write them off as they have not been too far off winning some this year. I’ll go with my head and take a Highlanders victory by 12 points or less.

Brumbies v Stormersnow any other year I would give the Brumbies a better then fair deal at winning this one. Except for this year, where they really have been terrible (can you imagine the fan session they could hold!!). The Stormers are a much improved touring side and should be able to take this one out by 12 and under.

Sharks v Waratahsmassive game for both sides as both are lingering around the Top 6 mark. The Sharks will need to regain some momentum after losing to the Bulls, whilst the Waratahs would love to put some daylight between them and the chasing bunch. This will be tough for both teams, but I’ll go with the Sharks at home by 12 points and under.

Bulls v Cheetahspotential banana skin game for the Bulls. They will be expected to win this one, but with the Cheetahs on a surprising four game winning streak, nothing will be taken for granted. Fourie du Preez has been ruled out, but the Bulls should still win without him by 12 points or less.

Reds v Crusadersthe final game of the round will defiantly be the game of the round. These are two teams on fire, with both looking odds on prospects to finish in the top 6. Both should be at full strength (relatively) which would leave us with a cracker. The Reds and Crusaders have game breakers that can rip teams apart, but it should be noted that the one with the best defence should take it out. I’m going to say the Crusaders by 12 points or less as I believe they have enough class in their team to take the close games out. This should be very tight; hopefully the weather plays its part and allows a free running game.

Super XV for week 14:

15. Kurtley Beale (Waratahs) 14. Lachlan Turner (Waratahs) 13. Johann Sadie (Stormers) 12. James O Connor (Western Force) 11. Zac Guildford (Crusaders) 10. Dan Carter (Crusaders) 9. Alby Matthewson (Blues) 8. Ben Mowen (Waratahs) 7. David Pocock (Western Force) 6. Schalk Burger (Stormers) 5. Ali Williams (Blues) 4. Luke Romano (Crusaders) 3. Ben Franks (Crusaders) 2. Keven Mealamu (Blues) 1. Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders).

Have  a good week, and we will catch you next week for another instalment of the Drawing Board.

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  1. Anonymous
    May 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    David, what is your opinion on Sonny Bill? Do you think he is any decent or a potential liability?

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