Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board – 29/6/11

The Drawing Board – 29/6/11

Welcome to the Drawing Board, Who’s Playing Who?’s one stop rugby shop. Playoff time is well and truly upon us now in the Super Rugby season, with the two semi final playoff matches being played over the weekend. The Junior Rugby Championship was also in action last week, with New Zealand defeating England to take out the trophy. More on that later, but firstly, here is the news.

News

  • The possibilities of AMI Stadium in Christchurch being used next season for the Crusaders are looking remote.
  • The injury-ravaged Stormers sign Saracens hooker Schalk Brits on a short-term deal, but promise to play the former Springboks rake in the backrow as directed by SANZAR.
  • Highlander Jamie Mackintosh is being hailed a hero after saving a woman from choking – even though he broke her rib in the process.
  • The bye in the first week of the Super Rugby tournament will go to one of the New Zealand or Australian teams next year.
  • Wayne Smith, the All Blacks assistant coach, will move to the Chiefs and be an assistant coach.
  • Beau Robinson has re-signed with the Reds for at least two more seasons.
  • Stade Francais can look forward to at least another season of Top 14 rugby after successfully assuring financial watchdogs that they have the resources to fund the team.
  • Jake White has bolstered the Brumbies squad with the signing of rugby league centre Joseph Tomane to a two-year deal.
  • New Zealand won the Junior World Championship, defeating England 33 – 22 in the final.

Super Wrap

There were only two games played this weekend, with the Blues, Waratahs, Crusaders and Sharks in action. The travel factor had a big factor in these games. From my perspective, it will be hard for the fifth/sixth placed team to get further than the semi finals. If a team has to travel half way across the world a couple of times, it’s going to take a fair bit out of them. What this shows is the importance of gaining home advantage for the playoffs. Even more important will be to win the conference and get inside the top two.  Anyway, there were two massive games on the weekend, with the Blues overcoming the Waratahs and the Crusaders dominating the Sharks to make it two Kiwi victories out of two.

Blues 26 – 13 Waratahs

The Blues managed to book a place in the semi finals against the Reds when they dispatched an injury depleted Waratahs side. The Waratahs held their own in the first half though, before the Blues pulled away in the second half. Coming into the match as underdogs, the Waratahs stunned the crowed by scoring the first try of the game to Tom Carter. Both sides were frustrated by errors in the first half, with plenty of spilt ball and missed tackles leading to a scrappy affair in the wet weather. The Blues struck back with a converted try of their own to Lachie Munro. The added a couple of penalties, to which the Waratahs could only reply with a solitary penalty. This made the score 13 – 8 at the break.  After the break the Blues came out firing, controlling possession and territory well. However, they were almost guilty of not gaining enough points out of this period, with only a solitary penalty to show for 20 minutes of domination. The match winning try came eventually, with Ali Williams strolling over to stretch the Blues lead further. A late try to the Waratahs some respectability, but they were long out of the game by them.

Crusaders 36 – 8 Sharks

The Crusaders showed their class and finals pedigree with a dominant second half display against the Sharks. A clinical second half performance carried the Crusaders’ home after they had led 13-5 at the break although the performance lacked much of the cohesion and quality that has been their hallmark during this troubled season. An early try to the Sharks gave the Crusaders a scare early on. They kept the hosts honest and forced them into numerous errors in the first half, but the Crusaders produced a more assured display after the break to deny the visitors the ball and took full toll of their opponents’ mistakes to score 20 unanswered points in the second half. The Crusaders scored three tries, with the most important being the intercept to Kieran Read. Some dubious and highly questionable decisions went the Crusaders way in the game. However none of these had a massive impact on the game. Scrum wise the Crusaders were dominant, but were surprisingly weak in the breakdown area

Tips

Interestingly, the results of the semi final playoffs have given exactly the same semi finals as under the old format. However, the major difference is that the Stormers and Reds have had a week off, while the Crusaders and Blues were deciding their fates at home. There is some debate as to whether or not a week of is beneficial. On the one side, it allows a team to freshen up and overcome injury concerns. On the other side, it may kill any momentum developed over the season. Personally, I think it will be beneficial to both the Reds and the Stormers. For the Reds, it has allowed them to get some players back, whilst the Stormers get their first week off since Easter.

Reds v Blues

As mentioned above, the Reds will be getting several players back, while the Blues have lost lock Anthony Boric to an ankle injury. Last time these two met the Reds raced out to a 24 point lead, only for the Blues to come back to almost level the scores before the Reds pulled away again to take out the match. The Blues will not want to start that badly again this time. Nor will they want a repeat of the first half against the Waratahs last week. If the Waratahs were more clinical they could have been 15 – 20 points up at half time. Against the Reds they very well may well be. The Reds will also not want to start badly, with the possibility of being a bit rusty. The Blues have the fire power to punish them.  Both teams will be looking to play attacking rugby, with the Blues having to shut down Quade Cooper and Will Genia to have a shot. For me, the Blues were not that special last week and will struggle against a quality side such as the Reds. I’m backing the Reds to take this one out by 12 points or less.

Stormers v Crusaders

The Stormers are coming off a much needed bye, whilst the Crusaders will have to travel half way across the globe for this game. They have traveled 82,000 kilometers already in this Super Rugby campaign, which is quite a lot when you think about it. The Crusaders were great in the second half last week, but were not that great in the first, making too many errors. Against a side with as good a defence as the Stormers, the Crusaders are going to have to be at their clinical best and will have to cut down on the error rate. For the Stormers, they will want their attack to get into motion as it has let them down over this season. They have also lost three of the last four games at home.  The last game between these two sides was a classic, with the Crusaders winning 20 – 14. For me, this will be a game too far for the Crusaders, who will be weary from all the travelling they have been doing. This game will be tight though, with the Stormers just squeaking past the Crusaders. This one will probably go down to the wire, with the Stormers taking it out by 1 – 12 points.

Super XV

What I’m planning to do here is to publish a top 15 for each country based on the players form over the round robin phase. The season’s teams are based solely on the number of times a player was selected into the weekly teams, thereby rewarding players that showed form throughout the year. I have gone back and looked at the earlier rounds for the players that I noted played well to make this more comprehensive. This week I’ll give my form team for Australia.

Australia Form XV
15. Kurtley Beale (Waratahs) 14. David Smith (Western Force) 13. Tom Carter (Waratahs) 12. James O`Connor (Western Force) 11. Digby Ioane (Reds) 10. Quade Cooper (Reds) 9. Will Genia (Reds) 8. Radike Samo (Reds) 7. David Pocock (Western Force) 6. Scott Higginbotham (Reds) 5. James Horwill (Reds) 4. Kane Douglas (Waratahs) 3. James Slipper (Reds) 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs) 1. Benn Robinson (Waratahs).

I’m looking forward to these semi finals, which promise to be great games. So, until next time, have a good week and we will catch you next week for another instalment of the Drawing Board!

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  1. Anonymous
    July 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    We will see about that Crusaders result in around 11 hours time yes?

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