Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (6/7/11)

The Drawing Board (6/7/11)

Welcome to the Drawing Board, Who’s Playing Who?’s one stop rugby shop. It is championship time in Super Rugby. This is where the men are separated from the boys. The pressure will be at its peak for both teams throughout this week. Expectations will be high this week as the best side in super history comes up against the side that has made a super turn around in the last few years. Firstly, here is the news.

 

 

News

  • Sonny Bill Williams should be played on the right wing at the Rugby World Cup and has the potential to have a similar impact on opposition defences as Jonah Lomu did, according to former All Blacks selector Earle Kirton.
  • There is still hope for the Hurricanes, but a betting man would not be placing the house on Aaron Cruden remaining in Wellington next Super Rugby season with the Chiefs the favourites.
  • Springboks coach Peter de Villiers is doing more last-minute tinkering with his systems ahead of the defence of the World Cup, appointing Stormers defensive guru Jacques Nienaber to join his management team.
  • The Springboks will have to do without Schalk Burger for their Tri-Nations campaign but the powerhouse flanker is expected to be fit for the World Cup.
  • New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew has defended the decision to play the Al Blacks’ first test of the year at Carisbrook despite woeful ticket sales.
  • Colin Slade has returned from injury in a pre season game for Canterbury.

 

Super Wrap

Both Semi Finals surprised me. I was expecting both the Blues and the Stormers to have put up a greater fight than what they actually did. Both sides disappointed, with the Blues showing that this was probably a week too far; whilst the Stormers seemed rusty after coming off a bye. They both lacked enough strike power to break down the defences of the Reds and the Crusaders.

Reds 30 – 13 Blues

The Reds are now only one step away from a fairytale journey after demolishing the Blues. Their defence was impressive, with the Blues not being able to turn their possession into points. They also showed that they were clinical, taking their opportunities to take out the title of best colour in this year Super Rugby season. The Blues were hot on attack early on in the game when the Reds struck with an intercept to hat trick hero Rod Davies. Quade Cooper had an off night with his boot, something that the Reds wouldn’t want a repeat of this week. He did, however, produce a masterful attacking display, and helped set up a great second try for the Reds. The Blues managed to score just before the break to bring the score to 15 – 7 in favour of the Reds. The Blues threatened to mount a comeback early in the second half with a penalty early on reducing the gap to just five points. However, the Reds defence managed to pressure the Blues into fatal errors, with the Reds scoring a couple of tries either side of another Luke McAlister penalty to effectively kill the game with 20 minutes remaining on the clock.

Stormers 10 – 29 Crusaders

The Crusaders produced arguably their best display of the season so far, being at their clinical best at the most important time of the year. The first half possession and territory was dominated by the Stormers, and it showed as they took an early three point lead. From then on, in terms of points on the scoreboard, it was one way traffic. The Crusaders upped their intensity on defence, shutting down attack after attack whilst pouring on the points to take a 23 – 3 lead towards the end of the first half. Their first try was an intercept to Sean Maitland, killing any momentum from the Stormers. They continued to apply the pressure, and got point almost every time they were in the Stormers half, with Dan Carter producing a masterful kicking display. Sonny Bill Williams set up the second try with a trade mark off load setting up Robbie Fruean. A quick tap from Bryan Habana led to a try, and gave the Stormers some hope going into the second half. The score though, was 23 – 8 to the Crusaders at that stage, with the Stormers controlling most of the possession in the first half. However, the Crusaders began to gain more possession and controlled the game. The key moment came when Zac Guildford made a telling tackle on Jaques Fourie when the Stormers threatened a come back. From that moment on, the Crusaders were in command as they continued to rack up the points.

 

Tips

So, it comes down to this. After five months, 21 weeks, 147 days and 124 matches, there is one game separating these two sides from glory. The Super Rugby final is upon us folks, which took long enough to get to. Here we are though. After all the build up, the endless matches, questionable decisions, epic tries, great games, good and bad conditions, fairytales and hardships, it boils down to this, a one match takes all final to decide the winner of the inaugural Super 15 competition.

Reds v Crusaders

For one side, this is a path well tread. For the other, this is new territory. For one, this will be just another flight to another location. For the other, this is home. For both, this is a chance to give the people they represent some much needed joy. For both, this is the pressure cooker, good preparation for bigger events that are yet to occur.

Both the Crusaders and the Reds have had good seasons thus far, but what will take it to a great season will be a victory in the Super Rugby final. As was shown in the weekend’s matches, both sides are clinical and have superb defences, but can they get up for one more intense match? The Crusaders have been on the road the whole season, a season which will see them travel over 100,000 kilometres. Will this be one road trip too far? The Reds have never been in a Super Rugby final. Will this be too much for this side? These are some questions that need to be answered.

This final could be one of the epics, with tantalizing match ups all over the park. There is no doubt that these are the two best sides in the competition.  Both forward packs have been good this year, with the Crusaders scrum dominating at the right time of the season. Both sides have backlines that can destroy opposition teams, with Quade Cooper igniting the Reds backs last week. Both can defend really well. However, this match will be decided by the team who takes their opportunities the best, and this is where I believe the Crusaders have the edge. Over the years they have perfected a game plan on being clinical and heaping pressure on the opposition sides. They have the edge in finals experience, whilst they probably have the edge in the forward pack as well. The Reds lack a reliable goal kicker, with Quade Cooper proving this season that he is erratic when taking place kicks. Compare this to Dan Carter, a man renowned for his accuracy, and it may be hard for the Reds. I hope this final lives up to the hype. For me, I’m picking the Crusaders to win by 1 – 12.

 

Super XV

New Zealand Form XV:

15. Ben Smith (Highlanders) 14. Lelia Masaga (Chiefs) 13. Robbie Freuan (Crusaders) 12. Sonny Bill Williams (Crusaders) 11. Zac Guildford (Crusaders) 10. Dan Carter (Crusaders) 9. Alby Mathewson (Blues) 8. Kieran Read (Crusaders) 7. Adam Thomson (Highlanders) 6. Jerome Kaino (Blues) 5. Ali Williams (Blues) 4. Brad Thorn (Crusaders) 3. Owen Franks (Crusaders) 2. Keven Mealamu (Blues) 1. Wyatt Crockett (Highlanders).

 

I’m looking forward to the final, which promises to be a great game. 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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