Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (20/7/11)

The Drawing Board (20/7/11)

Welcome to another instalment of The Drawing Board, Who’s Playing Who’s one stop rugby shop. It’s been a bit of a quite week in terms of the rugby being played, but the domestic competitions of both South Africa (Currie Cup) and New Zealand (ITM Cup) have both started up. The Wallabies have also played a test against Samoa in preparation for the Tri Nations, which I’ll be doing a short review on later. I’ll also briefly preview the Tri Nations Firstly though, here is the news.

 

News

  • Jarrad Hoeata and Colin Slade have been named in the All Blacks squad to play Fiji on Friday. The side is missing a fair few Crusaders as they get a deserved rest.
  • Matt Giteau has paid the price for Australia’s defeat to Samoa, dumped by Robbie Deans for Saturday’s Tri Nations match-up with South Africa. Deans has brought back the heavyweight names, fielding seven changes from last week.
  • Mystery surrounds future of Stephen Donald as he didn’t manage to get a work visa to play in the UK. It was then reported that he would go to the Blues, but it turns out they don’t want him!
  • South Africa has named three new caps for the clash against Australia, with the team missing a lot of front liners.
  • England have decided that black is an appropriate colour for their alternate strip for the World Cup.

 

ITM Cup/Currie Cup Round-up

Just to add a bit of an international flavour again to the Drawing Board, I’ll be providing a bit of a round-up of the action in these domestic competitions. We’ll have a look at the Currie Cup first off. This week saw the first round of action in the Currie Cup (which features all the South African Super Rugby sides in provincial form with three other teams).  The defending champions the Sharks landed an impressive scalp in the first round by knocking off the Blue Bulls 35 – 16. A routine victory for the Free State Cheetahs who handed out a 40 – 12 smashing to the Leopards whilst the Lions scraped home 31 – 27 against the Pumas (no, not Argentina, they represent Mpumalanga). The shock of the round came when Western Province (the main province for the Stormers) were held to a 26 all draw against Griquas.

The ITM Cup has already started its second round at the time of writing, with this year’s competition being condensed due to the World Cup. This results in games being played on every day except for on Mondays. The way it works this year is there are two divisions, the Premiership (the top 7 teams from last year) and the Championship (bottom 7 teams from last year). All teams will play everyone in their division once, with each team getting four cross over games. In the first round, last year’s wooden spoonists Otago beat North Harbour 46 – 29, whilst Waikato also started well with a 19 – 9 win over Southland. Northland managed to get past Tasman by the same 19 – 9 score line. Manawatu celebrated their 125th anniversary by beating Hawke’s Bay 32 – 23 in somewhat of an upset.  A hat-trick from debutant winger Jason Woodward propelled Wellington to a 23-5 victory over Taranaki. In Auckland, defending champs Canterbury prevailed 40 – 33 in a thriller over Auckland to start their defence in perfect fashion, whilst Bay of Plenty managed to beat a determined Counties Manakau 20 – 13. Round Two has only had two games in it so far, with North Harbour running in five tries in a second-half blitz of Tasman to secure a 39-15 win. Hawke’s Bay managed to get their season back on track with a gritty 29-18 win over Southland.

 

Wallabies 23 – 32 Samoa

What a shock this was. No one would have predicted this to happen. If you did you are either a genius, Samoan or just plain lying. Whilst this was an under strength side, it still contained players such as Elsom, Giteau, Sharpe, Ioane, Ashley-Cooper and McCalman in the starting XV, with Genia, Beale and Higginbotham coming off the bench. Some of these players may have played themselves out of World Cup starting places, with others now feeling as though their World Cup place may be under threat. It was expected to be an easy victory for the Wallabies, but they were poor and lacked respect for the Samoan side. They didn’t take all their opportunities that were presented to them, a combination of poor choices and bruising Samoan defence combined to deny them. The Samoans fed on these mistakes, and scored three of their tries from long range with the other being off a charged down kick. This victory will provide a major boost for the confidence of Samoa, but for Australia this will be a massive let down. We have to bear in mind that they still have players to come back and should be better next week against the Springboks. What we do know as a result of this game is that Australian rugby’s depth is not as great as first thought.

 

Tri Nations Preview

Get ready for the phoney war. The Tri Nations is here for another year, but the real war starts later on this year at a certain tournament.  The big question is though; does the Tri Nations really matter? Probably not in terms of winning it, but it will be an important part of the World Cup plans for all three of the nations. No one will really care about winning the Tri Nations if they win the World Cup later on in the year.

I think all three sides will take different approaches.

The Springboks have signalled their intentions by leaving an army of stars at home while they play the Wallabies and All Blacks on the road. They will however play their stars at home. Who can blame the Boks for going down this road again? After all, this approach reaped rewards in 2007, when they came up trumps in the World Cup. Time will tell if this approach will work again, but I think it is a good idea. They will still be a massive threat in this competition, with the “B” team players having a lot to play for.

Australia is in a different situation. There has been a lot of talk about the way they are building under Robbie Deans. It’s been a three-year project and there’s a feeling they have been making progress, especially with their backline, although I still have major question marks over their pack, especially after the game against Samoa.  They will want to build their combinations and try and build on the momentum the Queensland Reds have given them.  They should be good in this competition.

The All Blacks will bring a mixed approach. I’d expect them to play most of their top line-up and look to mix in some players the coaches want to examine a bit more closely for the World Cup. Some of the star power will likely be on the sidelines, particularly for the away matches in Port Elizabeth and Brisbane. They will, as expected, be looking at the Tri Nations as a way to get some up to speed again and also to build combinations.

 

Tips

Tips returns this week after a bit of a break, with a hope that this will be better than before. The Tri Nations is upon us (it just seems like yesterday we were discussing the Super Rugby final series), which means more top quality rugby of the highest intensity.

Australia V South Africa

This should be an interesting game for both sides involved. On the one hand we have the Springboks, who have sent an under strength side to tour Australia and New Zealand. These guys will be looking to play well as there are potential World Cup spots still up for grabs. They will be wanting to win and are not a bad side. Some of the players in this side have been on form throughout the Super Rugby tournament and should not be taken lightly.

On the other side we have an Australian side that would be hurting from the loss to Samoa. They will be looking to restore some of the confidence that they gained from the Reds’ win in the Super Rugby final, and will be playing their strongest available side. This should see a step up in class from the side that played against Samoa, with the backline having huge potential.

The Springboks will be looking to do what Samoa did against the Wallabies and bring a very physical game on Saturday. They will want to starve the Australian backline of ball, because they have the potential to rip them apart. Pressure will be the name of the game plan, and they will need to be able to take their opportunities. My prediction is that they will give Australia a fright, but will stumble at the last hurdle as the class in the Australian side comes through. A victory to Australia then, but only by 1 – 12.

Australia: Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom (c), James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu

Replacements: Saia Fainga’a, Pekahou Cowan, Nathan Sharpe, Matt Hodgson, Scott Higginbotham,  Nick Phipps, Anthony Fainga’a

South Africa: Gio Aplon; Bjorn Basson, Juan de Jongh, Wynand Olivier, Lwazi Mvovo; Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Ashley Johnson, Danie Rossouw, Deon Stegmann, Johann Muller, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, John Smit (captain), Dean Greyling.

Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, CJ van der Linde, Alistair Hargreaves, Jean Deysel, Charl McLeod, Adrian Jacobs, Patrick Lambie

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