Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (27/7/11)

The Drawing Board (27/7/11)

Welcome to the Drawing Board, Who’s Playing Who?’s one stop rugby shop. Another week goes by and so does another round of rugby action. There has been heaps of rugby going on this week in the southern hemisphere, with a couple of test matches being played and the ITM and Currie Cups powering on. The Tri Nations is well and truly underway, with all sides with one eye on a certain event later on in the year. Firstly though, here is some news.

 

News

  • The All Blacks selectors may be set to further explore the enticing midfield combination of Ma’a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams.
  • England’s decision to wear a controversial black strip during the upcoming World Cup has left Jonah Lomu “dumbfounded”. Pity they couldn’t do that when he was playing.
  • Mils Muliaina is confident the new All Blacks jersey to be worn against the Springboks on Saturday night won’t upset traditionalist.
  • Springboks Gio Aplon and Flip van der Merwe will fly home from the South Africa’s tour after being ruled out of the Tri-Nations clash with New Zealand
  • All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams is set to re-sign with the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) beyond the Rugby World Cup. He is being chased by the Crusaders, Blues and Chiefs for the Super 15 next year.
  • Winston Stanley, the Blues centre, has signed a two-year deal with the Perth-based Western Force from November.

 

ITM Cup/Currie Cup Roundup

Both these competitions were in action during the week, with the ITM pretty much playing non – stop.  This is due to an International Rugby Board (These are the guys who run the game internationally) rule stating that there cannot be any domestic rugby on in the host nation during the World Cup. They are making an exception for the Heartland Competition in NZ (This involves a lot of the smaller provinces, kinda like a 3rd and 4th division).

Over in the Republic, they just played the one round of the Currie Cup during the weekend. The Blue Bulls recorded their first win of the 2011 Currie Cup with a narrow 33-30 win over the Free State Cheetahs. A six-try first-half blitz by the Golden Lions was enough to secure them a 49-11 victory over the Griquas in Kimberley. Reigning Currie Cup champions the Natal Sharks avoided an upset against the Pumas by managing to secure a 23-22. Elsewhere, Western Province made amends for their draw in the opening round of the Currie Cup by turning over the Leopards 47-9 in the other Friday kick-off.

The remainder of round two of ITM Cup action continued last week, with Otago overcoming Auckland at Eden Park for the first time in 35 years, winning 32-25 on Wednesday whilst Counties Manukau despatched Manawatu 32-25 on the same night. Round 3 (which is crazy when you think of it) began last Thursday with Taranaki overhauling a second-half deficit to defeat Waikato 30-23. Manawatu managed to get an impressive 30-22 victory over Northland, whilst Southland regained the Ranfurly Shield on Saturday, defeating Canterbury 22-19.  Bay of Plenty picked up their second win from as many starts with a bonus-point 38-17 victory over North Harbour. A disciplined Auckland outfit withstood a late Wellington charge to win 21-17 in wet conditions, whilst Hawke’s Bay ended Otago’s unbeaten start to the season with a 27-13 victory. Tasman suffered a third successive defeat in the ITM Cup as they lost 32-23 to Counties-Manukau in the last game for the round. In the fourth round (yeah, I said fourth) Bay of Plenty stretched their winning streak to three after they mauled Waikato 36-8.

 

All Blacks 60 – 14 Fiji

Pretty predictable result this one, given that it was not even a full strength Fijian side playing against a decent looking All Blacks. The first half was quite predictable, the All Blacks looking rusty but still taking a commanding 32 – 0 lead into half time. For the players though, this was a good workout and a chance to impress the coaches before the World Cup. The tries they scored looked easy in the first half and the scrum was as dominant as ever for the All Blacks. The second half though was a different story. Fiji came out and played well, scoring two really good tries. In contrast the All Blacks took their foot off the gas, and were level with Fiji at two tries apiece for the half until just before the break.

 

Wallabies 39 – 20 Springboks

Another result that everyone (even most Bok supporters) would have seen coming. Up against a strong Wallabies side, the second string Boks were always going to struggle. They put a decent fight in the first half, but the Wallabies looked and were by far the better team on the night. With their star performers back in the saddle and black armbands on display for Halley Appleby – the Queensland University player who tragically died following a club game last weekend – the Wallabies attacked their task with vigour and dominated almost every facet of the game. The Springboks, in contrast, looked several yards off the pace in defence and at the set-piece, with their kicking game also largely ineffective against the Wallabies’ aggressive defence.

The Wallabies shot out of the blocks early and found themselves 12 points up with only 10 minutes gone thanks to a couple of tries. However they really took their foot off the gas in terms of scoring; only adding a penalty for the remainder of the half. Really this didn’t matter as the Boks were not doing much in attack, but managed to get a couple of penalties to make the half time score 15 – 6. Again the Wallabies came out after half time firing with 3 tries (2 converted) and a penalty in the first 15 minutes  giving them a match winning 39 – 6 lead. They badly exposed the Boks defence on all three occasions.  The Boks hit back with a try of their own on the 60th minute thanks to a trade mark driving maul.  As the game opened up in the latter stages the Boks created a couple of further openings but were both what looked to be certain tries by a combination of bad luck and more aggressive one-on-one tackling from the Wallabies. They did find the added grunt to break the hosts’ resolve eventually, with another converted try, but it was very much too little, too late.

For the Boks, plenty to work on but they can take a couple of positives out of the game. Some of their players played really well and showed why they should be in World Cup contention. For the Wallabies, a good effort with a really well crafted game plan. Will want to work on closing out the half’s better then what they did.

 

All Blacks v Springboks

A very important game for both sides here, with both having one eye on the World Cup. The Boks have already shown their hand by bringing an under strength side, but they would be looking to get some valuable momentum out of the game. For the All Blacks this is going to be an interesting game. Do they pull an Australia and give their top line up a hit out or do they want to put out a slightly weaker side? My feeling is that they are going to go for the slightly weaker side, as I think they still want to give some of those Crusaders players a bit of a rest. However, this still should be a good side. The All Blacks should easily have the edge in the scrums and it is also likely they would have some dominance come lineout time as well. The Boks will need to find a way of disrupting this as they cannot afford to give the All Black backline too much clean ball. My predication is that it will be close for a while, but the All Blacks will pull away and win by 13+.

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