Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (10/8/11)

The Drawing Board (10/8/11)

Welcome to the Drawing Board, Who’s Playing Who?’s one stop rugby shop. A month yesterday (which was my birthday!!) to the Rugby World Cup and frantic last minute preparations for the teams involved are being made. Some are resting players, others are playing their top sides, and some are not even playing at all. World Cup squads need to be announced the Tuesday before the final Tri Nations match up between the All Blacks and the Wallabies, which gives them a match each to get their respective squads right. Firstly though, here are some interesting Rugby World Cup stats.

 

  • Offshore (to NZ) ticket sales indicate 95,000 visitors now expected
  • Ticket revenue hits NZ$234m, 87% of target, from 1.08m sales to date
  • Sales surge since Bledisloe Test – NZ$1 million of tickets sold
  • NZ$65m revenue generated from nearly 300,000 ticket sales over last 10 weeks
  • Over 230,000 tickets are still available

 

Now, here is some proper news.

 

Headlines

  • The Crusaders face another season without a home, as key structures within AMI Stadium are set to be demolished. It will be closed for 2012.
  • South Africa boss Peter de Villiers has opted to delay naming his side to face Australia on Saturday due to injury concerns over Pierre Spies and Danie Rossouw.
  • The Waratahs have emerged as shock contenders for the signature of Sonny Bill Williams next year.
  • Adidas New Zealand had been criticised by sports retailers, fans, rugby legends and politicians for selling the jerseys at a higher price in New Zealand than overseas.
  • Italy fly-half Craig Gower has crossed codes for a second time, signing for Super League side Harlequins.
  • England are ‘optimistic’ that skipper Lewis Moody will be fit to take his place in their Rugby World Cup squad after the Bath flanker was diagnosed with a mild strain of the medial ligament in his right knee.

 

ITM Cup/Currie Cup Roundup

In Currie Cup action over the weekend, The Griquas shocked the reigning champions the Natal Sharks winning 43-22. In a battle for the wooden spoon, the Leopards beat the Pumas by 27-15 to record their first win of the season. In the first of the Saturday games, the Free State Cheetahs overcame the Western Province 28-22, whilst the Golden Lions continued their excellent form in the Currie Cup with a 36-27 win over the Blue Bulls.

Moving onto the ITM Cup, the competition where everything is done in a hurry.  In continuation of round six action, Otago made the most of limited opportunities to steal an unlikely 30-14 win over Counties-Manukau whilst Auckland managed to stretch their 70-year winning streak (and you thought that the Wallabies’ hoodoo was bad, didn’t you) over Southland at Eden Park with a 39-26 win. Bay of Plenty, the Premiership leaders, saw their unbeaten run come to an abrupt end with a 30-23 defeat at the hands of Northland in the first game of round seven. Reigning champions Canterbury climbed to second in the ITM Cup standings after edging out Tasman 36-32 in a thrilling encounter (Telusa Veainu grabbing a hat trick), whilst Hawke’s Bay got back to winning ways by trouncing Wellington 40-20 later on in the night. Southland signed off Carisbrook’s 128 year history with an error filled 19-12 win over Otago, ruining any party send offs the home team had in mind. Manawatu took top spot in the ITM Cup championship with a hard-fought 15-10 win over Taranaki later on in the day, whilst on Sunday, Waikato picked up their third win of rugby’s national provincial championship with a 22-15 win over Counties-Manukau. Auckland came from behind to defeat North Harbour 29-13 in the final game for the round. In round eight action, Beauden Barrett kicked 29 points – including a record nine penalties – as Taranaki overcame Bay of Plenty 39-33.

 

All Blacks 30 – 14 Wallabies

And the Auckland hoodoo continues for the Wallabies. After coming into this game with great confidence and bravado, they were sent packing with their tales between their legs. They will be bitterly disappointed with their efforts, having multiple opportunities at the All Black line, only crossing a couple of times late in the second half. By then it was far too late, as a slow start proved too difficult to overcome. Well, if you give most teams a 20 point head start and give yourself only 36 minutes to catch it up it’s going to be tough, let alone against the All Blacks at home. To add to their woes, they controlled territory and possession, especially in the first half.

Tries from centre Ma’a Nonu, hooker Keven Mealamu and winger Sitiveni Sivivatu along with 15 points from the boot of fly-half Dan Carter saw the hosts make it two from two in this year’s battle for southern hemisphere supremacy. The Wallabies battled their way back into the contest with second half tries from winger Digby Ioane and flanker Rocky Elsom but did not have enough to pip their clinical Trans-Tasman rivals.

Played in perfect conditions, in front of a crowd of 54,500, New Zealand showed a clarity of execution in attack that the Australians were simply not able to emulate. The All Blacks’ faultless support play in the first half made them a potent threat in the Wallabies’ half and while the visitors ran the ball often, it was without the conviction achieved by the home team and the sizable 17-0 half-time lead proved a bridge too far for the visitors.

In the end, it came down to a few things for me. The All Blacks were defiantly the hungrier side; they really wanted this game. This attitude showed, especially on defence where they nullified the threat the Quade Cooper possessed. Their defence was great during the game, rattling the Wallabies much vaunted back line. Finally, the All Blacks were far too clinical, taking their opportunities well when they were presented, especially in the first half.

 

Springboks V Wallabies

Whilst the result against the All Blacks may not have gone their way, the Wallabies have to put that behind them as they have another game this weekend. In a harsh twist this year, they have to travel straight from NZ to South Africa and play. Not to worry though, the All Blacks have a similar pattern later on in the competition. Whilst there are two more games for the Wallabies left in the competition, this will be the last for the players to impress management, as the World Cup squads need to be named the Tuesday before the All Blacks game in Brisbane.

They will also encounter a different beast compared to the one they faced a couple of weeks ago, with several “injured” stars looking set to come back into the side. At the time of writing, the Springboks had delayed naming their side, but in all likelihood it will be a close to full strength side that plays this weekend. All in all this should make the game a better spectacle then the last one. Of concern for the Springboks will be the rustiness of their returning stars and how they will stand up to the Wallabies for this game. The Wallabies will want to put the last game behind them and start to try and build some momentum leading into the World Cup.

As far as the tactics go, the Springboks look set to play their kicking game but don’t be surprised if they are more intelligent with it and spread the ball occasionally. They will want their forwards to be direct in their attack, like they were on occasion against the All Blacks. The Wallabies will want to negate this forward effort and give their backs more of a platform to work off. They were not as effective as expected of them last week. I’m picking a better game, with the Springboks to take this one by less than 10 points on the night.

 

Well that’s that, so until next time, it’s back to the Drawing Board.

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