Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (24/8/11)

The Drawing Board (24/8/11)

Welcome to the Drawing Board, Who’s Playing Who?’s one stop rugby shop. By the time you are reading this, all the World Cup squads would have been announced and we will be digesting just who has been picked and dropped, who is lucky and who is not and who should or shouldn’t be there.  There are certainly some interesting selections, some have shocked most pundits and others that you could have bet your bottom dollar on. Let’s kick things off with some news.

 

News

  • There was nothing in the French flare-up, according to the players involved and ARU.
  • James O’Connor has lost his place in this weekend’s test against the All Blacks due to an alcohol fuelled night/sleep in.  Got a huge fine to boot.
  • South Africa coach Peter de Villiers placed his faith in the core of the Springboks’ 2007 World Cup-winning team when he announced his 30-man squad for this year’s tournament on Tuesday.
  • Rocky Elsom has been dropped as captain, Matt Giteau is not in the side and Radike Samo has managed to cap a successful comeback to be named in the Wallabies World Cup squad.
  • Victor Vito, Zac Guildford and Israel Dagg are the notable inclusions in the All Blacks World Cup squad, which was fairly predictable but still managed to include several shocks.

 

ITM Cup/Currie Cup Roundup

The Currie Cup is going to take a bit of a back seat to a certain tournament but don’t fear, there will still be a review here for you to help quench your thirst for rugby action. The Golden Lions unbeaten run is over as they endured their first defeat of the season, going down 28-26 to Western Province whilst Springbok winger Odwa Ndungane scored two second-half tries to secure a scrappy 23-3 win for the Sharks against the Platinum Leopards. The Blue Bulls continued their climb up the Currie Cup table with an emphatic 44-20 victory over Griquas in Pretoria. The Free State Cheetahs were in imperious form against the Pumas running in 11 tries and prevailing 80-16 to wrap up the sixth round.

Round 10 of the ITM Cup continued with Counties Manukau bouncing back from an early 10-0 deficit to beat North Harbour 40-32. Wellington eased their relegation fears with a 30-25 victory over fellow strugglers Southland. Round 11 got into full swing when Canterbury moved to the top of the premiership table with a resounding 27-0 win over Taranaki in a desperately one-sided clash. Waikato’s hopes of reclaiming the top spot in the premiership later that evening were dashed when they were routed 54-20 by an Aaron Cruden-inspired Manawatu. Joe Rokocoko enjoyed a happy send-off before his imminent switch to France as Auckland recorded a 25-16 victory over a free-falling Bay of Plenty whilst Championship basement boys North Harbour picked up only their second win of the season by defeating fellow strugglers Northland 33-26. Hawke’s Bay managed to run in six tries to overcome Counties-Manukau 44-14 whilst later in the day Otago left it late to defeat Tasman 19-16. Bay of Plenty upset champions Canterbury with a 35-31 to kick off round 12 action. However, Canterbury managed two bonus point tries and is still top of the table. Elsewhere Waikato made amends for their drubbing at the hands of Manawatu with an impressive 31-27 win over Wellington.

 

Springboks 18 – 5 All Blacks

The Springboks finally managed to put a win on the board, kicking the All Blacks off the park. Fly-half Morne Steyn landed five penalties and a drop goal to put a resurgent Springboks side back on track ahead of their defence of the Rugby World Cup crown next month. Superb scrambling defence and a dominant scrum laid the foundation for a deserved victory that prevented South Africa’s first whitewash in the competition.

However, if you were to watch the game, you would have said that it was in fact the All Blacks who were the better side, making more line breaks and having more chances on the Springboks line. They were guilty of failing to make the most of their opportunities having dominated for much of the opening period with a late try from Richard Kahui the only reward for an under strength side.

There was a moment of controversy during this game which highlighted an important issue that rugby faces at this present time. Israel Dagg managed to break the line and get a forward pass away in the tackle to Jimmy Cowen who promptly scored the try.   The referee then opted to ask the Television Match Official for clarification with a ‘yes or no’ try question. The TMO confirmed there was nothing wrong with the grounding before swiftly offering ‘more information from before the goal line’ in a clear break from protocol. The referee accepted the offer of further input at which point was told that there had been a forward pass in the build-up with the try subsequently ruled out. Whilst justice was served in the end, this was not the correct way of going about it and a try should have still stood.  This may provide the platform for reformation of the existing laws to include this sort of situation.

The Springboks will be really happy with their victory, but still have a fair amount of work to do if they want to win the RWC. They fired almost nothing in attack, which will be concerning, but this can be put down almost solely on the fact that Morne Steyn does not pose an attacking threat, especially if he stands far behind the advantage line.  This does allow him to easily kick for field possession. First up defence was not up to scratch as well, however the scrambling defence was outstanding.  Some work ons, but in general the Springboks will take some confidence out of this match.

The All Blacks will be very disappointed with this game, even though they were missing several of their key stars. They made enough line breaks and created more than enough opportunities, but showed that they lacked the maturity and ruthlessness to finish them off. You could tell that this was more about the World Cup for them – a chance to see who could perform under intense pressure. They had a better gauge of who was going to be in their World Cup squad after the game, and the second stringers will be better for the hit out.

 

Wallabies v All Blacks

So the whole Tri Nations boils down to just this one game. This is more than a game, however, as valuable momentum can be gained going into the World Cup. Both teams will be playing at full strength, or close to it, and will be looking at this test as the final possible time that they have to trail their plans before the tournament kicks off. The Wallabies will be well rested and will want to exact some revenge for the defeat earlier in the year.

The All Blacks will be flying over their rested stars for this game so that they can test themselves in a pressure environment, which they will hope will be reminiscent of the World Cup playoffs.  They will want their systems to have another test before the World Cup begins, and for their top combinations to have another hit out.

The Wallabies are experiencing a tough week, having dumped their captain, left out a former star player and, to top it off, had to deal with a young star that has not quite come to terms with what being a star means.  They also will want a tough encounter and will want to show that they can stand up to the All Blacks both up front and in the backs. An important game it is for sure. A win here would give a massive confidence boost to the Wallabies.

Both teams will look to be expansive, but the team who will win will be the one who can control the forward exchanges and dominate the set piece. I may harp on about this a bit, but the platform for the backs to perform is set by the forwards. Quade Cooper and Dan Carter are much better players when their forward packs are doing their jobs well. And it is in the forward exchanges where I think that the All Blacks will again gain some ascendency. This should be a close game, and I’m hopeful that conditions will allow a good free flowing game with a few good tries to boot. My prediction is that the All Blacks should edge this one just, but then again, my predictions have been great this year, haven’t they!

 

Australia: Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Anthony Fainga’a, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dan Vickerman, James Horwill, Rocky Elsom, David Pocock, Radike Samo

Replacements: Saia Fainga’a, Salesi Ma’afu, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Burgess, TBC

 

World Cup Squads

South Africa:

Backs: Francois Steyn, Patrick Lambie, JP Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh, Bryan Habana, Odwa Ndungane, Morne Steyn, Butch James, Fourie du Preez, Francois Hougaard, Ruan Pienaar.

Forwards: Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira, Gurthro Steenkamp, John Smit (capt), Bismarck du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jannie du Plessis, CJ van der Linde, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Johann Muller, Dannie Rossouw, Willem Alberts, Schalk Burger, Heinrich Brussow, Francois Louw, Pierre Spies.

Notable omissions:  Juan Smith (injured), BJ Botha (injured), Andries Bekker (injured), Duane Vermeulen (injured), Flip van der Merwe, Gerhard Mostert, Ashley Johnson and Jean Deysel.

 

New Zealand:

Backs: Jimmy Cowan, Andy Ellis, Piri Weepu, Daniel Carter, Colin Slade, Richard Kahui, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Israel Dagg, Zac Guildford, Cory Jane, Mils Muliaina, Isaia Toeava.

Forwards: Corey Flynn, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, John Afoa, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock, Anthony Boric, Brad Thorn, Samuel Whitelock, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Adam Thomson, Victor Vito.

Notable omissions:  Hosea Gear, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Ben Smith, Liam Messam, Wyatt Crockett and Jarrad Hoeata

 

Australia:

Backs: Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor, Drew Mitchell, Digby Ioane, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Pat McCabe, Anthony Faingaa, Berrick Barnes, Quade Cooper, Nick Phipps, Luke Burgess, Will Genia.

Forwards: Ben McCalman, Radike Samo, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom, Scott Higginbotham, James Horwill (capt), Rob Simmons, Nathan Sharpe, Dan Vickerman, Ben Alexander, Sekope Kepu, James Slipper, Salesi Ma’afu, Stephen Moore, Saia Faingaa, Tatafu Polota-Nau.

Notable omissions: Lachie Turner, Matt Hodgson, Sitaleki Timani, Pekahou Cowan and Matt Giteau

 

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

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