Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (15/03/12)

The Drawing Board (15/03/12)

Hello and welcome to Who’s Playing Who?’s weekly rugby blog.  This week has started off on a sad note here in New Zealand with the passing of Jock Hobbs (father of Michael Hobbs, the Blues first five). The former All Black captain was the man who saved NZ rugby and is the guy who brought RWC 2011 to NZ. Jock made a huge impression on New Zealanders, and was widely respected by everyone who he came in contact with.

 

Super Wrap

On a more positive note, we witnessed a great round of Super Rugby.  This round produced a mixture of really good games with heaps of tries, and others that were really tight but low scoring games.  Generally the competition has been really even this year, with only a few thrashings being dished out. This may change over time, but it is definitely a positive. It seems to me that the teams who are doing well at the breakdown are winning the games this year. Like always, this is an important area of the game, but it seems to have taken on an extra edge this year.

Crusaders 19 – 24 Chiefs

The Crusaders now find themselves in an unusual position of having more losses than wins, as they went down to the Chiefs.  The Chiefs were impressive in this game, and were not overawed by the firepower that the Crusaders pose.  A first half try to Liam Messam and 11 points from the boot of fly – half Aaron Cruden gave the Chiefs a 16 – 6 lead at the break.

The Crusaders inevitably came back, with a converted try to Robbie Fruean reducing the lead to just 3 points. Sona Taumalolo, who was in doubt for the game due to his wife being due to have a baby, scored soon after to put the Chiefs further in front. Again the Crusaders came back through a couple of penalties to Tyler Bleyendaal, but the Chiefs held on, adding a late penalty to ensure they won the game.

Force 19 – 46 Hurricanes

The Hurricanes gave the Force the rounds only thrashing in what was a really weird game. If you watched the game again, it look like the Force were the dominant team. According to some of the stats they were, as they controlled possession and territory for the whole game. However, the Hurricanes were clinical and took almost every opportunity that came their way.

The star of the show though was 20 year – old scrum half TJ Perenara, who scored a hat – trick on debut.  The young man showed great potential, and provided great support to his teammates. Fullback Andre Taylor, lock Jason Eaton and replacement centre Charlie Ngatai also got in on the act with playmakers Beauden Barrett and Daniel Kirkpatrick sharing 16 points from the kicking tee. A try from No.8 Matt Hodgson and the kicking exploits of James Stannard just about kept the Force in the contest at the break but they had little answer to the Hurricanes’ onslaught with two tries in the last six minutes.

Brumbies 24 – 23 Cheetahs

So close, yet so far for the Cheetahs. They came so close to winning on the road for the second year running, but missed out by the narrowest of margins.  They were unlucky not to take the victory, having lead for most of the match. The Brumbies showed, however, the progress they have made this year by holding their nerve to take this game.

The Brumbies and the Cheetahs traded a couple of tries and penalties during the game, but the real excitement happened towards the end of the game. Rather than going for the try, the Brumbies bravely decided to go for a penalty with five minutes to go, in order to narrow the gap.  In the end it worked for them, but only after a frenetic end to the game.  Brumbies captain Ben Mowen dropped a ball that was called backwards, and then the Cheetahs knocked forward. Cheetahs inside centre Philip Snyman then intercepted a ball and made a break, but he opted for a speculative pass which ended in the arms of Pat McCabe who kept the Brumbies’ chances alive. The Brumbies then drew the penalty they needed to win the game, and Lealiifano held his nerve when it counted.

Highlanders 18 – 17 Waratahs

The Highlanders and Waratahs played out a tense game, with the Highlanders ruing an awful kicking display for not putting the game beyond doubt. Played in front of another really good crowd, the Highlanders showed that they will not be easily beaten this year. The Waratahs opened up a six point lead, before an unconverted Aaron Smith try reduced it to just five.  A couple more penalties were traded, giving the Waratahs a slender 9 – 8 lead at half time.

The Highlanders should really have been leading at half time, but missed easy kicks at goal, which kept the Waratahs in the hunt. An unconverted try to Patrick McCutcheon increase the Waratahs lead to six, before the Highlanders managed to convert a John Hardie try. This gave a one point lead to the Highlanders, which they never surrendered.

Reds 11 – 6 Rebels

So you know how I said that the Reds would be looking for a bonus point in this game? Well it turns out that they just wanted to be generous and give it to the Rebels, so that they would not finish last this year. The defending champs had to work surprisingly hard to win this one, coming from behind to eventually take the game. The Rebels were left ruing the fact that they could not put more points on the Reds, especially in the first half, which they dominated. James O’Connor kicked two penalties for the Rebels while Mike Harris bounced back from missing a kick at goal for the first time this season by pulling one penalty back for the Reds.

The Rebels were left to regret their failure to build a bigger lead as the Reds roared back in the second half. Winger Dominic Shipperley’s try in the 54th minute proved the decisive moment of the match and Harris nailed another three-pointer ten minutes later to open a five-point lead that the Rebels never really troubled.

Sharks 32 – 20 Lions­

The Sharks managed to get their season back on track with a bonus point victory over the Lions.  The Lions were not bad, but they just were not good enough to beat the Sharks on this day. The Sharks built up a commanding 17 – 6 lead at the break thanks to tries from fullback Riaan Viljoen and winger Lwazi Mvovo.

To their credit, the Lions did not lie down and hit back with a couple of tries of their own after the break. However, they could not get further than within seven points of the Sharks, with tries to Meyer Bosman and Jacques Botes sealing the bonus point for the Sharks.

Bulls 23 – 29 Blues

The Blues managed to also get their campaign going with a somewhat shock win over the Bulls. Young fly – half Gareth Anscombe scored all the visitors’ points in his first start. It was the good Blues team that turned up this week, looking completely different to the side that lost their way last week.

Anscombe got the ball rolling with a try in the first minute of the game and added another in the first half, to go with an impressive kicking display. Bulls No.8 Pierre Spies crossed midway through the opening period but his side were chasing the game for much of the contest with two late tries for winger Bjorn Basson only adding a little gloss to the scoreboard.

Bye: Stormers

 

Congratulations to:

  • Nathan Sharpe – who became the first player in Super Rugby history to earn 150 caps (Reds 70, Force 80).
  • Props Ben Alexander and Jamie MacKintosh – who both played in their 50th Super Rugby games this weekend.
  • Gareth Anscombe – whose 29 points against the Bulls on Saturday broke Adrian Cashmore’s Blues record of 27 points achieved against the Highlanders in 1998. The tournament record, by the way, belongs to Gavin Lawless, who scored 50 points in a match against the self-same Highlanders in 1997.
  • Ewen McKenzie – who coached a Super Rugby outfit for the 100th time this weekend.

 

Tips

Chiefs v Brumbies – The Brumbies have already looked better than the outfit that took the field last year, but will be coming up against an inform Chiefs outfit who look really good at the moment. Usually the pack is where the Chiefs fall down, but they have been really good this year and have allowed their backs to show their talent.  This one will hopefully produce some cracking tries, with the Chiefs being victorious.

Stormers v Blues – This one is a hard one to predict. The main question is which side will turn up for both teams? Will the Blues manage to turn it on like they did against the Bulls last week, given that they now have some serious injury concerns (Jerome Kaino out for the season among others)? Can the Stormers finally rediscover their 2010 attack? For me, the Stormers should just edge this one, which promises to be a really good game.

Hurricanes v Highlanders – Both sides head into this game with some form behind them, with the Hurricanes winning two on the road and the Highlanders winning their first three.  This will be a big ask for the Hurricanes to take this one, especially after coming back from a big trip overseas. They have the talent to do so, but this Highlanders side will take something special to be bested at the moment. The Highlanders should be too good, but hopefully both teams take a positive approach as this could really be a great game if they do.

Waratahs v Force – The Force dominated the stats last week and still lost. They cannot afford to do this again as the Waratahs are equally able to punish them. Coming off a tough game against the Highlanders, the Waratahs will be battle hardened and will be keen to get their campaign back on track. Armed with this motivation, they should be able to overcome the Force.

Sharks v Reds – Neither side has really impressed with their start to the season, with the Reds doing just enough to win and the Sharks only gaining their first victory against the Lions. This game will be hard to pick as the Sharks are better in South Africa, but the Reds have been doing enough to take games this season and still poses game breakers in their side. These sides like to attack in different ways, but I’ll be putting my money on the Sharks to take this one.

Rebels v Cheetahs – This is going to be closer than expected. The Rebels have a great team this year and have pushed two better sides close. The Cheetahs can turn up and cause mayhem on their day and are much better travellers. It is always a try-fest with the Cheetahs, but this one should be taken by the Rebels.

Bye: Bulls, Crusaders, Lions

 

Super XV for week three:
15. Andre Taylor (Hurricanes) 14. Corey Jane (Hurricanes) 13. Richard Kahui (Chiefs) 12. Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs) 11. Bjorn Basson (Bulls) 10. Gareth Anscombe (Blues) 9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) 8. Pierre Spies (Bulls)7. David Pocock (Force) 6. Adam Thomson (Highlanders) 5. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs) 4. Anthony Boric (Blues) 3. Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs) 2. Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks) 1. Arizona Taumalolo (Chiefs).

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