Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (22/03/2012)

The Drawing Board (22/03/2012)

The Drawing Board

Hello and welcome to Who’s Playing Who?’s weekly rugby blog. So, we have now had a few weeks in this year’s Super Rugby season and already trends are beginning to develop. Some teams have been better than expected, and others have been surprisingly disappointing. This is an important phase of the competition coming up, as teams who have not had a great start look to close the gap on the leaders. Congratulations are in order for Wales, who won the Six Nations competition. This is a great achievement for a young side that showed so much promise at the Rugby World Cup.

Super Wrap

Round four of the Super Rugby season produced several upsets, along with several predictable games and again, no real thrashings. These may came later on in the year when fitness issues begin to become more of a factor, but for now, it’s looking good. There were a couple of last gasp victories, a massive comeback, several tight games and multi team byes.

Chiefs 29 – 22 Brumbies

The Chiefs managed to pull the first rabbit out of the hat for the week when they managed to get a late try to beat the Brumbies. The game was effectively a massive tit for tat, with each points scoring being matched exactly by the opposition, until the very last try. Aaron Cruden managed an impressive 19 point haul, and capped off a good night when he converted centre Jackson Willison’s super 78th minute try.

Cruden and his Brumbies’ counterpart Christian Lealiifano shared six penalties in the first half and their kicking duel continued after the break before Chiefs prop Sona Taumalolo notched his third try of the season. Brumbies replacement Sam Carter dragged his side back into the contest with a try three minutes from time only for Willison to send the home crown home happy.

Stormers 27 – 17 Blues

The Stormers continued their good start to the season with a resounding victory over the Blues, who are having a horror start to the year. A great first half performance saw the Stormers take an impressive 17 – 3 lead to the break. They got underway early with Joe Pietersen converting two penalties before Bryan Habana poached an unconverted try off a lucky bounce. Lachie Munro managed to get the Blues underway with a penalty, only to see Pietersen boot two more over before the break.

The Stormers started the better team as veteran centre Jean de Villiers crashing over after 51 minutes to extend their lead. However the Blues launched an inspired comeback, reducing the gap to just seven points thanks to tries from outside centre Benson Stanley and prop Charlie Faumuina’s. It was too little too late though, as another Pietersen penalty gave the Stormers a valuable victory.

Hurricanes 17 – 19 Highlanders

The Highlanders continued their excellent start to the season with an away victory over the Hurricanes. In a sub plot to this game, Mark Hammett (Hurricanes coach) was coming up against several former players who left last year due to the massive rift between the players and coach. The early initiative was with the Highlanders, who were playing in their lime green strip, as they managed to get a 10 point lead thanks to fly-half Colin Slade’s converted try and penalty. However it was the Hurricanes went into the break with a narrow 14-13 lead thanks to a try of their own from winger Cory Jane and the kicking exploits of Beauden Barrett.

Slade edged his side back in front from the kicking tee in the early stages of the second half only for the lead to change hands again thanks to Barrett’s fourth penalty ten minutes from time. But the Highlanders had the final say with replacement Chris Noakes knocking over the match-winning penalty to propel his side to the top of the New Zealand Conference.

Waratahs 20 – 21 Force

The Force provided the first real upset of the round by narrowly beating the Waratahs to kick start their campaign. It was the Waratahs who held the edge in the match at half time, taking a narrow 14 – 13 lead at the break. This was largely due to Adam Ashley-Cooper’s try for the hosts and another from fellow winger James Kingston. James Harvey managed to keep the Force in the contest with a try, two penalties and a conversion.

He gave them a lead with another penalty before two penalties from Tahs playmaker Daniel Halangahu saw the lead change hands once again. However, the final say would be with Force winger Samu Wara, who managed to score an unconverted try just past the hour mark to get a match winning lead for the Force.

Sharks 27 – 22 Reds

The Sharks managed to produce the second upset of the round as they managed to come back from the dead to beat the Reds. The Reds were the first to get on the board when hooker James Hanson crashed over the line in the ninth minute for a converted try. Scott Higginbotham further extended the lead when he crashed over, with Ben Lucas converting and adding a penalty to give the Reds a commanding 17 – 0 lead. However, they could not capitilise on this as an injury crisis saw them lose valuble momentum, with the Sharks rallying back to 10 – 17 at the break thanks to a Jan Andre Marais’ try to go with a conversion and penalty from Pat Lambie.

The Sharks started the second half where they ended the first, with a converted try to Keegan Daniel. This gave them the lead, but this was short lived as replacement Nick Frisby then scored for the Reds. Riaan Viljoen then stepped up and scored the match winner in the 59th minute. Lambie converted the score for what proved to be the final points in the game as the Sharks ran out victorious.

Rebels 26 – 33 Cheetahs

The final game of the round saw the Cheetahs escape with a win thanks to a late, length of the field try to beat the Rebels. This gave them a rare overseas victory, and managed to get their campaign underway. Cheetahs winger Willie Le Roux grabbed two tries and saw a yellow card in an eventful first half that saw the visitors claim a 20-10 lead. The Rebels could only respond with a converted try to Adam Freier try and a James O’Conner penalty.

However they fought their way back into the game with O’Connor, who ended the game with 21 points, steering his side into the lead midway through the second half. But back came the Cheetahs with fly-half Johan Goosen pulling his side level before replacement Petrus van Zyl struck with what proved to be the match-winning score after the hooter.

Bye: Crusaders, Lions, Bulls

Tips:

Blues v Hurricanes – The Blues are coming off a tough trip to South Africa and are facing an injury/suspension crisis that has robbed them of many of their top line players. They have not been living up to their potential this year, which in contrast to the Hurricanes who have performed better than expected. Expect a running game to occur, with the Hurricanes notching victory.

Rebels v Force – This is a tough one to pick. The Rebels and the Force have not had the results, but they have both been playing some decent rugby at times. However, the Force will be confident as they managed to overcome the Waratahs last week. It should be a close game, but my pick is that the Force will take this one out.

Waratahs v Sharks – The Waratahs are enduring another tough start to their campaign, and have suffered another shock lose. They are still a good side, but might be lacking some confidence at this point. On the other hand, the Sharks are beginning to hit their straps and had a confidence boosting win last week against the Reds. They will be targeting this game to get their campaign underway, and I think that the Sharks will win it.

Crusaders v Cheetahs – For the first time since 2010, there will be Super Rugby in Christchurch. In what seems an age, the Crusaders will play a home game. They will be pumped and ready for this game, and will not be taking the Cheetahs lightly, especially after what happened last week and last year. My pick is that the Crusaders will be too strong for the Cheetahs in a high scoring encounter.

Brumbies v Highlanders – The Brumbies have been good this year, and have shown improvements already on last year. They are running up against an inform Highlanders side who are in the habit of winning. This should be closer than expected, but the Highlanders should be too strong.

Bulls v Reds – The Bulls will be looking to take advantage of a weaker Reds side and being at home. Both Mike Harris and Ben Lucas are out for the Reds, and along with Digby Ioane being suspended, there are little known talents in the back line. The Bulls are on form and should be able to take this one.

Lions v Stormers – Can’t go past the Stormers for this one.

Super XV for week 4:
15. Riaan Viljoen (Sharks) 14. Cory Jane (Hurricanes) 13. Tamati Ellison (Highlanders) 12. Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs) 11. Willie le Roux (Cheetahs) 10. James O’Connor (Rebels) 9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) 8. Matt Hodgson (Force) 7. David Pocock (Force) 6. Adam Thomson (Highlanders) 5. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs) 4. Eben Etsebeth (Stormers) 3. Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs) 2. Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks) 1 Arizona Taumalolo.

Advertisements
Categories: Rugby, The Drawing Board
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: