Home > Rugby, Rugby News, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (28/03/2012)

The Drawing Board (28/03/2012)

Hello and welcome to Who’s Playing Who?’s weekly rugby blog. Week five of Super Rugby produced games went right down to the wire, only being decided in the last few minutes. There was only one game that was not decided by less than 7 points, and it was a big blow out. What started out as a somewhat rusty performance by a few teams has begun to turn around, with most teams starting to find there rhythm.

 

Super Wrap

As mentioned above, most of the games were close. As it stands at the moment, the Stormers are the only unbeaten team in the competition, with the Highlanders suffering their first loss to the Brumbies. There were some spectacular ends to the games, and some fantastic tries scored. There can only be one image of this round. That was, after over 680 days, Super Rugby finally returning to earthquake ravaged Christchurch

Blues 25 – 26 Hurricanes

The Hurricanes managed to pull the ultimate rabbit out of the hat as they needed a superb late try to get up over the Blues. A try from centre Ma’a Nonu against his former side and the boot of fullback Lachie Munro put the Blues in control in the first half before the visitors hit back with three tries of their own from fullback Andre Taylor, winger Cory Jane and Conrad Smith to give them a narrow 19-16 lead at the break.

Three more penalties from Munro in the second half saw the lead change hands once again and the hosts looked on course for only their second win of the campaign before Smith grabbed his second score in the dying moments of the game. The ball was spun out from the 22, where Beauden Barrett made a superb break before unloading to Smith for the match winner.

Rebels 30 – 29 Force

The Rebels finally got their campaign underway with a narrow win over the Force. They raced out to a huge 21 – 0 lead midway through the first half, thanks largely to tries from centres Lachlan Mitchell and Lloyd Johansson and Sale-bound fly-half Danny Cipriani. Cipriani got injured in the process of scoring the try, pulling a hamstring in the process. The Force hit back though, with tries to flanker David Pocock and centres Winston Stanley.

The comeback was well and truly on when centre Alfi Mafi crossed just three minutes into the second half with fullback Dane Harvey bringing the visitors within striking range with a penalty. His opposite number Julian Huxley stopped the rot and gave his side a little more breathing room with a penalty of his own but the Force rallied once more with winger Nick Cummins dotting down just past the hour mark to level the scores. Harvey added the conversion to give his side the lead for the first time in the game but the Rebels would have the final say with winger Mark Gerrard landing a match-winning penalty.

Waratahs 34 – 30 Sharks

The Waratahs managed to edge the Sharks in the third close game of the weekend.  The match was played in perfect conditions, and both teams made it a great spectacle, with both wanting to play a running brand of rugby.  This produced a tight and absorbing match. Tries from the prolific Lwazi Mvovo and No.8 Keegan Daniel propelled the Sharks into a 17-13 lead at the break with a score from scrum-half Brendan McKibbin keeping the Tahs in touch.

There was further trouble for the hosts when Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis notched his third try but it sparked the Waratahs into life with fullback Bernard Foley and centre Tom Carter both crossing in a four-minute spell. Patrick Lambie steered the Sharks back in front with two penalties but Waratahs centre Tom Kingston set the seal on a seven-try thriller with a score five minutes from time.

Crusaders 28 – 21 Cheetahs

Another game that was decided by a late try, with the Crusaders managing to give their new stadium the perfect start. The Cheetahs played much better than expected, which added to the occasion.  Looking to bounce back from two straight defeats in their first ‘home’ match for nearly two years following the 2010 earthquake, the hosts took control in the first half with a try from winger Sean Maitland and two penalties from fly-half Tom Taylor. A try from centre Robbie Fruean shortly after the break stretched their advantage and delighted the capacity 18,000 crowd.

Impressive Cheetahs playmaker Johan Goosen, who finished the game with 16 points, dragged his side back into the contest just two minutes later. Centre Robert Ebersohn would add another before Goosen pulled his side level from the kicking tee but the Crusaders were rewarded for a late rally with a try from fullback Israel Dagg five minutes from time.

Brumbies 33 – 26 Highlanders

The Brumbies continue to impress under Jake White as they showed more improvement by beating the Highlanders in another close game.  They have improved so much from last year and showed that they will be a handful for any team this year. Two tries from winger Joseph Tomane in the opening quarter of an hour laid the foundation for the Brumbies’ third win of the season that lifts them to the top of the Australian Conference.

The Highlanders clawed their way back onto level terms thanks to tries from scrum-half Aaron Smith and centre Shaun Treeby but their hopes took a significant blow when fly-half Colin Slade suffered a suspected broken ankle early in the second half. With the game in the balance, Brumbies flanker Michael Hooper crossed for the decisive score just past the hour mark with the Highlanders having to settle for a losing bonus point.

Bulls 61 – 8 Reds

If you didn’t know what happened last year, you would swear that the Reds were not the championship winning side. They got thrashed, well and truly, by a rampant Bulls side. Admittedly they are going through a massive injury crisis at the moment. Zane Kirchner scored the only try of the first half as the Bulls, who lost to the Blues in their last outing, went in at the interval with a modest 16-3 lead, but all that changed in the second period as the hosts pulled away to a stunning bonus-point win.

Tries by Zane Kirchner, Wynand Olivier, Flip van der Merwe, Jacques Potgieter, Jano Vermaak, CJ Stander, JJ Engelbrecht and Bjorn Basson helped the hosts to their formidable total, as did 18 points from the boot of Morne Steyn. A serious injury to kicker Jono Lance appeared to affect the Reds as they fell apart in the closing stages, and their second-half try by Dom Shipperley was scant consolation on a damaging evening.

Lions 19 – 24 Stormers

The Stormers had to withstand a brave comeback by the Lions to remain as the only unbeaten side in this year’s Super Rugby competition. They started the stronger and were 18-7 ahead at half-time following tries from Bryan Habana and Tiaan Liebenberg with Tiaan Meyer going over for the Lions. Butch James kicked three penalties in the second half while Andries Coetzee landed a drop goal for the hosts. But Joe Pietersen’s four penalties and one conversion confirmed the win.

Bye: Chiefs

 

Congratulations to:

  • Tiaan Liebenberg – 50 Super Rugby games for the Stormers (also 13 for the Cheetahs)
  • Bryan Habana – for scoring his 50th Super try. (Bulls 37, Stormers 13)
  • Morne Steyn – who passed Stirling Mortlock’s 1031 Super Rugby points to move into the second postion on the all-time points-scorers list. Steyn is now on 1039 points.

 

Tips:

Highlanders v Rebels – The Highlanders finally lost, and have suffered as a result, losing Colin Slade for the season. They have some debth, but not of that quality. However, in saying that, they are playing the Rebels and on form, they should be able to take this one. Do not think this will be a walkover though; the Highlanders are better known for grinding teams down.

Hurricanes v Cheetahs – The Hurricanes have been proving a lot of people wrong this year and are doing really well. So are the Cheetahs but have not got the results to show for it as of yet.  This should be an entertaining game, but the Hurricanes should have too much confidence and skill to let this one slip.

Chiefs v Waratahs – Another potentially good match up, as the on form and well rested Chiefs take on the rejuvenated Waratahs. The Waratahs have been a bit up and down this year, and will be looking to take another win. Standing in their way is an on form Chiefs side that is starting to look strong. This one should be close, but the Chiefs should take it for me.

Brumbies v Sharks – had you asked me at the beginning of the year, I would have said the Sharks without a doubt. Now though, the Brumbies have thrown a spanner in the works. They are playing well, but this will be another big test for them. I’m going to go with the Sharks, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in that prediction.

Force v Reds – The Reds are injury depleted, which gives the Force a shot, but the Reds should take this one for me.

Lions v Crusaders – The Lions have been better than what their results are showing, but they still cannot apply the right pressure for the whole game.  This should allow the Crusaders off the hook, as they have not been playing well, but are beginning to hit their stride.

Stormers v Bulls – The Bulls will be in pink for this game, so watch out for this game. This promises to be a real arm wrestle between the two top South African teams. Both are on form, but have not been perfect. This is tough to call, but I think that the Stormers should just have enough to win this.

Bye: Blues

 

Super XV for week five:

15. Andre Taylor (Hurricanes) 14. Cory Jane (Hurricanes) 13. Conrad Smith (Hurricanes) 12. Pat McCabe (Brumbies) 11. Hosea Gear (Highlanders) 10. Morne Steyn (Bulls) 9. Andy Ellis (Crusaders) 8. Pierre Spies (Bulls) 7. Jacques Potgieter (Bulls) 6. Michael Hooper (Brumbies) 5. Nathan Sharpe (Force) 4. Dean Mumm (Waratahs) 3. Owen Franks (Crusaders) 2. Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks) 1. Dean Greyling (Bulls).

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