Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (5/4/12)

The Drawing Board (5/4/12)

Welcome to Who’s Playing Who’s? weekly rugby blog. What a season this is turning out to be. It is so tight that a single win or loss can have a drastic impact on a team’s placing on the table. In saying that, there are several teams who really cannot afford to have another couple of bad games.  We are in a bit of a weird situation where the third placed side (the Brumbies) are sitting on less points than the next two teams below them!! This shows how tight the table really is. However, the Australian teams are beginning to lag behind a bit, with only the Brumbies in the top 8. Although it is good to see the Force string together some wins over bigger and better teams.

 

Super Wrap

This week again saw several close finishes, along with a couple of upsets along the way. Some teams have been struggling with injuries. This is a really long competition, which makes depth really important. In my opinion, this is where the Australian teams are struggling. They are finding it hard to replace their top line players with quality replacements.

Highlanders 43 – 12 Rebels

The Highlanders managed to achieve their goals for this match as they managed to beat the Rebels and also gain the four try bonus point. Adam Thompson managed to score a hat trick as they Highlanders managed to pile on 31 unanswered points after the half time break. They scored seven tries to none and the winning margin would have been even greater had they not missed six kicks at goal.

Thomson, who is one of the leading candidates to fill the No.6 shirt for the All Blacks this season in the absence of Jerome Kaino, was at his brilliant best but the Highlanders forwards all tucked into their work with gusto as Jamie Mackintosh, Jason Rutledge and Nasi Manu all had particularly strong games. Ben Smith scored two tries and was lethal from fullback, Kade Poki was an elusive runner on the right wing and Aaron Smith controlled play well from half-back.

Hurricanes 38 – 47 Cheetahs

The Cheetahs managed to win their first game in New Zealand (excluding the season they played in 1997) as they managed to cause the rounds first upset against the Hurricanes. The hosts led 32-11 after just half an hour thanks to tries from hooker Dan Coles, fly-half Beauden Barrett, fullback Andre Taylor and scrum-half TJ Perenara but the Cheetahs battled back to level the scores before the break with fullback Hennie Daniller, winger Rayno Benjamin and prop Coenraad Oosthuizen adding to an earlier score from centre Andries Strauss.

The Hurricanes managed to stem the tide early in the second half but prop WP Nel notched the Cheetahs’ fifth try just short of the hour mark. Barrett’s boot kept the ‘Canes in touch but Oosthuizen’s second try underlined his side’s dominance and sealed the win. I happened to be in Wellington at the time of the game, and all the people up there could not believe how well the Cheetahs could play.

Chiefs 30 – 13 Waratahs

The Chiefs ensured that that the bye did not cause any loss of momentum as they beat the Waratahs.  The Waratahs were looking to build on their victory against the Sharks last week, and they started in the best fashion as they scored a try through winger James Kingston. The Chiefs hit back soon after though, through a try to Robbie Robinson.

The boot of fly-half Aaron Cruden edged the home side further ahead before the break and a try from prop Sona Taumalolo soon after the re-start gave them more breathing space. Tahs scrum-half Brendan McKibbin offered his side some hope with a penalty but flanker Liam Messam’s try midway through the half kept the Chiefs on course for victory.

Brumbies 26 – 29 Sharks

The sharks managed to gain an invaluable away victory as they managed to withstand a late Brumbies fight back to take this game. Brumbies halfback Nick White darted over with seconds to spare to bring his side within striking distance; however they spilled the ball after making a valiant effort to win the game after the hooter.

The Sharks managed to gain an invaluable bonus point to bring themselves back into contention for the top South African spot, with fullback Riaan Viljoen notching two scores after fine work from Freddie Michalak and Odwa Ndungane respectively. Flanker Willem Alberts crossed for their third after an error by Brumbies wing Henry Speight, with Lwazi Mvovo showing incredible pace to round off a breakaway for their fourth. Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg scored their other try – a stunning individual effort from 60 metres – while Christian Lealiifano continued his fine form with 16 points from the tee, albeit in a losing cause.

Force 45 – 19 Reds

The Reds horror tour became even worse as they were whipped by the Force.  The defending champions, cursed by a bad injury crisis, became the first side to concede a bonus point for try scoring to the Force in Perth. Their title hopes now hang by a thread. The Force were good value for their win and brought plenty of exuberance to the table, scoring five tries off the back of a dominant performance by their pack. James Stannard and Nathan Sharpe crossed to give them a healthy lead at the break, with the Reds mustering a try out wide to James Slipper to trail 21-5.

Ben Seymour, on as a replacement for the injured Stannard, put the game to bed by rounding off an interception immediately after the break, with Samu Wara and Matt Hodgson scoring late on to cancel out consolation efforts from Van Humphries and Dom Shipperley. They were truly dominant, as they produced a result that was hard to see coming at the beginning of the weekend.

Lions 13 – 23 Crusaders

The Crusaders managed to get their safari tour underway with a hard fought victory over the Lions.   The game boasted plenty of ambition and its fair share of errors, with Zac Guildford and Sean Maitland proving the difference with tries for the visitors either side of half-time.

Guildford picked up a score off a reverse pass from Carter and while Patrick Cilliers was able to crash over from close range before the break, the Crusaders had further gas in the tank. Tom Taylor converted Maitland’s score and added two further penalties after the resumption, with the Lions unable to add to their earlier efforts.

Stormers 20 – 17 Bulls

The pretty – in – pink Bulls fell agonisingly short of being able to beat the Stormers away from home. Fly-half Peter Grant – recently returned after a sabbatical in Japan – kicked a 77th-minute penalty to seal victory for the hosts, with Joe Pietersen having earlier slotted four kicks to complement a try from hooker Tiaan Liebenberg.

The Bulls rallied from 14-0 down to take the game to the wire and did much of their damage while down to 14 men. With lock Flip van der Merwe in the bin for a lineout offence, Bjorn Basson fashioned a try and Morne Steyn landed the extras and a penalty. Wynand Olivier crashed over after the hour mark to make it interesting, but Grant had the final say.

Bye: Blues

 

Tips

Rebels v Blues – The Rebels will be looking to get their campaign back on track with a win, whilst the Blues will be looking at pulling themselves out of a horror start.  On paper, this should be an exciting battle between two impressive backlines, but the Blues forwards should be too good to allow the Rebels to gain any traction. This could be the victory that the Blues need to get back on track.

Hurricanes v Sharks –For all that the Hurricanes have done well this year, they are hitting a bit of a rut. They are going to have some of their top line players back this week, and should be better, but are up against a much better side in the form of the Sharks. The Sharks are touring well this year and should be too good for the Hurricanes.

Reds v Brumbies – had you asked anyone at the beginning of the year they would have told you that you were crazy for picking the Brumbies to win this one. Now, it does not seem so bad. The Reds are being hit hard by an injury crisis and are not playing anywhere near the standard set last year. Jake White’s Brumbies are looking so good this year that it is hard to go by them.

Force v Chiefs – The Force looked good last week, but they are running into one of the form teams of the competition. It will be interesting to see how they handle a better team, but I have a feeling that the Chiefs should be too good for them.

Highlanders v Stormers – This is an interesting match as both teams have started the season really well, but the Stormers have not travelled yet. Both sides are going well, and have good packs and effective backlines. This will be a close one, and I’m going to make a bit call and going to pick the Stormers.

Cheetahs v Lions – The Cheetahs are coming off a very successful tour and will be looking to pick up back to back victories. They should be too good for the Lions, but don’t think this should be a thrashing.

Bulls v Crusaders – The Bulls will be back in blue and at home, and they will be looking to get a victory over the Crusaders. The Crusaders have been below their best this year, but have Dan Carter back to guide them. However, one man does not make a team and the Bulls should be able to take this out.

Bye: Waratahs

 

Super XV for week six:
15. Ben Smith (Highlanders) 14. Sean Maitland (Crusaders) 13. Richard Kahui (Chiefs) 12. Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs) 11. Zac Guildford (Crusaders) 10. Johan Goosen (Cheetahs) 9. Aaron Smith (Highlanders) 8. Nasi Manu (Highlanders) 7. David Pocock (Force) 6. Adam Thomson (Highlanders) 5. Juandre Kruger (Bulls) 4. Eben Etsebeth (Stormers) 3. WP Nel (Cheetahs) 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle (Bulls) 1. Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs).

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