Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (27/04)

The Drawing Board (27/04)

Hello and welcome to Who’s Playing Who?’s weekly rugby blog. Apologies for last week, time seemed to have gotten the better of me. This week again promises to be an intriguing one as there is a bit of a breakaway group forming at the top, but they are still within sight of the chasing bunch. There are some important matchups this week, as teams look to pick up valuable points in the lead up to the international break.

Super Wrap

Last week’s action saw several key results take place, with most of the games being reasonably close. There was a cracker in the form of the Bulls – Brumbies game, in which the Bulls just managed to hang on. The Crusaders are beginning to show that they are coming back to life whilst the Blues woes are continuing, with the Highlanders heaping more misery on them. The Waratahs managed to keep their title hopes going with a victory over the Rebels whilst the Stormers managed to gain an important win on their tour over the Reds. The team to be looking out for though, is the high flying Chiefs side. They are looking really good at the moment and are beginning to fulfil their potential.

Highlanders 30 – 27 Blues

It was a case of so close, yet so far for the hapless Blues. They came really close to taking this match, but just could not find a way through a determined Highlanders outfit. To their credit, the Highlanders never gave up hope of victory, even when they were trailing with a few minutes to go.  It was a game of tit for tat as both sides matched each other.  Hadleigh Parkes opened the scoring with a try, before Shaun Treeby’s try and a couple of Mike Delany penalties gave the Highlanders the lead. Gareth Anscombe managed to pull the Blues back into the game with several penalties before one last Delany penalty gave the Highlanders a deserved 16 – 14 half time lead.

More penalties were traded after half time before the Blues managed to pull away through a Rene Ranger try.  This looked like a match winning lead, but the Highlanders showed their composure to gain another penalty to Delany to get them within striking distance, before Kurt Baker sealed the game with a late try.

Reds 13 – 23 Stormers

The Stormers managed to get their tour back on track with an impressive win over the defending champion Reds.  Most of the damage was done in the first half by the Stormers, who were guilty of falling away a little bit in the second half. The Reds, who are going through a horrid injury toll, lost Sam Lane and Ben Tapuai to injury in the first 10 minutes. To rub things in, they were already 10 points down at that stage, with a Gio Aplon converted try and a Peter Grant penalty giving the visitors a great start. Ben Lucas managed to pull three points back with a penalty.

Grant managed to score his side’s second try, which he converted, to give the Stormers a 17 – 3 half time lead. The Reds rallied in the second half, and managed to keep the Stormers down to a couple of penalties. They also managed to score a try through James Horwill and add a penalty to Mike Harris. However, the damaged had been done in the first half, and the rally was not enough.

Hurricanes 14 – 42 Crusaders

The Crusaders showed that they were returning to their best as they gave the Hurricanes a bit of a hiding.  Dan Carter celebrated his 100th match in fine style, scoring a try along the way to another victory. The Crusaders got off to a flying start to the game with a dominant first half display. They started off with a Kieran Read try early and never looked back. Tom Taylor had another good night with the boot, landing 7 from 9. Carter, Israel Dagg and Robbie Fruean all grabbed first half tries as well, to go with a couple of conversions and penalties by Taylor. The Hurricanes did manage to grab one converted try back through fullback Andre Taylor to make the half time score 7 – 32 to the Crusaders.

The Hurricanes started the better side in the second half, with Victor Vito scoring a converted try. However this was to be their last scoring act, as another Taylor penalty and a converted Dagg try gave the Crusaders a timely boost.

Waratahs 30 – 21 Rebels

The Waratahs made it back to back victories as they managed to dispatch the Rebels. They still will be a bit disappointed with the result, as they let the Rebels back into the match a couple of times. Bernard Foley got the hosts on their way with a first minute score, before Brendon McKibbin gave them a 13 point lead. This was cut by a Ged Robinson try before McKibbin added another penalty to make it 16 – 7 at the break

Much like the first half, the second began with the Waratahs coming out of the blocks fast. Tatafu Polota-Nau and Rob Horne managed to score tries, with McKibbin adding the extras to give the Waratahs a 23 point lead. They then proceeded to let the Rebels back into the game, with tries to Tim Davidson and Lachlan Mitchell bringing them close. The Rebels though, could not find the killer edge.

Sharks 13 – 18 Chiefs

The Chiefs managed to stay top of the table with an important victory against the Sharks. All Blacks playmaker Aaron Cruden weighed in with a try, a conversion and two penalties as the visitors notched their seventh straight win of the campaign and completed their tour of South Africa unbeaten following a success against the Cheetahs last weekend.

The Sharks trailed throughout with Patrick Lambie’s three penalties bringing them to within a point late in the second half only for a try from the Chiefs’ Augustine Pulu to put the result beyond doubt. The Chiefs showed in this game that they are maturing well as a side, with the new coaching staff managing to fulfil the potential of the Chiefs, something that previous coaches have been guilty of not exploiting.

Bulls 36 – 34 Brumbies

Morne Steyn managed to kick the Bulls out of trouble, as they managed to just keep out a late Brumbies fight back.  Steyn got the Bulls underway with a couple of penalties, before the Brumbies stormed to the lead thanks to a couple of unconverted tries to Henry Speight and Jesse Mogg.  Bjorn Basson managed to grab a try back for the hosts and allowed them to take a 19 – 13 lead into the second half.

The Brumbies looked gone for all money as Steyn helped himself to some more points through a drop goal and another couple of penalties. Sandwiched in between these was a try to CJ Stander.  However, three late converted tries to Andrew Smith, Ian Prior and Anthony Hegarty gave the Brumbies hope of a victory. Time was against them though, as they managed to run out of time.

Bye: Force, Lions and Cheetahs

Congratulations to:

  • Dan Carter – who passed the century mark this weekend for Super Rugby games played.
  • George Whitelock, Christian Lealiifano and Josh Bekhuis – who all played their 50th Super Rugby game for their respective franchises.
  • Rodney Blake and Ben Mowen – who reached the 50-cap mark in Super Rugby this weekend.

Tips

BLUES v REDS – Both sides will be desperate for a win, but for very different reasons. The Blues will be looking to end a bad run of losses, whilst the Reds will be looking to stay in touch with the leaders.  The Reds are bringing back some big names, but the Blues should not be underestimated as they have plenty of game breakers too. This should be tight, but the Reds will take it in my opinion.

LIONS v BRUMBIES – The Brumbies have been really good under Jake White this year and do not look anything like last year’s rabble. In contrast, the Lions still do look like last year’s rabble. The Brumbies should take this one easily.

CHIEFS v HURRICANES – Both sides have both been the surprise packages of the New Zealand conference. The Hurricanes will be searching for a much needed win, whilst the Chiefs will be looking to hang onto top spot. It will be a tough ask, but I think that the Chiefs should manage to take this one in spite of their travel fatigue.

FORCE v STORMERS – This game is not as simple as it looks. The Stormers are going through a bit of an injury crisis at the moment and will be tired from a long tour. The Force, on the other hand, will be refreshed after their break and will be looking for a big scalp. However, I do think that the Stormers will still have enough to beat the Force.

CHEETAHS v HIGHLANDERS – A 50/50 match that could go either way as the Cheetahs have been alright this year, whilst the Highlanders have been on form this year. This could be tighter than expected, but I do think that the Highlanders should still win.

WARATAHS v CRUSADERS – In a rare Sunday afternoon clash, the Waratahs will take on the Crusaders. Both sides are playing catch up and are on form as well. To me though, the Crusaders have had the better defence and should take this out.

Super XV for week nine:
15. Jesse Mogg (Brumbies) 14. Henry Speight (Brumbies) 13. Conrad Smith (Hurricanes) 12. Juan de Jongh (Stormers) 11. Hosea Gear (Hurricanes) 10. Mike Delany (Highlanders) 9. Brendan McKibbin (Waratahs) 8. Kieran Reid (Crusaders) 7. Matt Todd (Crusaders) 6. Liam Messam (Chiefs) 5. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs) 4. Josh Bekhuis (Highlanders) 3. Ben Franks (Crusaders) 2. Tatafa Polota-Nau (Waratahs) 1. Tony Woodcock (Blues).

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