Home > Rugby, Rugby News, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (25/05/12)

The Drawing Board (25/05/12)

Hello and welcome to Who’s Playing Who?’s weekly rugby blog. This last week has seen a tightening of the gap between the chasing pack and those in playoff positions. There were several upsets during the round that brought the bunch closer, along with creating several changes at both ends of the table. The closeness of this competition has brought high tv audiences, along with increased spectators at the games.

Super Wrap

This week shapes up to be a critical week in several teams seasons. This is as a result of several of last rounds’ results.  The Highlanders managed to drag themselves back into contention, as did the Reds, as they dispatched the Bulls and the Lions respectively. Coupled with a win and a loss for the Sharks and the Hurricanes, the middle of the log has gotten more congested. One more loss for these sides could spell disaster. The Bulls, Stormers, Brumbies, Crusaders and Chiefs are beginning to pull away a bit, but will be weary of getting too far ahead of themselves as they are not that far ahead just yet.

Hurricanes 35 – 37 Brumbies

The Brumbies managed to maintain their status as the top Australian side when they beat the Hurricanes over in NZ, something that has been hard to do in previous years. They have 21 year old fly half Zack Holmes to thank, as he performed well, landing a try and landed three conversions and a penalty on his way to a 22-point haul.

The Brumbies showed their character against a weaker Hurricanes side (resting players) as they managed to come back from 20 – 13 down in the second half to win the game. “All credit to him. He’s been there since July and he’s been listening and taking it all in,” said coach Jake White.

Highlanders 16 – 11 Bulls

The Highlanders managed to keep in touch with the top six teams when they downed the high flying Bulls.  A try from lock Jarrad Hoeata and 11 points from the boot of fly-half Mike Delany were the highlights of a battling display that ended the Bulls’ five-game winning run and saw them lose their grip on top spot..

The Bulls, who lost prop Dean Greyling to a yellow card in the second half, rallied with a try from replacement Willie Wepener but were unable to break down the home side’s stubborn defence. “It was a pretty big game for us,” said Highlanders captain Jamie Mackintosh. “The way the competition is, we’re still in the hunt. We’ve got big games coming up and it’s a good way to start.”

Crusaders 59 – 12 Blues

The Crusaders managed to bounce back from last week’s disappointing loss to the Rebels with a resounding win over their arch rivals, the Blues. The contest was all but over at half-time after the hosts had powered into a 31-0 lead on the back of scores from Matt Todd, Adam Whitelock, Richie McCaw and Corey Flynn.

Andy Ellis heaped woe on the hapless Blues after the break before Flynn added his second. Lachie Munro stopped the rot momentarily with a try for the Blues but tries from Zac Guildford and Tom Marshall completed the rout. Munro had the final say with his second score it could not prevent the Blues sinking to a new low in a troubled season.

Reds 34 – 20 Lions

The Reds managed to keep up their good form with a victory over the lowly Lions. However, the focus in this match was on the return of star fly half Quade Cooper from injury. The Wallabies fly-half completed 40 minutes after recovering from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury, which has kept him out of the game since last year’s Rugby World Cup.

It was a further boost for the Reds, who ran in four tries to secure an important bonus-point victory. Rhys Gill, Saia Faingaa, Chris Feauai-Sautia and Will Genia all touched down for the hosts while Mike Harris kicked 14 points. “Running out in front of a big home crowd was a lot of fun, and it was a big pat on the back for the big road I’ve come from,” Cooper said.

Cheetahs 20 – 34 Sharks

The Sharks managed to keep themselves in the last playoff spot, with a bonus point win over their bogy team, the Cheetahs. The Sharks ran in four tries through JP Pietersen, Frederic Michalak, Lwazi Mvovo and Meyer Bosman with Michalak adding a further 14 points with the boot.

The Cheetahs only managed one score of their own through JA Strauss but it proved to be far too little to stop the Sharks’ charge. Their defence was not up to scratch, as they showed the toll from putting in an enourmas effort against the Stormers the week before.

Stormers 19 – 13 Waratahs

The Stormers managed to capitalise on other results earlier in the day to climb to the top of the ladder with a win over the Waratahs. The South African side were far from their best but did just enough to claim the victory and edge ahead of the Chiefs in the overall standings with their New Zealand rivals enjoying a bye.

Fullback Joe Pietersen and Tiaan Liebenberg scored their tries with Pietersen and Peter Grant adding points from the boot. “It was a tough game of rugby,” said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee. “We must give this Stormers side credit for grinding out wins.”

Force 31 – 32 Rebels

This was probably the best game of the round, as the Rebels managed to edge the Force. Kurtley Beale again showed why he should be the Wallabies first choice fly half as he produced a magnificent display to inspire the Rebels. They outscored the Force by four tries to three, with a late Beale penalty giving the Rebels the victory.

The Force came back into the match, as they almost overcame a bad start to just fall short. The win for the Rebels was their first away win for the season, and gives them a better record than the one they achieved last year.

Bye: Chiefs

Congratulations to:

  • Morne Steyn and Adam Freier, who played in their 100th Super Rugby (SR) matches this weekend.
  • Dewald Duvenage and Sarel Pretorius, who passed the half-century mark for SR caps.

Tips

CHIEFS v VODACOM BULLS – The Chief should be fresh from their bye, whilst the Bulls would be tired from a gruelling tour. The Bulls should be motivated by the thought that victory will make them conference favourites pending Saturday’s clash at Kings Park.  They should just have enough to win this one

HURRICANES v REBELS – The Rebels are much improved team in their second season, and they are on a bit of a roll at the moment after wins over the Crusaders and Force. They’ve done a bit of travelling this week though and the Hurricanes’ home ground advantage could count against them in this mid-table clash.

BLUES v HIGHLANDERS – The Blues are at home this week, but that has not proven to be that much of a help for them this year. The Highlanders are slipping behind a bit in the battle for New Zealand conference honours and have to win if they want to remain in contention for automatic qualification for the knockout phase. After last week’s win over the Bulls they are also on the borderline between top six and also-ran status

BRUMBIES v REDS – A big game for both sides, as a loss for the Reds could effectively give the Australian conference to the Brumbies.  Both sides will be looking to land an important victory, but I think that it will be the Brumbies who will emerge victorious

FORCE v LIONS – I’m going to be brave and back the Lions here for no more reason then I have a gut feel about this one.

CHEETAHS v WARATAHS – The Cheetahs and the Waratahs might both feel they are due for a win after coming close in a few games recently but just falling short. If the Cheetahs mix up their game a bit better than they have been, they should edge it.

SHARKS v DHL STORMERS – A massive game. The Sharks have shown some really good form over the past few weeks as they have had their best team out on the park, whilst the Stormers have been winning games all season. You bet against the Stormers at your peril, and there is part of me that can foresee one of those awful games where the team playing no rugby (Stormers) beats the team playing all the rugby (Sharks) something like 9-8. But in a reversal of the first round, it is the Sharks who start favourites this time, and for good reason.

Super XV for week 13: 
15. Joe Pietersen (Stormers) 14. Julian Savea (Hurricanes) 13. Tamati Ellison (Highlanders) 12. Ryan Crotty (Crusaders) 11. Zac Guildford (Crusaders) 10. Kurtley Beale (Rebels) 9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) 8. Scott Higginbotham (Reds) 7. Matt Todd (Crusaders) 6. Adam Thomson (Highlanders) 5. James Horwill (Reds) 4. Eben Etzebeth (Stormers) 3. Owen Franks (Crusaders) 2. Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs) 1. Benn Robinson (Waratahs).

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