Home > Rugby, Rugby News, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board (31/05/12)

The Drawing Board (31/05/12)

Hello and welcome to Who’s Playing Who?’s weekly rugby blog. This is turning out to be a really tight season. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, some teams (namely the Hurricanes, Reds, Sharks and Waratahs) needed to act quick to reign in the leaders, and three of them have. This has caused the log to become so tight, that one loss could send you spiralling down the ladder. I’m almost a bit disappointed now that the June internationals are coming, as I would have loved to have seen how some of these teams handled the pressure.

Super Wrap

The June break will be important for most teams as they rest and recover from what has already been a long and hard season. Whilst many will be involved in the test series that will be going on in each respective country, there will be a whole host of players that will be able to take a bit of a break. There will still be several games being played throughout this period, as teams look to keep up match fitness.

Chiefs 28 – 22 Bulls

The Chiefs managed to gain an invaluable victory over the Bulls, showing that the bye did the world of good for them. The result takes the Chiefs back to the top of the overall standings where they are four points ahead of the Stormers who play the Sharks on Saturday.

It was a dominant second-half performance from the Waikato-franchise which proved to be the difference after they trailed the Bulls 16-8 at half-time. Tries from Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Sam Cane was enough to get them over the line with Morne Steyn’s boot keeping the Bulls in the mix. “We’re thrilled that we could kick on in a very tight game,” said Chiefs skipper Craig Clarke. “We knew we were playing some good footy and needed to keep doing what we were doing and we did that … we didn’t want to play a controlled, structured game, that’s sort of their style.”

Hurricanes 66 – 24 Rebels

The Hurricanes managed to keep their playoff hopes alive as they thumped the Rebels. In what was one of their best displays of the season, the Hurricanes ran rampant. However, it was the Rebels who started the brightest, with a try to Cooper Vuna giving them an early lead. The flood gates opened for the Hurricanes, with four converted tries coming in a matter of minutes. The Rebels managed to get another before the break, but they then let a converted try to Jack Lam  just before the break.

Rising star Julian Savea stole the show with a hat-trick with in-form fullback Andre Taylor and winger Alapati Leiua grabbing two tries apiece. Fly-half Beauden Barrett pulled the strings in what was a nine-try romp and ended the game with 21 points. The Hurricanes managed to add four more tries after the break, with the Rebels defence really letting them down.

Blues 20 – 27 Highlanders

The Highlanders managed to withstand a brave fight back from the Blues to claim a rare victory at Eden Park. This has traditionally been a graveyard for teams from Dunedin. A try from centre Tamati Ellison and a score either side of half time from winger Hosea Gear put the visitors in control and when flanker Adam Thomson crossed on the hour mark the result looked beyond doubt.

But back came the Blues with tries from props Tevita Mailau and Tony Woodcock but it was not enough to prevent the Highlanders from notching only their second Super Rugby success in Auckland. “We weren’t working hard enough in the first-half,” Highlanders skipper Jamie Mackintosh said. “They came out desperate, created a lot of opportunities and were playing really well. We were just lucky enough to score those tries just before and just after half-time and that made a big difference.”

Brumbies 12 – 13 Reds

The Reds managed to gain an important win over the Brumbies. The result of this is that the gap has closed between the sides in the Australian conference.  Zack Holmes had a chance to win it at the death for the Brumbies; however he missed the penalty, and consequently gave the Reds the victory.

Jake White’s side remain five points clear at the summit but the Reds will now have added impetus to overhaul their rivals. Fullback Luke Morahan got the visitors on the board early with a solo try, with Mike Harris landing the conversion and two penalties. Before his costly miss at the hooter, Holmes kicked four penalties to keep his side in the hunt.

Force 17 – 11 Lions

The battle for the wooden spoon ended with the Force winning their match up against the Lions. The visitors started well and were a try to the good after only three minutes thanks to Michael Killian, but the Force put an error-strewn first-half behind them to pull clear in the second.

Skipper David Pocock finished well from close range for their first try, with Napolioni Nalaga sealing the win 10 minutes from time. “Very happy with the win,” Pocock tolf AFP. “They were very tough for the whole game, we had to spread the ball a bit and get them running.”

Cheetahs 35 – 34 Waratahs

The Cheetahs managed to get another victory under their belts as they won a thriller against the Waratahs. The hosts were 10 points down at the break after a Sitaleki Timani brace and further tries from Dave Dennis and Rob Horne.

Willie Le Roux – who finished with a double – and WP Nel bagged second-half tries for the Cheetahs to complement earlier scores from scrum-half Petrus van Zyl and hooker Adriaan Strauss.

Sharks 25 – 20 Stormers

The Sharks managed to gain an impressive victory over the Stomers, keeping them in the playoff hunt. The Stormers, who head the South African conference from the Bulls, almost pulled off a terrific comeback as they rallied from 25-6 just after half time with Gio Aplon touching down twice and Peter Grant adding two conversions to his first-half penalties.

But the Sharks had built up a lead that proved too much for their rivals. Former France fly-half Federic Michalak grabbed the Sharks’ first try in the 17th minute with No.8 Keegan Daniel and winger Lwazi Mvovo also touching down. Patrick Lambie landed two conversions and two penalties.

Bye: Crusaders

Congratulations to:

  • Jacques Botes, Nic Henderson and Ali Williams, who all played in their 100th Super Rugby (SR) match this past weekend.
  • Nic Cummins, who played his 50th SR match for the Force this weekend.
  • Liam Messam, whose 90th SR match for the Chiefs on Friday was a new franchise record.
  • Aaron Cruden, who also broke a Chiefs record when he passed Stephen Donald’s mark for most points in a season. He is currently on 165 points.
  • Beauden Barret, whose nine conversions against the Rebels on Saturday passed the Hurricanes’ previous record of six, jointly held by Christian Cullen and Jimmy Gopperth.

Tips

CRUSADERS V HIGHLANDERS – this is important for both sides as they are looking to keep in playoff contention. Both are in good form, and it should be a really good game. However, I think that the Crusaders are hitting top form and will take this one

REBELS V BRUMBIES – without Kurtly Beale, I don’t think that the Rebels have much chance. The Brumbies should take this one

BLUES V CHIEFS – separated by only about an hour’s drive, the fortunes of these franchises could not be any different. The Chiefs are flying high in their best season ever, and are in good form. The Blues are going through their worst season in contrast. This should be an easy win for the Chiefs.

WARATAHS V HURRICANES – the Waratahs have been really disappointing this year, and have dropped out of playoff contention with a series of losses. They ‘ll be tired from their trip to South Africa. All this, combined with the good form of the Hurricanes, should lead to another loss for the Sydney based side.

LIONS V SHARKS – The Lions have not been great this year, whilst the Sharks are finding form at the right end of the competition. Easy win for the ‘banana boys’

BULLS V STORMERS – What a match up to lead into the June internationals! This is a crunch game for both sides, and will have massive ramifications. This is the big rivalry in South African rugby, and with good reason. Both sides are having good seasons thus far, and would be desperate to win to secure top position in the South African conference. I think that the Bulls should take this game

Bye: Reds, Cheetahs, Force

Super XV for week 14: 
15. Andre Taylor (Hurricanes) 14. Hosea Gear (Highlanders) 13. Tamati Ellison (Highlanders) 12. Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs) 11. Julian Savea (Hurricanes) 10. Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes) 9. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes) 8. Keegan Daniels (Sharks) 7. Adam Thomson (Highlanders) 6. David Pocock (Force) 5. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs) 4. Jarrad Hoeata (Highlanders) 3. James Slipper (Reds) 2. Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks) 1. Tendai Mtwarira (Sharks).

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