by Paul Waite
26 Mar 2001
This week was a bit of a ho-hum for a change. There’s been a marked raising of standard from the New Zealand sides, so no reason to bitch about that, and there weren’t any upsets either.
Well, I retract that. The Hurricanes came within 3 points of the Cats, losing 18-15 so that was probably an upset of sorts. In fact the boys in yellow put in a solid-ish effort by their previous standard this season, so let’s hope they keep improving; the semi-final spots are still wide open. Oh, and we’re picking Dion Waller as a tip for a new All Black cap this season.
The Brumbies made heavy weather of their game, for three-quarters of it anyway, before putting the Stormers well and truly away 42-17. The poor old Stormers were doing well up to halfway through the second 40, and even led by a couple at one stage, but lost their grip on the ball and the match. There was the unmistakable sound of a flushing toilet as the tries rolled in.
Back home the Crusaders looked like the Crusaders for the first time this season. The Reds felt some of the trademark ‘offensive defence’ and although the scores weren’t that far apart by the end (32-26) the Red and Blacks had this one under control for most of the game. The home crowd also gave Andrew Mehrtens a big welcome on his first game this season.
Down in Otago the Highlanders danced a fling around the Bulls and kicked them in the naughty parts to the tune of 32-10. Brendan ‘Chainsaw’ Laney bagged 22 points, which included two tries, and basically ran the show. God knows it wasn’t their useless No.10, whatever he’s called. His kick to touch had more slices in it than a sandwich loaf. On the right wing the grass was seared black by that hot Fijian speedster Aisea Tuilevu. By God this guy is fast and strong. Not only that, he’s got a good nose for being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing (well, apart from his little tantrum at the end of the game!). The NZRFU ought to make enquiries. They’ve got a slightly used Joeli ‘Careless Hands’ Vidiri for a part-ex.
Finally lets talk about those useless bloody Waratahs. Goodness me I’d forgotten that they travelled about as well as a truckload of eggs going across the Mojave desert. They really ought to get out more. Super 12 rugby isn’t just about playing well in Sydney. Dammit, do those buggers realise they cost me a whole three points in my tipping competition??
More seriously, New Zealand’s rugby-watchers will have been encouraged by the step-up in form which was shown this weekend. A lot more ball was retained, and the patterns were more cohesive. There are still far too many occasions that forwards are choosing to fart around in the backline slowing the ball and generally muddying the play, but it’s improving. The only question we need to ask is why it’s taken so long this year; usually we’re at this standard by week three.
Roll on next weekend.