20 Apr

Crusading Coach tops Ton
by Tracey Nelson
20 Apr 2007

While there has been plenty of coverage for New Zealand Super players clocking up centuries of games this season, one ton that escaped under the radar a fortnight ago was that of Crusaders’ coach Robbie Deans who clocked up his 100th game against the Western Force.

Much concern has been aired this week over the looming overseas exodus of top players after this year’s World Cup, but it may well be that in the rush to stem that flow New Zealand rugby is in grave danger of letting slip one of the greatest coaches this country has seen. Few seem to have noted that – in a year when the Crusaders were without eight of their top players due to the All Black conditioning programme in the first half of the Super 14 – Deans took essentially the same side that bowed out in Canterbury colours in the quarter finals of the Air New Zealand Cup and melded them into a side that was sitting in the top half of the competition at the halfway point. These young players not only continued the legacy of the Crusaders brand but suddenly had many in the media touting some of them as potential All Black bolters.

Such is the measure of the man as a coach and mentor, and the way he has painstakingly set up the Crusaders’ environment over the last decade, that it seems almost any player coming into the side performs to a potential that often goes unseen when they play in other franchises. To lose a coach of this talent, at a time when New Zealand rugby is set to lose the cream of player experience and talent from our fold, would be nothing short of criminal. I can only hope and pray that while the NZRU are doing their utmost to prepare tempting contracts to keep our top players here, that they are also prepared to do likewise for our top coach.

Following their hard-fought win against the Hurricanes at Jade Stadium tonight, the Crusaders squad are set to celebrate their coach’s achievement of 100 Super games and no doubt it will be an occasion befitting of a man who has always credited his players for their achievements. Tonight those players get to credit their coach for his.

20 Apr

Your Guess is as Good as Mine – Predictions for Round 12
by WAJ
20 Apr 2007

So Hayman is off for his OE, joining the 4 or 5 other senior AB’s in Europe. We should not forget that the balance of the recent AB’s are all contracted and that the ones leaving are mostly at the end part of their international careers anyway. Aus are in a similar situation with the likes of Paul, Larkham and Gregan all heading off as well. The SA have a less rigid selection policy than ours where they do select players not playing domestic rugby, so that reduces the impact with them to a certain extent, though they only tend to pick players where they are weak in depth. Hayman was the standout player for me over round 11, his single-handed man-handling of the Crusaders scrum was phenomenal. Where that leaves the Highlanders next year without both Hayman and Oliver is a worry. And who would be a No.8 in NZ at the moment. Some high class performances from Tuiali’I and Kaino throughout the season and Lauaki of late are putting a lot or pressure on Rodders. He is tried and true though and compliments Collins so well that it is hard to see a change – great knowing that we have the depth if injury should strike however. 1 5/8 is still a bit of a worry though, after Carter who? Evans is still below his best and McAllister injured, though it doesn’t take him long to find form – oh that’s right we have Weepu now as well. So a great battle looming tomorrow then – hopefully it will show how average a 1 5/8 Weepu really is and he goes back to his rightful place. And lastly I’m still getting over the crap the the Reds and Waratahs served up – I have recorded it so if anyone is suffering from insomnia I will send it, guaranteed sleep within 5 minutes.

A full round of games this week – here is where the 56 points will come from.

Crusaders v Hurricanes – tricky one to start with. The big question is what Hurricanes team will show up, if the A-team is on deck then they could well surprise, but if they continue to play as they have over the last few weeks you would think it will be another one-sided Crusaders win. The Crusaders continue with their squad rotations with Thorne at lock and read at B/S the most interesting – Is this because they don’t rate the other locks or that they do rate Read? Tipoki in at 2 5/8 will be an interesting match up with Nonu. The former has looked very good in his limited opportunities and the Hurricanes inside backs will need to be extremely vigilant. The Hurricanes have been disappointing of late, even with their AB’s back they have not been anywhere near last years standard and were not overly convincing last week. The disappointment so far for me has been Eaton and his failure to attack the opposition lineout – he meets a short lineout tonite so Jason show us something please. On the back of a much better looking structure in the backline and home ground advantage the Crusaders will win this pretty well.

Crusaders 13+

Brumbies v Force – they had an interview with a very relaxed and talkative George Gregan on Inside Rugby last nite – what a revelation! I fancy this will be a close game – the Force will have enormous resolve to turn around the problems of the last couple of weeks, especially on defence, and expect a huge improvement, and the additions of Henjak, Staniforth and Pocock will also make a difference there as well. Giteau v Larkham shapes as a key to this game, the former a brilliant player who needs toi get his outsides into the game more, and the latter in great form and orchestrating his backs beautifully as only he can with his great passing game. The forwards will break even so with the better cominations in the backs the Brumbies will win but not by much

Brumbies 1 – 12

Reds v Cheetahs – a who cares game!

Reds 1 -12

Chiefs v Sharks – should be a cracking game. The Chiefs are on a roll at last and one thing they have been able to do consistently this year is score tries, equal 2nd highest with the Blues. But equally they have blown a lot as well with some shoddy handling and they still continue to leak plenty as well – 28, the 3rd most. They come up against a very good defensive team with their very aggressive in your face style of play. The likes of Lauaki and Robinson will need to retain their self control in the face of a lot of provocation from a huge Sharks pack with the likes of Venter, Ackerman and Smit. If they keep control and get enough ball to play their running game, with Lauaki in good form especially at the moment with ball in hand, they could come away with a good win. I am still not totally convinced about the Sharks, a runaway win against the hapless Reds is meaningless and despite deserving their win last week, failed to construct a legitimate try (yeah yeah I know) and looked very shakey in the last quarter. So I reckon they are very beatable – the Chiefs however need to be at there most accurate in lineouts and with ball in hand.

Chiefs 13+

Waratahs v Hayman – despite only 4 wins so far this season the Highlanders still have a chance to make the top 4, though they need a bonus point win here. They are strengthened by the addition of Cowan, Newby and Kawau, will smash them in the scrums (McKenzie has started Mash Potato Dunning for the 1st time this year, clearly he is out to ensure MPD never plays for Oz again), and I’m picking Evans to play up to his best form against a flakey defence and the Highlanders to win easily. The Highlanders have only won twice against the Waratahs in the Sooper Comps but McKenzie is clearly giving a few players a run, though why you would make 2 changes in the front row is baffling, and they only have Wallaby caps to play for now, though how any but a couple would make the cut is the question.

Highlanders 13+

Lions v Bulls – the Bulls will smash them – too big, strong and skilled up front.

Bulls 13+

Stormers v Blues – expect the Blues too bounce back big time on Sunday morning. Plenty of changes, with a new back 3 and the return of the 3 rested AB’s from last week the key points there. Nick Williams is in again to impersonate a wrecking ball for 60 minutes and Devine pays for his loss of control last week. (I just hope with the AB’s in this week that Nucifora doesn’t rest them again next week when he will need all guns on deck). Holwell will also present a more controlled kicking option if required. The Stormers are the ultimate enigma with a consistent win/loss record all through the season, but the Blues have won the last 3 in Capetown, will be extremely determined to make up for last week and should win well. The battle of the 4 flankers should be highlight.

Blues 13+

And go the NZ U19′s, though I saw the size of some of the SA forwards last nite – holy shit. And these guys are U19!!

15 Apr

Blues stumble, are they about to fall?
by Tracey Nelson
15 Apr 2007

How predictable to wake up this morning to Blues’ coach David Nucifora complaining about the refereeing, as if that was the main reason they lost the game to the Sharks up at Albany. Granted, referee Dickinson missed more things in that game than he has all season to date, but equally some of those went in favour of the Blues too. But to go on and whinge about the Sharks’ tactics off the ball and niggling the Blues players was just farcical – what parallel universe is Nucifora living in? How many times has he played SA sides? It’s what they do best, for goodness sake! And in actual fact, it’s not just the SA sides that do it because there was plenty of play off the ball last week from the Force (particularly on McCaw), and the Tahs and Brumbies have also been past masters of taking out key players off the ball.

What cost the Blues this game was a combination of two things in the end – ill discipline and some poor selection choices in key personnel for this game. I personally think Nucifora underestimated the Sharks, and that came back to bite him big time. The Sharks looked at the Blues and very quickly worked out that if you could niggle them, they would lose focus on the task at hand and start getting stroppy.

Several Blues players need to take a good, hard look at themselves after that game because they will know they were guilty of responding to the Sharks’ off the ball tactics instead of getting on with the game. There will always be things the referee misses, but unfortunately the Blues let it get to them and started backchatting the referee which did nothing to endear their cause to him and indeed probably made him watch them more closely than the Sharks.

The microscope also needs to be focussed on Blues captain Troy Flavell. As a lock he needed to play tight, as captain he needed to control his team’s discipline, and in this game he did neither. Much has been spoken about Flavell’s abilities with ball in hand, but sadly last night’s game called for some hard yards to be done in the tight and he failed to measure up. Certainly his captaincy skills came into question, because he couldn’t control his team who started to really get on the wick of the referee with their constant backchat in the first half.

The way the Sharks were playing this game it was crying out for the Blues to back up their ball carrier and commit some forwards to the breakdown to prevent the Sharks’ spoiling tactics of slowing the ball up. But did they do that? No. More often than not it was the midfield backs having to get stuck in, and then we discovered the forwards all standing out in the backline – dropping passes. To have a player of the calibre of Mealamu languishing on the bench while all this trite went on was nothing short of criminal. The lift in the game and the whole team effort when he came on was noticeable and he really should have come on straight after half time. Frankly it was an appalling coaching decision not to actually start him. Ali Williams also provided some good work up front when he was subbed on (also far too late into the game to make a difference), although it was at the expense of Rawlinson who had worked his guts out all night and was probably my pick of the Blues tight five – the rest of whom were not nearly tight enough.

Forget those early S14 games where the Blues were winning and the games were loose with plenty of running for all. This is the business end and playing against these top SA sides is the closest to what test rugby is like, not those fluffy games against the likes of the wooden spooners the Reds and Waratahs. Chances are this game was just a blip on the radar for the Blues, they are a much better side than the performance they put on last night. However, the Sharks exposed the chinks in their armour and this won’t have been lost on the Stormers and Bulls, both of whom the Blues face up to next as they head to South Africa. If the Blues want to secure a home semi-final then they need to look closely at their own game, not the performance of the match officials, as we head into the last three rounds of the Super 14.

12 Apr

Pearls from the Oracle – Predictions for Round 11
by WAJ
12 Apr 2007

Was talking to someone from Sydney earlier in the week. He is still quite buoyant about Australia putting out a more than competitive team at test level, fool. He wasn’t too concerned about the front row, thinks Elsom is wonderful (I’d have big Jerry any day), thought Gregan was going OK (and whilst he is servicable, he is such a known and limited quantity these days we should be happy with that), and with Larkham returning to form all was good. But if their scrum struggles, the quality of ball will be marginal to a past it halfback to service their best chance of winning a game (their backs). An interesting week for Aus rugby with the hate match in Sydney for the wooden spoon, and the Force desparate to make amends for last week – don’t think Connelly will be all that happy still. Deans and Nucifora continue to rotate their squads – the combined reserves bench of the 2 teams would make a pretty solid team in itself. I must say whilst I’m not that happy with Big Kev and Williams on the bench, the thought of having the likes of those 2, Rokocoko and McAllister fresh and ready for the SA expedition augurs well. And the standard of refereeing still leaves me bewidered at times. The majority of games were refereed quite well, but then you get a guy like Paul Marks who has absolutely no idea. Some of the penalties he gave out were just plain wrong, 2 in particular, 1 when he penalised Tuitupou from coming in from the side when it is very clear he didn’t and another for a player not releasing the ball when he was never given a chance to release it in the 1st place – expect a whistle fest tomorrow night – he can’t help himself.

Some ripping matchups this week and here is where the 48 points will come from.

Hurricanes v Cheetahs – the Cheetahs are a tough team to beat, a no frills mob who play a pretty dour style they almost seem to be limiting damage rather than trying to win. They were outclassed last week but did well to concede only 3 tries. The Hurricanes are going to have to work hard to get the 5 points they need to remain an outside chance of making the top 4. With all the firepower available to them up front they must take control and give what is a dysfunctional looking backline good front foot ball – I mean is Weepu the guy that is really going to get a backline flowing. A confrontational halfback to a backline director is a difficult change and his goalkicking consistency worries as well. But with Jerry and Rodders to control things they should be good enough at home.

Hurricanes 13+

Chiefs v Force – the Chiefs have to win to remain in the hunt, the Force need to get some much needed credibility back after a walloping last week. More midfield changes for the Chiefs with Sweeney now at centre?? Kinikinilau needs a fire lit under his arse, and how any back 3 can be called pacy with him in it is a strange one. Some tinkering up front as well, with Holah again rested. Good to have Gibbes back, Bates pays the price for that pass, and they try their 3rd L/H for the season. They will be up against a fiercely determined Force side desparate to make amends for last weeks thrashing – was that an aberration – I think it probably was. There are too many good players in the Force for that to happen again and Mitch back on his home patch will be desparate to show how good they really are. Defence, or lack of, is the key here. Both sides let in plenty of points last week and with the likes of Giteau and Sivivatu on the paddock expect to see a few more line breaks again. At home and now with momentum the Chiefs however will be too strong.

Chiefs 1 – 12

Highlanders v Crusaders – on paper this is a thrashing, in reality it is likely to be as well. The Highlanders have a raft of injuries to key players and will battle accordingly. I would expect the limitations of the Highlanders to be shown up big time by this clinical team of Crusaders that combine set efficiency, with huge effectiveness in the loose and brilliance in the backs. The Crusaders have won the last 6, Saturday will make it 7.

Crusaders 13+

Blues v Sharks – the game of the weekend – 1st v 3rd, and a lot riding on it for both sides. The Blues lose and they potentially drop to 2nd behind the Crusaders, the Sharks lose and they allow the likes of the Chiefs and Bulls (should they both win) to really put the pressure on for 3rd spot in the following weeks and also make it extremely difficult to finish 1st or 2nd and thus get a home semi. 2 tough forward packs with plenty of experience in the tight, with the Blues perhaps the edge in the loose. The backs too measure up quite well against each other, with the midfield battle perhaps the key. Two very talented centres could well swing the game for their side but it will ultimately be which side defends the better who will win. The Blues have the best defensive record in the S14 to date, the Sharks the 2nd best so this may not be the highest scoring match of the round but plenty of intensity and niggle – the Flavell v Venter matchup almost a game in itself. I think the Blues backs will be the difference again and the Sharks will struggle to hold Toeava and Tuitupou in the midfield.

Blues 13+

Waratahs v Reds – who cares
Waratahs 1 – 12

Bulls v Stormers – remarkably the Bulls have only won 2 of these SA derbies – the last 2. After the bye and with injured and suspended players returning the Bulls will win well at home. And based on the size of the pack alone they should never get beaten, they bring in Spies (a very good player) who is 1.94m and 104kg and he is the smallest in the pack, which average 113kg. Expect them to take on what is a slightly flakey Stormers pack, get over the top of them towards the end of the 1st half and win going away. Hougaard, who will kick all the goals within 55 metres, will drive the Bulls down the touchline where they will back Matfield to poach Stormers lineouts, and win all their own and maul for at least 2 tries. Can’t see the Stormers offering anything apart from a bit of resistance from the excellent Watson and improving Burger. But they will be like the finger in the dike (no not that dyke) and once removed…

Bulls 13+

9 Apr

The Naked Truth on the Scrums
by Tracey Nelson
9 Apr 2007

With plenty of complaints and speculation flying about as to why we are seeing so many scrum resets under the new scrum laws during this Super 14, I went in search of two props to get the low-down on exactly what’s going on. I caught up with Crusaders’ loosehead Wyatt (Croczilla) Crockett and tighthead Campbell Johnstone, and quizzed them on the murky world of front rowers.

Q: I’ve noticed that many LH props are putting their hand down on the ground after the engagement – is it the decreased distance between the two front rows that is causing us to see this more often than we did in the past?

[Crockett] – Yeah, I think maybe it’s a bit of a diffence just with that touching, when you come back it makes it a wee bit tougher to get your arm up. The THs are trying to keep us locked down and it makes it quite hard to get your arm up as well. There’s a few different reasons, but that’s one cause of it. You’ve got to look at what’s causing the LH to put his hand down and often it’s the angle of the TH trying to hit the LH down, and if he’s doing that then it’s hard for the LH to get his bind up. Referees perhaps have to look at that and make sure the TH is being positive.

[Johnstone] – I don’t think the shorter gap is a problem. What people have to consider now is the new scrum engagement laws have just come in this year and we were all brought up with the old system so it’s just going to take a bit of time to feed through and get it right. Young guys are coming through the grades with the new system now, so it will get better in the future.

Q: There has been some speculation that the modern tighter shirts are making it harder for props to get their grip for a correct and secure bind. What are your thoughts on this?

[Crockett] – I don’t think the tight jerseys are really to blame, if I can get my arm up then it’s not too hard to grab hold of their jersey. For me it’s not really an issue.

[Johnstone] – I personally don’t wear a tight jersey, I don’t have the figure to show off really. But I don’t think tight jerseys are the reason. Guys have been binding all over the body for years, it’s just been the same really. It just so happens there’s a new call out there and basically people are making a big deal about it and thinking that tight jerseys may be the reason for the collapses, but I don’t think it is.

Q: Is it harder now under the new engagement laws for the team feeding the scrum to get the hook?

[Crockett] – For the hooker I don’t think much has changed, if we get a good hit he should be able to hook the ball just as easily.

Q: How important is the speed and rhythm of the scrum calls by the referee?

[Crockett] – Whatever the referee decides to do, as long as he’s really consistent with his calls it’s OK. It’s when he starts changing them, that’s when the teams can get caught off guard and maybe that’s when injuries happen, when teams aren’t quite ready for the “engage” call if he’s changing that timing. It’s a difficult one because if you have too short a pause then referees are going to pre-empt the engagement – so as long as there’s a decent gap. But he has to make sure that gap is consistent.

[Johnstone] – It’s best the refs just have consistent calls. Most refs are good with the call, and again it’s another thing they’re learning as well as us. I think we’ve all just got to give each other a chance to get used to it. It’s a long time for the front rows and locks to be down in the crouch position if there are long gaps between calls, but I think it will come right soon.

Q: Are good scrums without lots of resets a combination of good refs, good front rows and consistent calls?

[Crockett] – Yeah. It’s front rows being positive, wanting to keep the scrum up off the ground and the refs maybe allowing the odd bad scrum and starting afresh instead of blowing the whistle too much early on when both teams are obviously trying to sort each other out.

[Johnstone] – Yes. It’s a combination of both teams being competitive and wanting to keep the game going, but more so the ref. A good ref controls the scrum engagement right from the start.

Q: As a prop, do you feel there have been more or less scrum resets under the new laws this season compared with last?

[Crockett] – You’d need to check the stats on that, but I don’t think the actual “touch” part has changed it too much, just the referees’ interpretations and them being correct with the timing and things like that which are causing a wee bit of a problem. But hopefully it’s just the start and we’ll improve on it. The key is for the front rows to remain positive and keep things off the ground really.

Q: Are you guys sharing the same frustrations as some viewers and commentators are at the number of scrum resets this season?

[Johnstone] – No, we’re not feeling the frustration from that. As long as the refs keep a cool head about it and don’t start throwing penalties around all over the place, that’s the only thing that does get frustrating.

5 Apr

A Punt in the Dark – Predictions for Round 10
by WAJ
5 Apr 2007

The rugby last weekend was a bit up and down, Highlanders, Hurricanes and Crusaders earned a pass mark only. The Blues and Chiefs went hard at it in an engaging game – I would now like to see the rematch with both teams at full strength!! And great to see the returning AB’s running into a bit of form. Big Kev, Rodders, Jerry, Haymaker and Woody all fronting. Second up syndrome hit McCaw and Mauger. All in all after 2 weeks Henry would be pleased. Even happier looking at the surfeit of wings, locks, hookers and loosies running around. A real scrap going on at halfback. But centre remains a concern – Smith only battling, Toeava with form on the board and Kahui showing some excellent touches after injury – the next 5 rounds are crucial, especially for Smith and Kahui who will probably not get semi’s or a final to further prove themselves. On the assumption that Nonu and Mils make the WC30, there is only room one of those 3. The NZ A games are going to play a big part in selecting the WC30 – a 4th prop, 3rd hooker, 3rd, and maybe 4th, lock, the tight/loose utility, 3rd halfback and centre are all tightly contested positions, And I reckon Rokcoko and Sivivatu are fighting it out for the 3rd wingers spot as well.

Here is where the 48 points come from this week.

Blues v Cheetahs – this will be a hiding, no 2 ways about it. A limited Cheetahs team, battling in the bottom 3rd of the table, will be encouraged by their showing against the Highlanders but only because the scores were so close. They have a few injuries, have yet to win a game in NZ, and, let’s be honest, don’t have the players that can win games against the top sides. The Blues, however, make 6 changes, look all the stronger for them, and keep rolling along, building a squad with admirable depth and plenty of game breakers. Who could afford to leave the likes of Rokocoko, Wulf, Mcdonald, Rawlinson and Witcombe out. They were very impressive in the 2nd half against the Chiefs – they needed to muscle up and they did, and the big name players got them home. Will be far too strong.
Blues 13+

Highlanders v Chiefs – with a very congested S14 table between 5th and 11th the loser of this game can say good bye to a top 4 spot. The Highlanders have battled all year, even the good wins have had blemishes with their defence leaking as many points as they score. The stars in Hayman, Ryan, Blackie, Cowan and Evans need to be spot on in every game, unfortunately for them this is not the case and Evans in particular is struggling to hit top form – injured perhaps? The Chiefs are looking a bit ominous of late. The addition of class players the like of Kelleher, Sivivatu, Kahui, Gibbes and Robinson over the last 2 weeks gives them the impetous for a real push over the last 5 rounds. The cobwebs are blowing off these guys and they should be right in this. Need to focus on the basics though before anything else – the lineouts are atrocious, they still drop or turnover too much ball, and Gibbes needs to write on the blackboard 500 times – “I must not miss a tackle on Big Kev in the 22 again”. The halfback match up is a beaut. With the greater momentum, despite last weeks loss, the Chiefs will be all over this I reckon. I see Blackie is out now as well, swinging it more in the favour of the Chiefs.
Chiefs 13+

Crusaders v Force – the game of the round for me – 2nd v 3rd, the Crusaders, full of pedigree, but with a question mark after an average run last week v the Force, with real momentum, at near full strength and are a team that travel well. Fell asleep during the Crusaders game last week, but woke in time for the better part of the 2nd half and they did well to hold a revitalised Waratahs side, though Hamilton needs to write on the blackboard 750 times – “I must not miss Lote cold again”. At home, with Carter fit and McCaw over the 2nd game blues, they will be too strong. The Force are definitely the big improvers this year. You feel however that if you can hold Giteau, and generally pressurise the inside backs they become vulnerable with no outstanding loosies to support them. But they will need to be watched, especially the VG outside backs.
Crusaders 13+

Reds v Sharks – the hardest game to pick. The Sharks have dropped 2 in a row and have never won in Brisbane. The Reds have 5 good players fit again, are coming of the bye (which has and just cannot keep losing. Despite a journeyman front row, they still have plenty of grunt up front and McMenamin is a huge gain. Barnes and Schiffers add some relative experience to the backline and they are not without a big chance to win this. The forward packs will break even I reckon, the backlines are both a mix of good and bad, so this could well come down to goalkicking. The Sharks need to go back to the basics on their defence which was excellent early and if the Sharks can get their backline moving then they should win – the likes of Pienaar, Peterson, Barritt and Steyn are too good to not fire 3 weeks in a row.
Sharks 1 – 12

Stormers v Lions – the surprise packet of the tournament v the chronic underachievers. The Stormers have won the last 5 games between these sides, but that was against a Lions side that was vastly inferior to this current team finishing last or 2nd last on the table every year of those 5 years. The Lions have been very solid up front all year with their excellent flankers to the fore, and with Andre Pretorius a very capable, if slightly erratic, runner of the game they should win. The Stormers continue to flatter to deceive – with a marshmallow T5, which impacts on their excellent loosies, which impacts onto a reasonably capable backline, they are just too inconsistent and flakey, even at home, to think they can win. The Lions have a sniff of a Top 4 berth and this will see them home.
Lions 1 – 12

Brumbies v Waratahs – a Sunday game for a change and always plenty in this one. The Waratahs have won the last 3, but this side is a shadow of those. They have made another raft of changes in the midfield and outside backs – how this is going to help with combinations is beyond me. But at least they improved last week and that will give them some confidence, though how much was them doing it and how much the Crusaders giving them the opportunity (Hamilton needs to write on the blackboard 750 times – “I must not miss Lote cold again”) suggests they still have a way to go. The Brumbies will be extremely pleased with 2/3 in SA and go into a 4 week phase of 3 home games and a bye with a Top 4 spot now a distinct possibility, and in fact a win here could well see them 4th. A good Wallaby trial for knuckles to look at with good matchups in the front row, No.8, halfback and both wings. I think with the home advantage, a more cohesive forward pack and more stable backline the Brumbies will win convincingly.
Brumbies 13+

Have a safe and happy Easter all.