29 May

Super 15: Round Fourteen Stats
by Tracey Nelson
29 May 2012

All the stats from Round 14, the Crusaders had the bye this week.

Goal Kicking % Success Total attempts
Barrett 100% 10
Munro 100% 1
Cruden 83% 6
Anscombe 75%
Noakes 75% 4

Penalties conceded Total At breakdown
Blues 5 4
Chiefs 7 4
Canes 7 7
Highlanders 12 9

Total Penalties to date
Blues 98
Chiefs 129
Hurricanes 130
Crusaders 105
Highlanders 123

Breakdown turnovers Won Lost
Blues 2 3
Chiefs 3 1
Canes 9 3
Highlanders 3 2

Handling Errors resulting in turnovers
Blues 9
Chiefs 8
Canes 16
Crusaders 8
Highlanders 6

Top ten tacklers
A Thomson 22
Crosswell 16
May 15
Kerr-Barlow 15
B Retallick 15
Hoeata 15
MacIntosh 14
K Thomson 14
Ellison 14
Lam 12

Top Linebreakers
Gear 2

Lineout percentages This week Overall
Blues 81 72
Chiefs 44 85
Hurricanes 50 75
Highlanders 80 81

25 May

Super 15: Round 14 Preview
by WAJ
25 May 2012

What is it with coaches and there need to change everything around all of a sudden. I hope Rennie is not tempting fate too much, Hammett did last week!!! And how much of a legend is Brad Thorn. A hugely impressive individual who is the ultimate team man.

Chiefs v Bulls – game of the round. Two of the best attacking teams of the comp to date who score plenty of tries and who usually win at home against each other. The concern for me is whether the Chiefs have made unnecessary changes with the changing of both props who have gone so well all season. TKB also comes back in and he will need to be a lot steadier than his last start under what will be some intense pressure from a very good Bulls pack, 7 of whom have made the just named Bok squad. But if the Chiefs can pressure the Bulls pack, which is what the Waratahs did for a while in the close loss and the Highlanders did last week, and focus on ball retention, then the Chiefs can have a good win. Cruden and SBW are the keys in keeping the ball in front of the Chiefs pack, both having great seasons andtheir play, and a return to the team defensive attitudepre-Lions, will bring the Chiefs home.
Chiefs 1 – 12

Hurricanes v The Mighty Rebels – Can the mighty Rebels win 3 in a row? Will Kurtley cut yet another team to shreds? Loving the way they are playing at the moment, scoring plenty of tries and really entertaining. They have named a strong team with Jones on the blindside a great in, he is very promising. If Kurtley is given any space then the Rebels become very dangerous as he brings in dangerous runners the likes of Vuna and Inman. The concern though is whether the defence shows up and is on the job. And the Rebels have a 100% against the Hurricanes with a 6 try to 4 belting last year:-) The Hurricanes will be hurting after the capitulation to the Brumbies last week and they too have named a stronger looking team. Double B gives them a much better look and should steer the Hurricanes home, though their goal kicking will need to improve
Hurricanes 1 – 12

Blues v Highlanders – The biggest question with this game – how many spectators will turn up? The Highlanders should take this comfortably against the Blues B team. It should be a good training run for the Highlanders, giving them a chance to try a few moves, practice their goal kicking; and the opportunity to get some games into some young Blues players and too see how they measure up. Not much else to say on this game
Highlanders 13+

Brumbies v Reds – the next best game of the round, this one has a huge amount riding on it in terms of winning the Australian conf and thus getting a finals spot, (there is only going to be one spot in it for Aus this season).This is a super impressive Brumbies team who never give up and who are incredibly good at finding ways to score tries -whether it be the locks bursting, a jink and weave from the 1 5/8 or pace on the wing these guys sense and take the opportunities brilliantly. On the back of a rock solid T5 and a real goer on the openside flank they are always in the contest. But the Reds are rising and have looked a lot better the past few weeks with an excellent win against the Chiefs and then getting the job done with some comfort against the Lions. The Burglar of course is back and whilst he is nowhere near peak form he does add class especially at this level. But it is the Reds forwards who have really stepped up, Link looks to have settled on a group of 9 or 10 who are really getting their work. Could go either way but think the Reds will get up with that little extra class they have overall.
Reds 1 – 12

Force v Lions – who cares.
Force 13+

Cheetahs v Waratahs – OMG 2 in a row. This might be a slightly better game, hopefully see some running rugby from the Waratahs for a change, they have nothing to lose. And is Berrick Barnes the most over rated 1 5/8 going around. Used to rate him, but has turned to crap of late.
Waratahs1- 12

Sharks v Stormers – predicting a dour slog here. Yeah I know hard to believe isn’t it.But the Stormers defence is unbelievably stingy and they score bugger all themselves so you would have to say it is going to be a low scoring game. And it is hard to see the Sharks finding a way through the wall, though they have been in reasonable form of late with 3 wins on the trot. I just can’t see the Sharks doing enough, even home advantage is negligible with both teams having won4 times at the Tank.
Stormers 1 – 12

Regards Waj

18 May

Super 15: Round 13 Preview
by WAJ
18 May 2012

Hurricanes v Brumbies – we are now at the stage of the season where any loss is going to have serious consequences for thosestill in reach of the finals- most especially in the Aus conference where it is probable that only the winner of that conference will make the playoffs. So this is huge for the Brumbies. A loss here, with the Reds almost certain of 5 points against the Pussy Cats, and they are deep in it. They do it without the very influential Lealiifano, a big loss. But they have been a revelation this season, the coach gets the best out of them, they take a lot or right options, are real competitors and have not had a loss over 12 points which says a lot about theirresilience. A very good pack is the key to their success and the Hurricanes will do well to get parity here. The backs are a good match up – 4 very good wingers on display. But 2 new 1 5/8′s could be where this game is decided and fancy Pisi may have the edge. With very little between them over the years I think the home side will get up, with Shields to have a big one.
Hurricanes 1 – 12

Highlanders v Bulls – probably the game of the round for me. The Bulls are flying, and they strengthen their side this week to pose a real threat to the Highlanders. At the time of writingwe have yet to see the Highlanders line up, but that aside they look to be struggling a bit. They are another side who are teetering on the edge of the playoffs and really have to win here to stay in touch. But I think the Bulls will be too strong, they have shown remarkable resilience of late, and the way they scored in the last minutes of their game against the Waratahs last week was very impressive and showed why they are top of the table. Such a well drilled pack of forwards and the halves are both playing very well. And I’ll say it again, don’t give away penalties in you own half with Steyn as hot as all hell at the moment. I can’t see where the Highlanders are going to win this.
Bulls 1 – 12

Crusaders v Blues – two pretty average performances from these teams last week. The Blues finally managed a few minutes of passable rugby to comfortably beat the Pussies but there was still plenty of dross as well, but some improvement at least – and they will need all of that and more to challenge what will be a fired up Crusaders.I imagine we will see a completely different Crusaders side in terms of game plan and execution this week. They have to start scoring tries again, the other parts of their game are in reasonable shape, they aren’t scoring enough points. Ellis and Fred are 2 huge ins and Slackbladder would be hoping to see Dan Carter bring Fred and Fruean into the play a lot more. But there are a lot of players in this game who don’t have a lot of form on the board, and that doesn’t augur well for a good game. The Crusaders have to get up, but there won’t be much in it I reckon between these 2 great rivals. From a Blues perspective I am looking forward to seeing how Luatua performs. And O Franks v Woody should be a beauty.
Crusaders 1 – 12

Reds v Lions – the Reds will kill the Pussies. The Burglar’s back, confidence rising and a real sniff of finals in the air, the Reds by a thousand.
Reds 13+

Cheetahs v Sharks – mmmm tough one this. Like the Cheetahs but they are one of those sides that always finds a way to lose, and are not the same team without Goosen. The Sharks keep plugging away and should get up here, they have a good record in Bloem and will bedesperate to stay in the top 6. Great match up at hooker, Bismarck du Plessis is some player.
Sharks 1 – 12

Stormers v Waratahs – another disappointing season for the Waratahs will see them out of finals contention after this game. They will battle but lack a killer blow and always fail to take the chances that a good team would turn into points.They are touting an attacking game here, all good and well but against the best defensive team they will want to get it right, and what is the bet that de Villiers or the Flash get an intercept. Foley has changed the team a bit, big Palu on the benchindicates perhaps what is wrong with this team – too inconsistent. The Stormers won’t vary much from the norm, percentage rugby, play for territory and convert the chances that will come from the pressure – well they are South African after all.
Stormers 1 – 12

Force v Rebels – Can’t win at home, thrashed away – the Force have turned into a real lame duck of a team. The real opposite of the boys from Melbourne! And how good were the mighty Rebels last week, Kurtley has them humming. Plenty of attacking options, set pieces have solidified, and best of all the defence has finally started tocome right.They finally look like a team. A repeat of the last fortnights form will see them win this pretty easily.
Rebels 13+

Regards Waj

11 May

Super 15: Round 12 Preview
by WAJ
11 May 2012

Blues v Lions – The battle for the wooden spoon, who’d of thought! This game absolutely terrifies me! More injuries, even less confidence, if that were possible, after last weeks 9th loss in a row, media blasting from all corners – it has the makings of a friggin disaster. And you know the Lions are going to come out smelling blood, and with their future in serious doubt they will be a team very keen to prove a point. And just as aside – how bizarre would it be that the largest rugby stadium in SA has no Soopa rugby for 2013 – only in SA! So the trials of the Blues have been well documented and there is no point going over where they have to improve and how they should play it. Nothing less than a 100% improvement on the dross they served up last week is going to suffice. The Lions will go for the bash, they have big forwards and will simply look to use them to break holes and get Jantjies into some space. I pray for a Blues win – one with accurate lineouts, good ball control and defensive intensity! So come on big fella when you support the 2 teams that I do surely the Blues can get over the line here and I can celebrate a win for the first time in 6 weeks! Oh and if the Blues need anymore motivation there is a poll currently running in Rugby Heaven (Aus) asking which is the worst team in the S15 – Blues, Rebels, Lions or Force – it is running at 51% for the Blues at the moment – stick that on the wall LamB!!!!!
Blues 1 – 12

Waratahs v Bulls – Big game for the Waratahs, they are getting very close to the Last Chance Saloon and another season of underachievement. They have made a raft of changes, 5 in the backs alone, mind you there were pretty dire last week so something had to be done. Another 4 changes in the pack speaks of desperation and history tells us that an under pressure Waratahs side does not often produce. Having said that this is a not a bad team on paper, though combinations will be rusty, and they have probably given themselves the best chance to get a win. The Bulls continue to march on, they did just enough to get the 5 points last week, combining impressive attack where they seemed to have plenty of options with Steyn and Hougaard taking all the right options, with some flakey defense. Perhaps the travel took the edge off, but they will be well rested and though forced to make a few changes due to injury, they will be formidable. I doubt whether there will be much in this one and perhaps give it to the Bulls who have won the last 6 played between these 2.
Bulls 1 – 12

Highlanders v Hurricanes – Close to the game of the round, this is an intriguing clash. The Highlanders have injury problems and have travelled back from SA after a disappointing loss to the Sharks – so probably not in the best shape they have ever been in. But they are a determined mob and I reckon match up very well with the Hurricanes. No Highlanders team as yet, still pissing me off no end, so don’t know who will be fronting where, but the Highlanders have covered well all season with good depth. But they need to get the edge back into their game, that extra 5% of aggression that seems to be missing at the moment, and use Thommo more as a running weapon, he is a not a crasher and basher so don’t use him as that type of player. They meet the Hurricanes coming off a good win, an 8 day rest and all to play for. They have made only one change and are a team that takes its chances, competes well in every aspect and has the likes of Vito, Smith Taylor and Jane who are such good players that really lift this team. I tend towards the hurricanes – they are just travelling better at the moment, but look it could go either way.
Hurricanes 1 – 12

Rebels v Crusaders – Contrasting performances from both sides last week gives this game some appeal. I thought the Rebels were great – yes they let in a few points but they never gave up and scored a couple of cracking tries. And how good was Kurtley – he probably tried too much and he was taken off with 5 minutes to go as I don’t think he could run another metre, but easily the best player on the park, ahead of the Mornenator, who was also very good, just less dynamic. The issue withe Rebels here will be if they can break even at scrum time, and keep manning up on defence. These have been their 2 consistent weaknesses all season and of course the Crusaders have the players to really exploit this. But! But the sort of attacking crap that the Crusaders dished up last week maybe puts a lie to this. Have they got the best combination on the field, I’d be swapping Carter and Taylor around for a game, to me the more ball in Carters hands the better. Can’t fault their defence or set pieces, ball retention OK, attack flat as a pancake. It is great if Fruean or Fred have a good day, but too hot and cold woth the talent available for me. Still they might, probably will, get a roll on tomoz. But the Rebels – they love playing at home!!!!
Crusaders 13+

Sharks v Force – This should be a comfortable win for the Sharks. The Force can’t seem to get anything going this year, and whilst they certainly have some very good players they just don’t seem to be able to click as a team. The Sharks are going OK, winning the games that they should and will be too strong at home.
Sharks 1 – 12

Stormers v Cheetahs – The who cares game of the week. A nice tough encounter for the Stormers to get back into the groove after the bye. Might be close, but a full strength Stormers backline might run away with it as well. Might might might!!
Stormers 13+

Reds v Chiefs – For me this is the game of the round. The Reds are on the improve, were a bit unlucky to lose last week, and have a look about them now that suggests they are getting back to a bit of their 2012 form. Higgo, Simmo, Gillie and the Slipper are starting to turn it up, and put real pressure on the Crusaders last week, well everywhere except the scrum which was ultimately the losing of the game for them. But the Chiefs don’t have as big a weapon at scrumtime – and for me the forward battle is really a break even. The backs, well Cruden is in the form of his life, has a very very solid midfield outside of him with plenty of zip provided by the back 3 – they are still a work on in getting the combo really clicking but still do plenty right now. Expect Diggers to defend in the 1 5/8 channel at set pieces to try and nullify SBW. And that is the probably the defining aspect of this game – defence. The Reds have really stepped up here of late and the Chiefs have been defensive misers all season, only the Stormers have had less points against. The key here is Cruden, his ability to break the line as soon as an opportunity rises is the best in the comp, and you can’t keep an eye on all the Chiefs backs so those opportunities will come.
Chiefs 1 -12

Regards Waj

9 May

Super 15: Round Eleven Stats
by Tracey Nelson
9 May 2012

Stats from Round 11.

Goal Kicking % Success Total attempts
Cruden 100 6
Munro 100 1
T Taylor 83 6
Weepu 80 5
Delany 67 6
Barrett 57 7

Penalties conceded Total At breakdown
Blues 3 2
Chiefs 13 11
Canes 6 4
Crusaders 7 6
Highlanders 9 7

Total Penalties to date
Blues 78
Chiefs 115
Hurricanes 106
Crusaders 92
Highlanders 95

Breakdown turnovers Won Lost
Blues 4 2
Chiefs 3 3
Canes 2 4
Crusaders 1 1
Highlanders 1 5

Handling Errors
Blues 12
Chiefs 8
Canes 9
Crusaders 8
Highlanders 9

Top ten tacklers
Cane 21
Lowe 16
O Franks 14
Clarke 13
Cruden 13
L Braid 12
Fitzgerald 12
Manu 12
Todd 12
Coles 11

Top Linebreakers
B Smith 2
Perenara 2

Lineout percentages This week Overall
Blues 63 70
Chiefs 100 90
Hurricanes 91 79
Crusaders 76 80
Highlanders 80 82

4 May

Super 15: Round 11 Preview
by WAJ
4 May 2012

Hurricanes v Blues – I am very bullish about the Blues this week – a hooker that can’t throw (we won’t even bring straight into it) in a forward pack missing 4 All Blacks, well 5 if you include D Braid (who is effectively demoted behind Saili in the pecking order – go figure), a fat arse at halfback who is playing to 1/10 of his ability, the ultimate journeyman at 1 5/8, an injured star at 2 5/8, a centre who is out of position, as is the fullback, and 2 defensively frail wingers – BRILLIANT!! And even more encouraging is Munro on the bench to cover 1 5/8. So a normal sort of game plan would be to have secure set pieces and play to your strengths – this is getting better and better!! Fortunately the Blues have been going OKish in defence, well the odd intercept and 1st minute tries (which shouldn’t be allowed of course) excepted, because sure as hell the set pieces will wobble, we can’t kick well, we keep dropping the ball or getting in each others way when trying to go forward – and then there is the part about following instructions! Hammett must have a little laugh to himself when he thinks of the Blues, lucky bugger gets to name an unchanged starting XV with a bench boosted by the return of the impressive Brad Shields. The Hurricanes should win, probably not by much, as despite the above, the Blues will fight and have never given up. The forwards should break even, though Vito will need watching, and the sharpness of the Wellington outside backs will be the difference
Blues 1 – 12

Rebels v Bulls – Not expecting a lot here – JOC and Saffy out, Cippers bolted and the team still struggling in some positions and with how to play consistently. This Bulls team are a hard lot to stop, they are the great accumulators of this competition and with their always excellent set of forwards applying pressure -that will result in penalties at the very least – cue M Steyn. Interesting to see Mortlock back playing after a long term calf injury, though at 35 you have to wonder at the impact he will make. So I hope for the forwards to get stuck in, minimise theamount of set piece ball the Bulls have in the Rebels 22, expecially lineouts and pray Kurtley can pull something out of the bag! But in the end the pragmatism, percentage play, smarts of the Bulls will be too much
Bulls 13+

Chiefs v Lions – The Chiefs should win this by a thousand – it is a great chance to get that midfield tuned up for sure, looking forward to watching them. A few players rested I see, but that gives anopportunity for the those next inline to get soem valuable game time and perhaps challenge the incumbents, all good stuff. Not much to say about the Lions, a poor side with injuries to boot. Oh and then there is the suspension of Butchie Boy, what a complete and utter tosser that guy is, his action to get suspended has to be the stupidest play of the year, the true definition of a moron.
Chiefs 50+

Brumbies v Waratahs – Aaahhh yes The Discards v The Blue Bloods. Probably the game of the round and plenty of edge to these old foes going at it. It is a hard one to pick, on paper the Waratahsare the stronger, but the Brumbies do so manythings right and are so well drilled, hell who would know. TheWaratahs have the edge of late having won the last 3, but last year was very much the annus horribulus for the Brumbies and this years side is a terrific team. The match ups are great, front row the best but there is plenty of great clashes in the loosies and backline as well, Deans will be happy he gets to see a virtual trial. The game will be about the Waratahs stopping the very good pick and go that the Brumbies generate and also shutting dowm Lealiifano. The Wratahs will also need to kick accurately as Mogg, Speight and Tomane can run. The Brumbies need to ensure they hold up in the setpieces and defend well in the inside back channels against the likes of Palu and AAC. It could come down to penalties and will be close.
Waratahs 1 – 12

Sharks v Highlanders – This could go either way as well. How the Highlanders conjured up that win last week is still a mystery – fair go they were dead and buried. And then the miracle man Cowan turns the game on its head – it was great viewing and I had all but given up watching when kapow, blam, whack (sorry happened to watch an old Batman show midweek) they were back. Tougher challenge this week, but by no means insurmountable as the Sharks have only been average so far. This is not a vintage Sharks team, they look to be rebuilding (if only the Blues could say that)and are there for the taking. If the Highlanders can start well, ensure their scrum holds up and again not give too manyopportunities in their 22 (I reckon the Yappies convert farmore of these lineout/scrum/penalty opportunities in the oppositions 22 than the Aus and Kiwi teams, Tracey does such a stat exist?) they can get up. ButDurban has its vagaries with weather as well and the Highlanders will need to be sharp. And what has happened to Thommo – very quiet of late, plenty of tackles and ball carrys -butNOOO impact!!
Sharks 1 – 12

Cheetahs v Force – A bit of a who cares game. Could be a spectacle though. Sad to see Goosen out for the season he is a good player and really sparks the Cheetahs.
Cheetahs 13+

Crusaders v Reds – So the Grand Final rematch at last! Should be a win for the Crusaders, but they will know they have been in a game. They were made to workhard by a gutsy Waratahs last week and the Reds are guaranteed to make it tough again. The Redsare starting to get some of their players back from injury and the like, and were lucky enough to play the Blues last week which got them back into a little bit of form and confidence. But this is the toughest ask for any team, a Crusaders side, at home, andimproving in various aspects week to week: nearly at full strengthand gaining more and more confidence. How do you beat them? Well they leave a few holes in the midfield and are always susceptable to the ruck penalty, who isn’t, otherwise good luck. I am looking forward to seeing how Fruean goes, can he put 2 strong games together? So can the Reds crack them? They have won the last 3 times these 2 have played, though all in BrisVegas. A lot rests with Diggers to make the breaks and the loosies to compete with thesuperlative Crusaders bunch. Oh and how would you like to have Crockett, S Whitelock and McCaw as 3 of your reserves – ridiculous!
Crusaders 13+

Regards Waj

2 May

Super 15: Round Ten Stats
by Tracey Nelson
2 May 2012

All the numbers from Round 10 of the comp. And I see that Round 9 seems to have got lost in cyberspace somewhere so shall reload it asap folks.

Goal Kicking % Success Total attempts
Chris Noakes 100% 5
Tom Taylor 88% 8
Cruden 88% 8
Delany 67% 3
Barrett 60% 5
Anscombe 50% 4

Penalties conceded Total At breakdown
Blues 9 7
Chiefs 11 6
Canes 7 5
Crusaders 10 6
Highlanders 12 9

Total Penalties to date
Blues 75
Chiefs 102
Hurricanes 100
Crusaders 85
Highlanders 86

Breakdown turnovers Won Lost
Blues 6 6
Chiefs 2 3
Canes 3 2
Crusaders 2 2
Highlanders 3 5

Handling Errors
Blues 13
Chiefs 12
Canes 12
Crusaders 11
Highlanders 9

Top ten tacklers
Thrush 18
Thomson 17
Todd 16
Vito 16
Hoeata 15
Lowe 14
Coles 14
B Retallick 14
Levave 13
Toomaga-Allen 13

Top Linebreakers
Freuan 3
B Smith 3
Ellison 2
Read 2

Lineout percentages This week Overall
Blues 56 71
Chiefs 100 89
Hurricanes 83 77
Crusaders 83 81
Highlanders 80 83