29 Jun

Super 15: Round 16 Preview
by WAJ
29 Jun 2012

So all local derbies, with a few injuries affecting some teams. Makes it interesting for the NZ sides anyway, Aus and SA should be more straight forward.

Highlanders v Chiefs – Some interesting selections strategies here, especially from the Highlanders where you would think 2 test class forwards must start ahead of 2 provincial journeyman in this must win game for them. YesHore and Haskell may be a bit jaded but if the Highlanders lose that is basically it for them – big call JJ. But even putting aside player selection, and surelythere isa question mark over Cruden as well, the Chiefs have the form on the board to win this. Their forwards have been great all year in all aspects, the direction from Cruden spot on, and the weapons available to him, whether it be SBW with his wide range of skills, or those further out where speed and timing have played a big part. The Hurricanes are all about intensity and pressure. They are a good team but a player or two short of being a real contender. Theyremain a little vulnerable at scrum time, an opportunity good opposition can exploit to get possession and territory, and look a little weak in the inside backs, where a fair bit of SBW traffic will be heading I would think. The only weakness the Chiefs have shown this year is just wide of the breakdown andto me the Highlanders lack the weapons to exploit this, if indeed the Chiefs still have thatproblem, I am sure it has been worked on. So while tough at home i think the more all round game of the Chiefs will see them home.
Chiefs 1 – 12

Rebels v Reds – Arguably the strongest Rebelsteam named thisseason, the backs especially look very dangerous. But again the Reds have a much stronger all round look and should be too strong. The Reds must win with a bonus point to keep their play offchances alive. This could be a problem as they will be chasing points. They won’t want to leave any/many counter attackopportunities for the likes of JOC and Kurtley!! The Reds to win in a high scoring contest.
Reds 1 – 12

Crusaders v Hurricanes – More injuries here. I wonder how the Soopa coaches really feel about thelast 3 weeks – resigned to it or pissed off. (it is funny how different codes have different priorities – Union is Tests 1st, Soopa next, then theITM Cup. League is State of Origin 1st, and thenprobably club and internationals about the same, AFL is all about the clubs, with interstate games stopped in the late 90′s due to club concerns about injuries to key players. Soccer I reckon is all about clubs, but they have to allow their players to play for their countries). Slackbladder must be pissed with 3 key players out injured. Fortunately the Crusaders do have great back up but any team losing the likes of Carter and Read is less effective. So the Hurricanes probably have a bitmore of a hope. The big question, and those injuries will play a part here, is whether the Crusaders cancontinue woth the form they were showing before the test break ( I tell you Blackadder won’t be happy). If that form comes to the fore the Hurricanes have no chance. And they have a couple of big injuries themselves. So where will the game be decided – scrums will be huge, goalkicking thus comes into it. And the weather of course, Tracey a nice tropical evening in the mid teens is it? I expect a close game with the Crusaders in the ascendency through their forwards as both teams get to grips with Soopa rugby again
Crusaders 1 – 12

Force v Brumbies – On paper the Force should be all over this. But of course they have been amongst the biggest underachievers so far. The complete contrast to the ever impressive Brumbies who have battled injury all season to be this years surprise package. Their all round game will be too strong against a Force team with as many duds as champions and thus always vulnerable.
Brumbies 1 – 12

Stormers v Lions – All about Mitch – yawn. Will it galvanise thepussies, I would doubt.
Stormers 13+

Bulls v Cheetahs – The Cheetahs will have spent the last 3 weeks planning for this game. Basically unaffected by the tests they have had a good chance to train for this game specifically and thus could be very dangerous. They play an all action game which can be hard to stop. The Bulls will need to be on the job and with 10 or so having returned from test duty they will need all their concentration. Home advantage is a blessing.
Bulls 1 – 12

Regards Waj

24 Jun

Game Stats: All Blacks v Ireland, Hamilton, 23 June 2012
by Tracey Nelson
24 Jun 2012

The usual analysis of the All Blacks’ game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, ball carries, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums. Some notes on these stats follow throughout the article.

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each TOTAL. An asterisk denotes a player that came on as a substitute. This week:

Team: Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Richie McCaw, Aaron Smith, Aaron Cruden, Hosea Gear, Sonny Bill Williams, Conrad Smith, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Keven Mealmau, Ben Franks, Brodie Retallick, Adam Whitelock, Piri Weepu, Beauden Barrett, Tamati Ellison

Subs: Barrett for Cruden at 24 min, Mealamu for Hore at 40 min, Retallick for Whitelock at 57 min, Weepu for A Smith and Ellison for C Smith at 61 min, Thomson for Cane at 70 min, and B Franks for Woodcock at 75 min.

Points Scored NZ Ireland
Tries 9 0  
Conversions 6 0
Penalties 1 0
TOTAL 60 0

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 7 0
Ireland 8 0
TOTAL 15 0

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackled player Romano 1
Tackler not releasing O Franks 1
Ruck hands McCaw 1
Ruck leaving feet McCaw 1
Ruck offside A Smith 1
Obstruction Cane 1
Scrum O Franks 1
TOTAL   7

Ireland Penalty Offences
Tackler 2
Tackled player 1
Ruck leaving feet 1
Ruck hands 1
Ruck offside 1
Lineout 1
Obstruction 1
TOTAL 8

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons A Smith(2), McCaw(2), Cane, Dagg, Messam, C Smith, Romano, B Smith 10
Spilled ball Cane 1
Pass to opp Retallick 1
Fwd pass McCaw 1
Tackle 2
Ruck 1
Maul 1
TOTAL   17

Turnovers Conceded by Ireland
Knock-ons 8
Spilled ball 1
Tackle 4
Ruck 4
Lineout 2
Scrum 1
TOTAL 20

Clean Linebreaks
SB Williams 2
Messam 2
Cane 1
Gear 1
B Smith 1
Thomson 1
TOTAL 8

First Three to the Breakdown stats are looking for those players who are getting to the tackle/breakdown quickly and are also being useful by either cleaning out opposition players or setting up ruck ball. Anyone arriving and just leaning pointlessly on the side of a ruck isn’t included in these numbers.

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 31 19+12
Cane 24 12+12
O Franks 21 9+12
Romano 19 14+5
Woodcock 19 11+8
Messam 18 11+7
Retallick* 11  
Hore 11  
Whitelock 11 8+3
B Smith 11 5+6
Mealamu* 10
SB Williams 9 5+4
C Smith 7 6+1
Dagg 7 4+3
Thomson* 4  
Gear 4 3+1
B Franks* 3
Barrett 3 0+3
Crudn 2  
Ellison* 2  
Weepu* 2  

Ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
Romano 9 42
McCaw 9 30
SB Williams 8 85
Messam 6 39
Cane 6 35
Whitelock 4 10
O Franks 4 8
Hore 3 8
Mealamu* 2 14
Woodcock 2 12
Thomson 1 12
B Franks 1 3

Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. as the Laws of the Game actually described the tackler), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately.

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
Cane 16 (11+5) 2 (0+2)
McCaw 15 (6+9) 11 (6+5)
Messam 13 (5+8) 4 (3+1)
Whitelock 9 (5+4) 6 (5+1)
C Smith 9 (5+4) 0
Romano 8 (4+4) 8 (3+1)
Barrett* 7 (4+3) 0
O Franks 7 (5+2) 6 (2+4)
Thomson* 6 0
A Smith 6 (5+1) 0
SB Williams 6 (2+4) 1 (1+0)
Woodcock 6 (4+2) 0
Retallick* 5 0
Hore 4 3
Ellison* 4 0
B Smith 4 (1+3) 0
Cruden 3 0
Dagg 3 (2+1) 0
Gear 2 (0+2) 1 (0+1)
B Franks* 1 3
Weepu* 0 1
TOTAL 134 42

Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball runner gets away. Most importantly, I do NOT included slipped tackles in the Tackles Made stats, it gets noted as a missed tackle. Either you’ve made the tackle or you’ve missed it.

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Cane 2
Woodcock 1
Hore 1
Cruden 1
SB Wiliams 1
B Franks 1
Retallick 1
TOTAL 8

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 9 9
TOTAL 14 14

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Romano 4 4
McCaw 4 4
Whitelock 3 3
Messam 2 2
Retallick 1 1
TOTAL 14 14

Ireland Line-outs Won From
First half 6 7
Second half 7 8
TOTAL 13 15

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 1 1
Second half 2 2
TOTAL 3 3

Ireland Scrums Won From
First half 5 6
Second half 2 2
TOTAL 7 8

18 Jun

Game Stats: All Blacks v Ireland, Christchurch, 16 June 2012
by Tracey Nelson
18 Jun 2012

The usual analysis of the All Blacks’ game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, ball carries, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums. Some notes on these stats follow throughout the article.

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each TOTAL. An asterisk denotes a player that came on as a substitute. This week:

Team: Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Adam Thomson, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Aaron Smith, Dan Carter, Julian Savea, Sonny Bill Williams, Conrad Smith, Zac Guildford, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Hika Elliot, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Sam Cane, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith

Subs: Sam Cane for Kieran Read at 40 min, Ben Franks for Owen Franks at 57 min, Ali Williams for Brodie Retallick and Piri Weepu for Aaron Smith at 66 min, Retallick for Thomson at 70 min, Ben Smith for Julian Savea at 73 min.

Points Scored NZ Ireland
Tries 1 1  
Conversions Carter 1 Sexton 1
Penalties Carter 4/4 Sexton 4/4
Drop goals Carter 1/3 Sexton 0  
TOTAL 22 19

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 11 0
Ireland 9 3
TOTAL 20 3

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackled player McCaw, Whitelock 2
Tackler not rolling Thomson 1
Tackler dangerous McCaw 1
Ruck hands Woodcock 1
Ruck offside O Franks, A Williams 2
Ruck leaving feet/sealing O Franks 1
Scrum releasing bind Cane 1
Scrum collapsing B Franks 1
Foul play Dagg 1
TOTAL   11

Ireland Penalty Offences
Tackled player 1
Tackler not releasing 2
Ruck leaving feet 2
Ruck entry 2
Scrum 1
Lineout obstruction 1
TOTAL 9

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons McCaw (4), Savea (2), SB Williams, Dagg 8
Spilled ball Thomson 1  
Pass Dagg 1
Tackle McCaw, Whitelock 2
Ruck spill Read 1
Miss touch from penalty Carter 1
TOTAL   14

Turnovers Conceded by Ireland
Knock-ons 6
Tackle 3
Scrum 2
Lineout 3
TOTAL 14

Clean Linebreaksin match
Dagg 1
C Smith 1
A Williams 1
Sexton 1
TOTAL 4

First Three to the Breakdown stats are looking for those players who are getting to the tackle/breakdown quickly and are also being useful by either cleaning out opposition players or setting up ruck ball. Anyone arriving and just leaning pointlessly on the side of a ruck isn’t included in these numbers.

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
Hore 39 21+18
McCaw 38 22+16
Retallick 35 24+11
Thomson 32 18+14
Woodcock 32 18+14
Whitelock 28 15+13
O Franks 24 16+8
Cane* 15  
Read 11  
SB Williams 10 7+3
Guildford 10 5+5
Dagg 9 4+5
B Franks* 8  
C Smith 8 5+3
Savea 6 3+3
Carter 6 1+5
A Williams* 5  
A Smith 2 0+2
B Smith* 1  

Ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
McCaw 17 72
Thomson 10 45
Read 8 30
Hore 8 20
Cane* 7 21
Whitelock 7 16
SB Williams 7 51
Woodcock 6 17
B Franks 3* 15
O Franks 3 9
A Williams 2 29

Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. as the Laws of the Game actually described the tackler), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately.

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
Thomson 11 (3+8) 1 (0+1)
Cane* 7 3
McCaw 7 (1+6) 1 (0+1)
Retallick 7 (4+3+ 1 (0+1)
Whitelock 7 (3+4) 1 (1+0)
Carter 6 (1+5) 1 (0+1)
C Smith 5 (3+2 0
Woodcock 5 (2+3) 0
O Franks 4 (2+3) 3 (1+2)
Hore 4 (1+3) 2 (1+1)
SB Williams 4 (1+3) 0
A Smith 2 (2+0) 1 (0+1)
Dagg 2 (1+1) 0
Read 1 4
B Franks* 1 1
Savea 1 (1+0) 0
A Williams* 1 0
B Smith* 1 0
TOTAL 80 29

Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball runner gets away. Most importantly, I do NOT included slipped tackles in the Tackles Made stats, it gets noted as a missed tackle. Either you’ve made the tackle or you’ve missed it.

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Woodcock 4
Hore 1
O Franks 1
SB Wiliams 1
TOTAL   8

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 4 4
TOTAL 9 9

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Whitelock 3 3
Retallick 3 3
Read 1 1
Thomson 1 1
Williams* 1 1
TOTAL 9 9

Ireland Line-outs Won From
First half 8 10
Second half 5 6
TOTAL 13 16

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 4 4
Second half 4 4
TOTAL 8 8

Ireland Scrums Won From
First half 0 2
Second half 3 3
TOTAL 3 5

10 Jun

All Blacks v Ireland: Eden Park, Auckland, 9 June 2012
by Tracey Nelson
10 Jun 2012

The usual analysis of the All Blacks’ game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, ball carries, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums. Some notes on these stats follow throughout the article.

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each TOTAL. An asterisk denotes a player that came on as a substitute. This week:

Team: Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Victor Vito, Richie McCaw, Victor Vito, Aaron Smith, Dan Carter, Julian Savea, Sonny Bill Williams, Conrad Smith, Zac Guildford, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Hika Elliot, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Adam Whitelock, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith

Subs: Thomson for Vito at 46 min, Ali Williams for Retallick and Ben Smith for Guildford at 53 min, Weepu for Aaron Smith at 57 min, Elliot for Hore and Ben Franks for Owen Franks at 61 min, Cruden for Savea at 64 min.

NZ points: Tries to Savea (3), Thomson, C. Smith. Conversions (4) and Penalties (3) to Carter.
Ireland points: Try to McFadden. Conversion and penalty to Sexton.

Points Scored NZ Ireland
Tries 5 1
Conversions 4 1
Penalties 3/3 1/1
TOTAL 42 10

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 10 1
Ireland 10 2
TOTAL 20 3

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackled player Retallick, McCaw 2
Tackler not rolling Whitelock 1
Tackler slowing ball Retallick 1
Ruck entry Read, A Williams 2
Ruck leaving feet/sealing A Smith 2
Ruck offside A Williams 1
Scrum front row 1
TOTAL   10

Ireland Penalty Offences
Tackler (high) 1
Ruck leaving feet 2
Ruck hands 1
Offside 3
Holding player back 2
Scrum 1
TOTAL 10

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons Read (3), McCaw (2), SB Williams (2), Savea, Dagg, B Smith 10
Intercept Cruden 1
Maul   1
Tackle SB Williams, Retallick, McCaw, O Franks, Dagg 5
TOTAL   17

Turnovers Conceded by Ireland
Knock-ons 5
Spilled ball 4
Pass 1
Ruck 1
Lineout 1
Scrum 1
Missed touch from penalty 1
TOTAL 14

Clean Linebreaks
Dagg 2
Savea 2
Guildford 1
Kieran Read 1
C Smith 1
B Smith* 1
SB Williams 1
TOTAL 7

First Three to the Breakdown stats are looking for those players who are getting to the tackle/breakdown quickly and are also being useful by either cleaning out opposition players or setting up ruck ball. Anyone arriving and just leaning pointlessly on the side of a ruck isn’t included in these numbers.

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 34 20+14
Whitelock 30 18+11
Retallick 27 24+3
Hore 25 21+4
Vito 21 18+3
O Franks 21 19+2
Woodcock 21 13+8
Read 19 9+10
A Williams* 9  
Thomson* 9  
C Smith 8 6+2
Dagg 8 3+5
SB Williams 7 6+1
B Franks* 6  
Carter 6 3+3
Elliot* 5  
Guildford 4 3+1
Savea 4 2+2
B Smith* 3  
Cruden* 1  
Weepu* 1  

Ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
Vito 9 35
McCaw 8 31
Read 7 70
Whitelock 6 15
O Franks 5 14
Hore 4 11
Woodock 4 10
A Williams* 3 10
Elliot* 3 12
B Franks* 3 18
Retallick 2 7
Thomson* 1 5

Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. as the Laws of the Game actually described the tackler), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately.

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 9 (3+6) 4 (1+3)
Carter 9 (6+5) 2 (1+1)
SB Williams 8 (4+4) 2 (1+1)
Thomson* 7 0
C Smith 7 (3+4) 4 (1+3)
Vito 5 (4+1) 2 (2+0)
O Franks 5 (2+3) 0
Read 5 (2+3) 1 (0+1)
Retallick 4 (3+1) 2 (1+1)
B Franks* 3 1
Guildford 3 (3+0) 0
Savea 3 (2+1) 0
Woodcock 3 (2+1) 4 (2+2)
Whitelock 3 (3+0) 4 (1+3)
Elliot* 2 1
Hore 2 (2+0) 1 (1+0)
A Williams* 1 0
Dagg 1 (1+0) 0
TOTAL 80 29

Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball runner gets away. Most importantly, I do NOT included slipped tackles in the Tackles Made stats, it gets noted as a missed tackle. Either you’ve made the tackle or you’ve missed it.

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Woodcock 1
Read 1
SB Williams 1
TOTAL 3

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 9 9
Second half 4 4
TOTAL 13 13

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Whitelock 6 6
Read 3 3
Retallick 1 1
Vito 1 1
Williams* 1 1
Thomson* 1 1
TOTAL 13 13

Ireland Line-outs Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 4 5
TOTAL 9 10

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 1 1
Second half 9 10
TOTAL 10 11

Ireland Scrums Won From
First half 1 3
Second half 2 4
TOTAL 3 7

8 Jun

Test Season Starters: Review of Games
by WAJ
8 Jun 2012

Whilst the the motivation for the scheduling of the various tests throughout the Southern Hemisphere this weekend is the money, I admit to quite looking forward to test rugby, especially the AB/Wallaby/Bok games (Argentina are also playing Italy and Scotland must be lurking somewhere as well). It also gives the Blues players a chance to find form, the Chiefs and Crusaders to gather injuries, the Wallabies every chance to suffer further embarrassment and the Boks to start a total rebuild.

All Blacks v Ireland – I like the look of this AB XV – every one of them is in good form, with a question mark over Fred, but he is such a big match player that he will surly play a blinder. There are plenty of combos carried over from Soopa teams – C Smith and Savea, Fred, Guildford and Carter, 4 Crusaders forwards – as well as 6 of the 8 WC winning pack that the hope is this team should settle reasonably quickly. There is a question mark over Read/A Smith/Carter axis because they have not played together before, but hopefully we will see Smith focus on passing to Crter or the next forward up , just do the basics as he familiarises himself with test rugby. We should be fartoo strong for this Irish side which will be under huge pressure at scrum time where they have a pretty inexperienced tight 5 and we will have too many weapons out back against a set of Irish backs which would be classified as solid and nothing more. With weapons in Carter, SBW, Savea and Fred, the finishing ability of Guildford and the guile and organisation of C Smith this has the potential to be a night of great promise for the AB’s. They would expect plenty of high kicks to test Guildford and Savea, and yes there may be a question mark in that area, but then the counterattacking from Fred can equally bring huge rewards. So a typically tight first 20 – 30 minutes, and then it will probably open up.
All Blacks 13+

Wallabies v Wales – Deans is under huge pressure to get some wins on the board, a couple of losses in this series and it would be hard to see him keeping his job, even with O’Neill firmly in his corner. The Wallabies do not have a lot of time to put Tuesday behind them and get this XV gelling. The makeup of the XV is interesting with 7 starters from the Waratahs, the least successful of the Aus Soopa teams over the last 6 weeks!! How 7 of the worst team can make the team of the best players is puzzling to say the least. Wales have selected a very strong side – they are well rested and full of class, have a strong scrum, 3 good loosies and outside backs with size and pace. They won the Six Nations on the back of some really gutsy play, and never say die attitude and will really test this nervous Wallaby team. I find it very difficult to split them and can see a welsh victory 1st up.
Wales 1 – 12

Springboks v England – This is a very hard game to predict. A new Bok coach has picked a side with plenty of changes from the side that played in that WC quarterfinal, only 6 back up from the starting XV v Aus. And then only 2 forwards. The Boks will want to make a statement here and this game will be as ferocious in the opening 30 minutes as any for a while as this new set of Bok forwards endeavours to make its mark. How will the Poms respond – they have a few hard heads in the forwards themselves and won’t be taking a backward step. With Steyn Inc, Kirchner, even Capt de Villiers the Boks don’t come across as a team that is looking to play free flowing rugby,well when have the Boks ever done that of late anyway? So the Bok halves will be putting in frontof the forwards, use the likes of the Flash to chase the kicks down and dominate at set piece – yada yada yada. How the Poms get around, over or through this is their big question? They do have a more adventurous looking backline, plenty of pace and a big guy at centre who will need watching. Still a lot of unknowns on both sides and will be a game worth watching just to see how it unfolds.
Springboks 1 – 12

Regards Waj

1 Jun

Super 15: Round 15 Preview
by WAJ
1 Jun 2012

Crusaders v Highlanders – The game of the round and hugely important for both sides, but especially the Highlanders where a loss would make it extremely hard to make the playoffs. And 2 pretty good teams have been named as well.So what are the points of difference that will get one team a win? IMHO – 1) scrums – the Crusadershave a clear edge here and they will milk it for all it is worth. 2) 1 5/8 – Carter is getting better and better and should give the Crusadersmore options with better execution than the journeyman Noakes. Whichleads to 3) attack – again options options options. Fred, Fruean, Carter, Read are all huge threats and genuine line breakers. The Highlanders are more easily held – yes Smith is very good, but Gear and Thommo, 2 of their more consistent ball carriers, can be quiet. And finally will the Highlanders get the go forward at the ruck there game is so reliant on? I can’r see them getting there own way as usual.
Crusaders 1 – 12

Rebels v Brumbies – No Kurtley no Rebels. Well that is probably a bit unfair, but an inside back combination of Hilgendorf (4th choice)and Mortlock is not one that inspires confidence in attack. And against a Brumbies side that continues to impress, and they were a little unlucky to lose last week, in the worst game of the year I might add, the Rebels need to have a few more weapons available. They will be typically brave up front, but will struggle to match the organisation of the Brumbies.
Brumbies 13+

Blues v Chiefs – How impressive do the Chiefs continue to be. Even the biggest optimist wouldn’t have had them at the top of the table after 14 rounds. And they were again convincing against another contender in the Bulls last week. AndI won’t be questioning Rennie again – he can name who he wants wherehe wants. And has done just that again this week with a rookie winger amongst the ins. Clarke out is a big one, great leader, but they haveshown the depth all mseason and you can’t doubt them now. And how good is Cruden playing – just as well Carter is who he is because this guy is turning into a seriously good player – impossible to shut down. And then there is the Blues – well they have named there strongest team in a while, much better looking backline, though Munro worries -buthe is needed for his goalkicking I suppose. I expect them to give a good account but ultimately a similair result to last week. Looking forward to Nonu v SBW!! And how many will again turn up – though you would mad not to go – the Chiefs are very watchable.
Chiefs 1 – 12

Waratahs v Hurricanes – This is tough one as the Waratahs are due. The basket case of the competition it seems whatever they try is ultimately not good enough. Last week it was attack at all costs, and they scored some cracking tries, but ultimately couldn’t hold on at altitude. Previously against the Stormers it was kick the leather off the ball and go for territoryagainst the Stormers, again a close loss. Maybe this week they will play what is in front of them. Use there superior forwards and run at the edges would bemy suggestion. The Hurricanes were brilliant last week, some cracking tries. If their forwards, who havebeen OK, can hold the Waratahs in the scrums keep the like of Palu and the flying Affro under control then they will win. The Waratahs will startat a million miles an hour, but that won’t last and their kicking game is so erratic that Taylor and his cronies will bet plenty of opportunity to run havoc.
Hurricanes 1 – 12

Lions v Sharks – Will be a dicking. The big question – will Butchie-boy get through without crossing the line? Tab odds currently giving 5 – 2 that he won’t!!
Sharks 13+

Bulls v Stormers – Has the Stormers bubble burst? Injuries look to be taking there toll and they were well beaten last week when there usual stingy defence looked quite shakey. And whilst the Bulls have lost the last 2 in a row you know at home against there fiercest rivals they are going to bring it. I’d expect a Bulls team keen to attack, they have plenty of options here, and with Morne throwing a few bombs into the mix the Stormers could be in for a torrid game. I can’t see them moving away from their terriory based game, kick it and use the set piece/maul to get penalties approach – that will not win it against the strong Bulls bodies. The other option in this game is that we get a maulathon – both us it a lot. I can just see one team mauling 20 metres and kicking to the box, indicretion at the next couple of breakdowns, penalty. The other team mauling 25 metres…………. a real mine is bigger than yours. And what is with this ruck set up where the Bulls have 3 or 4 players end to end with the ball at the feet of the last man 5 – 6 metres from the back of the oppositions ruck, where is the fun in that??
Bulls 1 – 12

Regards Waj