24 Jun

Super 15 – Quarterfinals
by WAJ
24 Jun 2011

I love this time of year. Cut throat finals with everything on the line, always complicated by injuries and travel. What an advantage finishing in the top 4 is. And then there is all the speculation about the national teams – train on squads, injuries again. Gotta love it. If the Crusaders win their next 2 games where will the final be held – surely not Nelson or Timaru?

Blues v Waratahs
I think this game comes down to 2 things. Can the Blues continue to play the way they have been over the last fortnight? And have the huge number of injuries suffered by the Waratahs cruelled their chances? Burgess, Hanga’s, Barnes, Horne, Mitchell – not a bad lineup and all injured and out of the play offs! On top of Kepu, Palu, Baxter, Mowenand the Flying Affro that is a lot of fire power unavailable. And 7 of those would be definite WC Wallabies. So can they overcome those losses, and the Eden Park hoodoo? They have been very resiliant of late having won their last 2 games in convincing fashion, and the likes of Beale,Dennis and Timani have really stepped up, but this is looking a step too far now with the The Flying Affro and Burgo both banged up and out. The Blues look to have overcome their late season malaise finally, and showed a good well rounded game to beat the Highlanders convincingly. Still concerns in the backs where the defence will always be in question and the overall pace has dropped. But if they keep using McAllister as they have – where he doesn’t have to think too much about it and just kick and run – and Brett and Payne keep up their attacking thrust then we should be too strong in the end. But oh wouldn’t it be great to see both teams at full strength.
Blues 1 – 12

Crusaders v Sharrrrks
The seemingly toothless Sharks wallow about for a few weeks, looking anything but good, then head up to Boer Central and put it all together in a great performance against all the odds. Unfortunately they have an even higher mountain to climb this week. Not only do they have to contend with the travel, and you have to question why they are leaving it so late, but they get 36 hours less to recover. But they have nothing to lose, and the likes of Lambie, Peterson and Michalak gives plenty of options in attack, Peterson especially is in rare form and will need to be watched. The Crusaders – well they keep winning, not as convincingly as they were in the first half of the season, actually not by as much as they were at the beginning of the season is probably the better way of putting it, because they are awfully hard to beat. A couple of guns in Maitland and SBW returning will make a world of difference, especially the former whose pace has been seriously missed. I expect a dominant performance from the pack, all who should be match fit and ready for a big one, scrum dominance for sure, with the halves banging away at the corners, where they can pressure the Sharks into mistakes, and thus points. Might not be the prettiest game, but will be awfully effective.
Crusaders 13+

Regards Waj

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