Super 15 – Round 8
8 Apr 2011
I see Slipper got off when cited for the “spear” tackle he was yellow carded for against the Lions. Verdict was given as “not guilty”??? It raises the issue again of yellow cards for me.
The inaccuracy of match officials, the mindset of some that they are bigger than the game and thus have to influence it in the worse possible way – and feel they have to act to justify themselves, the failure to use available technology if there is a doubt, is all a worry.
The other classic was Gerrards sinbinning – a perfectly legitimate tackle, and you could see the linesman was not totally sure, and the ref finally got a yellow card recommendation out of him, and whilst they were having their discussion the replay of the incident was on the big screen, and that of course was ignored. If they are using replays for tries then why not this as well. It was as plain as day that if the assistant referee had had the option of viewing a replay he would have taken it – and the ramifications are significant.
It looks like Jake White is heading to the Brumbies. What will happen to player power then, I can’t see him have anything to do with it. Mind you with the departure of Giteau and AAC things will change anyway.
Injuries are starting to kick in now – Mils, Carter, Weepu, Read, Braid, Kaino, Woody, Whitelock, McCaw, Williams – 10 players in or close to the AB’s all either out or questionable for this weekend! Not good Jan!!
No Chiefs, Blues or Rebels this week – dull dull dull.
And so to the games:
Highlanders v Cheetahs
Apart from the blow out against the Reds the Cheetahs have been competitive in all games this year, and in this, the last game before heading home, they will be keen as ever to get another result. They are a limited team, but are strong at set piece and have a live wire halfback who needs to be watched. An interesting switch at lock for the Highlanders, Donnelly on the bench – really!! Is he still easing into it – strange. As the leading lock, and an AB to boot mmmmm. A niggle perhaps. Anyway the Highlanders have won all five games these two have played against each other, will struggle a little bit up front, though should dominate in the loose and be too strong out the back for a relatively easy win.
Crusaders v Bulls
Game of the round no doubt. The pity is the Crusaders cannot be at full strength – in fact imagine any team taking the field without four these pretty influential players – the two best players in the world, one of the 3 or 4 best tighthead props, and one of the better up and coming locks – and still be favorites! The Crusaders have never lost to the Bulls in NZ, and with plenty of class throughout the team will be up for it. I love all the 30 somethings at lock, a few battle scars among that lot. The Bulls are down on their best form and look half a yard slower and less ruthless than previous – they are just executing well. Can they get it right tomorrow? The Crusaders should win but a lot depends on Berquist and the way he varies his game.
Brumbies v Hurricanes
So here we have Dance of the Desperates – The Sequel. Two teams who have flattered to deceive all year, average up front, inexperienced and inconsistent in the loose, and flakey in the backs. The superstars are not geting the right ball and are then trying too hard. The goalkickers couldn’t hit the side of a barn. And now rumours of player unrest at the Hurricanes to get that alignment as well. Only one result going to happen here.
Force v Waratahs
The Waratahs are a different team with the Flying Affro on the paddock, the glue that keeps the T5 together and a follow me for the others. He gets them going forward and that has been the difference and why this team stumbles at times. A great backline goes nowhere if the forwards aren’t getting over the advantage line, and this applies particularly to the flakey Waratahs. The Force could well upset here, you take them lightly at your peril. Young Twinkle Toes moves to fullback with Ripia now fit, but they loose another of their top loosies with Brown out. With an average T5 they need all the help they can get from the loose trio, this is offset by the loss of Waugh for the Waratahs. So expect the Waraths to start fast, and if they execute well will make it very hard to for the Force to pull it back. The Waratahs do inevitably hit a flat patch, whether they are too far ahead to catch then is the problem facing the Force..
Waratahs 1 – 12
Stormers v Reds
The next best game of the round sees 1st play 3rd, the defensively strong Storm v the attack minded Reds. It will probably be as dull as dishwater as the Stormers go about their business of closing the visitors down and win by 7 penalty kicks to 4. It is hard to believs a backline that includes Aplon, The Flash, Fourie and de Villiers has been so frugal in their try scoring. The Reds have added more grunt up front with Daley and Samo in. If they can hold the Stormers up front(and Bekker in particular is a huge weapon at this level), avoid setting too many targets for the big Stormers loosies and their changed midfield works then they have every chance. The battle of the backlines could be a highlight, but this will depend on the Stormers game plan. I fancy they will try and run their big loosies at Genia, Cooper and Harris, this will either open holes for others or tire the Reds trio and they will become less effective. To my mind the Stormers will grind.
Stormers 1 – 12
Sharks v Lions
The Lions are a likely lot – Ok in the T5, a good set of loosies and an attacking mindset in the backs, they lack the class to beat most teams but are certainly improved. The Sharks mmmm. A goodish team, they lack an edge that would make them a contender. They battle away up front, but insist on rotating through the front row and accomodating Smit who is now not in their best team. Alberts is a real weapon but that is it about it with Kankowski less and less effective these days. Not a lot offers in the Sharks backline either with Lambie out. The Sharks nous will see them home, and probably quite comfortably in the end.