Super 15 – Round 9
15 Apr 2011
Well I reckon you can draw a line through the bottom eight teams – none are playing well enough, or consistently enough to move into the Top 6. After this weekends games there could well be up to a 7 point gap between 7th and 8th. Injuries are really starting to kick in now with very few teams unaffected.
Chiefs v Crusaders
Nice way to start the weekend. Should be a cracker. The only way the Chiefs are going to win this is to attack and take every chance offered. Unfortunately that has been their downfall this year, dropping the friggin ball. A couple of their key players in Kahui and Sivi should be fit now and will offer a lot in the attacking stakes, and they have beefed up their pack with the addition of Afeaki, Graham and Lee. Thought Umaga might have started to bolster the midfield defence. But of course it won’t make an iota of difference whatever or whoever. The Crusaders will roll on and over – scrums, lineouts, rucks, midfield, pace etc etc etc they have it all. Well nearly, that "it" is just around the corner, heaven help us all when they are at full strength.The Chiefs have won only 4 games against the Crusaders and No.5 won’t happen tonite. And isn’t it strange that this crowd drawing match is at the Mount????
Rebels v Highlanders
Late breaking news – Sterling Mortlock has withdrawn from tonites game through injury. Bugger! This is a hard one to work out anyway – the tough, to the point Highlanders, who are ever improving under an excellent coach and get the most out of themselves each week. Can’t work out why Donnelly and Cowan are on the bench though, but it probably says a lot about the replacements in a must win game for both teams. The Rebels have now won 2 of the last 3 two games at The Stockade, with a close loss in the other and are really starting to gel as a team also under a very good coach. Cipriani is stearing them around the park well ane the pack is one of the best going forward with the loose forward combination greatly underestimated, but hugely influential in their roles. Actually the Slade v Cipriani match up is bloody interesting. I can’t pick too much between them and will go with the home team and the best supporters going around.
Rebels 1 – 12
Blues v Waratahs
The Waratahs are another side hit hard by injury with 5 first choice players out for this. The Blues are nearly at full strength with only Williams and Woody sidelined, though the Waratahs scrum has of late been winning the referees favour and Mailau will need to front. Kaino back is a big win and will go a long way to the Blues winning ascendency up front, the key to their success this year and give Brett and McAllister the space to get there outsides running. Toeava especially has been in great touch and his ability on the counter-attack has the Blues able to strike from all over the park. They will need to watch Mitchell and Beale who are also great counter-attackers and are blessed with loads of pace. The blues need to shut down Burgess and limit his influence feeding runners so big fringe defence and a keen eye for the turnover is required. Really looking forward to Big Kev v The Flying Affro.
Blues 1 – 12
Reds v Bulls
du Preez benched eh! Big big call and I thought there would have been others under more scrutiny, injured perhaps. But I fancy this is the last chance saloon for several high profile players – Triple B, Olivier and Spies need to improve hugely to justify a start, all were terrible last week and I find it hard to believe that they can’t find a starting place for Rossouw who at least goes forward and is involved. Steyn too looks average. With their confidence down it is hard to see where they can beat this Reds team. The old crash and bash, kick and then release it to the pace men out wide doesn’t work as other teams dominate them at the breakdown – too old and slow perhaps. And they will have their work cut out against this fabulous Reds team. McKenzie has been the key with his horses for courses approach and the nous to pick the right players to do the job, and with the best halves combination going around they will be too good for the Bulls.
Lions v Stormers
Sorry to our Hong Kong based pundit, but if the Lions are the new Bulls, or even a couple of years from being such, then the Crusaders are the new Hurricanes. Mitch has them playing well, but they are very limited with the cattle they have available. And I would not be wanting to face the Stormers this week. They have a few points to prove and will be out for a convincing win to right the ship. No Flash, but Aplon is a better option for the out of form flyer anyway, so expect plenty of ball out wide, with Fourie set to run riot.
Cheetahs v Hurricanes
Wow 12th v 14th – yawn. So now not only are they playing like a used ashtray, injury smacks the Hurricanes around as well. But this under performing mob need to find a little fire in the belly to get anywhere near winning this. All the talent in the world gets you nowhere without the will to use it correctly. He may be passed his use by date, but I reckon Rodders would make a big difference to this mob, though he is injured as well of course. Anyway the Cheetahs will win at altitude in a close one.
Cheetahs 1 – 12
Brumbies v Force
Bloody hell another yawn fest between two tryhards. Injuries to key players have ravaged both teams, and they have struggled accordingly. The Brumbies are trying to perfect the "three pivot offence", quite what this is going to achieve I have no idea as one good one has always sufficed in the better teams, but that probably sums up where they are at. The Force need to play Twinkle Toes closer to the action, he needs the ball in hand to work his magic, 2 5/8 at least, though why you wouldn’t keep him at 1 5/8 I don’t know – Ripia is a donkey in comparison. The home team should take it on the back of a stronger scrum and a few more options in the backs.