20 Sep

Commemorative Mugs
by Paul Waite
20 Sep 2015

south_africa_mugsA spokesman for the South African team at the Rugby World Cup has announced a minor change to the team’s promotional merchandising in the aftermath of the recent loss to Japan 34-32.

“In light of recent results we have withdrawn the range of commemorative mugs (shown right) and we will be replacing these with a new set of mugs.”

When pushed to elaborate on what the new set would look like, Hennie van de Merwe scowled for a little under twenty minutes before replying “the original set will be replaced by the starting XV which lost to Japan”.

“Each of them will be put up on eBay for a special price of only 10 rand each. Collect the set and you would have the ideal training opposition for your local school, as long as you don’t copy the way they tackle, or run with the ball.”

Asked whether he felt that the Bok management was over-reacting and being too harsh, Van de Merwe only replied “No.”

So there you have it, what an exciting Rugby World Cup this is looking to be!

Addendum: the above real mugs can still be had direct-from-factory in Japan.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebook

5 Oct

Extra notes – Springboks v All Blacks, Ellis Park
by Tracey Nelson
5 Oct 2014

Given this was the All Blacks’ first loss in 22 matches I thought it was worth giving a few extra notes additional to the usual stats tables, so read on.

When it came to making tackles in this test match, the All Blacks made a total of 137 plus 18 assists. Splitting it into halves, they made 77 in the first half and 35 of those first half tackles had to be made in their own 22. So how many tackles did they miss in that first half? Twelve, which is significant because there were only two missed tackles in the second half. Of those first half missed tackles, five were missed in their own 22.

The number of penalties conceded by each team contrasted in each half – in the first forty minutes the All Blacks conceded 4 and the Springboks 7, while in the second half it switched with the All Blacks conceding 7 and the Springboks 5.

Despite spending large chunks of this test on defence, the All Blacks only conceded two penalties inside their own 22 (Ben Smith going off his feet as he came through a ruck, and a deliberate knock-down of a pass by Jerome Kaino). The All Blacks conceded all their remaining penalties in the game on the Springboks’ side of halfway.

The Springboks conceded two penalties in their own 22, five between their 22 and halfway, and the remaining five in the All Blacks’ half. They conceded two penalties while on attack in the All Blacks’ 22.

The Springboks marginally won the breakdown battle, cleanly winning three ruck and three tackle turnovers while awarded four penalties for All Blacks not releasing the ball in the tackle. The All Blacks cleanly won two ruck and three tackle turnovers, and were awarded three penalties for Springboks not releasing the ball.

The All Blacks’ set piece may have been under pressure at times but they never turned over possession from set peice, unlike the Springboks who lost three lineout throws to the All Blacks (two steals by Sam Whitelock and one by Steven Luatua).

There was a lot less kicking than in most of the 2014 internationals this year, with a combined total of 33 kicks from hand. The Springboks only made five kicks in the first half, two of which were clearing kicks from within their own 22, so this is indicative of the open style of rugby they brought to this test. The All Blacks made a total of 18 kicks from hand, split evenly with 9 per half. In the first half they made 4 clearing kicks from their 22 and in the second half that increased to 6.

And yes, New Zealand’s most capped All Black once again was their hardest working player topping the breakdown arrivals and tackle stats. McCaw was also instrumental in three of the breakdown turnovers the All Blacks won.

4 Oct

Springboks v All Blacks, Johannesburg
by Tracey Nelson
4 Oct 2014

The usual analysis of the All Blacks game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums.

Some notes on these stats:

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 on the ruck isn’t included, so there are times when I will only tally one or two players. Likewise, if four players arrive simultaneously and perform a clean-out and setting up of a ruck, I will include all four in the stat.

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.

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.

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: Joe Moody, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Jeremy Thrush, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (C), Kieran Read, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea, Malakai Fekitoa, Conrad Smith, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Dane Coles, Ben Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Steven Luatua, Liam Messam, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Colin Slade, Ryan Crotty

Points Scored NZ Springboks
Tries 3 3
Conversions 2 3
Penalties 2/2 2/3
Dropgoals 0 0/1
TOTAL 25 27

Kicks from hand Own 22 Rest of field
NZ 10 8
Springboks 6 9
TOTAL 16 17

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 11 0
Springboks 12 0
TOTAL 23 0

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackled player Kaino, C Smith, Faumuina(2) 4
Tackler Read(3), C Smith 4
Ruck off feet B Smith 1
Maul Mealamu 1
Deliberate knock down Kaino 1
TOTAL   11

Springboks Penalty Offences
Tackled player 3
Tackler 2
Ruck entry 2
Ruck hands 1
Offside general 1
Offside kick 1
Deliberate knock down 2
TOTAL 12

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons Moody, O Franks, Kaino, Savea, Read, Fekiota 6
Pass to opposition C Smith 1
Spilled C Smith 1
Ruck   2
Tackle B Smith, Barrett, Savea, Kano, C Smith, Fauminuia(s) 7
TOTAL   17

Turnovers Conceded by Springboks
Knock-ons 7
Spilled 1
Ruck 2
Tackle 5
Lineout 3
TOTAL 17

Breakdown turnovers won by NZ
Tackle Mealamu, Fekitoa, Read, McCaw(2) 6
Ruck   1
TOTAL   7

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 30 14+16
Read 24 9+15
Whitelock 22 8+14
O Franks 17 9+8
B Franks* 16  
Thrush 15 13+2
C Smith 14 5+9
Mealamu 11 7+4
Fekitoa 9 3+6
Faumuina* 8  
Moody 7  
Messam* 6  
Kaino 6 4+2
Luatua* 5  
Coles* 5  
Dagg 5 2+3
B Smith 5 2+3
Savea 5 1+4
Crotty* 3  
Slade* 1  
A Smith 1 1+0
Barrett 1 0+1

Forward ball carries No of carries
Luatua* 6
Faumuina* 4
Read 4
McCaw 4
Messam 4
Mealamu 3
Kaino 3
O Franks 3
Coles* 2
Moody 2
Thrush 1
Whitelock 1
TOTAL 37

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 15 (7+8) 1 (1+0)
Read 12 (5+7) 2 (1+1)
Whitelock 12 (7+5) 0
Moody 9 0
Mealamu 9 (9+0) 2 (1+1)
Kaino 8 (7+1) 3 (2+1)
A Smith 8 (7+1) 0
C Smith 8 (6+2) 0
O Franks 7 (6+1) 1 (1+0)
Thrush 7 (6+1) 1 (1+0)
Fekitoa 7 (6+1) 0
B Franks* 5 1
Messam* 4 2
Coles* 4 1
Luatua* 4 0
Barrett 4 (3+1) 0
Faumuina* 3 0
Savea 3 (1+2) 0
B Smith 3 (1+2) 1 (1+0)
Crotty* 2 1
Slade* 1 1
Dagg 1 (0+1) 1 (1+0)
Kerr-Barlow* 1 0
TOTAL 137 19

Missed and Slipped Tackles
O Franks 4
Dagg 2
Moody 1
Whitelock 1
Kaino 1
McCaw 1
A Smith 1
Barrett 1
C Smith 1
Messam* 1
  TOTAL 15

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 7 7
Second half 7 7
TOTAL 14 14

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Read 5 5
Messam 3 3
Whitelock 2 2
Quick throw 2 2
Thrush 1 1
Unseen 1 1

Springboks Line-outs Won From
First half 7 8
Second half 5 7
TOTAL 12 15

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 2 2
Second half 3 3
TOTAL 5 5

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

8 Oct

Game Stats: All Blacks v Springboks, Johannesburg, 5 Oct 2013
by Tracey Nelson
8 Oct 2013

The usual analysis of the All Blacks game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums.

Some notes on these stats:

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 on the ruck isn’t included, so there are times when I will only tally one or two players. Likewise, if four players arrive simultaneously and perform a clean-out and setting up of a ruck, I will include all four in the stat.

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.

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.

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, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read (C), Aaron Smith, Aaron Cruden, Julian Savea, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Steve Luatua, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Charles Piutau

Points Scored NZ South Africa
Tries 5 4  
Conversions Cruden 3, Barrett 2 Steyn 2
Penalties Barrett 1/1 Steyn 1/1
TOTAL 38 27

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 9 1
South Africa 5 0
TOTAL 14 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Ruck hands Hore 1
Ruck entry Messam Yellow Card 1
Ruck offside C Smith, Nonu 2
Maul Hore 1
Scrum Bind?, Crockett 2
Obstruction Whitelock 1
Foul play Franks Yellow Card 1
TOTAL   9

South Africa Penalty Offences
Tackler no arms 1
Tackled player 1
Ruck offside 1
Offside general 1
Scrum 1
TOTAL 5

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons Whitelock, Retallick, Read, A Smith, Crockett, McCaw 6
Pass to opposition Dagg, Luatua 2
Forward pass Cruden 1
Scrum   1
Lineout   2
Accidental offside 2
TOTAL   16

Turnovers Conceded by South Africa
Knock-ons 11
Spilled ball 1
Forward pass 1
Ruck 1
Tackle 4
Maul 2
Lineout 5
Scrum 1
TOTAL 26

Tackle turnovers won by NZ
Tackle Read, Retallick, Cane
Ruck McCaw
TOTAL 4

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 34 18+16
Whitelocks 23 13+10
Woodcock 15 13+2
Retallick 14 10+4
Crockett* 12  
Read 11 7+5
Hore 11 11+0
Faumuina 10 6+4
Coles* 8  
Messam 7 6+1
Nonu 7 3+4
B Franks* 5  
Cane* 4  
Dagg 4 3+1
Savea 4 3+1
Luatua* 3  
B Smith 3 1+2
C Smith 3 0+3
Cruden 2 2+0
Kerr-Barlow* 1  
Barrett* 1  
A Smith 1 0+1

Ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
Read 7 86
Whitelock 7 25
Messam 5 60
B Franks 4 26
Retallick 4 19
McCaw 4 14
Faumuina 3  
Woodcock 2 15
Luatua 2 12
Coles 2 11
Cane 1 4
Hore 1 1
TOTAL 42 282

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 15 (4+11) 7 (3+4)
Read 13 (2+11) 6 (1+5)
Nonu 11 (5+6) 2 (1+1)
C Smith 11 (3+8) 1 (1+0)
A smith 10 (2+8) 1 (1+0)
Faumuina 9 (7+2) 0
Crockett* 7 1
Woodcock 6 (2+4) 3 (1+2)
Whitelock 6 (0+6) 2 (1+1)
Cruden 6 (3+3) 1 (1+0)
Coles* 5 1
B Smith 5 (2+3) 1 (0+1)
Savea 5 (3+2) 0
Dagg 5 (2+3) 0
Messam 4 (1+3) 4 (3+1)
Barrett* 4 0
Retallick 4 (2+2) 3 (1+2)
Hore 3 (3+0)1 (0+1)
Luatua* 3 0
Kerr-Barlow* 3 0
Piutau* 3 0
B Franks* 2 0
Cane* 1 0
TOTAL 141 35

Missed and Slipped Tackles
McCaw 3
Read 2
A Smith 2
B Smith 2
Hore 1
Faumuina 1
Retallick 1
Cruden 1
Nonu 1
C Smith 1
Savea 1
Crockett* 1
Kerr-Barlow* 1
Barrett 1
TOTAL   19

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 5 6
Second half 4 5
TOTAL 9 11

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Whitelock 4 4
Read 3 3
Messam 1 1
Retallick 1 1
Overthrown   2
TOTAL 9 11

South Africa Line-outs Won From
First half 7 9
Second half 3 6
TOTAL 10 15

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 2 2
Second half 3 4
TOTAL 5 6

South Africa Scrums Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 2 2
TOTAL 7 7

17 Sep

Game Stats: All Blacks v Springboks, Auckland, 14 Sept 2013
by Tracey Nelson
17 Sep 2013

The usual analysis of the All Blacks game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums.

Some notes on these stats:

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 on the ruck isn’t included, so there are times when I will only tally one or two players. Likewise, if four players arrive simultaneously and perform a clean-out and setting up of a ruck, I will include all four in the stat.

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.

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.

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, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (C), Aaron Smith, Dan Carter, Julian Savea, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Steve Luatua, Matt Todd, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Charles Piutau

Points Scored NZ South Africa
Tries 4 2  
Conversions Carter 1, Barrett 2 Steyn 1
Penalties Barrett 1/2 Steyn 1/2
TOTAL 29 15

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 15 2
South Africa 8 1
TOTAL 23 3

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackled player B Smith(2), Messam, Woodcock, A Smith, Whitelock 6
Tackler not rolling Messam, Not sighted 2
Ruck hands C Smith 1
Offside general Luatua 1
Lineout Retallick, Read 2
Scrum front row, Woodcock 2
Foul play Nonu Yellow Card 1
TOTAL   15

South Africa Penalty Offences
Tackler not releasing 1
Scrum 2
Obstruction 3
Foul play 2
TOTAL 8

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons C Smith, Dagg(2), Nonu(2), A Smith, B Smith, Savea, Read, Luatua 10
Pass Read 1
Tackle B Smith 1
Scrum   2
Lineout   2
TOTAL   16

Turnovers Conceded by South Africa
Knock-ons 8
Spilled ball 1
Pass 1
Ruck 2
Maul 2
Lineout 2
Missed touch from penalty 1
TOTAL 17

Tackle turnovers won by NZ
Tackle B Smith, Todd, Crockett
TOTAL 3

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
Woodcock 24 11+13
Whitelock 24 9+15
Cane 20 5+15
Retallick 16 6+10
Franks 15 6+9
Read 12 5+7
Coles 12 8+4
Nonu 10 5+5
C Smith 10 4+6
Savea 10 3+7
Messam 8 6+2
Faumuina* 8 0
Piutau* 5 0
B Smith 5 3+2
Dagg 4 0
Mealamu* 3 0
Crockett* 3 0
Luatua* 3 0
Barrett* 3 0
Todd* 3 0
Kerr-Barlow 1 0
A Smith 1 0

Ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
Retallick 7 50
Messam 6 27
Whitelock 6 20
Read 5 21
Cane 4 16
Franks 4 10
Woodcock 2 5
Coles 2 4
Mealamu* 2 2
Luatua* 1 6
Crockett* 1 1
TOTAL 40 162

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
Cane 12 (6+6) 2 (2+0)
Read 10 (5+5) 4 (2+2)
Whitelock 8 (4+4) 3 (1+2)
Messam 8 (6+2) 2 (0+2)
Nonu 7 (4+3) 1 (0+1)
Retallick 5 (2+3) 1 (0+1)
Barrett* 7 (1+6) 1 (0+1)
Woodcock 5 (4+1) 0
Faumuina* 4 1
Luatua* 4 0
Piutau* 4 0
Franks 4 (3+1) 1 (1+0)
Coles 4 (3+1) 0
C Smith 4 (1+3) 0
A Smith 3 (3+0) 0
Todd* 3 0
Crockett* 3 1
Mealamau* 2 1
B Smith 1 (1+0) 2 (1+1)
Savea 1 (1+0) 2 (1+1)
TOTAL 99 23

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Retallick 2
Franks 1
Whitelock 1
Messam 1
Nonu 1
C Smith 1
TOTAL   7

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 6 8
Second half 8 8
TOTAL 7 8

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Read 5 5
Whitelock 3 4
Messam 3 3
Retallick 1 1
Quick 2 2
Overthrown   1
TOTAL 14 16

South Africa Line-outs Won From
First half 8 9
Second half 9 10
TOTAL 17 19

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 3 5
Second half 4 4
TOTAL 7 9

South Africa Scrums Won From
First half 3 3
Second half 3 3
TOTAL 6 6

12 Jul

Super 15 — Round 20 Preview
by WAJ
12 Jul 2013

Crusaders v Hurricanes – The Crusaders have finally hit top gear. In their demolition of the Chiefs last week they covered plenty of bases. The main ones were the return to form of Fred and the intensity of the forwards in all aspects. If the forward pack continue with this form then expect Carter and Fred to steer them around the paddock, and with their great ability to create pressure, and maintain it, the points inevitably come. They really need a bonus point to put pressure on the Chiefs for the top NZ spot – you’d back them to do that. The Hurricanes look to be treating it as a bit of a trial, a few of the forwards will have points to prove, like when will Vito ever dominate a game, and they do score good tries so should be a reasonable spectacle.
Crusaders 13+

Rebels v Highlanders – Mmmm much ado at the Mighty Rebels of late – new coach, Beiber given the flick, and plenty of others leaving as well – Henderson, Robinson, Delve, Phipps, Vuna…… 2014 is looking interesting already! And then I read that JJ has a clause in his contract that he cannot lose his job due to playing results – what the!! Anyway this could go either way. Two pretty average teams, but if the Rebels can start well, and maintain that intensity, they can win this. The worry is the Highlanders backs – with Slade in better nick, the likes of the Smiths, Ellison and Gear will cause problems, and with Inman out for the MR, their midfield defence is a worry. This is a toughie – the Highlanders have been utter crap but can turn it on, the Mighty Rebels have been better but are missing a few.
Rebels 1 – 12

Blues v Chiefs – Should be a bit of feeling in this between these oldest of rivals. The first meeting this year was a very intense affair, lots of good defence in a really tough encounter. And plenty on this game. The Chiefs have to get back to some form after a couple of scrappy weeks. Get their line-out right and compete better in the loose/breakdown would be high priorities. Messam is a huge in as he is a dominant player at this level with his work-rate. Is Afeaki injured? Would have thought he would be invaluable before bringing on the Incredible Hulk for the last half hour. The Blues have only pride to play for. Some will be playing for spots next year – the likes of Kerr, Barrett and Moli need strong games to convince the coaches they have a future at this level. And of course it is a farewell game for others. On top of the travel, the average form of the Blues of late and the injuries to some you fancy they will struggle. But if they get enough ball those backs are capable of anything. And I would be applying the blowtorch to TKB.
Chiefs 1 – 12

Waratahs v Reds – Plenty of Wallabies missing from both teams, which evens things nicely, but may mean this game is not as intense as usual. But this of course is the biggest rivalry in Australian rugby, so what am I saying, there will be plenty of feeling again. The big question for the Reds is whether Quade can function as well as normal without Genia’s genius inside him. Never quite looks as good, and expect Hooper and the Waratahs to be all over him. The Waratahs look the more settled combination, and with the Reds missing their two talisman in Horwill and Genia, the Waratahs should get this.
Waratahs 1 – 12

Force v Brumbies – Might be tight early, but this should be a convincing win for the Nags in the end. The Brumbies will want to put in a good performance, keep the intensity up right through the 80 and set themselves up for the play-offs the following weekend, probably against the Cheetahs. And a few will be looking to impress link after lass than stellar test performances – yes that is you Joe Tomane and Ben Alexander.
Brumbies 13+

Sharks v Kings – Yawn!
Sharks 13+

Stormers v Bulls – I reckon the Stormers won’t be going out to do the Bulls any favours and this will be another intense South African derby. There won’t be much in it, probably a kick or two, as the forwards go hard at it. These two have been very even of late, but the Bulls have plenty to play for as a win will guarantee them top spot and a home semi. They looked a bit sluggish last week and will need to lift for this, perhaps injuries/absences taking a toll with replacement players not quite up to the standard. But then it is pretty much the same in the Stormers camp. In a grind with plenty of intensity you have to back Morne’s boot
Bulls 1 – 12

Regards Waj

28 Jun

Super 15 — Round 18 Preview
by WAJ
28 Jun 2013

Chiefs v Hurricanes – And not a bad game to start with either. Both sides relatively unaffected by AB duties. In fact there are no starting Chiefs who started for the AB’s and only TKB got game time. Rennie and Hansen must be tight. So it is all in front of the Hurricanes – literally. A well rested Chiefs pack will be up for this with plenty wanting to show why they should have been playing last week. I think the Chiefs will be too good up front and provide the better ball for Cruden and co to run with. And some great match-ups for Hansen. And who would have thought Bundee Aki and Reynold Lee-Lo would be going head to head – love this side of the game.
Chiefs 1 – 12

Highlanders v Crusaders – I know that they probably need a break after the test series but it is a risk leaving Read, Romano and Davey all on the bench as well as Frank’s illness. If the Highlanders put on another performance like the last time they played then look out. Big question mark of course that!! But the Highlanders then bench Nonu and Smith – go figure?? Their last displayed form was outstanding – but then Tanaka did help Japan beat Wales B – so probably fair enough??? Anyway this is a hard game to pick, below strength Crusaders, who were only just winning at full strength before the break, against a resurgent Highlanders with nothing to lose. Might have to go with the Highlanders, with B Smith to make Fred look 2nd rate. The last 20 should be good when all the AB’s are on the park!
Highlanders 1 – 12

Sharks v Blues – Not overly confident here. Think this young Blues team will struggle with the intensity of South Africa. Though with nothing to lose they will throw everything at this game. They have to as a loss will make it nigh impossible to qualify for the play-offs. They will be fresher than their opposition as the Sharks had a few forwards in the Boks. If we can get parity at the set pieces, defend effectively at line-out time, and take advantage of any breaks from the likes of Saili and Piutau then we can get up. Though I am a bit non-plussed seeing Ranger on the bench. You know what the Sharks are going to serve – pressure rugby, they have become very conservative this year, so there should be no surprises – it is about the ability to counter this style. The other factor of course is Plumtree getting the arse, this has to be in the Blues favour.
Blues 1 – 12

Bulls v Kings – Even though the Bulls are resting a lot of Boks they will still win this easily at home.
Bulls 13+

Stormers v Cheetahs – Will probably turn into a tight grind, though no JDV for the Stormers might leave a few gaps for the Cheetahs backs.
Cheetahs 1 – 12

Wallabies v Lions – Managed to score a ticket to this and really looking forward to it. Changes in both sides make it interesting, with both sides probably stronger as a result. Kurtley at fullback adds real spark to the Wallabies and if they can get more out of their loosies and start well they are a real chance. Gatland has the luxury of being able to replace out of touch test class players with in form test class players. Thus Phillips and Croft are out and Youngs and Lydiate are in. The Lions will miss O’Connell, but Parling has been playing well. Probably the biggest risk for the Lions is the selection of that born, bred and named Englishman Mako Vunipola at loosehead. He needs a big scrummaging game as the Wallabies came at them hard in this area and the Lions will be disappointed they fell away. I can’t see the Lions fading as badly this week and think they will sneak this again for a series victory.
Lions 1 – 12

23 Mar

Super 15 — Round 6 Preview
by WAJ
23 Mar 2013

Chiefs v Highlanders – So the much fancied Highlanders will be win-less after a third of the season has gone and with a minimal chance to make the play-offs. I can’t see them improving enough to beat the impressive Chiefs, sure Nonu in is a plus, but he looked out of sorts in his first game and hasn’t played since. But they have problems in the looseand lack combinations in the backs still with an ever changing midfield.The Chiefs continue to impress, still won well enough last week whilst being sucked in to playing a lose untidy game by the Chiefs. The short turn around and travel are a concern but Rennie has rotated his players well enough, and has a strong bench.
Chiefs 1 – 12

Crusaders v Kings – The Kings have been quite competitive to date.Good opportunists, they have taken all scoring chances pretty well. No fear at this stage. This could be a step up, away from home and against a side that is starting to get its shit together. Big improvements seen in a lot of the Crusaders forwards the key. If the Crusaders stick to their business and play straight and direct this could get ugly.
Crusaders 13+

Reds v Bulls – The Bulls look to have conceded here, plenty of changes with numerous Boks now in the reserves. Whereas the Reds have a stronger teamwith the inclusion of Horwill and Diggers, and Genia better for the run last week. Both teams put in disappointing performances last week, the Reds probably the worst when out thought and out passioned by the Force. Doubt whether McKenzie will let that happen again.
Reds 13+

Force v Cheetahs – On displayed form this game should be a beauty. Two lowly rated teams are not afraid to give it a red hot go. Really impressed by the Force last week, they were goodin all aspects and Foley has turned them into a really good team, who don’t have many outstanding individuals but do their rolls brilliantly and have enough size and speed out wide to take advantage of any opportunities. The Cheetahs have lost Goosen, their talisman, for the season – a big blow and how well they get around that will be interesting. They have confidence now though and that will take them a long way. Big battle in the lose to decide this, but the Force at home for me.
Force1 – 12

Sharks v Rebels – Aaaaarrgh don’t know where to go here. The Sharks were so disappointing last week, hardly fired a shot, and Plummers has made changes accordingly. They have to be better thanthat and will have the motivation of wanting to show their real worth etc going forthem. SO you’d expect improvement, but how much. The Rebels have been playing at the level pretty much expected of them, and need to be able to put in an extra5 – 10% to get them over the line. Three big ins, Delve, Vuna and Woodward on debut, may be the difference as all are a step up on the players they replaced. Hoping, hoping, hoping!!!
Rebels 1 – 12

Stormers v Brumbies – The Brumbies are a bit of a bogie side for the Stormers. Only 3 losses ever against them and are the form team of the 2013 competition without a doubt. They play such a simple game and execute so well. It will be tough against the Stormers defence. And the Stormers – well a tough start to the year no question. A hard fought win over the Chiefs will have their confidence up, but they do look down on the ruthlessness they showed lastseason. But a more attacking mindset helped against the Chiefs and they will need it against the best defence so far this year. Going with form here.
Brumbies 1 – 12

Waratahs v Blues – If the Blues front with the same attitude and commitment they showed in the Hurricanes and Crusaders wins, they will win easily. The Waratahs are a rabble and have too many self doubts.
Blues 1 – 12

Regards Waj

15 Mar

Super 15 — Round 5 Preview
by WAJ
15 Mar 2013

Highlanders v Hurricanes – With the NZ conference looking to be an even affair a win here is a must for the bottom 2 NZ sides.A few changes for both teams, but the Highlanders are a team with a lot of question marks, and with 8 AB’s in the starting XV they should be performing better than they are – perhaps not together as a team yet. The Hurricanes were bloody lucky to get the win last week, but showed enough in staying with the Crusaders that they are coming right.And they more than any other NZ team need to have all facets working well to be competitive, and with the likes of Perenara, Barrett and Savea having more influence over a game, all marshalled by the wonderful Conrad Smith, a strong bench, and with Dunedin holding no fears,I fancy they will be too strong. What do the Highlanders need to do – get on top up front with a bit of mongrel needed by some perhaps, or, dare I say it, are they too old in the T5. Slade needs to find form straight away, andI wonder if Ben Smith shouldn’t be at centre, with Poki at fullback – would give them more strike weapons. But I just don’t think the Highlanders are playing well enough. Mmmm could be win-less after 5 rounds – JJ who. So that will come back to bite me no doubt.
Hurricanes 1 – 12

Waratahs v Cheetahs – Plenty of changes for the Waratahs after a pretty woeful performance last week. Wouldn’t want to be the Waratahs coach under any circumstances – they just lack heart;something is not right. They look like they need a Hurricanes/Blues type clean out. But they will need to beswitched on to beat this enterprising and opportunistic Cheetahs outfit. Boy dothey give it a go and they upset the Waratahs here 2 years ago with a 4 trys to nil spanking, and I certainly wouldn’t say they couldn’tdo it again. In fact so woeful are the Waratahs , can anyone even work out their game plan, and how accomplished were the Cheetahs when in possession with Pretorius (and this guy sums up the Waratahs, discarded by them after 3 early games, he has shown what a good player he is given the right circumstances or perhaps better environment)and Goosen great at making play, you’d have to back the Cheetahs. The latter also a dead-eye dick.
Cheetahs 1 – 12

Kings v Chiefs – Well the Kings havebeen a bit of a surprise package so far, 8 out of 14 available points is not to be laughed at. But the Chiefs will present a different challenge thanwhat they have faced to date with their running game,and especially what Cruden brings to the table, especially against a less than top class team. With their ability to score plenty of tries the Chiefs should win this relatively easily.
Chiefs 13+

Crusaders v Bulls – The game of the round for me. And absolutely crucial for the Crusaders, last year 10 wins was required to get into the play-offs. If the Crusaders lose this weekend they will have to win 10 of 13 probably to qualify, 11 of 13 to be sure and more if they want to be top 4. So tomorrow will be all about the forwards, well you know how the Bulls are going to play and the Crusaders are not going to stand around and let them do what they want. they willreally have a go at taking them on at the breakdown I reckon. And expect to see the Crusaders move the ball around as well, hopefully not that across the fieldcrap of a few weeks ago but plays that will run the Bulls around, they tired a bit last week, the Blues were just not good enough to take advantage of it, the Crusaders should be. At home, and with more to play for, and with players having more game time under their belts, the Crusaders by not many.
Crusaders 1 – 12

Reds v Force – The Force can’t take a trick – injuries and travelare against them here. And who is the person who scheduled them to play in BrisVegas after returning from South Africa, very stiff. The Reds are slowly building, Geniaback this week is a huge in, and you would think would be too strong all round for the Force. Mind you the Force don’t give in, they just aren’t good enough yet, and any slackening in attitude by the Reds will be used by the Force – ask the Bulls. Like the Reds industry in the forwards, hardworking and hard running loosies and midfield, and if Rocky comes right it could get ugly. McKenzie is not going to allow any minds to wonder I reckon.
Reds 13+

Sharks v Brumbies – Can’t pick this one. Two teams unbeaten so far, but in contrasting ways. The Sharks have been very dour, there last two wins on the back of penalties. The Brumbies are very much a pressure side as well but have been able to score a lot more tries using their outside backs. But Durban has been a hard place for them to win in, only once so far, and the Sharks will look to grind them down again with their narrow game and kick the inevitable penalties.
Sharks 1 – 12

Regards Waj

1 Mar

Super 15 – Round 3 Preview
by WAJ
1 Mar 2013

Blues v Crusaders
Can’t wait for this. Ithink it might be a bit of a wake up call for the Blues, but they surprised everyone last week and at home, hopefully in front of a big crowd, they will be keen to prove they really have turned things around. Last weeks win has been well documented, but the Blues are still a very young team and were exposed in areas the Crusaders will have noted, and with the master manipulator controlling things that makes me a little afraid. I reckon the Crusaders will look to dominate up front early, expecting some real niggle in the forwards, Carter to exploit the defensive issues exposed last week – the Blues can’t wait for the Crusaders to come to them, you can’t be on the back foot with Carter, Readand co running at you!!! And despite all the noise coming out of Chch about a wider, more expansive game plan, they will do whatever it takes to win. Though I would have though they were always a pretty good attacking side, a little down defensively compared to the noughties maybe. But then Prickle retiring will do that.The Blues have to hang in there, kick their goals and try and stay in touch in what will be a fairly torrid opening half hour. They won’t get as many counter attacking opportunities, but need to be as accurate and look to support the ball carrier when they do run. Really looking to the clash of the mid-fields and hope the Blues can use their greater speed out wide. A bonus point, even 2 would be nice, but not very optimistic! As usual I will pick the Blues but………..
Blues 1 -12

Waratahs v Rebels
So can the Waratahs end their 9 game losing streak? I can just imagine the shit flying if they were to lose this one. But they will need to step it up from last week, where they didn’t do enough in the first half. Izzy needs to be switched on, he has a league habit of drifting behind play once his part in a move is over – he needs to get back into position to contribute in the next phases – that is when he will cause real damage. And I wonder whether Carter is the right guy to have in that back=line, too much of a roadblock to those outside him. The Rebels look to be still a little off the pace required to really challenge. A solid T5 works very hard, but struggles to dominate, the loosies tend to get sucked into help out, and the backs lack depth. Defensively they struggle as well and can be too easily manoeuvred out of position to create gaps. I hope they can get themselves right but think the Waratahs will be too strong up front and that will get them home
Waratahs 1 – 12

Reds v Hurricanes
The last game of three for a big Friday night. The Reds looked very good at times last week and will improve further with the run. Their loosies were the key, 3 relative unknowns who were everywhere whether on defence or attack. Rocky looked more settled and brought his backs into the game more, and they have benched the donkey and brought some real pace in at fullback. And against a Hurricanes team who got worse as the game went on last week they will win easily enough. The Hurricanes were average, too many down on form, no attention to detail and I bet the tackling bags got a work out at practice this week. Can’t see them winning (so but your life savings on them quick, because this is the one game I could see a real upset).
Reds 1 – 12

Chiefs v Cheetahs
It must be great to be able to make 4 changes to a winning team, and a convincing win at that, and improve tha team. Certainly the addition of Elliot and Masaga will improve the Chiefs, and IMHO so will Pulu – better service to those outside wins every time. The Chiefs looked uncommonly good last week – the feature was the quick consistent ball the forwards delivered, and with the scrum a bit of a work on still they can get better – scarey!! The backs need to tighten up defensively, but have such an array of runners they are going to be hard to keep in check themselves. And with the whole thing orchestrated by the like of the very classy Cruden and Messam – look out Cheetahs. The Cheetahs do tour well though and are the one SA team who really give the ball an airing. But class wins out here.
Chiefs 13+

Bulls v Force

The way the Force are going so far this should be a good old fashioned dicking. The Bulls are such good points accumulators at home with there tried and true methods it is hard to see the Force getting within 20
Bulls 13+

Sharks v Stormers
Will be a close one for sure. The Sharks only did what they needed to last week and looked like they needed the run. The Stormers were disappointing last week, failing to get anything going and looked out of sorts. Jantjies was below his best for sure, but they looked too reactive. Why they don’t throw caution to the wind a bit and use the class of the Flash, Aplon and de Villiers more is a puzzle – the South African conservatism at work perhaps. But they won’t win this comp unless they use their best players to their full capabilities!!
Sharks 1 – 12