13 Jul

The North Island Benefit Comp
by WAJ
13 Jul 2007

With apologies to Canterbury.

But some woeful performances from SI teams doesn’t augur well for the
rest of the ANZC, or for the Highlanders in the 2008 S14.

No wonder
Cooper moved! The highlight of last weekend has to be the performance of
Hawkes Bay, to win in Invercargill was a great effort. And Southland,
with 10 or so S14 players fronting, a disgrace!

And why aren’t more AB’s playing in the ANZC? I would be resting Woody,
Haymaker, the 3 loosies, Carter & Toeava. It is not as if the rest have
had an overtaxing season, with all apart from the aforementioned 7
having injury interruped seasons or part of the 22 or both. Don’t
Muliaina, Mauger and Big Kev need more game time? They are rugby players
for God sakes – so let them play rugby.

So to the games.

Tasman v Manawatu – intriguing match up this. Both didn’t disgrace
themselves last week, Tasman look to have strengthened up considerably
in the forwards with the addition of Jack, a good foil for Triggs the
main Manawatu lineout threat. Two pretty even teams really with home
advantage perhaps the deciding factor.
Tasman 1 – 12

BoP v Auckland – the loss of a number of players has seen the Bay drop
back to the pack after a few years of good results. They will be cannon
fodder for the mighty Auks, who have made a raft of changes as Lam tries
to find his best 15. These 2 teams best illustrate the gulf between the
haves(or S14 centres) and have nots (the rest). Wouldn’t Bay love to
have the luxury of rotating the likes of Braid and Macdonald.
Auckland 13+

Otago v Northland
– based on results Northland should win this, but I
think the kick in the pants they would have received as a result of the
loss to Wgtn will mean the Otago side will come out all guns blazing.
They are not a good enough team to run away with this, but at home will
win comfortably enough.
Otago 1 – 12

Hawkes Bay v Wellington – up yours says Weepu, and what a revelation he
was. Where was that sort of form in the 3N? A good performance last
week, admitedly against 15 revolving doors. Wgtn could give the ANZC a
bit of a shake up, plenty of depth all over the park, with a lot of NZ
Juniors make them 2nd favorites in my book. Expect a relatively easy win
against a good HB side that lacks the overall class of Wgtn and who now
won’t be taken as easy as previous form would suggest.
Wellington 13+

Waikato v Southland – well this is an easy game to sum up – Southland
need to pull the finger out of their collective arses or they will get
belted by an even larger margin than last week. Waikato obviously don’t
think much of them, resting Gibbes and Holah. Thus Southland will come
out breathing all sorts of smoke and ash, be very direct with their big
forward pack, but will still lose to an improving Waikato team.
Waikato 13+

North Harbour v Taranaki – NH would be the most erratic team around.
Capable of some quiet brilliant running rugby, but still battle a bit
with the basics and thus struggle. They look a bit stronger up front
this week and will need to be on their game for the full 80 minutes
against a typically yeoman like Taranaki. The Ranfurly Shield will
ensure NH are focused, and those classy backs will be the winning of
this game.
North Harbour 13+

Counties Manukau v Canterbury
– clearly the overall standard in the ANZC
has lifted this year. CM were very solid last week, and but for a bit
more class in some positions would have run Auckland a lot closer. Again
you feel this week will go along similair lines. How much better would
CM be with say Brett, Tuiali’I and Johnstone in their respective key
positions. They haven’t of course so that is all moot, but CM are a
good, gutsy team, well coached and capable of an upset or 2. That won’t
happen here with enough wise heads to see Canterbury home reasnobly
Canterbury 13+

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