Outside the Frame

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Posts Tagged ‘Rugby

Super 14 Week 3 Report – Australian teams

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After the first three weeks of Super 14 rugby, we are starting to get a feel for who has what it takes to make the finals and who will be stuck at the bottom of the table come May. And there are  a few surprise positions on the ladder. Here is a look at how the Australian teams are traveling:

The Australian teams are going well as a whole with three teams in the top four and none in the bottom five. The Waratahs are showing again why they are title contenders (as they have been the last few years with without going all they way), but are being accused as being boring by almost everyone from the public to the media to rival teams. They did start to show a bit more flair in their win over the Highlanders, and entertaining or not, they are winning and sit second on the ladder. They are a very well-drilled, well-structured side and should head towards the tournament’s final weeks without dropping too many games.

The Force are surprisingly fourth on the ladder after their win over the Brumbies on the weekend. With the announcement of star playmaker Matt Giteau moving back the Brumbies next year adding to the reports of infighting and tension over in Perth since this year’s pre-season, the Force were considered outsiders to win in Canberra, but with a fantastic turn by fullback Cameron Shepherd, who scored 3 tries, they achieved a great win in the face of diversity. If the players can ignore all the outside distraction, they possibly could do very well this season, but a middle-of-the-table finish is the likely outcome.

The Brumbies are solid at the moment with 2 wins and 1 loss, but will be shocked their loss the the Force at home, a game they thought was very much in their favour up until the whistle blew to start the match. The Brumbies are usually a solid bet to make the top 4 of Super Rugby, or at least stay in the top half of the ladder, but whether they can repeat that this year will rely heavily on whether their young flyhalf Christian Lealiifano, who is in the shoes that were filled by Wallaby great Stephen Larkham for so many years.

Finally the Reds will be looking to throw off the shackles of the bottom end of the table where they have been for the past few years. With a backline that finally looks like they could do some damage, the Reds will have to start making a move up the table very soon if they want to show they are finals contenders. The big grudge match against their southern neighbours the Waratahs this friday could be the litmus test for how their season ends up

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Written by Dale Weber

Tuesday, 3 March, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Rugby and politics clash at Newlands. Oh and the All Blacks will be there too …

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It is crunch time for both South Africa and New Zealand in saturdays game at Newlands, Cape Town. Both teams will be looking to put one hand on the Tri-Nations trophy in a matchup that promises to be one to remember. It has been two weeks since the last Tri-Nations match, and more than enough time for every man and his dog to voice his opinion on who will win this match.

The Springboks did have a game against Argentina that ended up being nothing more than a training run after they dominated the Pumas 63-9, and this will be a major confidence booster in having won by so much against a team that came third in last year’s World Cup. Unfortunately for Argentina, the Springboks won that World Cup and will be looking to prove that they are worthy world champions. And the best way to prove that point will be to win this year’s Tri-Nations series. They face a big obstacle in accomplishing that feat in the All Blacks. At the moment the series is wide open for all three teams to take the crown. South Africa with three home games would probably be the betting man’s tip as we all know how important home games are in this tournament. However, one slip up in any of those games and the All Blacks and Wallabies will be waiting to pounce. 

Despite their confidence from last week’s win and the belief in themselves as world champions, the Springboks might be distracted by the sideshow that is the politics behind South African rugby. A government official got a bit silly when attacking the selection of two white players over two coloured players for tomorrow’s game. Somehow he seemed to infer that this selection was an act of racism against coloured players. How exactly can it be racism when the coach Peter de Villiers himself is not white, but rather a black South African? 

He questioned the choice of Fourie du Preez returning from injury to replace Ricky Januarie at scrumhalf, due to the fact that Januarie “won” the game for the Boks in Dunedin. No doubt Ricky Januaire is a very talented scrumhalf and his solo try in the final minutes of that game was inspired but du Preez is a phenomenal player and was integral to South Africa winning last years World Cup. Du Preez is a much more settled player than the fiery Januarie, and that is a very important point to remember at this point in the tournament. South Africa needed Januarie’s unpredictability in order to beat New Zealand at home, an incredibly hard task to do at any time. The game in Cape Town needs more a more level-headed player at the scrum base for the men in green and that is where du Preez comes in. 

The selection of Percy Montgomery over Conrad Jantjes at fullback has similar reasoning to it. New Zealand played their best game of the series in their win over Australia in Auckland by raining kicks down on the opposition’s back three and putting them under pressure. Percy is a rock under that kind of pressure, while Jantjes can be a bit iffy, as is winger J.P. Pietersen, and so undoubtedly de Villiers has made the right choice in Montgomery. It is such a pity that a proud rugby nation like South Africa is constantly mired by back room politics. Hopefully Peter de Villiers can rise above this circus and lead the Boks in the right direction, away from all the politics. 

Getting back to the actual game, New Zealand have a very good chance of beating the Springboks. South Africa will be missing Bakkies Botha in the second-row, and the physicality he brings to the game will be missed but his replacement is a very capable, very big man in Andries Bekker. The Auckland match against Australia showed how important Richie McCaw is to the All Blacks and the New Zealand captain is fit and ready to go in Newlands. If Springbok flankers Juan Smith and Schalk Burger can neutralize Richie McCaw at the break down, then the home team will have a very good chance of emerging victorious. The other New Zealand superstar, flyhalf Dan Carter will also be a worry to the Boks but if Montgomery and wingers Bryan Habana and Pietersen can handle any kicks he sends their way, and Butch James and Jean de Villiers can put pressure on him in the centre of the field then South Africa, with the home crowd behind them, will be able to wrap up this match. 

 

Outside the Frame prediction: South Africa by 8

 

Springbok Squad:

Run on: Percy Montgomery, JP Pietersen, Adrian Jacobs, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Butch James, Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield (c), Andries Bekker, CJ van der Linde, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Adriaan Strauss, Brian Mujati, Danie Rossouw, Luke Watson, Enrico Januarie, Francois Steyn, Conrad Jantjes. 

 

All Black Squad:

Run on: Mils Muliaina, Richard Kahui, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Rodney So’oialo, Richie McCaw (c), Jerome Kaino, Ali Willliams, Brad Thorn, Greg Somerville, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Adam Thomson, Piri Weepu, Stephen Donald, Isaia Toeava.

Written by Dale Weber

Friday, 15 August, 2008 at 10:53 pm

Posted in Rugby

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