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Stephan Greeff

In this the 3rd instalment of the Lions contenders, we look at the big men who perform in the engine room of the forward pack, the lock forwards.

Providing the grunt in the heart of the scrum, as well as the means to win ball in the line-outs, this group of BIG men are responsible for ensuring a continuous supply of quality first phase ball for the team.

Let’s open with the players who did the hard yards in last years campaign.

The next instalment will look at the ever improving and exciting loose forwards.

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London – New Zealand rugby coach Graham Henry plans to rest several members of his squad ahead of September’s World Cup to guard against the possibility of burnout.

Henry told the BBC in an interview Thursday that several All Blacks stars were “overdone” as the New Zealanders head into an international season which will culminate with the World Cup on home soil.

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It was exciting and a close contest and I was as happy as most Aussies with the Reds victory mostly because it moved me up to the top 4% overall on Superbru.

Generally speaking though, I thought it was a rather poor exhibition of how to play finals rugby – by both teams. Not poor rugby but poor finals tactics. Let me explain at hand of the following observations I’ve made while watching the game.

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Two match reports. First what New Zealand said and then the Australian view.

The Reds, who were playing for those who suffered because of the Queensland Floods early this year, came out on top.

But one thing is for sure – all of those involved with this Crusaders side should hold their heads high about what they’ve achieved this year.

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Reds (6) 18 / Crusaders (7) 13 (Final Score)

The Reds hosted the Crusaders in the Final of Super Rugby 2011 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia at 11:40 SA Time (19:40 Brisbane Time). This was the match thread for discussion of the game. The match was broadcast live on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.

In a truly super Super Rugby Final, the Reds emerge as worthy champions.

What a tournament we’ve had!!

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This is not a spitefull article, nor is it one to show any insensitivity from my side.

We experience so many disasters in the world and in my eyes the biggest one so far in 2011 was the Japannese tragedy. Japan will for years live in doubt about radio-active radiation.

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Greg Growden writes: A dream final, and all of Australian Rugby are willing the Queensland Reds to win. But it won’t be easy. The Crusaders were phenomenal against the Stormers in last weekend’s semi-final in Cape Town, with their triumph revolving about an exceptional forward performance, especially at the scrum. And that’s where the Crusaders, despite the trials of jetlag, should again dominate.

The Reds scrum is good, but not as good as the Crusaders. As well, the Crusaders midfield looks far more penetrating than the Reds counterparts, who last weekend worryingly fell off several crucial tackles. The Reds will threaten long and hard, and don’t be surprised if this final is determined in extra time.

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Sometimes they say it is beneficial to go backwards in order to go forward … sadly for the Stormers, it tends to be a principle of dubious value in crunch rugby matches.
It did them no favours in an embarrassingly one-sided Vodacom Super Rugby semi-final exit, when a white flag was effectively raised at only the second set scrum of the evening.

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Stormers (10) 10 / Crusaders (23) 29  (Final Score)

The DHL Stormers hosted the Crusaders at Newlands, Cape Town.  Stormers was forced to change their team. Dewald Duvenhage out, Louis Schreuder in. That disruption did not cost them the game, they also lost their inspirational captain at half time. Schalk Burger did not return from the changeroom, he broke a finger. The forwards of the Crusaders dominated the Stormers. At scrumtime the Stormers were not up to it. More to follow…..

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Rynhardt Elstadt needs to “out-work” Brad Thorn and not be intimidated by him in Saturday’s Super Rugby semi-final between the Stormers and Crusaders at Newlands.

That was the call from Stormers forwards coach Matthew Proudfoot on Tuesday. The vastly experienced Thorn was injured and did not feature for the Crusaders in their recent 20-14 victory over the Stormers at Newlands, with Luke Romano and Chris Jack guarding the second row.

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Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says his team will “look to right the mistakes” they made in their league defeat to the Crusaders in Saturday’s Super Rugby semifinal at a sold-out Newlands (5.05pm kick-off).

Even though the Stormers went down 20-14 to an injury-ravaged Crusaders in May, the biggest problem on that Saturday night was taking their opportunities on attack, of which there were plenty.

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Sharks coach John Plumtree says his side suffered because of the referee, but in the end, they just weren’t good enough.

In the sober light of Sunday morning, there is a very good reason that the Sharks were never going to win this one.

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Crusaders (13) 36 / Sharks (5) 8 (Final Score)

The Crusaders hosted the Sharks at Travalgar Park, Nelson at 09:35 SA Time. This was the match thread for discussion of the game. The match was broadcast live on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.

This was the last of the two play-off matches to decide who will be in the semi-finals. No 3 on the Combined Log (Crusaders) at home against No 6 on the Combined Log (Sharks).

With a little bit of help from a poor performance by Bryce Lawrence as well as some poor Sharks handling, the Crusaders eased into the semi-finals.

The Crusaders now travel to Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa to meet the Stormers in the one semi-final whereas the Blues travel to Queensland, Australia to meet the Reds in the other semi-final.

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Crusaders (6) 16 / Hurricanes (6) 9 (Final Score)

The Crusaders hosted the Hurricanes at Westpac tadium, Wellington at 09:35 SA Time. This was the match thread for discussion of the game. The match was broadcast live on SuperSport 1,  SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.

The Crusaders finish top of the New Zealand Conference.

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Crusaders (13) 23 / Blues (11) 16 (Final Score)

The Crusaders hosted the Blues at Alpine Energy Stadium, Timaru at 09:35 SA Time. This was the match thread for discussion of the game. The match was broadcast live on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.

The Crusaders prevailed with a 7-point win, going top of the New Zealand Conference, with one week to go.

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Reds (7) 17 / Crusaders (10) 16 (Final Score)

The Reds hosted the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane at 08:10 SA Time, Sunday morning. This was the match thread for discussion of the game. The match was broadcast live on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.

The Reds flyhalf, Quade Cooper, slotted a penalty in the 80th minute to secure a 1-point lead and eventual win. It was a hard and brutal match but the relatively low scores both sides just do not do justice to the open and flowing game presented by these tow sides on the day.

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Crusaders (6) 25 / Chiefs (6) 19 (Final Score)

The Crusaders hosted the Chiefs at McLean Park, Napier at 09:35 SA Time. This was the match thread for discussion of the game. The match was broadcast live on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.

In a dour game, with lots of errors, the Crusaders marched on in their quest for the title.

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Daniel Carter to announce playing future

Dan Carter is expected to announce his playing future at a press conference in Christchurch today. LATEST: He’s staying

‘We are at war’ in NZ conference: Joseph

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph says the difference between the New Zealand and Australian Super Rugby conferences is like “war and school stuff”.

Blues work on Stormers maul busting

It’s not like the Blues don’t know it’s coming. It’s just how effective they are in dealing with the Stormers potent rolling maul that’s the tricky part.

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