Brumbies excitement machine Henry Speight didn’t just leave the Chiefs lamenting a qualifying finals loss.
He left their coach Dave Rennie ruing the one “that got away” after his side’s dream of a Super Rugby three-peat came to a crashing end at Canberra Stadium.
And the Chiefs only have themselves to blame.
That’s because Speight not only played for Hamilton Boys High School, but went on to represent the Waikato provincial team – the Chiefs’ feeder club.
The return of Richie McCaw to the Crusaders for their semifinal next Saturday will present coach Todd Blackadder with a dilemma. Where to play him?
For Blackadder, it is a good problem to have, but someone within the hard-working and talented loose forward trio of Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua and Kieran Read is about to be disappointed, and it isn’t likely to be No8 Read, judged last year as the world’s best player.
The Cell C Sharks are still in contention for their first Super Rugby trophy after beating the Highlanders 31 to 27 at Kings Park tonight.
The Sharks must thank their forwards, and in particular their front row for this victory. Their scrum absolutely decimated the Highlander’s scrum and lead to 6 points in penalties and an all important try to man of the match, Bismarck Du Plessis.
The tactics of not kicking to touch almost cost the Sharks the match as the Highlander’s counter attack was devastating and almost won the game for them. It is a dangerous ploy from the Sharks to gift the ball back to the opposition, considering that their next opponents are also a New Zealand side, and that’s not even taking into account that they might also still have to face the Waratahs or Brumbies, who in Israel Folau and Jessie Mogg have devastating counter runners at their disposal as well.
ACT Brumbies captain Ben Mowen has lauded the club’s courageous Super Rugby finals win against the Waikato Chiefs as the best performance of the past three years.
But Mowen, the most-capped skipper in Brumbies history, insists the ACT side can improve on its epic eight-try win which ended the Chiefs’ two-year reign as Super Rugby champions.
The Brumbies held on for a cliffhanger 32-30 triumph at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, setting up a likely week-two finals clash against arch rivals the NSW Waratahs next weekend.
Sharks (13) 31 / 27 (17) Highlanders (Final Score)
The Cell C Sharks and Highlanders did battle in the Play-Off Round of Super Rugby at
Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, 03:05 Sunday NZ Time, 01:05 Sunday AEST).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.
Brumbies (22) 32 / 30 (10) Chiefs (Final Score)
The Brumbies and Chiefs did battle in the Play-Off Round of Super Rugby at
GIO Stadium, Canberra at 11:40 SA Time (19:40 AEST, 21:40 NZ Time, 09:40 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.
If one were to ask people who the first person was to climb Mt. Everest, their answers would invariably be Sir Edmund Hillary.
While technically correct, and the reason I say technically is because Hillary was the first to successfully climb to the summit, there were 8 other expeditions before him. The 1922 British Mount Everest expedition was the first mountaineering expedition with the express aim of making the first ascent of Mount Everest.
Between 1922 and 1953 there were 8 expeditions that tried and failed. The term failed is used lightly I might add, climbers succumbed from illnesses ranging from malaria to altitude sickness, and those were the lucky ones. Death was the common reason for the majority of the failures.
Why am I writing about the ascent of Mt. Everest on a rugby site you might ask, well simply put, Jake White and his Sharks are currently standing at the foot of their own Mt. Everest and tomorrow evening when Steve Walsh blows his whistle to signal the kick off between them and the Highlanders, they will take their first steps on a journey that will hopefully end with them planting the South African flag on the summit in three weeks time.
A decision on Super Rugby’s Asian expansion could require mediation, with Australia and South Africa expected to butt heads over whether Singapore or Japan gains inclusion.
Earlier this month, Fairfax Media revealed expressions of interest from both, and SANZAR confirmed yesterday that Singapore and Japan submitted the only bids for the 18th team to join an Argentinian side and South Africa’s Southern Kings from 2016.
Now those bids have been lodged with SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters, both will have their respective business cases, broadcast revenue potential and competitiveness assessed before a final decision is reached. Additional teams will need around $10 million per year to cover travel, wages and other expenses.
They say in sports you have to lose a grand final before you win one. That is the prospect, anyway, facing the ACT Brumbies as they go into a successive Super Rugby finals campaign on Saturday night.
The team they play, the Chiefs, defeated them in the 2013 grand final at Hamilton. It took the All Blacks 24 years to understand that finals rugby is an entirely different ball game from pool-round rugby. After the All Blacks lost in the quarter-finals to France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the coaching staff did some deep thinking into how to play finals rugby.
What they discovered is that they needed to have total clarity on how to play each specific final. And they had to have contingency plans for coping with unforeseeable events. The best contingency plan is to score enough points before trouble arrives, as it did for the Brumbies in the last 20 minutes of their final against the Chiefs.
Where the Brumbies need clarity in their qualifying final is knowing whether to play “Jakeball” or “Macqueenball”.
The Cell C Sharks will play in their 14th Vodacom Super Rugby knock-out match when they host the Highlanders in the second Qualifier for 2014 at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon.
The newly-crowned South African Conference champions are one of the most successful teams in the history of the competition when it comes to reaching the playoff rounds, although they are yet to take the trophy back to Durban.
The Sharks are without doubt the most successful team in the history of the competition never to have won the title.
The 2014 Super Rugby season is slowly drawing to a close and tomorrow sees the two Play-Off matches in the form of a Qualifying Round. Tomorrow’s victorious teams will qualify for the right to play in the Semi-Finals.
The only certainty is that the Crusaders and the Waratahs will be hosting those Semi-Finals, but against whom, and what happens after that?
There are multiple scenarios and permutations that could come into play.
3 Weekends of Super Rugby remain in 2014, this weekend’s Play-Off Round, the Semi-Final Weekend and the Final the week thereafter.
The Final takes place on 2 August 2014.
If you are a Sharks fan:
Your team qualified 3rd on the Combined Log.
They’re up against the Highlanders in Durban, on Saturday night.
- If the Sharks win, then they travel to Christchurch to take on the Crusaders in the one Semi-Final.
- If the Sharks beat the Crusaders and the Waratahs beat the Brumbies, the Sharks travel to Sydney to take on the Waratahs.
- The Sharks can host the Final if they beat the Crusaders and the Brumbies beat the Waratahs.
Michael Cheika has shrugged off suggestions that Waratahs stars Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale are vulnerable to offers to defect to the NRL (Rugby League) as the Waratahs build towards what looks to be a sold-out Semi-Final in Sydney next weekend.
After a week in which the minor premiers’ biggest names were linked to moves to Rugby League, the Waratahs confirmed late on Thursday that more than half of the 43,500 seats at Allianz Stadium had been sold just a day after tickets went on general sale.
Before making those all important SuperBru picks for the Super Rugby qualifying matches, let’s have a look at some predictions, thoughts and statistics from the sides taking the field this Saturday.
Blue Bird aka Carol is still leading the Rugby-Talk Super Rugby 2014 SuperBru log on a stellar 106.50 points.
Sharks_Lover has gained ground on her after his yellow cap winning Round 19 and is sitting in second spot on 106.20. Winston Champ dropped one place to 3rd on 104.50 points.
For those who might have watched the episode of Boots & All on Thursday 17 July, you might have heard John Mitchell refer to an article he read surrounding the New Zealand teams and conference.
Rugby-Talk exclusively brings you the article in question, and we must agree with John, it does make for some interesting reading.
Just how level are the current playing fields in Super Rugby, if all sides don’t face the same opposition, and what are the possible consequences thereof on the final standings?
Coming out of the international break, the Brumbies were three points adrift of the Waratahs and strong contenders for the Australian conference crown.
Then the two teams met in Sydney… and the home side absolutely spanked their neighbours. It was 39-8, and probably not even that close.
We know what happened next – the Waratahs went on to clinch top spot while the Brumbies bounced back with a big win over the Force to set a playoff date with the Chiefs.
If the Kiwi wildcards wish to beat their Australian equivalent in Canberra tomorrow night and advance to the Super Rugby semifinals, the champs would be wise to steal a page from the Waratahs’ gameplan, as Dave Rennie explained.
I’m sure that everybody who has been following the Waratahs and their progress to ending first on the 2014 Super Rugby log will agree that Jacques Potgieter has played an integral part in their rise.
He has been playing with the same robust “kamikaze” style that first got Heyneke Meyer to lure him to the Bulls, and that gave him his three Springbok caps, but he has refined his game at the same time.
As good as he has been to the Waratahs, the Waratahs have been equally good to him. He has evolved as a rugby player and instead of the Bulls forward blueprint of head down and charge, he has been delivering some deft offloads and touches. He is a much more rounded player, and the frightening part is, all within the space of one season.
Sharks boss Jake White believes Saturday’s play-off encounter with the Highlanders will be much more like Test match than a Super Rugby showcase.
As a result he believes that the experience of his seasoned Springboks will be a key factor in the knock-out stages of the competition.
“The bottom line is there are no bonus points to worry about in a knock-out game, you just have to win, it doesn’t matter how,”White told a media briefing in Durban on Thursday.
“It means you can’t take too many risks.”
Cell C Sharks director of rugby Jake White has admitted that there was a big temptation to start against the Highlanders with Pat Lambie, but in the end decided against it for fear of disrupting what worked for his side against the Stormers last week.
According to the supersport.com website, speaking a few hours after announcing a match day squad that included Lambie on the bench as back-up to starting flyhalf Frans Steyn, White said he was hoping that the Springbok will get a chance to play in the second half of the Vodacom Super Rugby play-off and thus be ready to start a possible semifinal.
It is the Play-Off Round of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have only the 2 Play-Off games in this Round, as all teams below Log position 6 has now been dispatched and the Top 2 teams have a nice rest weekend, with both games on Saturday.
This is the final crunch to sort the men from the boys, to sort the teams going forward into the Semi-Finals.
The Waratahs and Crusaders sit comfortably at the Top of the table and the Brumbies, Chiefs, Cell C Sharks and Highlanders compete in this Round.
It is winners take all in these Play-Off games, the losers joing the other 9 Teams who have already been dispatched to also-ran’s.
Bonus points for tries and losses within 7 now does not matter anymore, all that is needed is a win.
Let the games continue….
Springbok and Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe is only expected back on the field next year, but he’s already determined to make a positive return going into the next Rugby World Cup.
Van der Merwe suffered a serious knee injury during the second Springbok Test against Wales in June. He’s set to be sidelined for six months, which means he’ll only make his comeback during next year’s Super Rugby tournament.
The 29-year-old will miss the Springboks’ Rugby Championship campaign and end-of-year European tour, as well as the Blue Bulls’ Currie Cup campiagn.
A midfield match-up, the scrumhalves, the battle between the pilferers on the deck and an arm-wrestle at scrum-time come under focus as Sport24 pinpoints a quartet of areas that could tilt the balance between the Sharks and Highlanders.
The teams meet in a Super Rugby finals series first-round knockout match at Kings Park on Saturday (17:05) and these are the individual contests Rob Houwing highlights for special attention…
In the second of the Qualifying Round matches, the Cell C Sharks hosts the Highlanders from Otago. The Sharks won the SA Conference and thereby ensured they booked a home qualifier by ending 3rd on the Combined Log. The Highlanders took the last of the wild card positions by ending their season 6th.
The long-awaited return of Springbok Patrick Lambie highlights the Sharks team for their Super Rugby play-off encounter with the Highlanders in Durban on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach also makes a welcome return ahead of this preliminary qualifier.
However, it is the return of Lambie’s – albeit on the replacement bench – that will hog the headlines.
The Super Rugby Qualifying Rounds kick off in Canberra on Saturday morning SA time when the ACT Brumbies hosts the current champions, the Chiefs. The Brumbies ended 4th on the combined Super Rugby log and the Chiefs 5th.
Robbie Coleman returns to the Brumbies starting side on Saturday when his team takes on the Chiefs in their Super Rugby Qualifier at GIO Stadium. Coleman’s elevation to the starting side shifts Clyde Rathbone out of the matchday 23, with rookie prop Allan Alaalatoa’s inclusion on the bench the only other change to last week’s squad.
With seven tries to his name in 2014, Coleman leads the Brumbies try-scoring tally alongside his fellow-back-three member, Jesse Mogg. It’s been a big season for the Brumbies outside backs, with Henry Speight, Joe Tomane, Pat McCabe, Mogg and Coleman combining for a total of 22 five-pointers.
Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg is using his Super Rugby axing to reignite his passion, admitting he took his position in the team for granted after being the first-choice No.15 for more than two years.
Mogg was benched for the Brumbies’ clash against the Melbourne Rebels in June, with coach Stephen Larkham opting to promote Wallabies warrior Pat McCabe to the starting XV.
But Mogg has regained his fullback jersey after McCabe was injured while on Wallabies duty, and the Wests speedster says being dropped was the wake-up call he needed to help the Brumbies’ charge to the championship.
“It was about me turning things around and working a little bit harder,” he said. “I’ve come back and played solid over the last two weeks, I’ll look to build on that into the finals series.”
Jake White used to hate the afro hairstyle, insisting that at least one of the ”fro bros” keep things short and tidy.
But for ACT Brumbies wingers Henry Speight and Joe Tomane, there is a lot to be said for the do, not the least of which is personal comfort.
“It’s give and take; you lose a bit of speed with the fro, but you get a lot of comfort,” Speight said.