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Monday, September 01, 2014

Rugby World Cup 2015 : Team Talk Advertisement

Watch this Rugby World Cup 2015 Team Talk Advertisement. There is definitely a lack of All Blacks and Wallabies in this advertisement.  Are you inspired for the Rugby World Cup?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

ITM Cup Round 3 Review : Who's Hot and Not?

The ITM Cup Round 3 saw the star studded Hawke's Bay Magpies win the Ranfurly Shield off Counties Manukau Steelers, not bad for an ITM Cup Championship team!  Three rounds is now long enough to get a gauge on the relative quality of teams.  

ITM Cup Premiership - It looks like Auckland, Tasman and Taranaki are favourites to join the unbeaten Canterbury in the ITM Cup Premiership semi-finals.  Taranaki have suddenly sprung into life with two massive wins, although both Waikato and Bay of Plenty have been disappointing this season.  Losing the Ranfurly Shield might actually be a blessing for Counties Manukau as it seems to have inspired their opponents and made things harder for them.  Waikato and Wellington have been disappointing.  Their inexperienced squads just don't seem to be clicking which is disturbing after both of these teams lost disappointingly in ITM Cup Round 3.  How are Hurricanes fans feeling knowing that the Wellington ITM Cup team coach will be involved with the Hurricanes Super Rugby campaign in 2015.

In the ITM Cup Championship, Hawke's Bay are odds on to win the ITM Cup Championship, although winning the Shield may make it harder for them to win the ITM Cup Championship title.  I am amazed at how many quality players are in this Hawke's Bay and the Taranaki teams, yet they both fit under the salary cap.  

Otago took Southland on at their traditional style own game when beating them in Invercargill.  The dewy conditions weren't handled well by the Stags who have now adopted a more open style of play.  Hayden Parker outplayed Lima Sopoaga and was on fire with his kicking for territory.  Southland had more experience in their pack, yet Otago's unheralded team went back to basics and were deserved winners against the Stags.  Otago now get a Ranfurly Shield challenge, while the Stags who should still make the semi-finals.

Manawatu upset the disappointing Wellington Lions and should have a good shot at making the semi-finals ahead of Northland, North Harbour and Bay of Plenty.

It is funny how we thought that Waikato were going to be good this season based on them beating Wellington in ITM Cup Round 1, but it ends up that Waikato were the best of a bad bunch.  Hawke's Bay and Otago would actually be at home in the ITM Cup Premiership based on their performances so far, but they aren't.    

Who's Hot
Canterbury as always, Hawke's Bay, Otago, Taranaki, Tasman, Auckland and Manawatu. 

Who's Not
North Harbour, Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Waikato.

In the Super Rugby Tips SuperBru conference Trish has a healthy lead.  Rolstelli took the yellow cap.  Interestingly there were only two out of eight wins for home teams and there were some massive margins with Canterbury's 45 point win over Northland the biggest.  More than half of the games were upsets, while the margins were very erratic with four games having margins of six points or less.

Which teams are hot and not in your opinion?

Watch ITM Cup 2014 Round 3 video highlights here

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ranfurly Shield - Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes Bay - The Bay Wins The Shield!

Hawkes Bay have regained the Ranfurly Shield after beating ITM Cup Premiership team Counties Manukau 27-21 in Pukekohe.  The Magpies dominated the first half and with Ihaia West in fine form with support from their star studded ITM Cup Championship team they held on after holding a 20-9 lead at halftime.

This was an exciting match as Counties overturned a big first half deficit to almost win, but couldn't crack the Hawkes Bay defence and went down.

Counties will have to work on their lineout as that is where the Magpies dominated possession from.  The Steelers looked like a shy version of their former selves from the ITM Cup 2012 and 2013 where they were so impressive.  

Hawke's Bay 27 (Brendon O'Connor 2, Chris Eaton, Ryan Tongia tries; Ihaia West 2 cons, pen) Counties 21 (Onosa'i Auva'a, Augustine Pulu tries; Ahsee Tuala, 2 pens, Tim Nanai-Williams pen, con)

The Curious Nature of The Ranfurly Shield

The Ranfurly Shield breathes some life into the ITM Cup with its history playing a large part in bringing out the best in players and getting the fans to attend matches through the turnstyles of grounds throughout New Zealand. Today's Ranfurly Shield defence between Counties Manukau and Hawke's Bay could see the Ranfurly Shield go full circle. Last year, the Ranfurly Shield brought delight to rugby fans in the provinces of Otago, Hawke's Bay and Counties Manukau, after Otago won it from Waikato at the start of the season. It seems that Waikato barely cherished the Log of Wood as much as the other provinces.

Anyway, if Hawke's Bay beat Counties Manukau to win the Ranfurly Shield today, the Log of Wood could then go in reverse order around the teams from 2013. Hawkes Bay's first defence would be against Otago, the team they won it off in 2013. Otago's first defence would be against Waikato. All I can say is that I hope that it stays in the provinces away from the big cities who don't appreciate it the same. Seeing Shield fever hit the provinces like Southland, Counties Manukau, Hawke's Bay and Otago in recent seasons brought the Ranfurly Shield to life and brought joy to rugby fans throughout those provinces who wisely saw it as an opportunity to spread the rugby gospel around different businesses, groups and clubs in those areas.

Can James O'Connor and Karmichael Hunt Save The Wallabies?

The Queensland Reds have announced the signings of bad boyJames O'Connor and former NRL and AFL player Karmichael Hunt, could these two exciting outside backs save the Wallabies?  They will both bring plenty of talent into the Reds team for their Super Rugby 2015 campaign, but don't be surprised to see these players rushed into the Wallabies squad for the Rugby World Cup. 

Remember that Henry Speight is almost eligible for the Wallabies, so that will help to fill the void left by Pat McCabe.  The Wallabies weakness lies in the tight five and outside backs.  With all due respect to McCabe and Horne, they are more midfield players and so O'Connor, Hunt and Speight will definitely help to improve the Wallabies outside backs depth along with Joe Tomane.  

It is a big call to look to Hunt to help the Wallabies based on his form in other codes, but Israel Folau followed a similar path effectively.

Do you think James O'Connor and Karmichael Hunt can save the Wallabies and help them win the Rugby World Cup?  I think that the Wallabies won't improve until their tight five stands up to the other major nations, but O'Connor, Hunt and Speight will add some much needed firepower to their outside backs. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

ITM Cup 2014 Round 3 Video Highlights

ITM Cup Round 3 Video Highlights - Waikato vs Taranaki

ITM Cup Round 3 Video Highlights - Canterbury vs Northland

ITM Cup Round 3 Video Highlights - Wellington vs Manawatu

ITM Cup Round 3 Video Highlights - Counties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay

ITM Cup Round 3 Video Highlights - Southland vs Otago

ITM Cup Round 3 Video Highlights - North Harbour vs Waikato

ITM Cup Round 3 Video Highlights - Taranaki vs Bay of Plenty

ITM Cup Round 3 Video Highlights - Auckland vs Tasman
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