Friday, February 24, 2006
The Force have the wooden spoon in the bag. After another sub par performance and heavy defeat against strugglers the Chiefs, the knives are out in Perth.
The Australian based franchise are in an extremely tough position, having to start from scratch, when every other side in the competition has had years to build up systems, resources, coaches and players. Even the Cheetahs have played Super rugby in 1997 and have been an established South African team for several years including taking the Currie Cup last year.
It must be frustrating for some of the unlucky New Zealand players who missed out on Super Rugby this year, yet would make the Force outfit in their sleep. It is also frustrating that another side like the Pacific Team or an Argentinian side could have made a beater fist of that fourteenth spot. This has only occurred because the New Zealand powers feel obliged to keep the other SANZAR nations happy so they would vote for us to host the World Cup in 2011. The Aussies even reneged on that deal!
A final point of note is that seeing the competitiveness of the Cheetahs and the shambolic performances of the Force, I wonder if the new South African Rugby President will still be keen to relegate the bottom Republic side for the Southern Spears!
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
The weekend of rest has not helped several key players who are still battling injuries heading into Round Three of the Six Nations. Several stars will not be seen again in this year's competition whilst others may return later in the competition.
Ireland will have to soldier on without key lineout forward Paul O'Connell. The loss of such a high calibre player is compounded by the potential loss of rookie hooker Jerry Flannery also. Tommy Bowe has also been replaced on the wing by Andrew trimble. Watch for Donncha O'Callaghan this week. Marcus Horan returns at prop.
The Welsh will have to battle on without inspirational skipper Gareth Thomas who is out for the rest of the tournament. Shane Williams is also out from the trip to Dublin, making the Welsh outside backs look brittle. Daffyd James and Lee Byrne enter the starting line up with Gavin Henson probably getting some time off the bench.
France will be without centre Yannick Jauzion for the remainder of the Six Nations with a broken toe. Captain courageous Fabien Pelous is also in doubt for Les Bleus with a stomach bug.
Ezio Galon could claim an outside back position for the Italians against the French this weekend. The Italians have punched above their weight so far, making it difficult to make room for the impressive twenty eight year old.
England welcomes back Julian White at prop and Josh Lewsey at fullback for their Calcutta Cup match. The impact that Lewsey will make is priceless.
Finally Scotland have named their side who hope to continue the Brave Scot's momentum. Hooker Dougie Hall, lock Scott MacLeod and centre Marcus Di Rollo represent excellent value for money.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Week Two saw a continuation of several top line performers in testrugby.com. The Hurricanes forwards continue to flourish and this should last another week despite the loss of Jerry Collins. Point scorers like Carter, Mortlock and Monty continue to score big in real life and testrugby. Finally the hookers like Mealamu and Cannon are producing big points without their lineouts fully functioning. This week watch for the Crusaders and Hurricanes to win well, so fill up on these guys. Pay attention to the bye which starts next round and plan ahead. There are also several injuries this week, so be careful.
Week Three is a chance for people to purchase some bargains in certain positions. Look out for the hookers as a big source of points and if Liebenburg or Van der Walt start at home for their teams they wil be great value for money.
The locks are generally the lowest scoring of all positions, but watch for the Hurricanes like Tito, Eaton and Andrews, while the Highlanders players Ryan, Donnelly and MacDonald and the Crusaders like Jack and Filipo are all agile forwards.
In the loose the Crusaders and Hurricanes are especially prevalent especially as they will both win well at the weekend. Watch for bargains like Floors, Nick Williams and Jone Tawake. Highlanders vteran Blowers returns for his first game Super 14 game this season.
The halves are a position suitable for spending big bucks. The question is who to choose to partner Carter as your halves? Senio if fit and playing is a cheap option while David Holwell could be a short term option. Grant, Giteau, Monty and Norton-Knight are potentials here.
The best centres in testrugby.com are Nonu, Laulala and Mortlock. These guys will continue to flourish for another week. Some cheaper options are Brew, Ioane and Olivier.
Finally the outside backs are inconsistent performers at best. Habana is always a threat, but this week look for both Gears, Toeav'a, Fa'atau and Kinikinilau.
Watch for those injuries, suspensions and squad rotations!
Monday, February 20, 2006
Hear the Guru comments
The old adage of always backing the home team was thrown out the window in Round Two of the Super 14, with away wins being the order of the day for the Cheetahs, Crusaders, Brumbies and Waratahs. Both the Waratahs and Brumbies backed up scratchy first round victories, whilst the Cheetahs showed that they will not be a walkover either this season. The Chiefs and Blues both let away wins slip through their fingers with both having plenty of opportunities, but an inability to crack the opposition defence cost them dearly. The Hurricanes won easily but paid dearly with the loss of centre Conrad Smith, against a Force team without much venim, but plenty of possession and territory.
My picks only got me 24 points in Telecom Virtual Rugby with 3 correct results and margins. The inability of the Chiefs to win abroad cost me a second week in a row. My other failing was too much confience in the home advantage for the Stormers, Bulls and Sharks. The travel factor seems to be minimal compared with in the past.
For those involved in pick the result competitions, I will attempt to redeem myself on your behalf.
Bulls 12 under against the Waratahs. The Bulls will be hurting after losing to the Brumbies.
The Highlanders will look to continue their winning ways against the Cheetahs in South Africa. Watch for new confidence from both sides after wins last week. I don't rate the South African sides so I will back the Highlanders 12 under.
The Crusaders will slaughter the injury ravaged Sharks in Timaru. Tony Brown won't even be able to save the Sharks. Crusaders 13+
The Hurricanes will be all over the Cats. This will be great for both my confidence and the Hurricanes confidence. Hurricanes 13+
The Blues will finally get onto the victory podium but only just against the Reds. Blues 12-.
The Brumbies will take the points this week after dealing to the Bulls last week. Brumbies 12-.
The Chiefs will finally get onto the board with a win over the Force. Chiefs 12-.
There you go. I have gone for more away wins this week. Hopefully they don't make a fool of me again!
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
We are now well into the footy season and now is the time to use up transfers as we have all had a chance to see which players are suited to the realms of fantasy sport and who were an absolute waste of space last week.
The best players from last weekend were from winning sides with Kevin Senio proving that you don't need to be a goal kicker to score big points. Percy of course produced a whale of a game for the Sharks, while the best forwards were Hurricanes Masoe, Hore and Collins.
This week watch for the Hurricane players. They are aggressive ball carrying players who make some big tackles. They are taking on the Force so should put them to the sword after last weeks matches, but this is the Hurricanes we are talking about here.
Some other must buy players are Habana (Bulls), Nonu (Canes) and Carter (Crusaders).
Bargain prices for the following players Pienaar (Sharks), Senio (Crusaders), Olivier (Bulls), Cooke (Cheetahs), Grobbelaar (Cats), McMeniman (Reds) and A Ndungane (Bulls). Some of the injuries to look out for:
Watch out for those in doubt this week.
MacKay and Fava (Force),
Roe, Atkinson and Berry (Reds),
Rogers, Caldwell (Waratahs)
Atiga, MacDonald (Blues)
Saunders, Blowers, Dermody, Smylie (Highlanders)
Ta'auso, Hill (Chiefs)
De Villiers, Shimange (Stormers)
Ackermann, Pietersen, Britz, van der Merwe (Sharks)
Monday, February 13, 2006
Listen to The Guru
Round Three - Watch the Italians
The Italians are playing a style of rugby which is getting those testrugby.com points despite them losing both matches so far. With the low price of some of their starters they are must purchase players. The outside backs and loose forwards get through some top scores so do not hesitate to put in the odd player like both Bergamascos or Parisse.
Charlie Hodgson continues to be cranking the points for the English whilst Thompson and Tindall are the best of the rest for the Poms. They play away against the brave Scots so look for these three players especially.
The Irish have produced some large point scorers themselves in testrugby.com. Leamy, O'Gara, D'Arcy, O'Connell, Flannery and Wallace are players who suit the style of testrugby.com points. This shows that your players don't have to be in the top sides to be valuable.
The French should walk all over the Italians this week, but plenty depends on which side turns up on the day. Marty, Heymens and Nyanga did well last week and will do well if they play the Italians.
The Welsh are the bunnies of the testrugby.com world with only Gareth Thomas and Robert Sidoli doing well last week. Martyn Williams is their only other player with the knack of picking up points.
Finally look for the Scots to put on a brave effort against England. I would avoid selecting them. Their outside backs ironically are their testrugby best, Paterson, Lamont and Southwell are the pick of the Scots!
First up Friday night goes to the House of Pain where the scarfies are back in force. Both sides will be hurting after some nasty defeats last weekend. I believe that if Lavea starts at first five eighth then the Highlanders will win. If McAlister starts there then the Blues will win. Also check the weather on this one, with the Blues amazing backline to the fore if it is dry, the Highlanders tight style will win in the wet.
Highlanders 12- at this stage.
The Bulls should pull too many punches for the Brumbies in the Republic. Watch for Habana to steal the match away from the experienced inside backs of the Brumbies. Bulls 13+
Watch for the Chiefs to get the points here with the Cats looking diabolical last week against the Stormers. The Chiefs have plenty to work on, but have too much talent on the paddock. Chiefs 12-.
The Hurricanes will easily defeat the Force in New Plymouth, if the same sides show up from last week. The Canes finished with a powerful win over the Blues. They are notorious great starters in this competition. The Force will get a good workout on defence and should practice taking their own restarts at training. Hurricanes 13+
There is one word to describe this Reds side and that is stubborn. They don't have many big names but almost beat the Waratahs on passion last week. That won't be enough this week with the Crusaders looking ominous. Crusaders 13+.
The Sharks were impressive in the halves last week against the Chiefs whilst the Cheetahs went down at home to the Bulls. The Sharks should be too strong with an experienced core of players. Sharks 12-.
Stormers are not favoured by the New Zealand TAB when they host the Waratahs this weekend. From what we saw last weekend the Waratahs need to lift, but will struggle away from home. Stormers 12-.
I have gone and put the mockers on seven sides, but they should come through.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Sorry again. Hopefully using my tipping site you can make up ground on your mates, even though the credibility has gone out the window.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
This round I had a late change of heart and went for the Hurricanes but only 12 and under. This was the catalyst for an improved showing in the First Round of www.telecomvirtualrugby.co.nz I have two entries SwedeMaster on 39 and Stagsfan 36 still well down the field but better than all the rugbyheads. They like myself tend to over analyse such a competition.
I got the Brumbies over the Force but wrong margin and same with Waratahs Reds, those Reds were stuborn. I made a late call for the Stormers over the Cats to save face really the Cats look as fierce as kittens. I also picked the Bulls over the Cheetahs but the wrong margin. Finally I was way out with the Chiefs going down against the Sharks. Percy had a beauty.
This coming week will be interesting. There is a tendency for a win loss mentality to sneak in here when one side losses one week they pick up the pieces for the next week.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Super 14 Players to Watch- Fantasy Wise
Here is a list of players to watch that should do well. Remember you want to be getting big try scoring bonuses so selecting outside backs from the big sides is the way to go. Plenty also depends on the style of the side. Many players from lesser lights make tackles in the match so players with high work rates are great value.
Watch for injuries. There are some quality players set to miss the opening round like Matfield, G Botha, (Bulls), Smit (Sharks), Rogers (Waratahs) to name just a few.
Crusaders-Carter,McCaw.Blues- Mealamu,McAlister,Nacewa. Waratahs-Tuqiri,Hewatt,Caldwell.Bulls-Habana,B Botha.Hurricanes- Umaga, Collins,Toeav'a. Highlanders-Oliver,Evans,Kinikinilau.Brumbies- Salvi,Giteau, Mortlock.Stormers-Grant,Burger,de Villiers.Force- Sharpe,Cannon,Henjak.Cheetahs- Leota,Smith,.Cats-Grobelaar,Fourie,Van Heerden.Sharks-Strauss,AJ Venter,Russell.Reds-McMeninman,Barnes,Latham.Chiefs- Sivivatu, Tauaso, Holah.
Round One provided an amazing series of events as not only did England slip almost fifty past the champion Welsh, but the brave Scots made the world stand up and take notice against an indifferent French team. The Irish struggled to get past the defiant Italians providing all sorts of ramifications for testrugby.com managers.
The top points scorers in Round One are the previously unfancied Bergamasco listed as an outside back but playing as a centre, Tindall the conservative English centre and Sean Lamont an unheralded Scottish winger. Add to the mix Italian Parisse and new boy Jerry Flannery and we have some real outsiders offering exceptional value for money and a style which suits testrugby categories.
Watch for England to dominate the Six Nations this year so many of their backs will be critical this weekend. They will be without Lewsey, but their backs and goalkicking star Hodgson will be successful against Italy (if they are starting!)
The French welcome back more established stars like Magne, Betsen and Ibanez in a desperate move. Watch for these guys to succeed!
The Italian and Irish forwards seem to play a style which suits testrugby so watch for a continuation of the same from Flannery, O'Connell and Leamy for Ireland and Parisse and Ongaro for the Italians. The Italian backs do well in close despite not scoring many tries.
Things can only get better for the Welsh after the flogging last week. Look for some changes this week. They will look to do better than Martyn Williams who is the only Top 20 player from last week.
Finally anything is possible for the Scots, ironically their outside backs made impact in close and scored great testrugby points. Pick Paterson and Lamont at your peril.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
The Scots produced a galant display to douce the French flame and throw the Six Nations wide open. This victory went against all predictions, including ours and the TAB's as the French took the Scots too easy. Winger Sean Lamont bagged a double as the plucky Scots defied the odds and an up and down French side to win 20-16. All of the Scots were stars especially Lamont and veteran lock Scott Murray. The fighting quality was seen by many last year as they handled the All Blacks well in last year's Gand Slam tour, but most pundits put it down to All Black fatigue.
England are back and look odds on to take out the Six Nations already after their 47-13 demolition of the champion Wales side. The English produced passion rarely seen in the past year. With the muscle up front and speed out wide they were unstoppable.
Ireland looked unconvincing as they rallied to beat a determined Italy 26-16. O'Gara starred for a disappointing Ireland with 16 points, but the game never really rose to any great heights.
Fantasy Implications stay tuned.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
It is footy time again! No more sleepful summer nights, instead the Six Nations gets underway this weekend and the Monday morning coffee plungers will be getting a workout after the first lot of games!
Last year was incredibly tight between the powerful four sides with many matches coming down to a solitary kick, or the bounce of the ball. This year will see a return of the two powerhouses of Northern Hemisphere rugby.
The French and English will dominate the competition with the Welsh and Irish fielding several changes from last season through suspension and/ or injury. The Poms and French need to be successful if they are to be considered a threat for the World Cup in 2007. The Italians and Scots will again battle it out for the minor money, but as in previous years they have given some great teams some scares especially at home.
Listen in for advice
England will be too strong for an understrength Wales. Look for Cueto, Hodgson and Noon as good value players to score, while Thompson and Borthwick are top value in the forwards.
With so many players missing Wales have bargain priced players, but they need to back it up with testrugby points. Watkins, Luscombe, hooker Thomas are very cheap.
The lucky Irish have O'Driscoll and O'Connell back and these guys are must buys against the Italians with their experience. Also watch for new hooker Flannery, loosie Leamy and goalkicker O'Gara. Leamy and O'Gara did well in the end of year tours.
The Italians will tackle their hearts out so Ongaro, Bortolami, Bergamasco and Parisse are top options. But their backs don't offer much.
The French will look to run rings around Scotland so the backline players like Elisade, Fritz, Dominici look good. Try scoring forwards like Remy Martin and Nyanga are great choices. Since they should win by a decent margin.
Finally the Scots will rely on courage, but they have some cheap starters. Hall, Kellock and Taylor are great value forwards.
Listen to some more advice:
With 2006 barely underway it is time for the footy to get rolling. Allow myself "The Guru" and "The Punter" to provide tips and insight into the wonderful world of rugby including players and team to watch in order to make iy easier for you the general public in your fantasy rugby type competitions and your pick the score battles. We will look at providing audio and written expert comment from two experienced fantasy sportsmen with the Six Nations, Super 14 and Internationals to get the ball rolling. So get into it and get cranking. I got my nickname because I provide insight to one of the greatest fantasy rugby type games www.testrugby.com