Monday, October 28, 2013
Incredibly strong winds hit Ashburton on the South Island on Saturday, affecting the Meads Cup Final between Mid Canterbury and North Otago to the point that twenty minutes in, a restart kick got blown back 50m, well over the deal ball line.
North Otago's Ed Keohane had already seen the power of the gale-force northwesterly, but while he may have attempted to keep this restart low, mother nature had other ideas.
"Have they learned their lesson from the last kickoff that went into touch,'' remarked the commentator, before watching on in astonishment as the ball got swooped up and travelled all the way over the dead ball line, resulting in a scrum restart on halfway.
"I've never seen that. I have never seen that before, in 45 years of watching rugby," said fellow commentator and pundit, Richard 'Pod' Turner.
Perhaps the closest we've seen to this type of thing in the past is when in 2008, then Leinster flyhalf Felipe Contepomi's penalty was blown back, after it had already gone through the posts.
Mid Canterbury claimed it's first ever Meads Cup title with a 26-20 win over North Otago.
Posted at 10:32 am | 17 comments
Sunday, October 27, 2013
The Tasman Makos held off a comeback from Hawkes Bay to claim the ITM Cup Championship title, earning promotion to the 2014 Premiership. The 26-25 thriller was one of the matches of the weekend, eclipsing the main final for entertainment value.
Hawkes Bay started well as Ihaia West and Zac Guildford combined to silence the home crowd at Nelson's Trafalgar Park. Tasman soon levelled things up and looked in control at halftime, before a miraculous late try gave the visitors a final shot at glory.
Young West, whose fantastic play this season has earned him a call up with the Maori All Blacks, wasn't able to convert Chris Eaton's late try from the sideline as a thrilling match came to a close.
Earlier Marty Banks' intercept and 95m sprint had put the hosts in a great position, adding to his sensational season and growing reputation as a game changer.
While West had thrown the vital intercept - that resulted in 5 points for the opposition rather than 7 for his team - he had a chance to redeem himself at the death, but under unbelievable pressure his kick never looked like going over. It was a cruel finish for such a talented young player.
"I feel sorry for Ihaia because those things can either make you or break you, but he is quailty player so he will bounce back," said Tasman veteran Joe Wheeler post match.
It was a frantic finish to a match that exuded quality, with some outstanding ball handling, support play and on regular occasion, great defence. Tries were also scored by Bryce Heem and Liam Squire for the Makos, and the excellent Brendan O'Connor for the Magpies.
Posted at 3:06 pm | 5 comments
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The traditional Nude Blacks rugby challenge took place in Dunedin this past weekend, with the hosts taking on an invitational Australian side in a match watched by thousands at Alhambra Rugby Club, ahead of the All Blacks vs Wallabies Bledisloe Cup third Test.
Over 2000 students, rugby fans and curious onlookers turned out as a group of players wearing little more than their pride tackled the nude rugby game, which famously takes place in Dunedin each year.
The hosts won the match, although there was reportedly a disagreement over the final score, something to do with too many balls being dotted down over the tryline.
The match had everything from a Haka to big tackles, and the crowd loved every minute of it.
There were girls taking part too, although they were fully clothed, making their father's proud.
Amongst the innovations on the day was a new lineout call - the 'Tony Woodcock'.
Guest referee Scotty Stevenson called the shots, and reportedly penalised a player for illegally spooning. It's all fun and games until someone gets an eye poked out.
WARNING: There was a streaker at one stage in the match.
On a serious note, there are naked men running around in this video. If you find that offensive or innappropriate, do not watch. You can view a longer video though, if you so choose, here
Thanks to the Otago Daily Times
Posted at 3:12 pm | 22 comments
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Wellington made it through to their first domestic final in four years after beating Counties Manukau 41-10 in the ITM Cup Premiership Semi Final last Friday. It was a physical battle, but the most impressive hit was this scorcher from the home team scrumhalf.
Number nine Frae Wilson scored the opening try of the game after a breakdown turnover, and a few minutes later he mixed it up with the big boys in close, smashing lock Jimmy Tupou.
That's right, it was a complete mismatch but Wilson took it to the far larger player, timing the hit perfectly and clearly impressing renowned big hitter, Motu Matu'u.
Motu Matu'u was involved in a huge collision himself later in the game as he charged towards to the tryline and caught centre Rey Lee-Lo with a big shoulder. Lee-Lo was out cold before hitting the turf, but later walked off the field which was good to see.
The forward effort, led by Matu'u and Ardie Savea, set the platform for the Lions to run in six tries in total, with Lima Sopoaga kicking four conversions and a penalty.
The Wellington Lions will host the final against Canterbury on Saturday, after they themselves beat Auckland 56-26 in a high scoring game in Christchurch.
The cracking scrumhalf-on-lock hit is below, and the Matu'u charge is on page two
Posted at 10:49 am | 14 comments
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The scrum has been under focus this year as the changes in engagement have meant a different approach, with both advantages and benefits for certain teams. The hookers now have to hook, which is a new concept for some of them.
Lawrence Dallaglio and Martin Bayfield investigate on BT Sport's Rugby Tonight show with the help of former Wales and current Exeter Chiefs prop, Craig Mitchell, and hooker Luke-Cowan Dickie.
Through the help of the in studio guests and some video clips, this demonstration should give you a better idea of how things are working inside the coalface under the new scrum interpretations.
Why is it going right for some and wrong for others? This should explain some of it.
Posted at 11:52 am | 4 comments
Monday, October 21, 2013
Western Province will host the Currie Cup final after they beat the Golden Lions 33-16 at Newlands on Saturday. The win was sparked in part by brilliant fullback Gio Aplon, who has put his hand up for selection ahead of the end of year Springboks European tour.
Aplon, who last played Test rugby against England last year, has been out of favour with coach Heyneke Meyer, who appeared to prefer bigger backs. The inclusion of the dynamic Willie Le Roux this year however leads one to believe that the door may not be shut on the 31-year-old.
"I think there is a spot for Gio in the Springbok squad, especially now that Heyneke Meyer has shown with his decision to pick Willie le Roux that he seeks a player with X-factor at the back," said former Springbok centre and now Western Province coach, Robbie Fleck.
Western Province reached their second consecutive final thanks in large part to Man of the Match Aplon, who glided through gaps and fended defenders with ease, despite his diminutive stature.
His try, when the game was finely poised at 10-9, helped the home side pull away and thanks to some fine kicking and a try from flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, WP will meet the Sharks in the final.
Aplon nearly scored earlier in the game as he combined with 19-year-old clone Cheslin Kolbe down the left wing, but the final pass was unfortunately called forward by the TMO.
The 17-times-capped Bok was a constant attacking threat, prompting former national coach Nick Mallett and former flyhalf Naas Botha to question why he isn't part of the current Test setup.
"Gio is a fantastic player who has great feet and constantly breaks the line," said Mallett, with Botha saying "I cannot understand why Gio is not in the national squad - he is such a consistently good performer at Super Rugby and Currie Cup levels."
The end of year squad will be announced two days after the Currie Cup final.
Below is a quick wrap-up of some of Aplon's great play, including that excellent try just before halftime. At the beginning of the video you can also look out for a big tackle by lock Eben Etzebeth.
Posted at 4:33 pm | 10 comments
Sunday, October 20, 2013
New Zealand sealed a 3-0 Bledisloe Cup whitewash as they beat Australia 41-33 in Dunedin, maintaining their unbeaten run this year. A much improved Wallabies side showed that they are still a force to be reckoned with though, scoring three tries of their own.
The All Blacks had already wrapped up the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup, retaining the latter for an incredible 11th straight season. This win equalled their world record for home victories, with their 30th in succession, matching the record previously reached between 2003-2008.
The All Blacks scored four tries to three, satisfying coach Steve Hansen on attack despite the Wallabies looking dangerous and at one stage perhaps scoring a little too easily for his liking.
"It wasn't perfect but we really didn't expect it to be from where we've been and what we've done in the last three weeks," said the head coach. "Maybe we let a couple of soft ones in but at the end of the day it's a lot better than last year," he added, referring to the 18-18 draw last season.
"It's been a big couple of weeks. We've gone around the world and played two big opposition teams, and you can't underestimate how hard the game in South Africa was. To come here and show a bit of mental fortitude again, and play pretty well against a team that played pretty well as well."
Wallaby captain James Horwill was obviously unhappy with the loss, but pleased with the effort.
"We are bitterly disappointed. We came here to win. We never like to lose but we're proud of the effort the guys put in. We were always trying to win the game no matter what the scoreboard was and we went down swinging," he said.
The Wallabies have won just three out of ten matches this year, with two wins over Argentina and the one against the Lions during the home series in June.
Both sides have a busy few weeks ahead, with New Zealand taking on Japan first, then France, England and Ireland. Australia will take on each one of the home nations in consecutive weeks, as well as Italy. Their first match is against England in a fortnight.
Posted at 10:17 am | 7 comments