Can an Aussie team win the championship?

Capital Roar Rookie

By Capital, Capital is a Roar Rookie

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    The end of the first season of conference rugby is close at hand, and questions remain as to whether an Australian team can win the championship.

    At the top end of the draw, the Reds have the easiest run home – the Force in Perth followed by the Chiefs away, and they would be expected to earn maximum points and secure a win.

    The Chiefs could add some misery to the lead up to the finals for the Reds, but a bloody nose before the finals may not be a bad thing.

    The Reds are certainties to win the Australian conference, expecting at least four points from their next two matches. I rate the Reds a four in four chance of beating the Force, and a three in four chance of beating the Chiefs.

    End of season rating – 65 points in first place.

    The Tahs have been disappointing, with early results and creative rugby the highlights in what can only be described as an inconsistent year. They are fortunate to have one of the easier runs home – playing the Highlanders and Brumbies at home.

    The Highlanders are the other side that will have left their fans bitterly disappointed this year. After a great start to the season they have lost three straight and need to play with the fire they had a month ago if they are any mathematical chance of making the finals.

    The Brumbies will be looking for another scalp after a disastrous year, and will be certain to turn up to play. With so many players leaving the team after this match, this will be a final opportunity to demonstrate their abilities before the Tri Nations.

    The Tahs cannot underestimate either opponent, as both have something to prove to their loyal fans. Stating the obvious, both matches are sudden death. A loss to either side would result in the Tahs season drawing to a flaccid climax. And for a side that has welcomed supporter feedback, the chorus of dissatisfaction if the Tahs fail to deliver this year will make Tony Rea blush.

    End of season rating – 52. I rate them a 50 per cent chance of beating the Highlanders and favourites to beat the Brumbies. I expect that the Tahs will finish second in the local conference and seventh overall.

    The South African conference has three sides in the top six at present.

    The Stormers who have an excellent defensive side are currently second. They also have the easiest run home of the three teams. The Stormers play the Bulls at home and the Cheetahs away. Whilst the Stormers have delivered on their abilities, the Bulls have struggled to impose themselves consistently across the competition.

    The Stormers have best percentage of tries for against in the competition, currently running at over 200 per cent, clearly demonstrating the ethos that has seen their side consistently defeat sides.

    End of season rating is 63, to finish on top of the local conference and second overall.

    I think the Stormers are a 50 per cent chance of beating the Bulls at home, and favourites to defeat the Cheetahs away.

    The other South African sides are both strong contenders for the wildcard spots. With both the Tahs and Highlanders capitulating in recent weeks, the door has been left wide open for a South African domination of the finalists.

    I consider that both the Sharks and Bulls will maintain their position in the table. The Sharks play the Lions and Bulls and form would suggest that they would expect at least one win to secure a wildcard. I rate the Sharks as favourites to defeat the Lions, and an even money chance of beating the Bulls. End of season rating – 57, in fifth place.

    The Bulls have a very tough finish to their season, playing both the Stormers and Sharks. I rate the Bulls an even money chance against both the Stormers and Sharks. End of season rating – 53, in sixth place.

    This leaves the Kiwi conference. The Kiwi sides across the board have tough runs, playing each other final contenders to make the semis.

    The Crusaders have had an amazing year, considering the turmoil of losing their home ground; and the mental distraction of the earthquakes. As sportsmen they have helped to life their community and demonstrate the many great things about their province and city.

    Add the strength of Carter, Thorne and McCaw and the talent of their backline – Fruean and their young wingers, it is pretty obvious you have a team that trusts their instincts and plays as a unit.

    The Crusaders have a tough run home, playing the Blues and Hurricanes at home.

    I rate the Crusaders a chance of defeating the Blues, and favourites to beat the Canes. End of season rating – 58, securing a wildcard berth into the semis and fourth.

    The Blues have to do it all to secure their place at the head of the conference. They play the Crusaders away and the Highlanders at home. Whilst I think the Crusaders match is a coin toss on form, and I would probably tip the Crusaders in the crunch, I think the Blues will defeat the Highlanders.

    I rate the Blues a chance against the Crusaders, and favourites against the Highlanders.

    End of season rating – 60, winning the conference and finishing third overall. But, in reality, I expect that the winner of the Crusaders match and finish on top of the conference.

    The Highlanders have unfortunately drawn the tough draw. Tahs and Blues, when they needed an easier run home to compete with the other conference sides.

    I rate the Highlanders a chance against the Tahs, but less so against the Blues. End of season rating – 48, in eighth place.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • Roar Guru

      June 8th 2011 @ 9:04am
      Rusty said | June 8th 2011 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      Reds are definitely in the driving seat at the moment but need to avoid any further hiccups to secure top spot. Suncorp has turned into a bit of a fortress for them and if they play their finals there then they are in for a very good shout

    • June 8th 2011 @ 9:16am
      MM Fike said | June 8th 2011 @ 9:16am | ! Report

      The Reds ‘easy’ run home might look like that on paper but on the rugby pitch it will be a very different story.
      Both the Force & the Chiefs have run into some late season form and if it is cold and wet in the Wiakato look out Reds.

      I hope the Reds prevail in what will be two hard games.

    • June 8th 2011 @ 9:45am
      Crazy Horse said | June 8th 2011 @ 9:45am | ! Report

      The Reds a four in four chance to beat the Force? More like a 2 in 4 or 50% chance. The Force have hit their straps at last and will be fielding a full strength team (and bench) against the now injury depleted team they only lost to by one point last time. I think the match will be a ripper and I’ve got great seats!

      • June 8th 2011 @ 11:32am
        AJ said | June 8th 2011 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        I’m with you Crazy horse,there’s no easy game and the Force will come out and try to bash the Reds.They probably should have both won their two games in NZ.Even money for me.

      • June 9th 2011 @ 7:42am
        Capital said | June 9th 2011 @ 7:42am | ! Report

        Hi CH
        I like the Force, they play rugby with heart. They just haven’t found the formula to close matches consistently. They played great rugby again last weekend, but Smith won the match. He would have won that match for any team with the way he played in the last 20 minutes, two tries and another was slightly forwrad and disallowed.
        I would pay to watch them any day, but does one match mean they can beat the Reds who have consistently closed out strong opposition? I don’t think so. In contrast to the Force who won last weekend, the Reds lost – but after 48000 and teh Crusaders match, which had all of the intensity of a test match, somewhat understandable.
        Should be a good match, but my money will be on the Reds.

        • Roar Guru

          June 9th 2011 @ 1:29pm
          B-Rock said | June 9th 2011 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

          Capital – Reds are favourites vs. Force but not raging hot “4 in 4 chance” favourites. Could definitely see the Reds losing this one without Digby – Force will be fired up… looking forward to it

          • June 9th 2011 @ 2:02pm
            Capital said | June 9th 2011 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

            So am I, gotta love opinions 🙂
            Should be a great game.

    • June 8th 2011 @ 2:12pm
      Johnno said | June 8th 2011 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

      Only the Reds it’s as simple as that, i can not see the Waratahs winning away from home, no chance if they have to get a win in a week crash and grab in south africa in somewhere like altitude driven Loftus pretoria, or stormers in cape town. And Waratahs have patheitcly bad record against Auckland blues in Auckland.

    • June 8th 2011 @ 2:43pm
      Harry said | June 8th 2011 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

      Those good, though sadly exiled, sons of Godzown state – Nathan Sharpe, David Pocock, Richard Brown, James O’Conner and James Stannard – will be keen to do the right thing and hand 5 points for the Reds, just like the other loyal Queenslander Stephen Moore tried to do the right thing last weekend and give us a point, before being overruled that nasty little Git.
      If by chance we are behind suggest a group cry of “Queenslander” from the Reds will cause those Force banana-benders to do the right thing.

    • June 9th 2011 @ 12:56am
      bennalong said | June 9th 2011 @ 12:56am | ! Report

      Your summary of the Tahs season will probably get agreement but I believe they had a tough year having come out of the blocks looking fantastic.
      Fans were looking for a big year with a monster pack and Burgess and Barnes feeding Mitchell and Beale, two Wallaby standouts.
      The game against the Crusaders went the way of the team playing their first game after the Christchurch earthquake, and with Waugh out and a ref and rest of the world rooting for the home team the first twenty was not per the script. The Tahs youth and fragile self belief was exposed again in front of a home crowd who were not to know at that point that the lowly Cheetahs were building into a fast running try scoring team.
      Then Beales’ defection was announced just as the injuries escalated alarmingly.

      Taf is back and Palu returns with captain Phil. Baxter held the scrum up against the odds so if ‘fat cat’ should hold up for the first half, the set piece should match the Highlanders and the Tahs look decidedly better than your odds suggest. Holding on to that scenario I could see the Tahs making an end of season resurgence and therefore being in contention
      for the sixth spot, maybe at Suncorp!
      Is Ben Robinson’s foot the key?

      • June 9th 2011 @ 7:46am
        Capital said | June 9th 2011 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        The good news for all of the teams is taht destiny is in their hands.
        The Tahs have a chance to make it, they just have to front up and do the work.
        If they match their capability on the field – they are in. Time for their leaders to step up and close the deal.

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