ABC Grandstand: Super Rugby Round 8 preview

James Horwill (left) receives his red card against the Melbourne Rebels last night. Image: ABC Grandstand

James Horwill (left) receives his red card against the Melbourne Rebels last night. Image: ABC Grandstand

ABC Grandstand Digital: Andrew Mayes and I previewed Round 8 of Super Rugby this morning on Grandstand Breakfast, which started last night with another win to the Hurricanes, and another loss to the Queensland Reds.

Just as the Reds looked impressive in their first 20 minutes against the Rebels in Melbourne, a moment of madness from James Horwill saw the former Wallabies skipper handed a red card for a swinging arm. Mayesey and I discuss that game, plus preview the Brumbies-Cheetahs in Canberra tonight, where I am currently praying the rain will hold out before I take up my seat on the sideline for Grandstand this evening…

Tips: Al Crombie’s gone all defensive this week, preferring to pick the same as me and protect his lead. The desperate act of a desperate tipster, if ever there was. For the record, we’ve gone: Hurricanes, Reds, Chiefs, Brumbies, Crusaders, and Lions.

UPDATE: Horwill pleaded guilty to the striking or punching charge this morning, and accepted a one week suspension. He’ll miss the first of the Reds’ two games in South Africa.

#ThreePoints: Crooked feeds just another scrum sin

"Will Genia... delivered the feed at an angle usually associated with nose-to-kerb parking."

Straight-ish: “Will Genia… delivered the feed at an angle usually associated with nose-to-kerb parking.”

ESPNscrum.com: Seven rounds into the Super Rugby season and the table looks like a mess, with the conference system meaning the teams in fourth and fifth spots overall are stuck where they are, despite having better records than one or both of the teams in second and third.

Predictably, after rapping the Crusaders and Waratahs last week, they crumbled under the pressure of Three Points’ expectations. Rest assured, Crusaders and Waratahs fans, they won’t be the last to fall to my mighty powers of praise this season.

In a weekend where there was significant competition table movement, here are a few things that stood out in Round 7:

  • It’s time to rate these Lions
  • Check and Checkmate. Or was it?
  • Scrum feeds: officially ridiculous again

The Whiteboard: the visionaries

The Highlanders' Shaun Treeby grubbers through for Richard Buckman...

The Highlanders’ Shaun Treeby grubbers through for Richard Buckman…

ESPNscrum.com: After battling to find a Whiteboard candidate last week, when only 15 tries were scored in Round 10, we were once again blessed with options in Round 11, where 28 tries were scored across the six games.

Quite often in modern rugby, you’ll hear commentators going on about a certain player displaying “great vision”; indeed I said the same thing last week about Hurricanes captain, Conrad Smith’s “incredible, brilliant vision” that led to that wonderful, counter-attacking try against the Blues that we highlighted.

Players showing ‘vision’ are able to quickly take in the situation in their immediate vicinity, and more importantly, know what the best play is to make the most of the opportunity as it presents. But having the vision, and working out what the right play is, is only part of it; executing the required skills to pull of the play is the difference between a missed opportunity and putting more points on the board.

And the two examples we’ve picked out are perfect examples of superb vision followed by perfect skill execution, turning an opportunity into points.

The Whiteboard: Willie ‘Spiders’ le Roux

Hurricanes' centre Hadleigh Parkes made a terrible read in defence, creating the space Johan Sadie, who eventually offloaded inside for 'Spiders' le Roux...

Hurricanes’ centre Hadleigh Parkes made a terrible read in defence, creating the space for Cheetahs’ opposite Johann Sadie, who eventually offloaded inside for ‘Spiders’ le Roux…

ESPNscrum.com: A tough round to pick a Whiteboard candidate from this week, mainly because there were just so many wonderful plays from so many teams and players. Just on try-scoring alone, there were 45 scored across the seven games.

So there were a number I could have looked at, but the one I ended going with was the Cheetahs’ first of the afternoon on Saturday against the Hurricanes. At that point in the game, it was a proper contest, on that looked like it would go down to the bell. That wasn’t to be of course, and the ‘Canes ended up running away with it. But this Cheetahs try remained one of the best…