Tip of the Week
Racecourse : Kenilworth
Date : 26/05/2013
Tip : Race 8 (1) Lancelin - each way
Official Race pre-race comments of all Mike's Runners accompanied by race details, current betting and post race comments.
GYPSY MADONNA : Maiden Plate (F&M) - 1600m | Kenilworth, 11 May
LEGAL TRIP : Maiden Plate - 2500m | Kenilworth, 14th May
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Tammi Eastland - 06/02/2013
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|Clash of the Titans|
|Paul de Beyer, 11/10/2011|
Sunday sees the two preeminent sides in world rugby fight it out for the right to compete for the coveted William Webb Ellis trophy.
The rivalry between the All Blacks and Wallabies is something special, and this occasion should be one of the classic matches. History has both teams level on World Cup victories against one another, with the Kiwis triumphing in 1987 and the Aussies in 2003. Outside of World Cups New Zealand hold the advantage but the Australians will take heart from their recent performance in Brisbane that saw them conquer their neighbours and clinch a third Tri-Nations title.
The hosts have picked what can only be described as a powerhouse of a team. Across the board there are few, to no weaknesses and the only chink in the armour could be at flyhalf. Aaron Cruden was skateboarding around his hometown less than 3 weeks ago and now finds himself lining up in the biggest match of his career. Cruden looked solid when he came on in the quarterfinal but Australia will place far greater pressure on the youngster than Argentina ever could.
The Pumas, while a proud and gusty team, lack the cutting edge and intensity that the Wallabies bring to the park and experienced players like Piri Weepu and Ma’a Nonu will need to look after their young pivot. His opposite number Quade Cooper has had a quiet World Cup to date but could target this match as the one where he announces his presence on the biggest stage possible. His natural feel for the game and sheer talent for creating the unexpected could turn the match in Australia’s favour.
The Australians have stuck with the same starting line-up that knocked the defending champions South Africa out in spectacular style, but they will need to be more precise on attack if they hope to compete in a fourth World Cup final. Their defence was nothing short of brilliant against the Boks but the All Blacks are a far more clinical side and will punish the Aussies if they allow them the same sort of territorial advantage.
The battle at the breakdown between Ritchie McCaw and David Pocock could well be game-defining. McCaw, still struggling with a foot injury, will need to call upon all his 100 plus test experience if he is stop the young pretender to his throne from enjoying the same influence he had against South Africa. Pocock is undeniably the best fetcher in the world but has yet to eclipse McCaw in terms for influence and all-round input. McCaw’s worth is not only at the breakdown but rather his ability to carry the ball effectively, tackle endlessly and lead from the front.
Much has been made of Bryce Lawrence’s interpretation of the breakdown laws last weekend and much scrutiny will fall upon this week’s ref Craig Joubert. Joubert has been one of the better referees in recent times and both teams can expect a fair and balanced contest at the collision point.
On paper both teams seem to be have few weaknesses, with the Blacks most likely shaving the forward stakes while the Wallabies taking the most of the plaudits at halfback. This match promises to be a true clash of the titans and picking a winner is near impossible. Both teams have an abundance of game-breakers and it could well come down to a moment of magic from one such player that tips the balance come the final whistle.
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Richard Kahui, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
15. Kurtley Beale, 14. James O’Connor, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Pat McCabe, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 8. Radike Samo, 7. David Pocock, 6. Rocky Elsom, 5. James Horwill (c), 4. Dan Vickerman, 3. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Sekope Kepu,