Tri-Nations watch

by Staff Writer

A little over a month ago Rugby HQ took a look at how Australia’s Southern Hemisphere rivals were tracking. As the old saying goes, a week is a long time in sport, which begs the question – how much has changed in a month?

As we head into the half-way mark of the 2011 Super Rugby competition we take a look at how our Springbok and All Black counterparts are faring in the fastest and most electrifying provincial tournament in the world, the players to watch and who’s up in the stands nursing injuries after the opening eight weeks.

New Zealand (All Blacks)

Super Rugby Teams

The Hurricanes are still sitting at the bottom of the New Zealand conference, with just the one win from the opening two months of the 2011 season, while the Chiefs are just three points above the Wellington side on 16 points with only two victories to their name. The Crusaders, Blues and Highlanders are all fairly equal after eight rounds with the three sides registering five wins a piece, with only bonus-points proving the difference between them. The Highlanders sit third with 25 points, the Blues are second on 29 and the Conference-leaders – and seven-time-champions – the Crusaders are flying-high on 30 points.

Who’s in-form?

• Israel Dagg (Crusaders)

• Zac Guildford (Crusaders)

• Sonny-Bill Williams (Crusaders)

• Kieran Read (Crusaders)

• Alby Mathewson (Blues)

• John Afoa (Blues)

• Liam Messam (Chiefs)

• Tim Nanai-Williams (Chiefs)

• Richard Kahui (Chiefs)

• Jimmy Cowan (Highlanders)

• Hosea Gear (Hurricanes)

• Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)

Tri Nations Bolters

• Jason Rutledge (Highlanders)

• Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs)

Notable Injuries

• Dan Carter (Crusaders) - 2-3 weeks; hamstring

South Africa (Springboks)

Super Rugby Teams

Arguably the fiercest of the three Super Rugby Conferences, the South African sides have again not disappointed in 2011 with their mixture of free-flowing and fierce up-front battles providing some of the more exciting affairs so far this season.

The Lions and Cheetahs are both at the bottom of their Conference and the overall Super Rugby ladder, with both sides registering just nine competition points after eight matches. They have both produced five bonus points proving they are competitive but just can’t seem to do enough to get over the line. In third place, 12 points above the struggling Lions and Cheetahs, are the Bulls who have been up-and-down in their performances so far in 2011. The Sharks sit second on 25 points, with five wins and three losses from their opening eight matches and are within striking distance of the competition pace setters the Stormers who, despite registering their first loss last weekend against the in-form Reds, have racked up 29 points.

Who’s in-form?

• Fourie du Preez (Bulls)

• Zane Kirchner (Bulls)

• Robert Ebersohn (Cheetahs)

• Elton Jantjies (Lions)

• Bismark du Plessis (Sharks)

• Peter Grant (Stormers)

• Jaque Fourie (Stormers)

Tri Nations Bolters

• Sarel Pretorius (Cheetahs)

• Ashley Johnson (Cheetahs)

• Meyer Bosman (Sharks)

• Pat Lambie (Sharks)

Notable Injures /Exclusions

• Juan Smith (Cheetahs) - 2 weeks;

• Francois Steyn – French Rugby

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