Anthony Faingaa is back! I’ve been hearing the rumours for days but I wasn’t getting my hopes up until I saw his name on an official team list. Well the QRU media release just hit my inbox and there he is at 22. The Starch in the Reds defencive line will finally reappear to scream orders at his team mates. Oh how I’ve missed that high pitched scream when the Reds have their backs to the wall. I’m excited Anthony Faingaa is back!
But this game isn’t all about Anthony Faingaa (he’s back). The Blues and the Reds have had seasons that both sides probably want to forget. Auckland recruited strongly in the off season and on paper should be right up with the front runners. I can’t tell you want went wrong with their game plan but for long periods of the games I have watched they just seem to be going through the motions. Then they will switch on the magic for 5 minutes and then just as quickly hit cruise control again. And it’s not one player or even a group of players. It’s like when you see a flock of birds all change direction at the same time. The blues players all turn on and off at exactly the same time. Here’s hoping they don’t figure out the problem until next week.
As for the Reds well the tale of their season is well documented. They have lost the services of their attacking and defencive leaders for the first 9 rounds of the competition. And every person who touches or has touched the 10 jersey winds up on crutches or in hospital. Now I could break down and cry a bit like a Waratahs fan circa 2011 or I can realise that the guys have done pretty well in trying circumstances. And we are still in with a chance of playing finals this year. It may be slim but it’s a chance.
The bad news for the Reds is Sam lane’s knee injury is season ending and Ben Tapuai’s Collar bone has him on an extended break as well. Van Humphrey’s has an arm injury and makes way for the return of Adam Wallace-Harrison possible the Reds best lineout jumper. Along with AW-H Digby Ioane returns from suspension to take over Tapaui’s centre spot. And Anthony Faingaa is back!
The Blues have lost loosehead legend Tony Woodcock to a calf injury. But apart from injuries to Mealamu and Boric field a full strength side.
Blues V. Reds - The Teams
|Tevita Mailau||1. Loosehead||Ben Daley|
|Tom McCartney||2. Hooker||James Hanson|
|Charlie Faumuina||3. Tighthead||James Slipper|
|Ali Williams||4. Lock||Rob Simmons|
|Filo Paulo||5. Lock||James Horwill|
|Daniel Braid||6. Blindside||Beau Robinson|
|Luke Braid||7. Openside||Liam Gill|
|Peter Saili||8. # Eight||Scott Higginbotham|
|Piri Weepu||9. Halfback||Will Genia|
|Gareth Anscombe||10. Fly Half||Ben Lucas|
|Rudi Wulf||11. Wing||Dom Shipperley|
|Ma'a Nonu||12. Inside Centre||Michael Harris|
|Rene Ranger||13 Outside Centre||Digby Ioane|
|George Moala||14. Wing||Rod Davies|
|Hadleigh Parkes||15. Fullback||Luke Morahan|
|James Parsons||16. Reserve||Albert Anae|
|Pauliasi Manu||17. Reserve||Greg Holmes|
|Liaki Moli||18. Reserve||Adam Wallace-Harrison|
|Chris Lowrey||19. Reserve||Jake Schatz|
|Alby Mathewson||20. Reserve||Ed Quirk|
|Michael Hobbs||21. Reserve||Nick Frisby|
|Benson Stanley||22. Reserve||Anthony Faingaa|
Venue &time: Eden Park, Auckland, Friday April 27, 17:35 EST
Head to Head: Played 17 – Blues 8, Reds 8, Draws 1
Last Time: Blues 13 – Reds 30
Referee: Craig Joubert
Weather: 17° Chance of showers.
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The Game Breaker
For the Reds Digby Ioane will be jumping out of his skin to get involved after 5 weeks on the sideline. The Blues centre pairing of Nonu and Ranger are just as dangerous on their day. Any of
these three could break this game right open. But the man I think could be the game breaker is Liam Gill. The young openside has a shooting star next to his name. This week he runs out in tandem with Beau Robinson and against the Braid Brothers. Essentially four opensides starting the match. There is no hiding where the coach’s think the game will be won.
The Fearless Prediction
I’ve been to a few Blues V. Reds matches over the last few years and none of them have disappointed. No not even the the one at Ballymore where I stood soaked to the bone protecting my Rum a cokes from the torrential rain and watched the Reds try to play running Rugby when they could barely see each other. both teams are cruelled by injury. Both teams form is patchy. Both teams season is on the line! Both teams love to run the ball. If the weather stays fine conditions are perfect for Rugby. Both teams play similar styles. they like to play hard in the forwards then carve up in the backs and can be lethal on kick returns. The Blues forward pack is missing three key men in Woodcock, Mealamu and Boric and this may just give the Reds and advantage.
This is too close to call! Out of pure parochialism for the Reds I predict a win by 5.
Oh and Anthony Faingaa is back!
- Review. 50 Caps And A Try to Ioane In Reds Defeat Of The Blues(greenandgoldrugby.com)