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Prequel: QLD v Highlanders
Prequel: QLD v Highlanders
(The game of the round)
After trying to be objective as possible I have tried to work out who has the advantage in personnel. There of course will be dispute but that's the most fun of sticking your neck out! Seeing who has the balls to counter but like most they are Monday's expert.

Yes the Highlanders have a huge home ground advantage and the have whooped Qld arse in the House of Pain on many occasion and in all games in the Super12. However, this is crunch time and both sides know their season rests on this game. Whoever, wins this game gets into the finals, while the loser fades into obscurity until next years Super12.

Nick Stiles
Carl Hoeft
Tom Murphy
Anton Oliver
Fletcher Dyson
Carl Hayman
Mark Connors
Simon Maling
Nathan Sharpe
Filipo Levi
Matt Cockbain
Taine Randell (c)
David Croft
Craig Newby
John Roe
Kelvin Middleton
Jacob Rauluni
Byron Kelleher
Elton Flatley
Willie Walker
Wendell Sailor
Romi Ropati
Steve Kefu
Paul Steinmetz
Daniel Herbert
Ryan Nicholas
Ben Tune
Iliesa Tanivula
Chris Latham
Jeff Wilson
Sean Hardman
Tom Willis
Glenn Panoho
Joe McDonnell
Dan Heenan
Peter Bowden
Mike Mitchell
Sam Harding
Junior Pelesasa
Seilala Mapusua
Andrew Scotney
Blair Feeney
Sam Cordingley
David Gibson

The Highlanders have the advantage in scrummaging with a very powerful front row combination. But as we all know Oliver is a choker when it comes to lineouts at key moments. Ahh the easy ball that Anton ďme wanta take Einstein to an islandĒ was giving up all of last years Tri-nations was criminal. That is why the advantage is split between the hookers.

This advantage also carries out into the second row. Which gives the Highlanders a great head start in the tight five. The advantage might be only slight but it could be telling.

However, this advantage isnít carried out in the loosies where I think both Cockbain and Croft have the edge over their rivals. However, the Highlanders do regain the advantage at no. 8 and that could be telling like it was on a couple of scrums where NSW got some easy ball of Qld mistakes. No doubt Kelleher will be sniffing around the scrum like a dog after a bitch on heat to cause these problems to occur again.

Kelleher is one of the best halfbacks in the competition and miles ahead of Rauluni who is the best halfback that Qld has. If you remember back to Blues game, Robinson was all over Rauluni like a kiwi on a ewe. If McBain decides to sub off Rauluni it could be a big problem for Qld.

However, it is going to be the referee and the 5/8 who will be the telling factor in the game. Cause it is a SA ref we must remember that they like the home side to win and they penalise the breakdown faster than a Manly copper making drugs disappear.

The game is likely to be won or lost over precision goal kicking and here Qld has the advantage in Flatley. What I have seen of 'Willy Wonka' and his kicking hasnít always been pretty and it has cost the Highlanders games in the past like the Crusaders game?

Flatley's combination with the Qld backs is also far superior to his rival purely based on the amount of time each has played at that position. If both sides have to go with their bench I still think Qld has the advantage as Scotney's effort against the Sharks was clinical. (However, it canít be said over the Cats game).

Once we get to the backs, Qld gets some serious advantage. I believe that the Qld backs are just ahead of their Highlands rivals. As all the Qld backs except for Mr $325,000 per try have had Wallaby stints. With the way they opened up their interstate rivals, Qld have some serious offensive capabilities.

Iím not saying the Highlanders canít turn it on as Wilson and Steinmetz quickly dispense that. Itís just the whole Qld backline has more experience when it comes to crunch games, in particular Herbert. Herbert is again starting to throw down the challenge to keep his hands on the Wallaby 13 jumper. He will be instrumental in Qldís offence and organising the defensive lines.

How the game will turn out. If Qld can maintain reasonable possession and at least hold on in the forwards it will be the Qld backline that will win the game, either from penalty kicking and/or the last minute try (eg Lathamís efforts to destroy the Sharks) that will see them through.

But if the Highlanders forwards can destroy the Qld forward pack then they will win, as the lack of ball will starve Qld. If they can get forward dominance then they will do what they did to the Blues. Drive the ball down the line and operate in the Qld half all game. Which is very reminiscent of the Qld game plan under Knuckles.

Hopefully itís a good tight game with the winner being decided in the final minutes as this game is the game of the round and it will be played with Ďfinalí intensity.

Go Qld, Go the Reds!


Let us know what you think!

Quite a reasonable analysis for a Qlder, I'm amazed!

Of course you aren't fooling anyone by saying Ropati is better than Windhole, he may have struggled to score tries but he hasn't been that bad!

Personally I know Jules and the boys are hoping that the Highlanders have the game all sewn up by about 3/4 time, since that's when they will have to leave to get to Jade Stadium in time for the Crusaders vs Tahs game!

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