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Finished: 12th (19 points); 3W 10L
Best Performance: Their 26-10 demolition of the third-placed Waratahs in Invercargill.  They should play all of their home games there, unless the new covered stadium in Dunedin can pull the crowds.
Worst Performance:  Annihilated in the last twenty minutes for a 27-41 loss to the Force in Queenstown.
Best Player: Adam Thomson's prospering under the new tackle law, very consistent in a badly performed team.  Should be on the AB's bench.
Verdict: Big promises at the start of the year ending in a sixth-consecutive last place among the New Zealand teams. The NZRU have had to step in, giving Southland CEO Roger Clark three months to find a solution.  I hope he's successful because we need another strong team in the South Island.

Finished: 11th (26 points); 4W 8L 1D
Best Performance: Their week one 19-18 scrape past the Sharks in Durban. Keeping the opposition try-less and Stephen Donald showing clutch goal-kicking while being pelted with beer cups by the crowd.
Worst Performance: Tough to pick in a season where they didn't win a game at home for the first time ever, but I'll go for an away victory.  Their 72-65 result against the Lions.  To not allow the Sharks to score the week before and then let the Lions get nine, not good.
Best Player: Tim Nanai-Williams filled the big boots of skipper Mils Muliaina admirably.  A real talent that we should see for the Sevens team at the Commonwealth Games.
Verdict: Too injured and their All Blacks hopefuls played their way out a jersey rather than into it. A really tough season.

Finished: 8th (37 points); 7W 5L 1D
Best Performance: Their 23-13 win over the Brumbies in Canberra.  Showed plenty of heart in a must-win match, played twenty minutes with 14 men.
Worst Performance: The loss to the Cheetahs wasn't good, but you can't go past their 16-32 loss to the 'Tahs in Sydney.  Didn't fire a shot when they needed to most.
Best Player: Andrew Hore led from the front and was another beneficiary of the new tackle law.  Will be sorely missed in the ABs.
Verdict: This was supposed to be the fairytale finish for Colin Cooper, it wasn't... but it was quite fitting.  Their sudden-death run was great, but they shouldn't have made it so tough on themselves.  One day they'll win it, won't they? C+

Finished: 7th (37 points); 7W 6L
Best Performance: At their running best for Keven Mealamu's 100th at Eden Park, scoring five tries against the Brumbies, 37-32.  Beating the Bulls at home and the Reds away were right up there too.
Worst Performance: The Blues targeted their match with the Sharks in Durban, and came up well short 23-10, then they lost to the Cheetahs.
Best Player: Albie Mathewson was very strong in his first season.  There were doubts about him playing 80 minutes, there aren't any now.  Should be number three in the AB's halfback pecking order.
Verdict: CONSISTENCY! The Blues actually had some great results, they just couldn't produce every week.  Maybe with Daniel Braid back and Mathewson and Brett getting to build on their combination, they could be a shot.

CRUSADERS - A- (with potential to be an A+)
Finished: 4th (41 points); 8W 4L 1D
Best Performance: The 35-40 heart-breaker against the Bulls in Pretoria.  The red 'n blacks dominated the reigning champs all over the park, but Jonker and his mates had the last say.  This competition needs neutral refs.
Worst Performance: The away loss to the Force.  What is it about Perth and the Crusaders?  Cost them a potential home semi.
Best Player:  Strangely, not DC or Richie but Owen Franks.  The 22 year-old's mobile, strong, fit, and versatile.. and also from Motueka!  Should start ahead of Tialata or at least be the bench prop for the ABs.
Verdict:  Cut it pretty fine to get into the semi-finals.  Were probably expected to finish in the top two.  Missed Leon MacDonald's experience with such a young backline.  Still, got the job done and made the top four.
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2 comment(s) so far
great work day - incisive summary and comments from nz's pre-eminent 'caster
23/05/2010 4:40:29 p.m.
Hey John,

you should check out and join the rugby site and on Facbook. Lots of competitions and rugby banter. They are doing a end of season review so I'll put your above comments into the competition.
They are keen to provide Rugby jerseys and Rugby prizes for the Rock to run pick the scores competitions (the Rock will get the txt money obviously) in return for plugs/promotion of the site. I've passed the info on to Rog but he's probably too busy checking out porn.
So let me know if you are keen to organise something and I'll ask to hook you up a new polo shirt.

Wi in WGTN Canes will clean up next year.

21/05/2010 7:49:14 a.m.

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