Super Rugby 2012: Preview and Predictions – Round 10, part 1
It is nearly May already. What the FiretrUCK? Maybe it is due to age but it definitely feels like the year is flying by, that and the fact that I very seldom remember my Friday and Saturday nights…
We have 9 rounds of Super Rugby left before the knock-out rounds so still plenty of games to go as teams vie for the all important 6 top places. Technically, all of the sides can still make the play-offs but in reality the Blues, Lions, Rebels and Force have no hope, not so much due to the mathematical improbability but more the fact that they have mostly sucked massive ass this year.
The teams that impressed last week: The Crusaders, who are looking very good and worringly, still not back to their best; the Chiefs, who have now won 7 in a row and the Stormers, who keep winning despite an ever-increasing injury toll.
Special mention to the Highlanders, who did very well to beat an improved Blues side and the Bulls, who looked in fine form for 60mins but then basically stopped playing, which allowed the plucky Brumbies to come back into the game and in the process deny me a SuperBru point. Thanks guys. Sheesh!
Onto this week and the glorious long weekend that it is. Cyber high-five!
Super Rugby 2012 round 10, Fri 27 April
Blues vs Reds
The Reds went down at home to the Stormers and suffered two more injuries to boot. SA born flyhalf, Sam Lane and centre Ben Tapuai are both ruled out of this game but thankfully for coach McKenzie, both Ben Lucas and Mike Harris are fit and ready to go. Captain James Horwill appears to back to the form shown last year and with players like Scott Higginbotham on top of his game, the Reds will fancy their chances in Auckland.
The Blues played well last week against the Highlanders and full credit to them for going for the win when they could well have kicked a penalty to draw the game in the dying minutes. They looked very slick in parts and I would not be surprised if they snatch this one in front of their suffering home crowd. Call it a hunch. Also, look out for Rene razzle dazzle Ranger as he continues to create chances for his side. If I wasn’t completely broke from betting on hunches, I would put a sneaky bet on a Blues win.
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-Off: Fri, 9:35am
Blues vs Reds Prediction: Blues to finally win one
Lions vs Brumbies
The Brumbies were very impressive against the Bulls last week, not just with the exciting tries scored but more the never say die attitude on display. Quality shown and full credit to coach, Jake White. Well done, sir. They still lost though, it must be said…also Waldo called, he wants his glasses back. The Brumbies were very solid on defense and lethal on the counter and going on the latest displays from the Lions, should find this Friday night game a walk in the park.
The Lions are coming off a bye and will hopefully have learnt how to win a line out in this last week of training. Believe it or not they are still missing most of their first choice players. Not sure how long it usually takes players to overcome a concussion but Wikus Van Heerden has now been out since the opening round with his. Sigh. The Lions have once again been forced to start rookie locks and will do well to find some synergy in the lineouts. You never know with this side but I fear the Brumbies defense will shut the Lions out to claim their first tour win.
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Joburg
Lions vs Brumbies Prediction: Brumbies by 5-10
Chiefs vs Hurricanes
The Hurricanes were shell-shocked by a first half smash you in your face performance by the Crusaders and although managing to get on equal footing in the second half were well and truly beaten at home. There were far too many aimless kicks, too much space given and too many missed tackles and if they repeat that kind of first half performance, the Chiefs will punish them just as severely.
The Sharks vs Chiefs game was a frustrating one to watch and poor execution and dropped catches seemed the order of the day for both sides. It was very humid which made the ball very slippery which accounts for the high error count as players like Sonny Boxer Williams found it near impossible to hang on to the ball or complete those one-handed pop pass in the tackle situations. It was anyone’s game with a minute to go but the Chiefs defense and a berry berry sneaky try by replacement scrumhalf, Augustine Lulu down the blind side, proved the difference.
The Chiefs may well be a bit pooped after their tour and long travel but should still prove too much for the Canes at home.
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-Off: Sat 28th, 9:35am
Chiefs vs Hurricanes Prediction: Chiefs by less than 10