Super 14 Previews and Predictions
Friday 30 April
Highlanders v Waratahs, Invercargill 09:35
The Tahs won the worst game of rugby I have witnessed this year last week. Mostly due to Steve ‘it’s all actually about me’ Walsh. They looked good when they spread the ball wide though and have a great defensive system. The Highlanders played much better last week against the Canes and will be looking for a repeat of that. I don’t really see them winning despite playing back in Farmville, Cowan’s home town. Expect Tahs to win this but with Cowan to receive the keys to the city should the Highlanders win.
“It’s our year… still”. The Stormers were outplayed last week by the Reds but could still have won that game had they been more patient on attack and held on to the ball once or twice. The entire world was surprised last week when the Crusaders lost to the Force and Todd Blackadder would have definitely wanted a better start to their tour and would have called Dan Carter a ‘disappointment’ and maybe even sent him to the boo-boo corner. Expect this to be closer to Test match rugby with both teams saying how this is more like a mini semi final. If the Stormers win they will be the first team in history to beat all kiwi teams in a S14 season. I reckon they well might.
Prediction: Stormers by 5.
Saturday 1 May
Hurricanes v Chiefs, Wellington 09:35
The Hurricanes have looked really good at times this year and after the hype at the beginning of the season will feel bleak about their mid table position. The Chiefs have been massively halted by injuries and last week by their inability to kick anything close to the poles, let alone over them. If it was a tennis match Donald would have started serving underhand. This could be a close game as derbies often are but I expect the Canes to have too much for the Highlanders.
Prediction: Hurricanes by between 10.
Brumbies v Reds, Canberra 11:40
It would suit SA fans for the Brumbies to win this one and FiretrUCK me I hope they do. Walsh screwed the Brumbies last week with his “hey guys look at how I flex when I blow this whistle” and “ooh ooh I am on TV again” officiating. The Brumbies look really good on attack and having never lost to the Reds in Canberra must be fancying their chances. The Reds however are playing so well I am starting to get nervous for the Tri-Nations. After two really tough games though, I just think this may a bridge to far over the river Brumby (see what I did there).
Prediction: Brumbies by a ball hair
Vodacom Cheetahs v Blues, Vodacom Park 15:00
The Cheetahs played well last week. There I said it. With Juan back they really do play better as a team and after a tour from hell that would have been a great morale boost. The Blues led the Sharks last week for the first half but were starved of possession and beaten quite well by a rejuvenated Sharks team. It is hard to predict how the cheetahs will play but have lost Andries Strauss and although they will be happy to be back home, I just don’t see them beating what is still a dangerous attacking Blues team.
Prediction: Blues by 12 to 20.
Western Force v Auto & General Lions, Ellis Park 17:05
Damn you Lions!!! Last week I watched this game surrounded by Bulls fans and took great pleasure in cheering loudly for the entire first half. The Lions defended well and looked great on attack, solid at the set pieces and even looked to possibly cause an upset. By the end of the game after the Bulls hundredth try I was drowning my sorrows in my beer and had taken to petting the dogs and talking about more important things, like ‘whatever happened to Take 2 chocolates?”. The Force played well to beat the Crusaders last week and although they may struggle in the last 10 min due to altitude and travel, expect them to win this one and the Lions to equal the Bulls’ record of 11 straight losses. That’s right, the Bulls, look it up.
Prediction: Western Force by 7 to 15.
Vodacom Bulls v The Sharks, Loftus Versfeld 19:10
Ooooh this could be a cracker. Last year only one point separated these two when they played in the S14. The Sharks tend to pick themselves up for games against the Bulls, especially at Loftus. The Bulls looked lethal in the second half against the Lions but I expect this to be a lot closer than last week. The Bulls can pretty much secure a home semi with a win here; the Sharks don’t have much more than pride to play for but don’t expect any favours. This will be a great game for PdV to watch and I won’t be surprised if he is in the crowd somewhere. Obviously he won’t be easy to spot with all the moustachioed coloured guys in the crowd but give it a go.
Prediction: Bulls by 3.