Super Rugby Preview – week 2, part 1
Highlanders vs Chiefs
Last week the Landers surprised all and sundry with a hard-fought win over the Hurricanes. Ma’a massive guns Nonu got red-carded after receiving a 2nd yellow card for a shoulder charge on Jimmy Cowan, who is a certainty for the awards season with his excellent ‘Lie down and fake injury and then get up smiling’ performance.
The Chiefs have dropped Tana Umaga, Stephen Donald and Brendon Leonard, which is fairly understandable given last week’s backline shambles. The Chiefs butchered at least three try scoring opportunities last week and were woeful at best. Is Umaga too old and slow, one thing is for sure, a modeling career is a certainty when he retires.
This week, the Landers will be hoping to make it two from two and playing at home may just sneak it.
Venue: Carisbrook, Dunedin
Kick Off: 8:35am
Prediction: Highlanders, only just.
Rebels vs Brumbies
Last week the Rebels got a massive reality check, right upside the head. They will need to seriously up their game and at least get parity in the collisions and set pieces, which will not be easy against an impressive looking Brumbies side. Unfortunately they have lost scrumhalf Sam Cordingly and flyhalf James Hilgendorf to injury, with Nick Phibbs and Danny Cipriani (recently kicked out of yet another nightclub at 4am) getting their first starts.
The Brumbies had a great start to the competition against the Chiefs with Matt impressive beard Giteau looking in fine form. They will be keen to win this one with a bonus point and huge points difference, possibly giving some of the youngsters in the squad a run after the inevitable 30 point lead with 15 min to go.
Can the Rebels score their first points as a team? Will Cipriani hit the clubs to drown his sorrows after the game? Just maybe and of course he will.
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick Off: 10:40am
Prediction: Brumbies by an innings
Cheetahs vs Bulls
The Cheetahs did not impress last week, with their scrum in particular looking fairly average. They lost inspirational skipper Juan Smith before the game and always struggle without him. He is however, back for this game and even though they have lost Adrian Strauss, will be a better unit come Saturday.
The Bulls played very well in the first half last week but then faded somewhat under a fierce Lions onslaught in the 2nd half. With so much experience in the team, they are going to be very hard to beat this year. Fourie du Preez is nearly back to his best, as is Bakkies headbutt Botha. Zane Kirchener looks in fantastic form and even though they are without Gary Botha, The Bulls should win this one comfortably.
The Cheetahs seem to save their best for the Bulls but without Heinrich Brussouw (apparently back next week), they lack the personnel to beat the defending champions.
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick Off: 7:10pm
Prediction: Bulls by 12