Super Rugby Preview – Week 3, part 2
Saturday brings us no less than five Super Rugby games. 400 minutes of pure joy and excitement. Whether relationships will last this season is really only a passing thought as we knuckle down for some serious rugby viewing.
Chiefs vs Rebels
No one except maybe Danny Cipriani’s mum, predicted the Rebels to beat the Brumbies last week and the Brumbies will still be wondering how they managed to lose a game after having all the possession and territory. Danny boy was the man of the moment with a last-minute penalty kick. He has since been fined for stealing a bottle of Vodka from a night club 2 weeks ago. You stay classy, Cipriani.
The Chiefs were once again woeful last week and will see this as a must win to get their campaign going. Umaga, Leonard and Donald are all back in the starting line up and looking at their backline, it is surprising they have not scored more tries. Expect some. This Saturday.
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Prediction: Chiefs by 15-20
Brumbies vs Reds
Oh good an Australian derby… Exciting! The Brumbies lost last week against the Rebels, which is embarrassing to say the least. Their solution, fire the coach! A time-honoured South African tradition, let’s see if it works…
The Reds were manhandled by the Waratahs last week, in a game where the Reds looked more like the walk-overs from 2009 than the giant killers from last year. Can they kick-start their season with an away win? Will Burglar Cooper jump in the air and then sideways only to be tackled behind the gain line? I don’t think so and you know he will.
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Prediction: Brumbies by a Giteau beard hair
Western Force vs Sharks
The Force had a bye last week so will at least be fresh and ready for the Sharks visit. Whether they really needed a break is doubtful and they will need to be at their best as they face a team high on confidence and battle hardened after two good wins over the Cheetahs and Blues.
The Sharks have brought back JP Pietersen into the starting team but will start John Smit off the bench. Stefan old man river Terblanch will captain the side and will be hoping for more running, ‘ball in-hand’ rugby in the dryer Perth conditions. Expect a close first half but for the Sharks to win comfortably in the end.
Venue: Nib Stadium, Perth
Prediction: Sharks by 10-15
Stormers vs Cheetahs
The Cheetahs have lost Juan Smith to an Achilles injury and most of the country will be praying that he is fit in time for the RWC. They are still without Heinrich Popeye forearms Brussouw and without these two inspirational players will struggle to beat a strong Stormers side.
The Stormers have lost Schalk smash it up Burger and Jaque Fourie but have able replacements in Pieter Louw and Juan de Jongh. They played poorly last week but managed a last-minute win. They will be looking for a much more convincing display at Newlands. Expect a bruising derby with the Stormers getting back to their best.
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Prediction: Stormers by 5-10
Bulls vs Highlanders
The Bulls have not lost at Loftus in Super Rugby since the end of 2008 and indeed started their impressive winning streak against the Highlanders after some dismal performances in 2008. The have looked rusty in both their games so far but ended last week’s game against the Cheetahs on a high coming back from 23-8 to win 25-23.
The Highlanders have won their first two games by playing hard, basic rugby. They are very good at the break down and try to offload in the tackle. They have however made some changes to the team and have brought in
50 year old experienced Tony Brown as cover.
Expect hard, non compromising, forwards rugby. The game will be a tight one but the Bull’s experience and the altitude will see them through.
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Prediction: Bulls by 5-10.