Super Rugby Preview – Round 8, part 1
Before we plunge balls deep into this week’s previews, let’s take some time to congratulate the Indian cricket team on winning the CWC2011.
Well done lads, love your work. Cyber 5 to Gary Kirsten for making it all possible with quality coaching. Hey Gary, if you want to really test your coaching ability we have some peeps back home who could use your help. Slow clap for Graeme Smith on his engagement.
Enough of that though, let’s focus on something far more enjoyable. We are now reaching the stage in Supe Rugby where losing games is not an option for the teams with a realistic chance of making the play-offs. A time where dropping points to a lesser team is unforgivable and a time when Lions fans will now be happy with just one more win in the competition. Exciting stuff and no mistake.
Highlanders vs Cheetahs
The Cheetahs have now had 11 injuries to their squad, far more than any other team. I don’t want to sound like a know-it all but maybe just maybe they are not well conditioned. They did put up a good fight last week and scrumhalf Sarel Pretorious played a blinder, scoring 2 tries.
The Highlanders have built on their impressive start this year and are sitting pretty in the NZ log. They play a similar style to the Cheetahs and take pride in their scrumming and breakdown play. This could be close if the Cheetahs put in another brave showing but being the last overseas game, it could go terribly pear-shaped as the players start inexplicably longing for the comforts of Bloemfontein. I don’t understand it either.
Venue: Carisbrook Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-Off: Fri, 9:35am
Prediction: Highlanders by 5-15
Crusaders vs Bulls
The Crusaders had a bye last week but this was not enough time for Carter to fully recover and he is replaced by Matt Berquist. Chris Jack gets a start and will bring his years of experience to an already impressive forward pack. The Crusaders have looked sublime so far but do not always do well against the Bulls.
The Bulls played well last week against the Canes and Spies, Matfield and Bakkies will have made Frans Ludeke a happy man with ‘That’s more like it’ performances. Steyn landed 2 drop goals and benefited from a powerful forward’s effort.
Will Carter’s absence affect Sonny Boxer Williams? Will the Bulls finally enjoy the sweet taste of victory? This one is hard to call but I have a feeling the Bulls will sneak a win.
Venue: Alpine Energy Stadium, Timaru
Kick-Off: Sat, 9:35am
Prediction: Bulls by less than 7
Brumbies vs Hurricanes
Both these teams have been average to say the least this season. The Canes could not get their game going against the Bulls and missed several kicks at goal. Nonu and Smith may have been one of the best centre combinations in the world in previous years but have looked like schoolboy players without a solid flyhalf in the team.
The Brumbies are apparently considering hiring Jake White as coach, which may well be the smartest decision they have made all year. The style of rugga White coaches may not be what they are used to but they need a change and they need it post haste! Quality players all over the park in both these teams. Let’s hope they turn it on this Sat.
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Prediction: Canes to win a close one