Super Rugby Preview – Round 9, part 2
Gilbert has released the new official Rugby world Cup 2011 ball. It is called the Gilbert Virtuo! dum dum duuuum.
The design on the Virtuo is a stylistic interpretation of the hammerhead shark (mangopare) and the fern shoot (koru). Or as the rest of the world will call them “Cool Moari designs”.
The new ball has already received glowing praise from Percy Montgomery and Braam Van Straaten, who flew to Newlands to test it.
“The ball travels perfectly through the air. It’s aerodynamic and with the adaptation Gilbert has made to both the strength and the bladder it is a pleasure to kick,” said Van Straaten.
“I think we will see that the players get more distance on their kicks and the dimples on the ball will make handling easier in the wet,” said Montgomery.
I don’t know too much about rugby balls but anything with a big bladder that is a pleasure to kick is a win in my book. On to Saturday’s games.
Lions vs Stormers
The Lions lost to the Sharks last week in a game where the Sharks basically just fed off their mistakes. In the first half alone the Lions kicked 3 penalties to within 10metres of the Sharks line, only to lose their own line outs. John Mitchell has since dropped most of his forwards in the hope that the new guys actually know how to win set pieces. Mitchell’s patience with Jantjies has finally run out and he has brought in Burton Francis at flyhalf. Michael Killian returns in place of the injured kiwi James Kamana.
The Stormers are coming off a shock loss to the Reds at Newlands. They did themselves no favours with 2 x yellow cards in the game but will be worried that they were so comprehensively dominated in most facets of play. It is due to their incredible defense that they only lost by 13 points but it is their impotent attack that suggests that they are going to keep struggling in this tournament if they need to come from behind to win.
They should pick themselves up for this game and will win comfortably but probably miss out on the 4 try bonus point.
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Joburg
Prediction: Stormers by 15
Cheetahs vs Hurricanes
The Cheetahs, besides only winning 1 game on their overseas tour have had their best results in Australasia ever. They looked good in all of the games it must be said and with better defense could well be sitting mid table. Alas it is their defense which will mean they are constantly chasing games. Andries Strauss returns for this game, with Brussouw set to be back in 2 weeks time.
The Hurricanes lost a close game against the Brumbies and may even be glad to be on the road to avoid having to see the less than flattering headlines about their play. The forwards are struggling and as a result, players like Nonu look frustrated and are perhaps trying to do too much when they do get the ball. The Canes do not have the best record in South Africa but will be keen to get their campaign back on track in Bloem.
This could be a cracking game with tries aplenty with the Cheetahs edging it, partly due to the altitude factor.
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Prediction: Cheetahs by less than 7
Brumbies vs Western Force
Neither of these teams has had a good tournament so far but at least the Brumbies got back to winning ways last week. The Force have really struggled and looked terrible against the Waratahs last week. It is not due to lack of effort but they just do not look like a team that is gelling at the moment.
The Brumbies need a new coach, that much is clear. They should win this game but don’t expect a classic game of rugga this Sunday. Rather make an over elaborate show of how you could be watching rugby but instead are doing that thing that she has asked you to do all week to store up points for later rugby viewing. She will be pleased. You’re welcome.
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Kick-Off: Sunday, 8:10am
Prediction: Brumbies by 13-20