Super Rugby Preview, Round 16, part 2

Only 3 more weeks until the play-offs and 8 teams are all still in with a chance. The Reds, Blues, Stormers and Crusaders all seem assured of their places but who knows what will happen with the other sides. Things may get crazy on us!! The Lions may even win 3 games on tour! Crazy!!!

In other news, SANZAR, the guys who only have the profits to be made best interests of the game at heart are considering dropping the 4 points awarded for a bye next season. Duh. Why on earth this was ever thought to be a good idea is one of life’s mysteries. It’s like how Earl Rose continues to be chosen to play Super Rugby. No one will ever know.

Hurricanes vs Lions

The Lions have done very well on tour and are benefitting from Butch James in the squad. He has brought in some much-needed experience and Elton Jantjies, in particular has regained his confidence with James on his outside. Wikus Van heerden had one of his best games of the year last week and if the Lions take the Canes on up front, may well sneak a famous victory.

The Hurricanes came back well last week against the Force but have had a disappointing season this year. Aaron Cruden is a player to watch out for and Dreadlocks Nonu is always dangerous. His clash with James should be interesting… With no hope of either of these teams making the play-offs, expect nothing to lose, free running rugby with tries aplenty.

Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Kick-Off: Sat, 7:30am

Prediction: Canes by less than 7

Blues vs Chiefs

The Blues have been one of the teams to beat this year and have shown that they are masters of the counter attack and the ability to claw their way back into games. They did however throw away a 19-3 half time lead to the Stormers and will know that they need a win here to give themselves the best chance at a home semi.

The Chiefs are basically out of the running for the play-offs but this is a derby match and places for the All Black RWC team are up for grabs. The Chiefs are capable of an upset here but with cold and rainy conditions predicted don’t expect a high scoring game. The Blues have more to play for and should have the upper hand in Auckland.

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland

Kick-Off: 9:35am

Prediction: Blues by 10 or less

Reds vs Brumbies

The Brumbies have been average to poor all season and although showing improvement in their last 2 games will fail massively against the Reds. Jake White cannot arrive soon enough for this once proud side.

The Reds cemented their place at the top of the overall conference last week with a fortuitous last-minute penalty by Stuart DICKinson. The Reds have been the top side this season and Wallaby coach Robbie Deans will surely be picking most of his RWC team from this team. Genia and Burglar Cooper are the form half back pair in Supe Rugby and expect more domination on Sat.

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Kick-Off: 110:40am

Prediction: Reds by 15-20

Cheetahs vs Sharks

The Cheetahs are known as the Sharks bogey team and have a great record against them, especially at home. They have however been hit yet again by injuries with inexperienced Martin Muller coming in at lock. This is perhaps where the Sharks will look to take them on. The Cheetahs will once again play a fast paced running game will be loooking at entertaining their home crowd with tries aplenty. Ashley Afro Johnson, Sarel Pretorious and the Ebersohn twins are peeps to look out for.

The Sharks did well to come back and win last week and can thank JP Pietersen for the inspired turn around. He is in the form of his life and should start on the wing for the Bokke in the this year’s Tri-Nations. Bismark du Plessis needs to improve his accuracy at line out time but his general play has once again been instrumental to the Sharks this year. Ryan Kankowski is back in the squad after being out for some weeks with injury and John Plumstead will hope he hits the field running. Literally!

This will be another hard-fought derby game and is tricky to call but I reckon the Sharks are due a full 80 min quality performance and should sneak an away victory.

Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Kick-Off: 5:05pm

Prediction: Sharks by less than 7.

rennton

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~ by bowlphilosophy on June 3, 2011.

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