Super Rugby Preview – Round 18
Welcome to the final week of the round robin stages Supe Rugby! Well done to all and sundry for making it this far. I must admit, there were times I wasn’t sure I would but with a bit of luck, a can-do attitude and many many beers anything is possible.
Let’s smash right into it with an elaborate swan dive of
probably wrong possibly correct predictions…
Blues vs Highlanders
The Blues need this win to secure home ground advantage in the play-offs and although fairly inaccurate last week against the Crusaders will fancy their chances at home. The Highlanders welcome back Jimmy Kick the ball into your head Cowan for their last game of the season and will be keen to finish on a winning note but the Blues should clinch the closely fought derby.
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Prediction: Blues by less than 7
Rebels vs Force
With the exception of the 6 fans in Melbourne and Boozer Cipriani’s mum, does anyone really give two wallabies about this game?
Venue: AAMI Stadium, Melbourne
prediction: Force by 10-15
Chiefs vs Reds
The Reds were very fortunate to grab a late game winning try last week against the Force. They have been further hit with injuries and have called in
80 year old 39 year old Caleb Ralph as cover on the bench. The Chiefs have hit some good late form and could well spring a surprise in this game. In fact I am backing them in a crazy, I may or may not have been drinking this morning influenced decision, to win this one at home.
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-Off: Sat, 7:30am
Prediction: Chiefs by less than 5
Crusaders vs Hurricanes
If the Blues lose and the Crusaders win, the Crusaders will finish at the top of the NZ log and win one of the new trophies on offer this year. The Saders are without Sonny boxer Williams, so the anticipated showdown between him and Nonu will not happen but expect them to have the measure of this erratic Hurricanes side.
Interestingly, the Crusaders are flying to Wellington in an old plane that will fly low enough not to be affected by the ash cloud over New Zealand. Richie McCaw owns shares in the company that owns the plane. Is there no end to the awesomeness that is Richie McCaw?
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Prediction: Crusaders by 12-18
Waratahs vs Brumbies
Come on the Brumbies!! Never thought I would say those words but there you have it. If the Brumbies beat the Tahs, both the Sharks and Bulls should make it through to the play-offs. The Brumbies have a better chance now than earlier in the season, having rediscovered some form, with Giteau once again playing with passion and purpose.
Unfortunately the Tahs are looking very good and with Tache Beale in the form of his life. Phil hunchback Waugh is back and with much to play for and in front of what should be a packed Sydney crowd, the Tahs should win this one and make the Bulls vs Sharks game that much more tense.
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Prediction: Waratahs by 7-12
Bulls vs Sharks
This guy has never wanted to be jeans pant so much in his life. The very idea of it made him burst out laughing.
A must win game for both these sides. There is of course a chance that the Tahs lose and both go through anyway but don’t bank on that happening. The Bulls are on a 7 game winning streak and although losing ugly last week have proven that in knock out games they are immensely hard to beat. Bakkies is back for his 100th game and well done to you good sir! Fourie du Preez is back off the bench with Fran Hougaard retaining his place after a glorious game last week.
The Sharks have chosen possibly one of their strongest teams so far this season with Bismark, Jannie and the Beast as the front row. Jean Deysel is back from injury and Willem Alberts is on the bench. In the backline, Frederic Michalak comes in at flyhalf and Pat Lambie moves to fullback, which may prove to be a wise move by Plumtree. This game is sold out and possibly the last time home fans will get to see Matfield, Bakkies, Fourie, Russouw and Gary Botha who are all leaving at the end of the season. A tricky one to predict but I am going to go with the Bulls in front of a packed blue sea of love.
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Prediction: Bulls by less than 7
Cheetahs vs Stormers
The Stormers will know that a win here will guarantee a spot in the top 2 and a much-needed rest next week. A win will give them good momentum heading into the semi finals and is paramount to their chances of lifting the Supe Rugby trophy. Duvenhage is a doubtful starter but with Juan de Jongh and Jaque Fourie in the midfield, Grant back at flyhalf, Aplon at fullback and Jean de Villiers on the wing, this backline should be able to handle the potent Cheetahs’ giant killers.
The Cheetahs have had their best Super rugby season ever and a loss on Saturday will not change that. They will be keen on a win to top it off for their fans but will struggle to score tries against the best defensive unit in the tournament. The last time these teams played it was a mostly boring game but I reckon this one should be far more entertaining.
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Prediction: Stormers by 10