Super Rugby 2012: Preview and Predictions – Round 14, part 1

Only five more rounds of the round robin stage of the tournament to go and nine sides can still technically make the play-off stages. Exciting times ahead and no mistake!

Ok, realistically it will take some very specific results and situations for the Hurricanes and Reds to make the top 6 but the Reds actually have a better chance of finishing 3rd given the already complained about ‘one team from each conference must be in the top 3’ rule. They play in a crunch match this week against the Brumbies, which they absolutely have to win to stand any chance of finishing as the top Aussie side but more on that later.

Onto matters that are far more interesting now as we look ahead to whether the Bulls can beat the Chiefs to go top of the log and heap some pink pressure on the Stormers. Let’s have a closer look at the first 3 games.

Super Rugby 2012 round 14, Friday 25th May

Chiefs vs Bulls

This game is critical for the Bulls for a few reasons. Firstly, a win here will boost them to the top of the log (although possibly only until Saturday), secondly, it give them a far better shot at a home semi-final and lastly, it will fill them up with invaluable confidence and momentum as they head home for their last remaining games. One of their players of the season so far, Juandre Kruger, is being rested but otherwise it is an unchanged side.

Morne Steyn will need to be far more accurate with his kicks at goal and the Bulls in general will need to be more clinical on attack and sharper on defense if they are to cause what would be seen as a bit of an upset.

The Chiefs are coming off a bye but a week before that they somehow managed to give up a fair-sized lead to lose to the Reds. They had not conceded four tries to any side before that game and may be slightly concerned about those few costly defensive lapses. They are back at home though and will be keen secure a win as they head into four kiwi derbies in a row to finish off.

Venue: Waikato Stadium, Wellington

Kick-Off: Fri, 9:35am

Chiefs vs Bulls Prediction: Chiefs to win a toit one

Hurricanes vs Rebels

The Hurricanes will be bleak after losing last week at home to the Brumbies and will know that they absolutely have to win on Sat to give themselves a snowballs for the play-offs. They have brought back young Beauden Barrett for this game but will be without Cory Jane who is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Look out for magical displays from fullback, Andre Taylor and wing, Julian Savea who have both been in fine form at the back.

The Rebels have done far better this season than anyone bar Kurtley Tache Beale’s mum ever expected they would. Indeed it is since the Tache has moved to flyhalf that they have looked a far more potent attacking threat.

The Rebels are capable of an upset but the Hurricanes should have the better of them, especially with Conrad Smith’s cool, calm and collected captaincy.

Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Kick-Off: Sat, 7:30am

Hurricanes vs Rebels Prediction: Hurricanes by 5-10

Blues vs Highlanders

The Blues have been hit badly by SHITake play injuries this year but fit so-called ‘star’ players have been underperforming for coach Pat Lam and he has dropped Ma’a Nonu, Piri I ate all the pies Weepu and lock, Ali Williams to the bench. In fairness I don’t think Nonu has been playing that badly but maybe some fresh legs will do the trick for Pat and his lam(b)s. See what I did there… I thank you.

The Highlanders need a win on Sat to keep them in with a shot of the play-offs and looking at current form, should get it comfortably. Their record against the Blues is not great but after the morale boosting victory over the Bulls last week and the terrible performance on display by the Blues vs the Crusaders, I reckon they will get the win they need with a bonus point for four tries.

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland

Kick-Off: 9:35am

Blues vs Highlanders Prediction: Highlanders by 7-15

rennton

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~ by bowlphilosophy on May 24, 2012.

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