Super Rugby 2012: Preview and Predictions – Round 15, part 1
So here we are, fellow Super Rugby fans of justice, the final week of rugga before the break for the incoming tours. This is of course the first year that we have had a mid tournament break and we will have to wait until they get back to suss out the effects this whave on momentum and form, although I am sure most sides will be keen on the break.
On Saturday after the last game we find out who Bok coach, Heyneke Meyer has chosen for his 32 man squad and indeed who he has chosen as his short-term captain.
It seems done and dusted that it will be Fourie du Preez and although he is not everyone’s pint of lager, he certainly knows Meyer’s prefered style of play and will bring invaluable experience to the side. Not to mention that he is apparently playing some of his best rugby at the moment, if Eddie jones is to be believed.
Back to Super Rugby though and some quality games last week, barring the Force vs Lions crapfest. Things are heating up and no mistake, with the Sharks finally pulling off the kind of game they have been hinting at all season by beating the Stormers. The Chiefs showed they are still the team to beat with a good victory over the Bulls; the Highlanders kept themselves in the hunt with a win over the woeful Blues and the Reds are still in with a shout after a fairly dull win over the Brumbies.
Let’s have a look at the last round before the incoming international tours, where we will once again get to see Southern Hemisphere sides dominate the North.
Super Rugby 2012, Round 15 Fri 1 June
Crusaders vs Highlanders
The Highlanders got the job done by picking up the expected 5 points last week against the Blues. They were leading 27-6 with the last quarter to go but slacked off somewhat which allowed the Blues back into the game. Fair play as it was only the Blues but this week they will need their best 80 min effort if they are to overtake the Crusaders on the log. Look out for flank, Adam Thomson and fullback, Ben Smith who are both in electric, that’s right… electric form and could both make the All Black squad next week.
The Crusaders had a bye last week but were back to their best before that against the Blues. Dan once again the man Carter looked in sublime form after returning to flyhalf and Richie captain charming McCaw is back to what he does best, leading from the front and bending the rules to breaking point at ruck time. This should be a classic kiwi derby with a victory absolutely crrritical for both sides. Crusaders are just so gosh darn hard to beat at home though and I reckon they will win what should be a toit affair.
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-Off: Fri, 9:35am
Crusaders vs Highlanders Prediction: Crusaders by 5-10
Rebels vs Brumbies
The Rebels were absolutely destroyed by the Hurricanes last week with Motu Matu’u showing how to legally smash peeps in the tackle. Check out these two massive hits which put both Mark Gerrard and Lachlan Mitchell in hospital. Sheer quality.
Say it with me…ooooooh.
The Rebels are without a number of players but it is the injury to Kurtley Tache Beale, that will hurt them the most as he has been their best player by far.
The Brumbies lost to the Reds last week but could have snatched victory only for newby flyhalf, Zack Holmes to fluff a kick at the death. The game was dreadfully boring with aimless kicking and driving forward play being the order of the day. The Brumbies need not worry about playing conservatively this week though and should win this comfortably against a defensively poor Rebels side.
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Rebels vs Brumbies Prediction: Brumbies by 10-20
Blues vs Chiefs
The Blues were soundly beaten last week but coach Pat Lam will have noted the improvement shown in the last quarter when his experienced All Blacks came on to the field. Ma’a Nonu made an immediate impact and expect him, Ali Williams and possibly even Piri hmmm pies Weepu to get a start this week.
The Chiefs were a bit rattled by the play of the Bulls last week, especially in the first half and in the end relied on some Sonny Boxer Williams magic to set up the try that was the difference in the end. The Blues were better last week but are not as accurate as the Bulls so expect the Chiefs to win this away from home and increase their lead at the top of the overall log.
Venue: North Harbour Stadium, Albany
Kick-Off: Sat, 9:35am
Blues vs Chiefs Prediction: Chiefs by 7-15