Super Rugby 2012: Preview and Predictions – Round 15, part 2
Much to look forward to this Saturday with what should be two cracking SA derbies and the SA squad announcement.
Recently Nick Mallet, now doing a sterling job on Super Sport as an analyst, predicted that England may well be tougher than most are expecting and said he would not be surprised if they won at least one Test.
Now usually we hammer the Northern Hemisphere sides when they tour mid year but the Bok coach usually has more than 1 week to prepare his side and usually the players have not just come off 15 rounds of Super Rugby, so perhaps Nick has a point.
I still think we will win the series 3-0 but it will be close, especially the first Test. Man I love seeing the English lose.
Back to this weekend’s action adventures and specifically the Bulls vs Stormers. Huuuuge game for both sides. A win for the Stormers and they will feel they can win the SA conference, with fairly breezy games to follow but a loss allows the Bulls and Sharks to catch up to them, which would certainly make for an exciting enough last few rounds. Let’s delve deeper.
Super Rugby Round 15, Sat 2 June 2012
Waratahs vs Hurricanes
The Waratahs will be wondering how the FiretrUCK they managed to lose the game last week after scoring four tries in the first half and I must say that seeing Berrick Barnes throw a little hissy fit at the end of the game was incredibly funny and satisfying. The Waratahs at least managed two bonus points from the game and besides the obvious disappointment of a poor tour will be happy to be back home.
The Hurricanes are coming off an emphatic victory over the Rebels and will be keen for more of the same as they try to hang on to their play-off hopes. They have kept the same side for this game and will fancy their chances against what has been a disappointing and limited side this year. My pick is for the Hurricanes to cause more foot stamping tantrums as they pick up a four try bonus point.
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Waratahs vs Hurricanes Prediction: Hurricanes by 5-15
Lions vs Sharks
I was pleasantly surprised for the first 20 mins or so last week as the Lions took an early lead and then proceeded to effectively defend as they held off the Force admirably. Unfortunately they then butchered a couple of try scoring opportunities and after losing Derrick Minnie to the sin bin in the last quarter were always going to lose. It was mostly a terrible game to watch but I do think they will be better at home against the Sharks.
My prediction is that they provide some resistance for a while before conceding at least one try to some random play from their own goal line, standard Lions play, also for returning, Butch James to get penalised and probably sent off for a reckless tackle.
The Sharks were very good last week and players like the Beast, Bismark du Plessis, Willem man mountain Alberts and Marcell Coetzee all had blinders.
Captain Keegan Daniel was once again in fine form and may well have forced his way into the Bok squad as an 8th man option. It was through their powerful forwards and uncompromising defense that they paved the way to victory and if they can put in a similar performance on Saturday, they should get the desired four try bonus point win they desperately need.
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Joburg
Lions vs Sharks Prediction: Sharks by 5-15
Bulls vs Stormers
The Stormers were comprehensively outplayed last week with only two bits of Gio Aplon magic leading to tries (one from an obvious forward pass) allowing them to sneak a losing bonus point. They were left a bit thin in the loose forwards with the late withdrawal of Siya Kolisi and Alistair Coetzee will be very happy he is back this week. Unfortunately for him, Joe Pietersen is still out injured, ginger legend in the making, Steven Kitshoff is playing for the Baby Boks and Andries Bekker looks to be out for at least five weeks.
The Bulls, due to a bit of luck and some fairly suave rotational policies, have a fully fit squad to choose from with the exception of flank, Jacques Potgieter. They will be excited to be back at home after 5 weeks away and will be looking forward to that Loftus faithful boost after the long travel back to SA. They played very well in their last two games overseas and could well have won both of them with a bit of luck and better decision-making.
The Bulls have a very good attack and have scored far more tries than the Stormers this season but have conceded loads and given away far too many penalties in the process. The Stormers continue to struggle to score tries but remain one of the best defensive sides in the tournament. This game should be more like a Test with discipline being vital to the cause as both Peter Grant and Morne Steyn have the ability to slot kicks from all over the place. Expect thunderous tackles, safety first option taking, passion aplenty and hopefully no injuries to possible Springboks as these two sides plough into each other.
Hard one to predict but I reckon the Bulls will sneak it due to the loss of key Stormers players.
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Bulls vs Stormers Prediction: Bulls by less than 7