Super Rugby 2012: Preview and Predictions – Round 16, part 1
Ahh Super Rugby, you are back!
It has been nearly four weeks since the last game and I for one, am itching to see what will happen in these last three rounds. It is like watching a TV series that ends on a cliff hanger and now we will finally get to see what happens to our favourite characters, unless that TV series is ‘Lost’ in which case things will just get more confusing and they never will properly explain the strange mist on the island.
Was it me or did they just introduce more random things to distract people from the other random things that made no sense in the first place? Either way we did get to watch Evangeline Lill every week, so all is forgiven, but I digress…
We have just three more weeks of action to go and some critical games coming up. A few teams are having a bye this week, which is a strange one, seeing as they have just come off nearly a month’s break but I do not pretend to understand anything SANZAR does so let’s instead move swiftly along to the first three games this weekend.
Super Rugby Round 16, Friday 29 June 2012
Highlanders vs Chiefs
The Highlanders started the tournament well but had a bit of a slump and are now sitting mid table and will struggle to make the play-offs. They have two games left, one against the Chiefs this week and then away to the Reds in their final game. Adam Thomson recently played a key role in the All Black’s series win over Ireland and will be keen on more rampaging runs for his home union as they play in this must win home game.
The Chiefs have received the good news that flyhalf Aaron Cruden is fully fit for this encounter after leaving the field 25 mins after starting for the All Blacks last Sat. He was at his best in that short time and set up four of their first half tries. Sonny Boxer Williams is another that shone for the ABs and is playing his best season of rugby union everrr. It is never easy playing in Dunedin but I reckon the Chiefs have too many class players in form and will take this one to make sure of a place in the play-offs.
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-Off: Fri, 9:35am
Highlanders vs Chiefs Prediction: Chiefs by 5-10
Rebels vs Reds
Another Aussie derby game, set interest levels to ‘meh’. The Rebels will be more competitive if Kurtley Tache Beale plays but otherwise will struggle against a Reds side that was building up impressive momentum before the break. The Rebels have recently lost the services of flank Michael Lipman, after he decided to follow his doctor’s orders and call it a day after some 30 or so career concussions. Sheesh, well done for carrying on this long, buddy.
The Reds are without captain James Horwill for the rest of the season and will be banking on Quade burglar Cooper and Will Genia to get them the three vital wins they need to push for a play-off spot. It is often a tricky situation for visiting sides at AAMI Park and the Rebels will be coming out all gun blazing with nothing to lose, except the game…which they will lose.
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Rebels vs Reds Prediction: Reds by 7-15
Crusaders vs Hurricanes
The Hurricanes have had a strange season so far. They have done better than most expected and have found ways of scoring with very little possession or territory of their own, which reminds me of myself during my University days… I thank you.
Conrad Smith has revelled in the captaincy role and was in top form recently for the All Blacks. Flyhalf Beauden Barrett recently won his first All Black cap and he like the rest of the Canes will be up for this game, especially as they are currently sitting at sixth on the combined log.
The Crusaders will be without Dan the man Carter but were without him for half of the tournament anyway. Richie McCaw played himself into some form against Ireland and will perhaps move to 8th man for this game with Kieran Read still out injured. It is hard to bet against the Crusaders ever but specifically when they are at home and should win this to move up to second on the log, although perhaps just for a few hours.
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-Off: Sat, 9:35am
Crusaders vs Hurricanes Prediction: Crusaders by 5-10