Super Rugby 2012: Preview and Predictions – Round 17, part 1
Two more rounds before the play-offs and still nine teams in with a shout of qualifying for the top six. Exciting times ahead and no mistake.
Last week the Chiefs, Hurricanes and Bulls (at least for the first 60mins) were the most impressive sides on display. The Stormers did not have a great game but did enough to secure the win over the Lions and the Reds kept their play-off chances alive with a solid win over the Rebels.
The big surprise of the round was the Crusaders going down to the Hurricanes at home, which not only makes it impossible for them to top the Kiwi conference but heaps the pressure on as they now cannot afford to lose another game. It must be said that the Hurricanes were a wee bit assisted by some sketchy officiating by the New Zealand ref of the year 2011, Bryce douchebag Lawrence. Slow clap Bryce, way to not improve.
The Hurricanes now find themselves in a three-way tie at 6th on the log but are smiling as they have a bye this week. When asked for comment, captain Conrad Smith had this to say “It’s okay, if it’s in a three-way”. Hard to argue with that I guess as we move smoothly forward to the Friday games.
Super Rugby round 17, Friday 6th of July 2012
Chiefs vs Crusaders
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has hurried back his injured stars for this must win encounter. Dan Carter comes back after recovering from hamstring injury, Kieran Read slots back in at 8th man after sitting out recently with concussion and Israel Dagg comes back at fullback after getting over his ankle injury. Are these players all 100%? Possibly not but lose on Friday and they may well not make the play-offs. Richie captain charming McCaw moves to his favoured No 7 posish and Owen Franks comes in at prop ahead of Wyatt Krockett.
Chiefs flank, Sam Cane had a superb start to international rugby recently against Ireland and scored two tries in the third game. This week he will be up against the always dangerous McCaw. In other changes from last week, Alex Bradley comes in for the injured Kane Thompson at 8th man and Andrew Horrel comes in at 13 to partner Sonny Boxer Williams in the midfield.
The Chiefs did well to beat the Highlanders last week and are now assured of winning the Kiwi conference. This should be a cracking game between two quality sides who both like to bring their razzle dazzle backs into play. The Chiefs have been very impressive this season but historically do not have a good record against the Crusaders, who may just want this one a little more more and I am backing them to win a toit one and keep their play-off hopes alive.
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-Off: Fri, 9:35am
Chiefs vs Crusaders Prediction: Crusaders by less than 7
Reds vs Highlanders
The Highlanders still have an outside chance of making the play-offs but will need to get four tries in beating the Reds and hope other results go their way. At the time of writing, the team had not yet been announced but they have a bye in the last week, so this could effectively be their last game, so expect passion aplenty
The Reds have improved as the tournament has progressed and did enough to get the bonus point win against the Rebels last week. They are one of the teams in the three-way but are ahead of the Sharks due to more wins this season. They face the struggling Waratahs next week, so a win here may well see them finishing in the top 6.
Look out for more ‘fooled you haha’ no look passing and wild turkey stepping from Quade Burglar Cooper as the Reds win this one at home.
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Reds vs Highlanders Prediction: Reds by 5-10
Sharks vs Bulls
The Bulls steamrolled the Cheetahs last week, scoring 40 unanswered points before bringing on all of their replacements and conceding four tries in the last 20 mins. All of the returning Bokke in the side made an impact before being subbed with Morne Steyn putting in an impressive showing, especially with his goal kicking.
The Bulls have chosen the same matchday 22 but the Sharks have been dick punched by the unavailability of Pat I use Clear for Men Lambie and possibly Willem man mountain Alberts. Lock Steven Sykes and SA under 20 centre Paul Jordaan will both need to pass late fitness tests but the potential loss of Alberts and Lambie will be the most worrying for coach John Plumtree. Alberts was back to his bulldozing best against England recently and gave the Bokke valuable momentum, while Lambie was solid at the back and joined the line well when needed.
Good news for Plums is that Frans Steyn will be making his first start for the Durban side and the Sharks (and Bok) front row are all ready and rearing to go after the bye last week. The Sharks will look to use the scrums to attack off while the Bulls will be keen to dominate the lineouts. Bismark had a good England series but his throwing has not been as accurate as he would have liked and he will need to be at his best as one of his rivals, Ralepelle is hitting some impressive form.
The midfield and loose forward battle will be immense with Olivier against Steyn and the Potgieters, Dewald and Jacques against Jean Deysel and KeaganDaniel. Expect kicks aplenty and “oooooh” inducing defense the order of the day. Super tough to call this but with Alberts and Lambie out and the Bulls riding high after last week, they may well sneak it.
Venue: Mr Price Kings Park, Durban
Sharks vs Bulls Prediction: Bulls by less than 7