Super Rugby 2012: Preview and Predictions – Round 17, part 2
First up, I would like to give Oscar Pistorius a big Maverick thumbs up on making the SA Olympic team for the London Olympics 2012. Massive respect.
Pistorius, also known as ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘the fastest man with no legs’ failed to qualify for the individual 400m but managed to make it into the 4 x 400m relay squad. After the Olympics, he will again compete at the Paralympics, where he will defend the gold medals he won in the 100m, 200m and 400m (T44) events in Beijing 2008. Good luck, sir!
Back to Super Rugby now and four games on Saturday. Set activity levels to ‘couch’.
Super Rugby round 17, Sat 7 July 2012
Blues vs Force
Blues coach, Pat Lam has brought back All Blacks, Piri mmh pies, delicious Weepu and Kevin Mealamu into the starting line up for this ho-hum game but is without locks Ali Williams and Anthony Boric. The Blues have only pride to play for but Ma’a dreadlocks Nonu, Rene Ranger and the Braid brothers will be keen to use what little game time they have left to force their way back into the All Black side.
The Force have lost David PoCOCK for this match with lock, Nathan Sharpe taking over the captaincy. It is in the locks where the Force may have the upper hand but really have no hope otherwise. The key is to not expect much from this game and it may turn out to be moderately entertaining.
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-Off: Sat, 9:35am
Blues vs Force Prediction: Blues by 7-15
Waratahs vs Brumbies
The Brumbies have never won at ANZ Stadium but will know that a win on Sat virtually assures them of finishing top Aussie side and a guaranteed 3rd place on the log. They have kept the same 22 from last week, where they put on a very impressive first half display against the Force and coach Jake White, will be looking for more of the same this week.
The Waratahs have had a terrible season, so much so that coach Michael Foley was recently called in to explain to his bosses exactly what the FiretrUCK happened this year. Half of the current 22 are Wallabies, who recently did the business over Wales, so there are definite questions over Foley’s coaching abilities. This should be a close and possibly dull game with kicking and safety first options from the Brumbies, who should safely clinch it.
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Waratahs vs Brumbies Prediction: Brumbies by less than 7
Cheetahs vs Stormers
The Cheetahs have rung the changes, five in all with Justin Downey replacing Ashley Afro Johnson and Barry Geel replacing Andries Strauss being the two eyebrow raisers. The Cheetahs did well to come back last week against the Bulls but it must be said that the Bulls had brought on all of their replacements and appeared to have lost interest in silly things like tackling, game plans or being in position. The Cheetahs are always a dangerous side at home however and guys like fullback Willie le Roux have been playing superb rugga this season, check this little bit of individual magic…
The Stormers have made a fair amount of changes of their own with Bryan Habana, Joe Pietersen, Rynhardt Elstadt and Steven Kitshof all coming back into the starting line-up. Siya Kolisi moves back to flank with Canadian Jebb Sinclair shifting to 8th man. They are still without Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth and Nick Koster and Alistair Coetzee will know that a win on Sat assures them of a top two finish and an extra week’s break.
Expect the Cheetahs to try to run from everywhere and for the Stormers to tackle and tackle and tackle some more. It would be nice if the top SA side actually scored four tries in a game, dare I say that this could be that game?
Don’t bet on it Maaaybe.
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Cheetahs vs Stormers Prediction: Stormers by 7-15
Lions vs Rebels
The Rebels are without BFFs Kurtley Tache Beale and James Bieber O’ Connor for this game which I am sure the Lions are pretty happy about. They do however have some powerful forwards and did beat the Crusaders at home this season. Unfortunately for them, they do not travel well and have only ever won once away from Melbourne. They have won four times this season already though and will see this as their best chance of a first victory in South Africa.
The Lions played well in parts last week but were let down by their apparent inability to catch a ball from a kick. They lost their fullback early and the replacement had a bit of a nightmare. Referee,Mark Lawrence made some dubious decisions at the breakdown on the night, which halted their momentum which Josh Strauss diplomatically mentioned after the game.
“Some of those calls I thought were not fair, and when it came at crucial times, it cost us,”. Which is about all he could say without being fined and translates to “Geez Mark, WTF? Are you blind, why don’t you just put on a Stormers jersey for firetuck sakes!”
The Lions should win this game at home to pick up only their third win this season, which is pretty poor no matter how you look at it.
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Joburg
Lions vs Rebels Prediction: Lions by 5-10