Super Rugby 2012: Preview and Predictions – Round 18, part 1
Permutations, permutations, permutations.
Great word! Wonder what it means? Just joshing, I am fairly certain it has something to do with hairstyles gone crazy… Boom!
Perm mutations? Sort of funny? No… sheesh, tough crowd.
There is much that can happen in the final week of regular Super Rugby action with eight sides still in with a shout of making the play-offs but I reckon the final conference log positions will remain unchanged. On Saturday night after the last game there will be two Kiwi sides, three Saffa sides and one Aussie side in the six team play-offs with the Chiefs and Stormers finishing at the top followed by the Brumbies, Crusaders, Bulls and Sharks. A bold prediction perhaps but that is why they pay me
the big bucks in food coupons and moderate praise.
There are some interesting situations awaiting the top sides as far as who will face whom, who needs what and you guessed it… permutations, so let’s get in close, uncomfortably close as we look ahead to the first three games.
Super Rugby round 18, Fri 13 July 2012
Hurricanes vs Chiefs
The Hurricanes have had a surprisingly good season given the loss of key players at the end of last year but will be keen on one final victory to give themselves an outside chance of playing next week. To do so they will need All Black Cory Jane to be cleared to play after being out for eight weeks with an ankle injury and hoping that scrumhalf Chris Eaton recovers from a pesky hamstring injury. Good news for the team is that 8th man, Victor Vito looks set to come back into the starting line up after recovering from a knee injury picked up playing for the All Blacks.
The Chiefs lost last week but were unlucky as Crusaders scrumhalf Andy Ellis scored a try after a double movement. It was referred and then strangely still awarded by the TMO. Who was the TMO? Who could make such a blatant bad decision? None other than Bryce Douchebag Lawrence, of course. Geez, is there nothing this guy can do right? I heard he was once asked to hand out half time snacks at a school boy rugby game and he gave out lemon wedges. Idiot!
The Chiefs have made key changes this week with top try scorer, prop Sona Taumalolo, playing in his 50th Super Rugby game off the bench, captain Craig Clarke returning at lock, Jackson Willison again partnering Sonny Boxer Williams in midfield and Lelia dancing feet Masaga back on the wing. They have been one of if not the form side this year and should prove too much for the sketchy Canes defense and win this with four tries.
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-Off: Fri, 9:35am
Hurricanes vs Chiefs Prediction: Chiefs by 5-10
Brumbies vs Blues
The Blues beat the Force last week which moved them to 13th on the log. Not surprisingly they are appointing a new coach next week but quite surprisingly, current coach Pat Lam has re-applied for the job. Good luck with that buddy. The Blues have had their worst season to date but like a few sides this year have been crippled with injuries. This week they are without Rene Ranger but welcome back prop Charlie Faumuina. There is always a chance of an upset but expect too many errors and poor decisions to continue to hamper them against a solid defensive unit.
The Brumbies need one point to be assured of top Aussie side and should get that, no worries mate. They did their best to bore everyone to death last week against the Waratahs but did enough to come from behind to secure their first win at ANZ Stadium. The side is still to be confirmed but Jake White will more than likely keep the same 22, injury permitting. They are back at home and will be keen on building momentum as they look ahead to playing either the Bulls or Sharks next week.
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Kick-Off: Sat, 7:30am
Brumbies vs Blues Prediction: Brumbies by less than 7
Crusaders vs Force
The Force will wait until the last-minute to decide whether to play captain Nathan Sharpe, who is struggling with a back injury, in his last ever Super Rugby game. Believe it or not, Sharpe is the most capped Super Rugby player and if he plays on Saturday will have played a staggering 162 games. Holy ball shitake, great stuff man! It would be awesome if the Force could send him on his way with a victory…. but
like the Stormers ever scoring four tries, it’s just not going to happen.
The Crusaders could still technically not make the play-offs if they lose which is fairly unchartered territory for them. This season has been a mixed bag so far but on Saturday morning they will secure fourth spot on the log with a comfortable win and then sit back and watch to see who gets to come to Christchurch to play them next week.
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Crusaders vs Force Prediction: Crusaders by 10-20