Super Rugby 2013 Preview and Predictions: Round 2, Part 1
So technically Super Rugby 2013 started last week and I suppose I should have posted a preview for Round 1 but it only involved four Aussie teams. I tried to preview but come on…two Aussie derbies…Rebels vs Force…I am only human. GOSH.
The ARU asked SANZAR if they could start a week early so that they have more time to prepare for the mid year British and Irish Lions tour and fair play to them. As much as I am not a fan of Aussie Rugby, having the English press bleat on for 4 years about a famous B&I series victory would be too much to bear.
Back to Super Rugby though and it all kicks off good n’ proper this weekend with 7 games involving all 3 countries and some mouth-watering clashes on the cards to boot. Let’s dive in for the
first second round of Super Rugby action.
Super Rugby round 2, Friday 22nd Feb 2013
Highlanders vs Chiefs
The Highlanders started off last season guns blazing, both barrels firing but ran out of
bullets quality players in the second half and ended up not making the play-offs. Their playing style was lauded however and having kept the same coach and much of the same squad with the addition of key personnel, could well go one better this year. Look out for new recruits Brad yes I am still playing Thorn, Tony WoodCOCK and Ma’a dreadlocks Nonu, all All Blacks and all quality players.
For the Chiefs, the loss of centre combo Sonny Boxer Williams and Richard Kahui is a big loss but with the 9 and 10 All Black partnership of Tawera Ker-Barlow and Aaron Cruden and speedy Tim Nanai-Williams in the centre should still pose the attacking threat of last year. In the forwards, Liam Messam, Sam Cane and Brodie Retallick will be looking to dominate and get the front foot advantage, so vital in getting the early momentum. This should be a great game first up and tough to call but I am going with the home side to win a toit one.
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-Off: Friday 8:35am (SA time)
Highlanders vs Chiefs Prediction: Highlanders by less than 7
Rebels vs Brumbies
The Rebels got off to a good start last week with a win over the Force but in case you missed it, played against 13 men at one stage and very nearly lost the match. This, by the way, was a Force team without their best player, David PoCOCK who has moved to another Aussie side, the Brumbies. The Rebels do start with Bromance of the Year 2012 finalists Kurtley Tache Beale and James corn rows O ‘Connor, so are always a threat but will struggle in the forwards against Jake’s impressive Brumbies side.
The Brumbies were slow out the blocks last week but eventually settled and took control of the breakdowns. They are well coached and know that they need to win games like this in order to top the Aussie conference. The Rebels play far better at home but will struggle to get into the game if PoCOCK has his way. Expect another win notched up for the Brumbies side in another ho-hum Aussie derby.
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Rebels vs Brumbies: Brumbies by 5-12
Bulls vs Stormers
The Bulls are never easy to beat at Loftus and have a very experienced side for this game but were surprisingly beaten by the Stormers at home last year when the Stormers were without several key players. Home wins are vital in Super Rugby and the Bulls will want to prove they have moved on from their disappointing 2012. Captain Pierre Spies, Morne Steyn and Wynand Olivier will have a chance to show they still have what it takes against the very men who displaced them in the Bok team (although to be fair Pat Lambie has actually taken Steyn’s place more than Elton has).
For the Stormers, they go into this game and indeed the season as favourites and with key additions to their squad and an apparent desire to add a more attacking element to their game, will feel that the hype is justified. Just how well the new players fit into the side and how quickly will be crrrritical. They are without Eben massive guns Etzebeth and Schalk Burger but are boosted by the return of Andries Bekker back from injury. Look out for the ever impressive current Bok 8th man, Duane Vermeulen and Lions imports, prop Pat Cilliers and Jaco Taute and Elton Jantjies in the backline.
This will be played like a test match, like most SA derbies are, with solid defence, lots of territorial kicking and the safety first approach. Let’s hope for no injuries and good solid quality rugga. The Bulls are of course capable of an upset but if the Stormers’ defense is what is was last year and the new players slot in quickly, the Stormers should get off to a valuable winning start.
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Bulls vs Stormers Prediction: Stormers by less than 7