Super Rugby 2013: Preview and Predictions – Round 13, Part 1
Round 13, already! Sheesh kebabs with surprise sauce!
We are reaching crrritical times indeed as teams, coaches and rugby scribes alike all look at the various match ups, byes, scenarios and bankable wins as we all try to figure out who will and who will not make the play-offs. I started doing this and then realised it would require a spread sheet and possible use of maths and formulas and before I knew it I was watching Game of Thrones. Great show! Also is it me or is Khaleesi more sexy now that she has three dragons? Here she is as a brunette.
Back to Super Rugby now though and my team of the week is the Waratahs. The Kings were definitely poor in most aspects but Michael Cheika’s men in baby blue were very impressive none the less and could well sneak into the play-offs if they continue their try scoring ways. Let’s wonder on down to this week’s match ups, starting with three games on Friday.
Super Rugby, round 13 Friday 10th May 2013
Chiefs vs Force
The Force once again halted the Reds and are now officially their bogey side. LOL. Captain Matt Hodgson had a blinder and would have been very happy withhis team’s display. The Perth brigade targeted Will Genia and Quade Cooper and did not allow them any space. It was ugly but effective and perhaps a blue print to beating the Reds. Having said that, their record against Kiwi sides is mostly poor and they will struggle to contain the Chiefs in the same manner.
For the Chiefs, team changes aplenty. In the midfield, Bundee Aki and Save Takula start as the centre combo with Gareth Anscomb slotting in at flyhalf to give Aaron Cruden a rest. Robbie Robinson comes in at fullback and Patrick Osborne starts on the left-wing. In the forwards, prop Ben Afeaki is the only change. Will these changes make the Chiefs a weaker side? Not so much. They have only ever lost to the Force once. It was by 1 point, in Perth, so should secure this home victory in the hustle and bustle of Pukekohe (yes, that is the name of an actual city).
Venue: Ecolight Stadium, Pukekohe
Kick-Off: Fri, 9:35am (SA Time)
Chiefs vs Force Prediction: Chiefs by 13-20
Reds vs Sharks
John I feel it in ma plums Plumtree has made 4 changes to his side for this game, bringing in another ex-Lion, prop JC Janse Van Rensburg at prop. 8th man Tera Mtembu is out injured, so Keegan Daniel moves to the back with Jean Deysel taking his place at flank. In the backs JP Pietersen moves to centre with youngling Piet Lindique starting on the wing. In some positive team news, Bok Willem man mountain Alberts returns to the side off the bench to offer some crash ball in your face later on. The Sharks have only lost once to the Reds in the last 6 years and will be desperate for more of the same as they try to keep up with the SA conference leaders.
The Reds will know how vital this game is before heading off on their African adventure tour, where they face the Cheetahs and Stormers. They have hit a bit of a lull in their season and looked very beatable in their last two games but will have been following the Sharks’ own struggles and will be keen to enact some revenge from their home semi final loss last year. Smart money would be on the Reds given the current injury list of the Sharks but the return of Alberts could well make a difference later on. Just sayin.
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Reds vs Sharks Prediction: Reds by less than 7
Cheetahs vs Hurricanes
The Hurricanes had a bit of a mare last week and poor decision-making and terrible floating passes aside, it is the concussion of captain Conrad Smith which will be worrying coach Mark Hammett, most. Smith is a vital player and defensive organiser to boot and will be sorely missed. The Canes have had a mixed bag of a season so far but a win on Fri night will bring them right back into play-off contention. Whether they can improve enough to do so though is doubtful.
The Cheetahs are coming off a bye and will be rested and rearing to go come Fri night. they have brought in flank, Frans Viljoen for the injured Lappies Labuschagne but otherwise the team is unchanged from the one that dominated the Kings. The Bloem massive are currently 6th, their best posish everr and will know how vital a home win is if they are to keep up with the Bulls, who have a bye this week. There have been some high scoring games between these two sides but with the Cheetahs new-found defensive abilities, they will be hoping to for a more one sides scoreline in Bloem. Let’s hope for massive home support, a four try bonus point win and then later, Harley rides through the quad, everyone’s doing it!
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Cheetahs vs Hurricanes Prediction: Cheetahs by 8-15