Super Rugby 2013: Preview and Predictions – Round 18, Part 2
Three more Super Rugby adventures flying your way this Saturday, all involving SA sides. Put that in your coffee, swirl it around, dunk a biscuit in there, add some whiskey. Hmmm. Delicious.
First up we have the Sharks against the Blues, which would usually be far easier to call but there is a fair amount of off the field shenans happening at the Sharks, with recently appointed CEO, John Smit getting rid of John feel it in ma plums Plumtree. What Smit possibly failed to realise is that outgoing CEO Brian Van Zyl had already agreed to extending Plum’s contract and now the Sharks may well have to pay out the two year extension promised. Oopsies.
The next game is between the Bulls and Kings, followed by the Stormers vs Cheetahs, which (surprisingly) will be played at a dry Newlands Stadium. Cray cray to the max. Let’s get our predictions on!
Super Rugby round 18, 29th June 2013
Sharks vs Blues
Coach Sir John Kirwan has decided to bench All Blacks Rene Ranger and Kevin Mealamu for this fixture but has included flank Steven Luatua and wing Frank Halai who both made their All Black debuts recently. This is a must win game for the 8th placed Blues who will be looking to improve on their record at the Shark tank, with only two wins in Durban, the last being back in 2004.
The Sharks have a new midfield pairing in Louis Luddik and Butch James but welcome back Boks Lwazi Mvovu, Pat I use Clear for Men Lambie, the Beeeeast, Jannie du Plessis, Willem Man mountain Alberts and Marcell Coetzee to the starting line-up. Bismark du Plessis will get a run off the bench and along with Jean Deysel will make sure the Sharks have quality players subbing on if needed. Besides the boardroom distractions, the Sharks should still start as favourites and should do the Cheetahs a big favour by beating the Blues at home, ensured by a superior forward display.
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Kick-Off: Saturday, 2:50pm (SA time)
Sharks vs blues Prediction: Sharks by 5-12
Bulls vs Kings
The Kings have lost Luke Watson for the rest of the season, out with an ankle injury and his place is taken by the impressive Cornell du Preez. Lock Steven Sykes is still injured as is wing Siyanda Grey and Sergeal Pieterson but otherwise the core team remains unchanged. The Kings now know they will have to play the Lions in the relegation match and will be hoping to stay injury free leading up to that game. Expect a strong(ish) start but not much more from the PE massive.
The Bulls are without Pierre Spies, who is out for the rest of the season with a bicep tear but have the luxury of resting Boks, Morne Steyn, JJ Engelbrecht and Juandre Kruger while still fielding a very experienced and impressive line-up which includes Deon Stegmann, Jacques Potgieter, Fran double sleeve Hougaard and Jan Serfontein. Dewald Potgieter will captain the side in what could be Wynand Olivier’s last game for the Bulls. The Bulls are almost impossible to beat at home and should win this comfortably in front of what may well turn out to be a sparse crowd.
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Bulls vs Kings Prediction: Bulls by 20-30
Stormers vs Cheetahs
Hooker Flank Deon Fourie will lead the Stormers in the absence of Jean de Villiers for this clash. The other loose forwards are Siya Kolisi and Nizaan Carr, which is a very mobile back three indeed. This should ensure quick ball but may mean Coetzee’s side is a little short on powerful ball carriers and ‘grunt’ for lack of a better word, although Eben Etzebeth may disagree. In the backs, Bryan Habana will start at wing with Juan de Jongh returning at centre to partner Damian de Allande.
The Cheetahs have brought back all of their Bokke, except for prop Trevor Nyakane, who starts on the bench. A win here assures the Cheetahs of making the play-offs as they have a bye in the final week but a loss sets up a tricksy must win game against the Blues next week.
The previous encounter was won after the whistle with a penalty kick and this game may be just as close. Hard one to call this as the Stormers are very tough to beat at home but the Cheetahs have been very impressive this year and appear to have the better pack, so am leaning towards a win for the Adriaan Strauss’s Cheetah pack.
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Stormers vs Cheetahs Prediction: Cheetahs by less than 7