Super Rugby 2013: Preview and Predictions – Round 20, Part 1
So I’m back, from outer space… actually Kwa-Zulu Natal and I have to say, what a fantastic holiday it was too. Great company, superb food and drink and an awesome round of golf to boot. Glorious times and no mistake. I was unable to post last week’s preview but did manage to catch the games though. Let’s discuss, shall we.
My team of the week is the Crusaders, who reminded all and sundry just why they have been so successful at Super Rugby for so long with a devastating win over the (former) log leading Chiefs side. Dan the man Carter, Kieran Reed, Israel Dagg, Ryan Crotty and Zac Guildford all had blinders and I pity the
fool team that has to play them in the play-offs.
Prediction?… Pain. Classic.
The Bulls juuust managed to edge a very impressive passionate Sharks side and will be breathing a sigh of relief that Butch James had one of his infamous brain farts and was duly sent off for a head high tackle, which enabled the Loftus crew to snatch the win.
In other games, the Hurricanes and Highlanders decided tackling was more optional than compulsory and decided to rather see who could score the most dazzling tries. The Cheetahs managed to make it into the play-offs for the first time everrr with a nervy win over the Blues and hearty congrats and maverick thumbs up to them for it. Lastly, the Kings and Stormers played a yawn fest that must be the most boring game of rugby this season.
The Kings vs Lions relegation game is looming large and I for one, cannot wait but enough reminiscing of times past, let’s look ahead I say. There is one more round of Super Rugby action before the play-offs and 7 games coming your way this weekend. Unfortunately two of those are Aussie derbies and one is between the Rebels and Highlanders but the rest should be good. Let’s stare blankly at the first three.
Super Rugby round 20, Friday 12th of July 2013
Crusaders vs Hurricanes
Coach Blackadder has made just one injury enforced change to his side with lock Tom Donnelly coming in for the injured Luke Romano. The Saders are currently lying 4th and will more than likely stay there, meaning a home qualifying game for them next week. The last two games between these two sides has been decided by 1 point in favour of the Canes but going on current form, the home side must start as big favourites.
The Hurricanes have made only one change themselves, with Brad Shields coming in at No 6, although Alapati Leiua has yet to prove his fitness and is bracketed with Matt Proctor on the wing. The Wellington massive have only pride to play for but judging by last week will be keen to throw it around and score some tries. Unfortunately for them, the Crusaders should punish them even more than the Highlanders did and they will finish up where they currently lie, a disappointing 11th on the log.
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-Off: Friday 9:35am (SA Time)
Crusaders vs Hurricanes Prediction: Crusaders by 15-22
Rebels vs Highlanders
The Rebels have decided the way forward is to fire everyone and start again. Not really but they have sacked the coach, Damien Hill,Wallaby flyhalf, James O’ Connor and are set to lose 5 other players. They have had some good games this season and are far better in Melbourne so could very well finish on a relative high by beating the poorest kiwi side but probably won’t.
The Highlanders won last week and had a very good game against the Blues a while back but all in all have been terrible this season. They promised so much and delivered so little, which is apparently exactly what it is like to have sex with Shane Warne… Zing! You’re welcome. I will be rooting for the Highlanders like I always do and will once again predict a win for them but will feel rather disappointed with the whole performance. Which is exactly how Liz Hurley feels every night…Bam!
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Rebels vs Highlanders Prediction: Highlanders by 10-17
Blues vs Chiefs
The Blues have had to travel back home after a very disappointing SA tour but should be fairly happy with their season in general, especially compared to cluster FiretrUCK of last year. New coach Sir John Kirwan has brought in some much-needed passion to the side and has mixed youth and experience well with his selections throughout the season. They will more than likely finish mid table but will be keen on one last big game against the Chiefs in front of their home fans.
It is hard to tell whether the Chiefs were just a bit rusty last week or have peaked to early. They cannot afford another loss after failing to pick up any points last week and could even drop out of the top 3 if they fail to get any points from this game. I don’t have any team news but they will not be resting anyone for this NZ derby. The Chiefs have won their last two games in Auckland so will be quietly confident, especially as travel may count against the Blues but this could be toiter than many expect.
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-Off: Sat, 9:35am
Blues vs Chiefs Prediction: Chiefs by 5-10