Super Rugby 2013: Preview and Predictions – Round 20, Part 2
So here we are, down to the last four regular games before the play-offs. Twenty rounds of smash you in your face Super Rugby match ups and we are still standing. Well played team. Maverick thumbs up.
Go get yourself a beer, you have earned it. Yes, even if you are reading this at work. Tell your superior’s rennton OK’d it, they will more than likely nod and tell you to take the rest of the day off.
Three of the four games could have a significant bearing on who plays whom and where, not to mention when and why. By the end of the day on Saturday, all will be revealed. I for one think the log will stay as it is. Take that to the bank, deposit it, demand a receipt, complain about the charges and storm out.
So without further randomness, let’s get down to one last league stage preview slash prediction soiree.
Super Rugby round 20, Saturday 13th of July 2013
Waratahs vs Reds
The Waratahs are without Wallaby star Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell, Wycliff Palu and Tatafu Polata-Nau for this match up and as much as Micheal Cheika harps on about his boys doing their best to impress new Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie, they will struggle without the bulk of their best players. They have improved from last season but will rue a sluggish start as they end mid table this year.
The Reds have been dick punched by injuries themselves with Will Genia and Wallaby captain James Horwill out injured after the final B&I Lions Test hammering but do have Quade pick me coach Cooper ready to force his way back into the Wallaby side with a commanding performance. A loss without a bonus point could see the Reds playing the Brumbies instead of the Crusaders, which should actually suit them more but expect a confidence building win instead as they look to finish as high on the log as possible.
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Kick-Off: Sat, 11:40am (SA time)
Waratahs vs Reds Prediction: Reds by 5-10
Force vs Brumbies
Coach White, recently overlooked for the Wallaby coach posish (LOL) has chosen a very strong side for this game but is still without scrumhalf Nic White. He has chosen to bring George Smith on off the bench but Jesse Mogg, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Ben Mowan, Joe Tomane and Christian Lealiifano will all get starts. The Brumbies will know they can still (technically) finish at the top of the log and will be keen on a solid win to give themselves the best chance possible.
The Force have been competitive against the Brumbies at home in the past but will struggle against the well-drilled defensive and tactically astute Canberra side. They are currently the worst Aussie side and will finish another year loitering at the bottom of the log.
Venue: NIB Stadium, Perth
Force vs Brumbies Prediction: Brumbies by 12-19
Sharks vs Kings
CEO John Smit has continued his ‘let’s throw the baby out with the bath water’ approach and current coaches Hugh Reece-Edwards and Grant Bashford will be overseeing their last Sharks game this week, after being given the boot. Butch James is suspended for this game and Pat I use Clear for Men Lambie is out with a back injury. Riaan Viljoen shifts to flyhalf for James and Meyer Bosman comes back into the side in the centre posish. JP Pietersen makes a timely return on the wing and Odwa Ndungane will slot in at fullback.
The Kings look like they are giving their reserve players a run in their last Super Rugby game of the year before their play-off games in a few weeks time. They have made twelve changes in all and should be easy picking for the Sharks in front of their home fans. The Kings have failed to beat any of the SA sides this year so far and will keep that SHITake record in tact on Sat.
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Sharks vs Kings Prediction: Sharks by 30+
Stormers vs Bulls
This result could well decide who wins Super Rugby this year. If the Bulls win, a good bet would be on them going all the way due a home semi and final and their impeccable record at home. Should they lose, they could end up third, which would basically end their Super Rugby title chances. Coach Ludeke has made two injury enforced changes with Francois Venter coming in for Jan Serfentein and Jano Vermaak in for Fran double tatt sleeve Hougaard.
The Stormers tried in vain to score some tries last week against the Kings and their continued attacking failures should surely see backline coach Robbie Fleck get the boot. Surely! They have chosen Gary Van Aswegen at flyhalf, apparently due to his right footed kicking ability, but it is not like Elton Jantjies has been in sublime form either. Gio Aplon moves to fullback for the injured Joe possible son of Percy Pietersen with Gerhard van den Heever slotting in at wing. Captain Jean de Villiers comes back at centre and Rynhardt Estadt gets a start on the flank.
The Bulls were woeful last week and still managed a win, which may well give them the belief that they can beat the Stormers in Cape Town if they can improve at the lineouts and breakdown. Expect a Test match style game in front of a packed stadium but for the Bulls to scrape a win and secure that all important home semi.
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Stormers vs Bulls Prediction: Bulls by less than 7