Super Rugby 2013: Preview and Predictions – Qualifiers
So here we are, the Super Rugby 2013 play-offs and the top six teams. The stellar half-dozen. 6 of the best. The supreme Super Rugby 6-pack of justice. True and golden and delicious. Man I am thirsty. Someone get me 6 beers, stat. Let’s get our drink on!
Well done the Chiefs, Bulls, Brumbies, Crusaders, Reds and Cheetahs. Two from each conference and the only real surprise being the Cheetahs in the play-offs and possibly the fact that the Bulls finished so high up on the log. Man, I am really glad I put money on both the Sharks and Stormers…betting skills, I have none.
The Chiefs and Bulls have both earned a wee breather and will get to sit back and watch to see who will get to travel to Hamilton and Loftus next week for the semis. How it works is the Chiefs will play the lowest placed qualifying winner this week and the Bulls the highest placed. So the Bulls will be hoping the Brumbies beat the Cheetahs, as this means the Brumbies travel to Loftus, whereas a Cheetahs win means either the Reds or Crusaders (probably the Crusaders) will make their way to SA.
Tough matches to call these as form seems to have been thrown out the window with none of the top 5 sides having good games last week (the Cheetahs had a bye), with the worst being the Brumbies loss to the Force… I mean come on! Man this beer is delicious, wish it was a top 12 qualification system. Maybe I should just drink a beer for every team in tournament in honour of a good season played by all… cheers.
Super Rugby play-offs 2013
Crusaders vs Reds
The Reds were just as woeful as the Brumbies last week but due to the inability of the Waratahs to kick anything over the cross bar, still managed a win and will at least take heart that they can only get better. They welcome back Will Genia and captain James Horwill for this clash and will know that their recent record against the Crusaders is a good one, having won 3 of the last 4 games. Star centre Anthony Faingaa is out injured and is replaced by Jono Lance, which is a further injury dick punch as winger Rod Davies and Mike Harris have now also been ruled out.
For the Crusaders, the return of Richie captain charming McCaw off the bench will add to their favourites tag and rightly so. They are the form team at the moment and should have the upper hand with Mr Awesome, Dan the man Carter continuing with his sublime game controlling ways. All Black lock Luke Romano returns to strengthen the set pieces in a side that is otherwise unchanged from last week. The Saders were not at their best last week but still managed a solid win against an impressive Hurricanes side and will be confident of getting to yet another Super Rugby semi-final in front of what should be a sold out stadium.
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-Off: Saturday, 9:35am (SA time)
Crusaders vs Reds Prediction: Crusaders by 5-10
Brumbies vs Cheetahs
George Smith returns for this game and his experience will be invaluable in a young Brumbies side. The free roaming ferral horses will continue with their conservative kicking game and hope to keep the Cheetahs pinned in their half, similar to what the Stormers successfully achieved recently. Recently appointed Wallaby fullback Jesse Mogg will be vital in this regard but Smith and fellow Wallaby forwards Ben Mowan, Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander will need to provide good go forward ball if Jake White’s team are to progress any further.
The Cheetahs will be relying on Heinrich Popeye arms Brussouw and fellow forwards Lappies Labuschagne, captain Adriaan Strauss and Trevor Nyakane to get the upper hand in the rucks and mauls. Expect plenty of kicking from the Cheetahs but perhaps a touch more running adventure than the Brumbies as they will look to give high flying Willie le Roux and Raymond Rhule chances to razzle dazzle, especially if they fall behind on the scoreboard.
This is a very tough one to call and I would love to see the Cheetahs beat the Brumbies but I reckon home ground advantage will see the Brumbies juuust edge Naka Drotske’s Bloemfontein massive, setting up Chiefs vs Crusaders and Bulls vs Brumbies semi-finals next week.
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Kick-Off: Sunday, 8:10am
Brumbies vs Cheetahs Prediction: Brumbies by less than 7