Look no further than Varkhond for good news this weekend. Any SA team boasting a Varkhond has to be taken seriously.
The Cheetahs, tipped to dispense with the Highlanders, fell short a week ago. They won’t stutter for a third successive time at home. They had better not because if they lose to the Hurricanes in Bloemfontein, they may as well stay home and not bother travelling abroad.
The Canes top the log, but they haven’t put together 80 minutes of rugby this season. They were awful for 40 minutes against the Blues, then brilliant for the next 40. They were sensational for two minutes against the Force, then as farcial for the next 70 minutes. And against the Cats they were just boring.
They have 15 league points, the maximum after three rounds. They’ve got there through a combination of crappy opposition and individual brilliance.
But they are a team that has struggled often when playing in the robust Republic. These Kiwi boys don’t like being tackled by the boere and that is what the Cheetahs will do. They will take them on up front, suffocate them and squeeze the life out of the dangerous back three.
The Canes are also missing their captain, Conrad Smith in the midfield and that rare New Zealand good looking fella Paul Tito, out because of suspension. The Cheetahs have drafted in Varkhond to lock the scrum. And we’re never going to bet against a Varkhond.
Cheetahs to upstage the league leaders.
The bones predict a good weekend for SA teams, with the Cheetahs and Stormers to break their home drought and the Bulls not to lose. (Yeah, I know they don’t play, that’s why they won’t lose).
It will be two from four, with two home wins and two away defeats.
The Sharks will give a decent account of themselves against the Tahs, but will lose it in the last quarter, while the Cats lost it when the draw read Canberra. No matter how poor the Brumbies line-up or how good the Cats line-up, when those two teams play in Canberra, it’s points to the home team.
And on this occasion, the Brumbies line-up is decent and the Cats is ragged.
In the big New Zealand derby, the Crusaders will cane the Blues. The latter have been diabolical under former Brumbies coach David Nucifora and the Crusaders don’t lose often at Jade Stadium. I know the Carlos Spencer-inspired Blues beat them in Christchurch a couple of seasons ago, but in that year the Blues were on fire with Graham Henry’s influence. No Graham Henry and very little ambition with this team.
In the bore of the weekend, the hicks from Hamilton will have too much horsepower for the rubble Reds. Be guaranteed of one thing, this match won’t be one for the highlights package. It will slow and a grind. But the hicks will take points from anyone, especially after giving away points to the Sharks and Cats.
Week one: 4/7
Week two: 4/7
Week three: 4/7
Friday 3 March Chiefs v Reds: Chiefs by 10
Brumbies v Cats: Brumbies by 20
Saturday 4 March Waratahs v Sharks: Tahs by 10
Crusaders v Blues: Crusaders by 10
Stormers v Highlanders: Stormers by 10
Cheetahs v Hurricanes: Cheetahs by 7
BYE Western Force/Bulls