Super 14 preview: Round 11

Jon Cardinelli and Ryan Vrede analyse the key match-ups and pick the winners at the weekend. And for good measure – based on shocking performance – the Bones have been relegated to a shared thread.

Cheers to the Lions and jeers to the Sharks for last week’s showings. For the Lions, the win over the Reds means they’ll end their tour with some consolation. For the Sharks, their clanger against the Crusaders has slightly hampered their chances of a home play-off.

Round 11 will witness a return to type as the Lions plug in Perth and the Stormers lose their fifth on the bounce at The House of Pain.

Vrede believes the Cheetahs will score an upset over the incumbent champs while JC reckons the Bloemfontein boys don’t have it in them. In Pretoria, the dulcet tones of Hofmeyr and co will blare on into the night as the Bully Boys celebrate a win over the Chiefs.

VREDE: 72% (46/64)
JC: 61% (39/64)
THE BONES: 61% (39/64)

Round 10
VREDE: 3/7
JC: 4/7
Round nine
VREDE: 5/6
JC: 4/6
Round eight
VREDE: 5/6
JC: 4/6
Round seven
VREDE: 4/6
JC: 4/6
Round six:
VREDE: 3/6
JC: 3/6
Round five
VREDE: 4/6
JC: 3/6
Round four
VREDE: 5/6
JC: 5/6
Round three
VREDE: 4/7
JC: 3/7
Round two
VREDE: 7/7
JC: 7/7
Round one
VREDE: 6/7
JC: 2/7


Vrede’s call: So JC refused to use my pre-written match report and quotes last week in which I predicted the Cape Clowns would be clobbered. No matter, I won’t offer that service again, but I will offer that they will take another beating in Dunedin to cap a miserable tour. The House of Pain has been anything but in the past three years, with the Landers managing a 30% win record. Yet the Stormers will suffer much pain, particularly in their injury-depleted forwards, where they will be manhandled in contact and dominated at the set phases. There’ll be more torture in the back division, where even the Landers’ ordinary bunch will test the Stormers who are sans captain and sole creative force, Jean de Villiers. With Generaal De Waal pulling the strings I’m not predicting an improvement in the Stormers’ attacking play. In fact I fully expect to see regression. The scoreline won’t be as emphatic as it was in Wellington last week because the Landers’ don’t possess the same calibre of players as the Canes. But I suspect a Stormers side, that are in Dunedin in body but in Cape Town in mind, will crumble once again. Highlanders by 7
JC’s call: In preparation for a demanding tour, the Stormers must have targeted the Highlanders game as one they should win, but the rising form of the Mullet Men and their own flagging fortunes have changed things dramatically. Desperate is the word as the Stormers will scramble to salvage something from a nightmare tour, but to no avail. At this point, they lack the desire, ingenuity and execution to crack an average Highlanders defence. Highlanders by 10
THE BONES: Highlanders 1-10

Highlanders - 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jason Shoemark, 12 Daniel Bowden, 11 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 10 Mathew Berquist, 9 Jimmy Cowan (c), 8 George Naoupu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Clint Newland, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Subs: 16 David Hall, 17 Chris King, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 Steven Setephano, 20 Sean Romans, 21 Johnny Leota, 22 Kendrick Lynn.

Stormers – 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gcobani Bobo, 13 Dylan des Fountain, 12 Peter Grant, 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Dewaldt Duvenhage, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 AJ Venter, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller.
Subs: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Morgan Newman, 22 Tiger Bax.


Vrede’s call: Those Jo’burg jesters defied expectations (and that includes the expectations of their coach) by beating the Reds last week. Don’t expect a repeat performance in Perth. The Force, buoyed by an upset victory over the Tahs last week, will be too strong across all facets of play. Their structured approach will trouble the Lions and they’ll be superior at the breakdown thanks to David Pocock, who is arguably the tournament’s best ground level scrapper to date. This will lay the foundation for the Force backline, marshalled by Matt Giteau, to lash them in the final quarter. Loffie pointed to the Reds match as a turnaround in their campaign. I suspect it was nothing more than yet another false dawn. Force by 10
JC’s call: It was laughable to read that the Lions management have no special plans for Giteau. Loffie followed this up by saying the Lions would have to limit the Force’s momentum as they limited the Reds’ last week, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce Giteau is at the heart of their momentum. The Force forwards will lay the platform, but Giteau will put the ball carriers into positions to breach the advantage line off first phase. Giteau will then feed the finishers off second-phase as the Force run the Lions ragged with their expansive style. The Force aren’t as loose as the Reds, and the Lions will not have as many turnover opportunities this Friday. Force by 10
THE BONES: Force 10-plus

Force – 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Scott Staniforth, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 James O’Connor, 11 Cameron Shepherd, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Josh Valentine, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Matt Hodgson, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Ben Castle, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 Gareth Hardy. Subs: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 AJ Whalley, 18 Pek Cowan, 19 Tom Hockings, 20 Tamaiti Horua, 21 Josh Tatupu, 22 Haig Sare.

Lions – 15 Earl Rose, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Henno Mentz, 10 Andre Pretorius, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Ernst Joubert, 6 Robert Kruger, 5 Jannes Labuschagne, 4 Anton van Zyl, 3 Lawrence Sephaka, 2 Hans van Dyk , 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Subs: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Gert Muller, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Todd Clever, 20 Gerhard Mostert, 21 Chris Jonck, 22 Shandré Frolick.


Vrede’s call: Another blue weekend for the rubble Reds I’m afraid. They are still confounded by how they lost to the Lions and will be licking their wounds when they meet a Blues side that are starting to look like serious play-off contenders. The Blues understand the importance of taking five points from this game, particularly since they have matches against the Canes (A), Brumbies (A) and Crusaders (H) in the next three weeks. It’ll be a balanced approach from the Blues, who’ll dominate the Reds up front initially and blitz them in the backline as their resistance crumbles. In addition, the absence of Daniel Braid will make the Reds vulnerable at the breakdown and the Blues have talent in bags to capitalise on turnover ball. Blues by 15
JC’s call: The Reds are to Super Rugby what the IPL is to cricket: all flash and glamour with very little substance. Perhaps Phil Mooney will enter his side into the Sanzar touch rugby tournament next year because they’re certainly not making any progress in this competition. Travelling to Auckland, they’ll receive a beating with the Blues picking up a deserved bonus point even though their best flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth is warming the bench. Blues by 15
THE BONES: Blues 1-10

Blues – 15 Paul Williams, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Isaia Toeava, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Tasesa Lavea, 9 Taniela Moa, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 Josh Blackie, 6 Justin Collins, 5 Anthony Boric, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Jerome Kaino, 20 Grayson Hart, 21 Jimmy Gopperth, 22 Michael Hobbs.

Reds - 15 Mark McLinden, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Digby Ioane, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Brando Va’aulu, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ezra Taylor, 7 Poutasi Luafutu, 6 Hugh McMeniman, 5 James Horwill, 4 Van Humphries, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Sean Hardman, 1 Greg Holmes.
Subs: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Jack Kennedy, 18 Adam Byrnes, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Charlie Fetoai, 22 Anthony Faingaa.


Vrede’s call: The Brumbies edged the Bulls last week but were ordinary for large passages of play, while the Canes were similarly mediocre at times in their victory over the Stormers, the 34-11 scoreline more a reflection of the utter rubbishness (my word) of the Stormers rather than the Canes’ supremacy. The Brumbies have been hit hard by injuries to key players in recent weeks and will field a side without Guy Shepherdson, Mark Chisholm, Mark Gerrard or Christian Lealiifano. This gives the Canes an edge in what I expect to be a tight contest between two well-matched sides. The Brumbies will be very structured in their approach, while the Canes will display a hybrid of the cavalier and measured – a formula for success. Canes by 7
JC’s call: Like the Blues, the Canes have picked up momentum through a series of wins achieved through average performances. The Brumbies should be mentally and physically exhausted after two taxing games against the Storrmers and Bulls. Their dedication to Shawn Mackay won’t be enough to lift them on this occasion with the robust Hurricanes set to assault them at close quarters. If they try to play expansively, they’ll be punished as well. Canes by 7
THE BONES: Canes 1-10

Hurricanes – 15 Cory Jane, 14 Tamati Ellison, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 David Smith, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Alby Mathewson; 8 Rodney So’oialo (c), 7 Scott Waldrom, 6 Karl Lowe, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
16 Dane Coles, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Jason Eaton, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Jason Kawau, 22 Zac Guildford.

Brumbies – 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Francis Fainifo, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Tyrone Smith, 11 Alfi Mafi, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Joshua Holmes, 8 Stephen Hoiles (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Peter Kimlin, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Salesi Maafu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Subs: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Nic Henderson, 18 Henry Vanderglas, 19 Julian Salvi, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 James Stannard, 22 Afusipa Taumoepeau.


Vrede’s calls: The fact that the Saders have named All Blacks Kieran Read, Andy Ellis and Leon MacDonald on the wood says everything about their estimation of the Cheetahs. I wouldn’t be so confident, especially after the Crusaders’ ordinary performance against the Sharks last week. They should have been whipped by 25 points, yet came away with a win thanks entirely to the Sharks’ ineptitude. If the Cheetahs resist the urge to play expansively they could emerge as victors here. This despite having Kaas Olivier at pivot. They matched the Chiefs at the collision points and set phases and will point to a refereeing error as the reason for the defeat. If they can produce a similar showing they can take four points off the champs, effectively putting an end to their aspirations of a play-off place. Cheetahs by 5
JC’s call: Every South African should be hoping for a Cheetahs win this weekend, but would you put your house on it? Vrede, would you put your car on a Naas Olivier-inspired upset at Vodacom Park? Thought so. We can all hope, but it’s not likely. The no-name brand Crusaders are a well organised bunch and will limit the bland Cheetahs’ attack (without Jacques-Louis Potgieter at 10 they will battle to make an impact) and Richie McCaw still has Thomas Waldrom and Michael Paterson to aid him in his bid for breakdown supremacy. The Cheetahs’ lineout will dominate but the Saders should edge the scrums, and for execution at the tackle point you have to back the champs. Crusaders by 7
THE BONES: Crusaders 10-plus

Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller; 14 Danwel Demas, 13 Corne Uys, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jongi Nokwe; 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Tewis de Bruyn; 8 Hendro Scholtz, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Wayne van Heerden, 3 Kobus Calldo, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
Subs: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Nico Breedt, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Fabian Juries.

Crusaders – 15 Jared Payne, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Colin Slade, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Ross Filipo, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Jason Macdonald, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
16 Daniel Perrin, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Isaac Ross, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Leon MacDonald.


Vrede’s call: The Bulls will lament a missed opportunity against the Brumbies, thanks in large party to uncharacteristic defensive failings. They heaped plenty of pressure on themselves by kicking poorly in the latter stages of the contest and capitulated at the breakdown. They cannot afford to fail in these facets of play against the Chiefs, who are renowned for their counter-attacking ability. There’ll be parity at the scrums, but Victor Matfield should trouble the Chiefs’ jumpers at lineout time. If the Bulls allow the game to get loose they’re in trouble. A forward orientated scrap will suit them and if they are able to steer the game in this direction, top spot on the log is theirs for the taking. Bulls by 7
JC’s call: Brendon Leonard’s injury is a massive blow to the Chiefs especially since they’ll be up against the form halfback pair in Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn. The Bulls duo will dominate the kicking duel, and back at Loftus, you’d expect the Bulls to lift their showing in the forwards. It’ll be tight and physical, but as seen in their bout with the Cheetahs, the Chiefs need to up their intensity up front. Bulls by 5
THE BONES: Bulls 1-10

Bulls – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JP Nel, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Derick Kuün, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Jaco Engels, 18 Rayno Gerber, 19 Pedrie Wannenburg, 20 Heini Adams, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Jaco Pretorius.

Chiefs – 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Tim Mikkelson, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Toby Morland; 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Kevin O’Neill, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 James McGougan, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Ben May.
Subs: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Serge Lilo, 20 David Bason, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Jackson Willison.

By Jon Cardinelli and Ryan Vrede (and THE BONES)