Jon Cardinelli and Ryan Vrede analyse the key match-ups and pick the winners at the weekend.
Keo.co.za had a clanger last week with Vrede the saving grace. How did the Sharks drop that game to the Waratahs? How did the Stormers overcome the Force?
Vrede picked the Chiefs and the Lions to do the business, the latter scoring an upset win over the Highlanders. We’re sorry to say, they won’t be able to do South Africa any favours against the Tahs this weekend, and the Bulls won’t do the Sharks any favours when they KO them in the final fixture at King’s Park.
The Bones, however, believe the Sharks will win by 10.
KEO.CO.ZA SUPER 14 SUCCESS RATE
VREDE: 73% (61/84)
JC: 61% (51/84)
THE BONES: 62% (52/84 )
CHIEFS vs BRUMBIES, HAMILTON, FRIDAY 09:35
Vrede’s call: The Chiefs were not particularly impressive in their come-from-behind victory over the Hurricanes last week and showed vulnerabilities against a side who starved them of broken field ball. I suspect they could be troubled against a Brumbies side who’ll adopt a rigidly structured approach. They’ll trouble them, but that won’t translate into the victory they need to give them an opportunity to qualify for the semi-finals. The Chiefs’ threat lies in their adaptability. They’re equally adept at playing an expansive game as they are at a forward-orientated scrap. The Brumbies will kick well enough tactically and be competent enough at the breakdown to avoid exposing themselves to attacks from turnover ball. However, with their most potent avenue of attack blocked, the Chiefs will fall back on a percentage game to grab the points they need to secure a home play-off. Chiefs by 5
JC’s call: With Brendon Leonard fit, the Chiefs’ inside backs should be better organised both from an attacking and defensive perspective. The front-runner for the All Blacks’ No 9 shirt will test the Brumbies’ defenders round the fringes with those typical darts, runs that usually set the Chiefs’ domino support play effect in motion. Once a line is breached, the Chiefs are great at exploiting their advantage. They should beat the Brumbies, but if the visiting defence lapses early on, an important bonus point should be a formality. Leonard and Stephen Donald will be aided by a superior pack making a decision to pass or probe that much easier. Chiefs by 10
The Bones: Chiefs by 10
Chiefs – 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Kevin O’Neill, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 James McGougan, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Ben May.
Subs: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Serge Lilo, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Dwayne Sweeney, 22 Sosene Anesi.
Brumbies -15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Clyde Rathbone, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Tyrone Smith, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Patrick Phibbs, 8 Stephen Hoiles (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Julian Salvi, 5 Peter Kimlin, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Stephen Moore/Huia Edmonds, 1 Ben Alexander.
Subs: 16 Huia Edmonds/John Ulugia, 17 Salesi Ma’afu, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Henry Vanderglas, 20 Joshua Holmes, 21 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 22 Sanualio Afeaki.
LIONS vs WARATAHS, JOHANNESBURG, FRIDAY, 19:10
Vrede’s call: I stayed true to my commitment to back the Lions twice this year (and was spot on on both occasions), but despite their heroics last week, there’s not a chance in hell I’m backing those jokers against the Tahs. They’ll be competitive at the set phases but won’t have the inventiveness in the backline to break down a very well-organised defence. Lions openside flank Johan van Deventer was impressive last week, but the youngster will lose the breakdown battle against Captain Charisma, and the Lions will struggle as a result. More pain for the pussycats I’m afraid. Tahs by 10
JC’s call: The Lions have surprised a few teams, but the Waratahs will be ready for them. When it comes to tactics what do the hosts do? Do they try and outbore the quintessential boring team, the antithesis of the Barbarians, or do they themselves look to play expansively and give the 20 people in the stands something to cheer about? Well, Andre Pretorius has battled for tactical and goal-kicking accuracy while the Tahs have several line-kicking options. And if they play expansively, the Tahs will pick off the tries. The baby blue stonewall will repel the Lions’ attack, Captain Quasimodo will affect the turnover and the under-utilised back division will do the rest. For South Africa’s sake, let’s hope the Lions opt for a more conservative approach as it will keep the score low and deny the Tahs’ progression to the play-offs. That’s the only kind of victory they’ll be able to attain. Tahs by 10
The Bones: Tahs by 10
Lions – 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Dusty Noble, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Andre Pretorius (c), 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Robert Kruger, 6 Johan van Deventer, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Anton van Zyl, 3 Gert Muller, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Lawrence Sephaka.
Subs: 16 Hans van Dyk, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Ernst Joubert, 19 Todd Clever, 20 Chris Jonck, 21 Earl Rose, 22 Walter Venter.
Waratahs – 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Peter Playford, 13 Timana Tahu, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Ben Mowen, 5 Will Caldwell, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Chris Thomson, 19 Luke Doherty, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Sam Norton-Knight, 22 Tom Carter.
BLUES vs CRUSADERS, AUCKLAND, SATURDAY, 09:35
Vrede’s call: Jeez, the Blues have been rubbish in recent weeks and don’t expect them to get any better against the Crusaders in Auckland. They share the Chiefs’ potency from broken field, but unlike their countrymen, don’t have the pack to trouble the Crusaders. The defending champions will choke their supply of counter-attacking opportunities by keeping the ball in their heavies early on and kicking well, then test a defensive line that has leaked the second-most tries in the tournament. Saders by 7
JC’s call: If the Tahs can win in Auckland, then the Saders certainly can too. The Blues have an All Blacks front row, but nothing much behind it and I’m not entirely sure that John Afoa’s Test status automatically hands him the favourite tag in a scrumming battle with Wyatt Crockett. The Crusaders have more lineout options and are more mobile around the park, and at the breakdown Richie McCaw should prove a problem for the hosts. Thomas Waldrom is sure to gain significant yardage with his characteristic busts, yup that piggy can run, while the Blues’ Jerome Kaino has been disappointing. It won’t matter that the Blues are more talented and more experienced out wide, as at 9, 10 and 15 the Crusaders have the kicking game to eliminate them from the equation. Saders by 7
The Bones: Saders by 10
Blues – 15 Rudi Wulf, 14 Rene Ranger, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Isaia Toeava, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Tom Chamberlain, 6 Justin Collins/Peter Saili, 5 Kurtis Haiu, 4 Jay Williams, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Dean Budd, 19 Peter Saili/Andrew van der Heijden, 20 Grayson Hart, 21 Jamie Helleur, 22 Paul Williams.
Crusaders – 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Jared Payne, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Adam Whitelock, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Andy Ellis; 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Kieran Read, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Jason Macdonald, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Dan Perrin, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Ross Filipo, 19 George Whitelock, 20 Kahn Fotuali’i, 21 Sean Maitland, 22 Hamish Gard.
REDS vs HURRICANES, BRISBANE, SATURDAY, 11:40
Vrede’s call: The Reds will be reduced to rubble and the Canes will book their place in the semi-final. The Reds stand a chance of causing an upset if the Canes get loose, but knowing that they need just four points to progress to the semi-final, the Canes should temper their preferred expansive approach with a touch of conservatism, and this should see them bank five points. Canes by 15
JC’s call: The call about the Reds having a shout if the game gets loose is ludicrous given the Canes’ own strengths on the counter-attack. They still have to go out there and do the job, but everything points to a bonus-point win over the Reds. Quade Cooper will learn some harsh physical lessons at 12 and if the Brisbane Boys decide to play a more conservative kicking game, their defence will have to deal with David Smith, Cory Jane and the underrated Tamati Ellison running back at them. The self-proclaimed entertainers are about to find out what real entertainment is. It’s fast, it’s hard and it sure as hell isn’t touch rugby. Canes by 15
The Bones: Canes by 10
Reds – 15 Mark McLinden, 14 Brando Va’aulu, 13 Charlie Fetoai, 12 Quade Cooper, 11 Rod Davies, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Ben Lucas, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Tasi Luafutu/Andrew Shaw, 6 Ezra Taylor, 5 James Horwill (capt), 4 Van Humphries, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Sean Hardman, 1 Ben Daley.
Subs: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Adam Byrnes, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Anthony Faingaa, 22 Anthony Sauer.
Hurricanes – 15 Cory Jane, 14 Tamati Ellison, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 David Smith, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So’oialo (c), 7 Scott Waldrom, 6 Victor Vito, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Subs: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Bryn Evans, 19 Karl Lowe, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Jason Kawau, 22 Zac Guildford.
FORCE vs HIGHLANDERS, PERTH, SATURDAY 13:45
Vrede’s call: The first of the games nobody gives a toss about. For what it’s worth, the Highlanders will get blitzed because they simply won’t match the Force in their over-hyped forwards or backs. The Highlanders have troubled some sides up front throughout their campaign, but where schooled by the Stormers’ softies at Newlands and the Force are likely to continue their education in Perth. Force openside David Pocock will rule the deck, while Matt Giteau will orchestrate his opponents’ demise in the backline. Force by 10
JC’s call: I don’t even know if I can call them the Mullet Men anymore, they’re not really that hard are they? I suppose losing can take its toll and like the Force they lost interest since when their play-off chances evaporated. Team Giteau to hold sway at Subiaco, but, like a Mullet Man, it won’t be pretty. Force by 7
The Bones: Force by 10
Force – 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Scott Staniforth, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Josh Tatupu, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Josh Valentine; 8 Tamaiti Horua, 7 David Pocock, 6 Matt Hodgson, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 AJ Whalley, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 Pek Cowan.
Subs: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Troy Takiari, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Richard Stanford, 20 Chris O’Young, 21 Junior Pelesasa, 22 Haig Sare.
HIghlanders –15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jason Shoemark, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 10 Daniel Bowden, 9 Jimmy Cowan (c), 8 George Naoupu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Clint Newland, 2 David Hall, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Subs: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Chris King, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 Steven Setephano, 20 Sean Romans, 21 Jayden Hayward/Matthew Berquist, 22 Kendrick Lynn.
CHEETAHS vs STORMERS, BLOEMFONTEIN, SATURDAY, 16:00
Vrede’s call: The battle of South Africa’s beautiful letdowns and clawless cats should feature plenty of entertaining rugby for those of you who haven’t yet had enough of these mediocre mobs. With the game likely to be loose, the Cheetahs should ensure the Stormers finish the tournament as they started it – with defeat to South African opposition. Whoever wins the breakdown and kicks better tactically will emerge with the points and boasting rights. I suspect the Cheetahs will have the better of both and put the sorry Stormers out of their misery. Stormers fans, no need to panic though, one of their coaching staff will assure you they still have a chance of making the play-offs. Cheetahs by 7
JC’s call: The Stormers looked far better on attack last week but it has to be said the Force were not in top form. The Cheetahs began the tournament with a poor defensive record but have bettered that in recent matches, and on attack they have one of the finest finishers in Jongi Nokwe and one of the finest distributors in Meyer Bosman. The Cheetahs will dominate the tight exchanges and produce a more clinical effort at the breakdown. Although Luke Watson will threaten the hosts, the collective support will allow Heinrich Brussow to dominate. The Stormers have the underperforming Willem de Waal at pivot who’ll try and win the territorial battle but Cheetahs fullback Hennie Daniller has been consistently impressive with his line-kicking this season. Sarel Pretorius is a good all-round choice at scrumhalf while Naas Olivier is a flyhalf who only thrives behind a dominant pack. Saturday should seem him thrive. Cheetahs by 7
The Bones: Cheetahs by 10
Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Danwel Demas, 13 Corne Uys, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 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 WP Nel, 18 Nico Breedt, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Gerrie Odendaal, 21 JW Jonker, 22 Fabian Juries.
Stormers – 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gcobani Bobo, 13 Dylan des Fountain, 12 Peter Grant, 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Dewaldt Duvenhage, 8 Luke Watson (c), 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Pieter Louw, 5 AJ Venter, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Subs: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Schalk Fereirra, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Martin Muller, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Morgan Newman, 22 Tonderai Chavhanga.
SHARKS vs BULLS, DURBAN, SATURDAY, 18:10
Vrede’s call: By the time this match kicks off the Sharks could still be in contention for a semi-final place, and in that respect it should be an absolute classic. If the Sharks’ fate is sealed prior to kick-off I can’t see them denying the Bulls a semi-final spot. The Bulls were ordinary against the Cheetahs last week but still managed to bank five points. They’ll know a much improved performance is needed to get the crucial win. The Sharks have been diabolical for the last month and whether we’ll see an improved performance depends heavily on their play-off prospects at 6pm. Don’t expect an open game, South African derbies rarely are, and the importance of the result will see the Bulls, in particular, rely heavily on the relatively low-risk approach they’ve adopted throughout the campaign. Fourie du Preez’s availability is a massive boast for the Bulls, as his kicking game from the ruck base and in general play is crucial to their success. They’ll fancy their chances of dominating the lineouts but will be under pressure at scrum time by an all-Springbok front row. The breakdown could be the decisive facet of play, with an intriguing battle in store. The likes of Bismarck du Plessis, Keegan Daniel, Deon Stegmann and Derrick Kuun will be the main role players here. It won’t be pretty, but a win is all that matters for the Bulls. Whether they get it depends on whether the Sharks are still alive at kickoff. If they aren’t – Bulls by 7. If they are – Sharks by an adrenaline-inspired 5
JC’s call: What’s it like up there on the fence Vrede? Both these teams have slacked in recent weeks and the last round should have given them a wake-up call. The Bulls have as much to prove as the Sharks, and with a more balanced side should take the honours. It will be a great test for Ruan Pienaar and Rory Kockott as they go up against the form South African halfback pair in Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn. Stefan Terblanche is another key player in the tactical respect, but will we see solid Stefan at the back this Saturday or sloppy Stefan from last week? It’s going to be a bruiser, and the Sharks have lacked intent on this front for the last month. The Durban-side will lift themselves on this occasion, but they won’t be able to outbully the Bully Boys. The Sharks last gasp won’t be enough to win a play-off spot, but it will send the Bulls into the semis smarting from a hard game. Bulls by 5
The Bones: Sharks by 10
Sharks -15. Stefan Terblanche, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Adrian Jacobs, 12. Riaan Swanepoel, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Ruan Pienaar, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Johann Muller (c), 4. Steven Sykes, 3. John Smit, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16. Jannie du Plessis, 17. Deon Carstens, 18. Albert van den Berg, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Monty Dumond, 22. Andries Strauss.
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 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Derick Kuün, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp. Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rayno Gerber, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Pedrie Wannenburg, 20 Heini Adams, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Jaco Pretorius.
By Jon Cardinelli and Ryan Vrede