Super 14 preview: Round 8
1 Apr 2010
Jon Cardinelli and Ryan Vrede analyse the key match-ups and pick the winners at the weekend.
New Zealanders may be happy to know that this weekend should see two victories, although it has to be said two derbies are on the go in Wellington and Mount Maunganui. The Aussies look to be the big losers of Round 8, as the Waratahs should be their only team to pick up a win over the Cheetahs.
The Sharks should get the better of the Reds while the Stormers will be too good for the last-placed Force. Down in Auckland, the Bulls will do the necessary against a talented but limited Blues side.
KEO.CO.ZA SUCCESS RATE
Vrede: 33/45 (73%)
JC: 34/45 (76%)
HURRICANES vs CRUSADERS, WELLINGTON, FRIDAY 08:35
VREDE’S CALL: The Hurricanes have shown nothing in the last month to suggest that they’ll beat the Crusaders, even if this game is at the Cake Tin. They were unrepentant about their ineffective ball-in-hand approach against the Sharks and their inability to vary their play will cost them victory in Wellington. The Saders conversely can murder with the rapier and bludgeon, and this tactical versatility will be the cornerstone of their victory. Crusaders by 7
JC’S CALL: The return of Andy Ellis and Dan Carter at halfback provides the Saders with their biggest boost. Colin Cooper is right to favour Piri Weepu at No 9, but still doesn’t have the balls to start Aaron Cruden at 10. Willie Ripia has been average while the youngsters has thrilled with his linebreaking runs and sparkling distribution. If the Canes every hope to play to their strengths in midfield, they need a flyhalf capable of exploiting those strengths. It doesn’t help that the Canes pack is out of form, though. The Saders should win this comfortably. Crusaders by 10
Hurricanes – 15 Cory Jane, 14 Andre Taylor, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So’oialo, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Victor Vito, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 John Schwalger.
Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Bryn Evans, 19 Scott Waldrom, 20 Tyson Keats, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Jason Kawau.
Crusaders – 15 Colin Slade, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robert Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 George Whitelock, 6 Richie McCaw (c), 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ti’i Paulo, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Daniel Perrin, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Chris Jack, 19 Thomas Waldrom, 20 Kahn Fotuali’i, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Jared Payne.
FORCE vs STORMERS, PERTH, FRIDAY 12:05
VREDE’S CALL: Those celebrating a Force revival after their brave performance against the Bulls need to check themselves. They troubled the champs for a half and a bit, but still ended up losing by 13 points, a victory margin that would have been higher had the Bulls been more clinical. Their inability to dominate the tackle consistently has undermined their attack and they won’t thrive against a defence as aggressive and accurate as the Stormers’. The set phases will be a close battle, but the Stormers should at least maintain parity there, and with that platform, and the one they’ll establish through the strong surges of their primary carriers, they’ll negotiate the challenge fairly easily. Stormers by 10
JC’S CALL: The Cape franchise have suffered a double blow with injuries to Joe Pietersen and Wicus Blaauw, and coach Allister Coetzee has also decided to give second-stringers Ricky Januarie and De Kock Steenkamp a start in this should-win match. These changes won’t halt the Stormers’ march to victory, as the Force find it difficult to compete against structure. The Bulls beat them easily when they reverted to their strengths, and we’re likely to see the Stormers following that blueprint. There are questions of the Stormers’ ability to win the territorial battle without Pietersen, but in Gio Aplon, they have a dependable boot. The Stormers may be a bit rusty after their bye week and may take some time to adjust in the new combinations, but should still win comfortably, if not with a four-try bonus. Stormers by 12
Force – 15 James O’Connor, 14 Scott Staniforth, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Ryan Cross, 11 Mark Bartholomeusz, 10 David Hill, 9 Chris O’Young, 8 Matt Hodgson, 7 David Pocock, 6 Ben McCalman, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Tom Hockings, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 2 Ben Whittaker, 1 Pek Cowan.
Subs: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Richard Stanford, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Justin Turner, 21 Sam Harris, 22 Haig Sare.
Stormers – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Sireli Naqelevuki, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JC Kritzinger.
Subs: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Eusebio Guinazu, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Willem de Waal, 22 Frikkie Welsh.
BLUES vs BULLS, AUCKLAND, SATURDAY 06:30
VREDE’S CALL: I’ve backed the damn Blues for a fortnight and they’ve destroyed my stats, so farewell you underachieving lot, and here’s a clout from the defending champs for good measure. OK, maybe a clout is optimistic. Perhaps a stiff smack. But I worry that the Bulls’ key men have played too much rugby in the last year and have a nagging sense that a dramatic capitulation is imminent. But I’ll suppress my fears for another week and back the Bulls to take the points in Auckland. They’ll build their victory on disciplined, structured play that seeks to minimise the number of attacking opportunities from broken field, and a robust challenge at the collisions on defence. Tony Woodcock’s loss is a massive blow to the Blues’ ambitions of dominating the scrums, while they won’t outsmart Victor Matfield at lineout time. Those are two primary attacking platforms lost, and this combined with being bossed in the aforementioned facets of play will ultimately result in their third straight defeat. Bulls by 8
JC’S CALL: The Blues won’t be granted the same favours they were last week in terms of forward momentum, and although they have plenty of brawn and skill in the backs, there’s a patent lack of direction. If you’re looking for a side where individual brilliance outweighs team synergy, look no farther than the Blues. The Bulls, on the other hand, are a well established unit. The halfback combination of Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn has been average in recent weeks, but they’ll understand the importance of this clash and lift themselves for the big occasion. Expect another big ball-carrying display by Pierre Spies who’s been the Bulls’ standout over the past few games. Bulls by 7
Blues – 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Viliami Ma’afu, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Anthony Boric, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Charlie Faumuina.
Subs: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Filo Paulo, 19 Peter Saili, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Luke McAlister, 22 Paul Williams.
Bulls – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van der Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Francois Hougaard, 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 Gary Botha, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Derick Kuün/Jaco Engels, 20 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 21 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 22 Pedrie Wannenburg.
CHIEFS vs HIGHLANDERS, MT MAUNGANUI, SATURDAY 08:35
VREDE’S CALL: Don’t expect to see an appreciation for the conservative conventions of the game. This will be an open contest, marked by some sensationally expansive play and marred by a plethora of fundamental errors. The Chiefs’ superior quality across the park will ensure victory, but it won’t be a comfortable win because as breathtaking as they are on attack, they can be woeful in defence. Chiefs by 7
JC’S CALL: Ian Foster’s opted to experiment at 10 and 12 which isn’t a bad call in a game they’re likely to win. They have the forward power to outmuscle the Highlanders be it through their belligerent running, smart breakdown work or solid set piece. Stephen Donald has the potential to inflict a lot of damage at 12 with Richard Kahui, Lelia Masaga and Mil Muliaina set to benefit. The most interesting match-up is at scrumhalf where Brendon Leonard should edge Jimmy Cowan given the Chiefs’ dominance up front. I don’t think it will be as loose as Vrede says given the Chiefs are desperate for a win, but the cowbells will be ringing come the final whistle. Chiefs by 10
Chiefs – 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Sona Taumalolo. Subs: 16 Vern Kamo, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Jarrad Hoeata, 19 Colin Bourke, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams.
Highlanders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Kenny Lynn, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 10 Robbie Robinson, 9 Jimmy Cowan (c), 8 Steven Setephano, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Clint Newland, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Chris King.
Subs: 16 Jason Macdonald, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Joe Tuineau, 19 Tim Boys/John Hardie, 20 Sean Romans, 21 Mat Berquist, 22 James Paterson.
WARATAHS vs CHEETAHS, SYDNEY, SATURDAY 10:40
VREDE’S CALL: Robbed of key players, including captain Juan Smith, and without subtle variations in their game plan to trouble the Tahs, the Cheetahs will lose. They have the best defensive record of the bottom three, which suggests that isn’t their problem. It’s on attack that they have lacked punch and that’s no surprise given that they can’t cross the gain line and that their pack has regressed in their set phase play. When the Blues stayed patient through the phases against the Tahs, they punched holes in their defensive line. If the Cheetahs manage this, they may give the Tahs a fright, but don’t bank on them breaking their duck in Australasia. Tahs by 12
JC’S CALL: Their record suggests they’re one of the tournament’s top teams, but the truth is the Tahs have yet to click. This fixture should provide them with a further opportunity to solidify their log position although the Cheetahs won’t provide many challenges. The biggest contest is at scrum time with an all-Wallabies front row packing down against two Boks and a Barbarian. The Tahs will best the Cheetahs at the lineout and breakdown, and once they see off the visitors’ plucky first-half fight, they should cruise to victory. Tahs by 15
Waratahs – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Will Caldwell, 19 Locky McCaffrey, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Tom Carter, 22 Sosene Anesi.
Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Danwel Demas, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Barend Pieterse, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Walti Vermeulen, 4 Nico Breedt, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
Subs: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Davon Raubenheimer, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Corné Uys, 22 Riaan Viljoen.
SHARKS vs REDS, DURBAN. SATURDAY 17:05
VREDE’S CALL: This should be a really good game and I think the winner will the team that resists the urge to play expansively and stay structured for longer. You’ve got to imagine that the flamboyant Quade Cooper will make a mistake at some point and give the Sharks a shot at victory, while the plodding Pom in the Sharks’ No 10 shirt may just be useful given that he doesn’t have an ounce of creativity in his body and will play the percentages. The Reds will surely seek to exploit any teething pains the Sharks’ new-look midfield pair will have, and rookie fullback Patrick Lambie should brace himself for an aerial onslaught. Outside of this I don’t see the Sharks struggling, unless they get loose (which they have a penchant for) which will allow Cooper and co to run rampant. Keep it tight and they win. Sharks by 7
JC’S CALL: The axing of Waylon Murray and the shift of Stefan Terblanche to 13 says it all: the Sharks won’t risk running against a team like the Reds. Andy Goode and Ruan Pienaar need to be in synch if they’re to cut down the space of Cooper and Will Genia. The Reds forwards are responsible for the side’s four victories, and if the Sharks can nullify them, Cooper and Genia’s task becomes that much harder. Laurie Weeks will be up against Bok captain John Smit, who could be retaining the loosehead position if he produces another powerful showing. In Ryan Kankowski and Willem Alberts, the hosts have strong ball carriers who will target the Reds’ inside channels. The Queensland franchise won comfortably in Bloemfontein but will come short in Durban if the Sharks heavies deliver a dominant and disciplined effort. Sharks by 7
Sharks – 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Riaan Swanepoel, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 John Smit (c).
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Beast Mtawarira, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Andries Strauss, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.
Reds – 15 Peter Hynes, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Will Chambers, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (c), 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Van Humphries, 4 Adam Byrnes, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Sean Hardman, 1 Ben Daley.
Subs: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Jack Kennedy, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Rod Davies.