Super Rugby Preview – Round 8
12 Apr 2012
JON CARDINELLI and RYAN VREDE analyse the key match-ups and pick the winners at the weekend.
The keo.co.za team is back on the slide after a weekend of mixed picks. Will round eight prove any different?
Someone is going to get it wrong regarding the game in Christchurch, with Vrede expecting the Stormers to extend their unbeaten run and JC calling a Crusaders victory. Who’s going to be crying come the final whistle on Saturday?
Both writers have predicted a Chiefs win in Bloemfontein, as well as a Blues victory over the Shaky Sharkies in Auckland. And the tears will continue to flow for Lions fans when their team hosts the Bully Boys. Sad but true.
KEO.CO.ZA SUCCESS RATE
VREDE: 29/48 (60%)
JC: 29/48 (60%)
BLUES vs SHARKS, AUCKLAND, FRI 09:35
VREDE’S CALL: I’m not sure technical aspects of the game will be as decisive as the emotional and mental aspects. The Sharks are on the end of a long and largely unfruitful tour and the Blues have been hammered so much on and off the field that I sense an ugly, up-yours victory coming. Neither side has a pack of any note and the Sharks have been robbed of their primary source of go-forward, Bismarck du Plessis. The Blues will boss them in the heavies in general and set play. This will mean their backs will have the space and time that amplifies their threat. The Blues will sneak this one, but it won’t signal a revival. Blues by 7
JC’S CALL: My Easter weekend started with two of the most insipid performances. The Blues were pathetic in their loss to the Rebels, the Sharks were equally poor in their heavy loss to an average Hurricanes outfit. To a debilitating list of unforced errors and bad decisions, the Sharks can now add indiscipline. I agree that Bismarck du Plessis will be missed, as he was last week when he didn’t start against the Hurricanes. Both teams have been dreadfully inconsistent, for lack of a more expletive adverb. No lead will be secure in this fixture. So who is going to break the trend, who is going to win this scrap? I think the Blues will be desperate to win at home while the Sharks will be itching to get back to the warmer climes of Durban. On paper, the Blues’ back row also inspires confidence: Daniel Braid is going to be the difference. Blues by 8
Blues – 15 Rudi Wulf, 14 Hadleigh Parkes, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Liaki Moli, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Peter Saili, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Michael Hobbs, 22 George Moala.
Sharks – 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (c),
7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Frederic Michalak.
FORCE vs WARATAHS, PERTH, SAT 13:40
VREDE’S CALL: The Force have looked dangerous when their pack has fronted. Their problem has been stringing strong showings together week after week. That said, I think their front eight have found some synergy and they will dominate in general play. They need to improve their set phase work but I don’t believe this will be terminal to their cause. The Tahs pack has not given their back division a consistently good platform this season and David Pocock will ensure this trend continues through his work at the breakdown. With a stifled recycle the Tahs will struggle to impose themselves on the Force, who will win, but only just. Force by 5
JC’S CALL: Like the Rebels, the Force seem to grow in stature when they play at home. Their lineout has been one of the best in the competition, and the old man Nathan Sharpe is playing some of the best rugby of his career. The forwards as a collective have fronted at the collisions and this has allowed players like David Pocock and Matt Hodgson to do what they do best. The Tahs have more stars in their pack, but those Test players are yet to make a statement in the 2012 competition. If the Tahs succumb to the pressure at the breakdown, the Force have the goalkicker to make them pay (unless David Harvey chokes on that gumguard). Don’t expect champagne rugby or a great deal of backline skill. This one is going to be won by the fatties. Force by 7
Force – 15 David Harvey, 14 Rory Sidey, 13 Nick Cummins, 12 Winston Stanley, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 Ben Seymour, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Matt Hodgson, 7 David Pocock (c), 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Subs: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Phoenix Battye, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Cameron Shepherd, 22 Patrick Dellit.
Waratahs – 15 Bernard Foley, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson (c).
Subs: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Jono Jenkins, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Daniel Halangahu.
CRUSADERS vs STORMERS, CHRISTCHURCH, SAT 09:35
VREDE’S CALL: The Saders have failed to inspire on attack for the last two weekends. Their late tries against the Bulls put some gloss on the result but for the vast majority of the match they were repelled by powerful, precise and organised defence. And defence is what will win it for the Stormers. There is no team better in this facet of play and I don’t believe the Saders have the pack to erode the Stormers’ defensive line by playing through multiple phases. There will be parity at scrum time and this will be the host’s best attacking avenue, but they will struggle in the lineouts. The Saders’ backs are among the best in the tournament but serviced with slow ball their potency will be significantly diminished. Neither will they be fed with many broken field opportunities. The Stormers have kicked very well tactically and have complimented those kicks with a good, pressure-creating chase. Any tries the Stormers score will come from rolling mauls or turnover ball. The rest of their points will come from the boot of their goalkickers. But they won’t care how the win is achieved, only that it is. Stormers by 7
JC’S CALL: I stand by the assertion that the Stormers pack is preparing to peak, but I don’t think that forward muscle alone will be enough to deny the complete Crusaders. No Stormers team has beaten the Crusaders in New Zealand, and I find myself wondering if this Stormers side is good enough to end the Kiwis’ dominance. It’s going to be an epic battle, one of the clashes of the league stage, but I reckon at home the Crusaders will be good enough to edge the contest. They have the forwards to meet the Stormers’ challenge head on, and a defence that doesn’t give too much away. Moving Dan Carter to midfield will bolster the defence in that area, but playing Carter and Tom Taylor in tandem will also give the Crusaders more attacking and kicking options. The Crusaders may have outmuscled the Stormers on two occasions last year, but they were also the better side from a tactical kicking point of view. Again, I don’t feel there will be much in it, as the Crusaders also haven’t been at their best in the first half of the competition. But will they lose to the Stormers at home? I don’t think so. Crusaders by 5
Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Ryan Crotty, 22 Tom Marshall.
Stormers – 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gio Aplon/JP du Plessis.
BRUMBIES vs REBELS, CANBERRA, SAT 11:40
VREDE’S CALL: The Brumbies will snap their two-game losing streak with a comfortable win over the Rebels. In the last fortnight they have veered from the structured, multi-phase approach that was central to their early success. Coach Jake White has stressed the importance of earning the right to play expansively and I believe there will be notable improvements in this regard. Their pack is superior to the Rebels’ in general and set play and their abrasive approach will craft many scoring opportunities for their backline. Brumbies by 12
JC’S CALL: The Rebels are playing away from Melbourne.’Nuff said. Brumbies by 10
Brumbies – TBC 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Fotu Auelua, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben Mowen (c), 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ruaidhri Murphy.
Subs: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Ita Vaea, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Andrew Smith.
Rebels – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 James O’Connor, 11 Mark Gerrard, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (8), 7 Jarrod Saffy, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Alister Campbell, 3 Rodney Blake, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Subs: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Eddie Aholelei, 18 Michael Lipman, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Julian Huxley, 22 Lloyd Johansson.
CHEETAHS vs CHIEFS, BLOEMFONTEIN, SAT 17:05
VREDE’S CALL: The Chiefs have never been great tourists in the Republic but they come here this time confident of returning with a clean sweep. The first of those wins will come in Bloem. The Cheetahs have been good on attack in recent weeks, due mostly to improved performances from their heavies. But the Chiefs have the tournament’s best defensive record and won’t be nearly as generous as the Hurricanes or Lions. They will dominate the gainline and the Cheetahs will become increasingly expansive as their desperation grows. This will offer the Chiefs broken field opportunities and they have shown themselves to be adept at exploiting such situations. Chiefs by 8
JC’S CALL: It will be interesting to see how the Cheetahs go about breaching that impressive Chiefs defence. With Johan Goosen also unlikely to play, they have lost their goalkicker and game manager. Sias Ebersohn will be put under immense pressure by the Chiefs defence, and needless to say it’s a bad situation to be in for a flyhalf who hasn’t enjoyed much game time thus far. Heinrich Brüssow will have an important role to play in slowing the Chiefs’ ball, but he will need his pack to stand up to an aggressive Chiefs eight. The Chiefs have been clinical on the counter-attack, and the way the Cheetahs play could suit them in this regard (the Cheetahs’ failure to protect the pill will be punished). When the Chiefs also have the game-breakers in Aaron Cruden and Sonny Bill Williams to breach that Cheetahs defence when they are on attack. Cowbells in the Mystic Boer after 7pm? It will, sadly for Cheetahs fans, be so. Chiefs by 5
Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Johan Goosen, 22 Philip Snyman.
Chiefs – 15 Andrew Horrell, 14 Leila Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill williams, 11 Tim Nanai-Williams, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clark (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Subs: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 22 Robbie Robinson.
LIONS vs BULLS, JOHANNESBURG, SAT 19:10
VREDE’S CALL: No hope in this one for the lousy Lions. Their Super Rugby record will stand at 14 wins in 76 matches at the final whistle. They are inferior in every facet of play and don’t have the physical capacity or tactical intelligence to trouble the Bulls, who will feed off their incompetence. Massacre on the cards for Mitchell’s pussy cats. Bulls by 20
JC’S CALL: The punch drunk Lions don’t seem to have anything in their favour apart from home advantage. Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made a statement earlier this week that his team won’t be taking the Lions lightly. The Bulls aren’t heading into this game with a complacent attitude. They will work hard in the first half, and such is their mantra that they will trust in their forwards and kicking game to build a healthy lead. Their success in the first half will determine the flow of the second, and a four-try bonus point is definitely on the cards. The Lions need to stall the Bulls’ momentum early on, but unfortunately they just don’t have the forwards to do so. The Lions’ pattern of play also leaves them exposed in the event of a turnover, and with the Bulls boasting a formidable defence and a penchant for tries from turnover ball, you can’t see this game ending well for the hosts. Bulls by 15
Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 James Kamana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Joshua Strauss (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse/CJ van der Linde, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Christo le Roux, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Butch James, 22 Lionel Mapoe.
Bulls – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Dewald Potgieter, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Johann Sadie