The Cheetahs will win in Canberra. I can already hear the screams of Vrystaaaaaat.
The Bookies have hosts the Brumbies to win by nine points but my gut, my heart and my head say this will be the Cheetahs finest moment in their Super Rugby history.
The Brumbies didn’t look good in losing 21-15 against the Force a week ago and Australia’s players look drained after the intensity of the struggle and occasion against the British and Irish Lions.
All the pressure is on the Brumbies and this will be a great test of character for Jake White’s side, who a year ago blew the chance to make the play-offs when the Blues beat them in Canberra in the final round.
The Cheetahs won three out of four tour games this season and have beaten all four Australian teams in the process. This is the first time they’ll play the Brumbies this season.
Adriaan Strauss will be the most vital individual in a team that usually plays as well as its leader.
The Cheetahs are the people’s team and among the most popular side in all three SANZAR countries. Even Sonny Bill Williams, a week ago, felt compelled to tweet how much he enjoyed watching the Cheetahs style of play and complimented the quality of the players. He also said the side was among his favourites to watch.
Sign him Harold! Nothing like a season in Bloem to turn him into a Kiwi/boertjie.
Williams isn’t the only New Zealander awed by the Cheetahs spirit, style of play and general approach. Former All Black scrumhalf and Sky pundit Justin Marshall always praises – and backs – the Cheetahs to be successful.
I don’t think the Cheetahs will be overawed by the occasion.
The Cheetahs have the physicality to match the Brumbies and they certainly have the attacking game to break any team if they get on an early roll. The Cheetahs, only twice, have been off their game this season. And on both occasions (against the Chiefs and Stormers) they got blown away.
I don’t think the Brumbies, at this stage of the season, are capable of blowing away the Cheetahs. The visitors won’t win by a big margin but they will win. And one point would be good enough.
I am giving it to them by six and I am backing Heinrich Brussow to be the man of the match and get one over the great George Smith.
In the early quarter-final the Crusaders host the Reds. The Saders have played the occasional brilliant game and invariably followed it with more mediocre than magical.
They battled against the Hurricanes a week ago and I think they’ll find the Reds difficult to beat. The last time they played in Christchurch the Reds were unfortunate to lose 15-11. That defeat was coach Ewen McKenzie’s first in four outings against the Saders as Reds coach.
He obviously knows a formula to beat the Saders – and NZ teams. His success rate against the Kiwis as Reds coach is 15 wins in 19 matches.
But I think home ground advantage will be the difference and I have the Saders to sneak victory by three points.