JON CARDINELLI and RYAN VREDE analyse the key match-ups and pick the winners at the weekend.
With JC away in a bid to refresh his mind and make better picks, the responsibility is left to Vrede to help you win or lose cash. Cardinelli has, however, left us with his picks, which differ from Vrede’s in the Sharks-Waratahs match, Vrede backing the Tahs to rebound from their poor start. There are wins for the Bulls and Stormers, but the Crusaders are set to give the Cheetahs a reality check.
KEO.CO.ZA SUCCESS RATE
VREDE: 15/27 (55%)
JC: 15/27 (55%)
BLUES vs HURRICANES, AUCKLAND, FRI 08:35
VREDE’S CALL: Piri Weepu has been poor thus far and I suspect his atrocious conditioning has much to do with that. I don’t believe he is the answer at No 10 for a Blues side who need a pivot with a more refined tactical kicking game. Gareth Anscombe was that man in my view, yet the youngster plays off the bench. Canes coach Mark Hammett has injected a measure of pragmatism into his side, which has undoubtedly contributed to their success. Flyhalf Beauden Barrett has exhibited impressive game management and his trained boot will be a boon for the Canes, who should look to drive the Blues deep into their territory and encourage them to launch ambitious counters from there. Barrett will benefit from his pack’s superiority in set and general play, while his accurate goal-kicking should keep the scoreboard ticking over. The Cane must not succumb to their natural expansive instinct. If they play the percentages they will win. Canes by 7
JC’S CALL: Canes by 5
Blues – 15 Lachie Munro, 14 David Raikuna, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Piri Weepu, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Brad Mika, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 James Parsons, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Filo Paulo, 19 Sean Polwart, 20 Gareth Anscombe, 21 Michael Hobbs, 22 Hadleigh Parkes.
Hurricanes - 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben May/Michael Bent.
Subs: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Michael Bent/Tristan Moran, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Charlie Ngatai.
REBELS vs FORCE, MELBOURNE, FRI 10:40
VREDE’S CALL: I think the Force will make it two wins on the bounce off the back of a superior pack. David Pocock was impressive at the breakdown last week and he will be influential in blunting the Rebels’ attacking flow. The Melbourne boys lack composure under this sort of defensive pressure and will become increasingly cavalier as the match progresses, offering the Force opportunities to attack from broken field. But this one will primarily be won in the forwards. The Force’s heavies displayed good control through the phases against the Waratahs last week and they will be irresistible if they are able to replicate that performance. Force by 5
JC’S CALL: Force by 7
Rebels – 1 Nick Henderson, 2 Adam Freier, 3 Laurie Weeks, 4 Luke Jones, 5 Hugh Pyle, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 7 Tom Chamberlain, 8 Gareth Delve (c), 9 Nick Phipps, 10 Danny Cipriani, 11 Cooper Vuna, 12 James O’Connor, 13 Lachlan Mitchell, 14 Mark Gerrard, 15 Richard Kingi.
Subs: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Rodney Blake, 18 Alister Campbell, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Michael Lipman, 21 Lloyd Johansson, 22 Julian Huxley.
Force - 15 David Harvey, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Will Tupou, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 James Stannard, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Matt Hodgson, 7 David Pocock (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Kieran Longbottom.
Subs: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Justin Turner, 21 Winston Stanley, 22 Samu Wara.
WARATAHS vs SHARKS, SYDNEY, SAT 06:35
VREDE’S CALL: The Sharks did well to rebound from a 17-point deficit against the Reds last week, but there were mitigating factors for the visitors, most notably injuries to key players and the sin-binning of Digby Ioane. Nothing about that Sharks performance convinced me they have found the synergy they require to win matches like this one in Sydney, even against an embattled side like the Tahs. Indeed I think it is that desperation that will be a decisive factor in a much improved performance. Better selections is another, with Berrick Barnes restored to flyhalf and Tom Carter in midfield. The return of Wycliff Palu will also lend them punch in the forward exchanges. There’ll be parity in the set phases but the Tahs will boss in general play, creating opportunities for their backline to exploit a shaky Sharks defence. Waratahs by 6
JC’S CALL: Sharks by 5
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
The Sharks – 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Jandre Marais, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Nick Schonert, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Frederic Michalak, 21 Marius Joubert, 22 Louis Ludik.
CRUSADERS vs CHEETAHS, CHRISTCHURCH, SAT 08:35
VREDE’S CALL: The Cheetahs’ 16-phase winner at the death against the Rebels last weekend was impressive. But don’t lose the perspective that it was against one of the weakest teams and they continue to rely on moments of individual class to keep them in matches. There is no discernible building of an innings, to use cricket parlance, and beating the Crusaders demands that there is. The Cheetahs’ expansive method won’t be effective against the organised and disciplined Christchurch outfit, while the visitors’ defensive vulnerabilities will be exposed by the powerful, precise and innovative back division. Furthermore, the Saders’ bench, which includes maestro Dan Carter, is vastly superior and will offer them a telling boost in the second half. Crusaders by 10
JC’S CALL: Crusaders by 10
Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks.
Subs: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ross Kennedy, 19 Brendon O’Connor, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Dan Carter, 22 Tom Marshall.
Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Cameron Jacobs, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Subs: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
BRUMBIES vs HIGHLANDERS, CANBERRA, SAT 10:40
VREDE’S CALL: The Brumbies have defied expectations with the start they’ve enjoyed but they will be outmuscled by an efficient Highlanders side. The Landers’ penetrative phase play has been the highlight of their unbeaten run and this abrasive and aggressive approach will erode the Brumbies’ resolve. Highlanders by 9
JC’S CALL: Highlanders by 5
Brumbies - 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Leon Power, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Subs: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Scott Fardy, 19 Ita Vaea, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Zack Holmes, 22 Tevita Kuridrani.
Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Doug Tietjens, 6 James Haskell, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Subs: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 Elliot Dixon, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Chris Noakes, 22 Buxton Popoali’i
BULLS vs REDS, PRETORIA, SAT 17:05
VREDE’S CALL: This would have been a tight call had the Reds not lost Mike Harris to injury and Digby Ioane to suspension. Those absentees have forced positional switches and the introduction of rookie utility-back Dallan Murphy, who will fill the void at flyhalf. Harris’s goalkicking would have been central to any potential victory, while Ioane is a match winner with his game breaking ability. The Reds won’t roll over but they will be overwhelmed by the Bulls, who won’t veer from their kick-based attack designed to pressure their opponents into errors. The Bulls will have the ascendancy in all facets of forward play and the Reds’ death will be inflicted slowly through the boot of Morne Steyn before the Bulls cut loose in the final quarter. Bulls by 10
JC’S CALL: Bulls by 5
Bulls – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.
Reds - 15 Rod Davies, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Jono Lance, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Dallan Murphy, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Subs: 16 James Hanson, 17 James Slipper, 18 Radike Samo, 19 Van Humphries, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Nathan Eyres-Brown.
LIONS vs STORMERS, JOHANNESBURG, SAT 19:10
VREDE’s CALL: If the Lions had greater appreciation for earning the right to play expansively through structured and powerful multi-phase play I’d back them to beat the Stormers. But they don’t and won’t. The Stormers’ method will be simple and effective: Play for territory, absorb the pressure on defence, isolate runners and force penalties. Joe Pietersen will feature prominently in the scorer’s column, the Stormers fullback’s boot sure to keep the board ticking over. The Lions don’t have a Plan B. The Stormers will punish their tactical naivety. Stormers by 10
JC’S CALL: Stormers by 7
Lions – 15 James Kamana, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Andries Coetzee, 10 Butch James, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss (c), 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Marius Coetzer, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Stephan Greeff, 19 Cobus Grobbleaar, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Michael Killian, 22 Ruan Combrinck.
Stormers - 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Siya Ntubeni, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.