Perhaps the toughest week yet to predict.
March 22, 2012 in Uncategorized
Week 5 of the 2012 Super 15 is upon us and with the midweek holiday behind us, I feel slightly pressed for time, having only one day to make my Superbru picks and sell my Chiefs players on Testrugby.com.
Round 5 is already causing some headaches before it even started. Not to kill the bit of optimism you might have left but round 5 might be the toughest to predict yet. here’s why…
The weekend’s action starts early Friday morning with a NZ derby, the 14th placed Blues(home) square off against the 8th placed Hurricanes, home ground advantage to the Blues, Weepu at 10, Wulf back on the wing, Kaino and Toeava astill out injured, Mathewson back in the number 9 jersey and Luke Braid suspended the Blues have a mixed bag of positives and negatives ahead of teh clash, they’ve only won one game thus far, despite being tipped as possible dark horse title contenders prior to the start of the season. They will however have travelled back from SA during the week, The Hurricanes have been the surprise package of NZ, after letting go the majority of their All Black stars for the 2012 season, few expected them to impress, however with young FH sensation Beauden Barrett at the helm they’ve looked very dangerous at times. No doubt this game can easily go either way. I’ve picked purely on form. Hurricanes by 3.
The two bottom of the log Australian teams also take each other on Friday, the Force coming from a close win over the Waratahs and the Rebels coming off a close loss to the Cheetahs. These Australian derbies have yet again proved last week that they are as unpredictable as ever. I have no idea why, but I’ve gone for a Rebels win by 3…they are the home team.
The Sharks kick off their tour against the Waratahs very early on Saturday morning, the Sharks displayed great fighting spirit to beat the Reds in round 4, while the Waratahs went down against the Force. For me the Sharks should be huge favourites here, they are the form team, they are the settled team in comparison(combinations wise) and they will be extremely positive after their come from behind win in round 4, however the travelling aspect might come in to play, quite a few inexperienced members of their squad might take some time to adjust to the enviroment, a stat that counts in favour if the Sharks team is that they’re yet to win an away game this season, and the furthest they’ve travelled is Capetown. Still doubting the Sharks’ consistency, I’ve gone for the home team, just, Waratahs by 2.
The Crusaders will return from their bye against the Cheetahs at home, the Cheetahs have done surprisingly well on tour, picking up 5 points from 2 encounters, and we all know just how close they came to making it two wins from two. The Crusaders have finally moved Israel Dagg back to fullback, and Dan Carter will make his return from the bench, The Cheetahs are either trying to fool the Crusaders into false confidence by selecting a new frontrow and again benching Piet van Zyl and Ashley Johnson OR they might be doubting their chances of picking up a win against the Crusaders in NZ, and have rather selected a somewhat understrength line-up with their focus on the Hurricanes in round 6? This is the most obvious pick of the week, but the Cheetahs have shown they won’t simply be taken lightly. Crusaders by 13
The top of the log Highlanders(who’ve been great) are travelling to Canberra to face the Brumbies, the Brumbies have picked up points from their bye and a lucky win over the Cheetahs which sees them 6th on the log, a flattering popsition in my opinion. The Highlanders should be the better team, players like Kade Poki and Hosea Gear should rip the Brumbies to shreds in theory, but as we’ve seen this year, teams have seldom displayed the killer instinct needed to close out a game, trailing teams always seem to come back, and close scores are the norm. None the less, the Highlanders should win. I’ve picked them by 6.
Moving on to the two games played on SA soil ths weekend, The Bulls host the depleted Reds at Loftus, The Bulls have opted to break their trusted centre combination of Francois Venter and Wynand Olivier, and have opted to bring in Johann Sadie(who returns from injury) at outside centre, shiftin Olivier to #12, a mistake in my opinion, but against a makeshift Reds backline, it could still pay off. The Reds have brought in a rookie Fly Half since all their FH cover was sent home injured. the Suspension of Ioane will also see regular bench players starting. The Bulls should easily win, in the forwards there won’t be too much in it, but the Bulls will field the superior backline(unless Olivier reverts back to his usual inside centre game) Bulls by 10
The Currie Cup winners will be at home to the Stormers in the final round 5 fixture, The Stormers are along with the Highlanders the only unbeaten teams left in the competition, and will hope to stay unbeaten after round 5, The Stormers have fielded an unchanged team to face the Lions, while the Lions haven’t had that luxury, they have some serious injury issues, and John Mitchell has said this is the worse injury crisis he has ever experienced in his career. I’m expecting a depleted Lions team to be announced, and therefor a Stormers win seems to be the logical choice, however with these SA derbies there’s usually very little in it, teams seem to up their game for these clashes, I’m expecting the Lions to put up a big fight, complacency might still be an issue for the Stormers specially if they are to face a weakened Lions side. Stormers by 11