Front Row Grunt

Rugby … with cauliflower ears

Super Rugby predictions

By Tank Lanning

And just like that, the Six Nations is over and Wales rule with a Grand Slam. On the international front it gets a little more low key now, with this weekend seeing the very first qualifying match for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. And there is a new referee in Super 15.

The referee in Mexico City is none other than our own Craig Joubert. Why not the Lions vs Stormers or Bulls vs Reds you might ask? Well, he continues what has become a tradition – that the referee who referees the Final of the Rugby World Cup referees the first qualifying match of the next World Cup.

Mark Lawrence has had to withdraw from his Super Rugby match in Canberra and his place is taken by Lourens van der Merwe, a schoolmaster at Grey College in Bloemfontein. This will be the first Super Rugby match that he has refereed. Hell of a start …

The poor Cheetahs get Keith Brown again … How unlucky can one team get? But I digress … This Thursday blog is about me making my name gat by publishing my Super Rugby predictions …

I am currently lurcking at position 324 out of 505 in the Front Row Grunt SuperBru pool, while Chad Botha (aka Cereal_Killa) tops it on an impressive 28.5 points …

FRIDAY, MARCH 23

Blues v Hurricanes, Auckland – 08:35
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand), Jonathon White (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Head to head: Played 17, Blues 11, Hurricanes 5, Drawn 1
Last match: Blues 17 – 11 Hurricanes @ Westpact Trust Stadium

Tony Woodcock and Rudi Wulf are back for the Blues … But captain Keven Mealamu is out out, as is Luke Braid, who is serving a three week suspension. Also out is Gareth Anscombe, so in comes Piri Weepu at flyhalf. They have just flown back from SA after being given a smack from the Stormers, while the Canes must be miffed after losing out to the Highlanders. It’s a Bata Tuffy to start the weekend, and would not be at all surprised to see the Canes win this, but going with home side …

My prediction: Blues by 2

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 (captain), 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock
Bench: 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 (captain), 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
Bench: 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 v Force, Melbourne – 10:40
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Andrew Lees (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Head to head: Played 2, Rebels 1, Force 1
Last match: Rebels 24 – 27 Force @ AAMI Park

Does it come any more boring than this? You simply must not watch this game – it will be bad for your health – FACT. Tough one to call though!

My prediction: Force by 1

Rebels: 15 Richard Kingi, 14 Mark Gerrard, 13 Lachlan Mitchell, 12 James O’Connor, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (captain), 7 Tom Chamberlain, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Adam Freier, 1 Nic Henderson
Bench: 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 (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Kieran Longbottom
Bench: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Justin Turner, 21 Winston Stanley, 22 Samu Wara

SATURDAY, MARCH 24

Waratahs v Sharks, Sydney – 06:35
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Head to head: Played 15, Waratahs 10, Sharks 4, Drawn 1
Last match: Sharks 26 – 21 Waratahs @ Durban

How pissed off are the Tahs going to be after going down to the Force last weekend? Spitting venom I reckon … The Sharks have travelled, so that counts against them, but more important to the result is the team that arrives at the game – the team that closed out the game against the Reds last week, or the one that looked like a leaking sieve in the first half? The Sharks have a shaky record in Sydney and while I might get burnt (and lambasted with hate Tweets) again, I think the home side will prevail.

My prediction: Tahs by 7

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).
Bench: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Jono Jenkins, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Daniel Halangahu

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.
Bench: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Nick Schonert, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Frederic Michalak, 21 Marius Joubert, 22 Louis Ludik.

Crusaders v Cheetahs, Christchurch – 08:35
Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Matthew Muir (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
Head to head: Played 6, Crusaders 4, Cheetahs 2
Last match: Cheetahs 33 – 20 Crusaders @ Bloemfontein

I really enjoy watching this Cheetahs side, and was chuffed to see them sneak a win last weekend. Adriaan Strauss is the form hooker, Willie le Roux has gas to burn, Brussow has no peer and Goosen is the deserved stats champion. But they have picked the B team props to take on the Franks brothers, and I just cannot see them getting past the black and reds – playing in Christchurch for the first time since the earthquake. Not to mention a certain “D Carter” lurcking on the bench …

My prediction: Crusaders by 18

Crusaders: 15. Israel Dagg, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Robert Fruean, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Zac Guildford, 10. Tom Taylor, 9. Andy Ellis, 8. Kieran Read (captain), 7. Matt Todd, 6. Luke Whitelock, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Luke Romano, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Corey Flynn, 1. Ben Franks
Bench: 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 Brussow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Bench: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Ryno Benjamin

Brumbies v Highlanders, Canberra – 10:40
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Simon Moore (Australia)
TMO: Steve Lesczcynski (Australia)
Head to head: Played 16, Brumbies 9, Highlanders 7
Last match: Highlanders 26 – 20 Brumbies @ Invercargill

Brumbies coming off narrow loss, and Landers off a narrow win … I get the impression that Jake has these Brumbies performing a little above their actual ability, and at home against a Highlanders side that might not take the game as serisouly as they should, they could sneak it. But the Otago boys are a proper rugby side this year and are not toppping the log without reason.

My prediction: Highlanders by 7

Brumbies: 15. Jesse Mogg, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Andrew Smith, 12. Pat McCabe, 11. Joseph Tomane, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Nic White, 8. Ben Mowen (captain), 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Peter Kimlin, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Leon Power, 3. Dan Palmer, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Ben Alexander
Bench: 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).
Bench: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 Elliot Dixon, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Chris Noakes, 22 Buxton Popoali’i.

Bulls v Reds, Pretoria – 17:05
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Head to head: Played 14, Reds 9, Bulls 5
Last match: Reds 39 – 30 Bulls @ Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

The Reds started fading at half time last week against the Sharks, and I see that trend continuing, especially without Iaone (due to suspension) and with newboy Murphy at flyhalf. The Bulls will be well rested after their bye and have the talisman that is Francois Hougaard back in the number 9 jersey, along with young talent Johann Sadie back at centre. The only semi issue for the Bulls is the breakdown, as they are missing Stegmann again, and Beau Robinson is a menace …

My prediction: Bulls by 9

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling
Bench: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 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 (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley
Bench: 16 James Hanson, 17 James Slipper, 18 Radike Samo, 19 Van Humphries, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Nathan Eyres-Brown

Lions v Stormers, Johannesburg – 19:10
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)
Head to head: Played 15, Stormers 11, Lions 4
Last match: Lions 19 – 33 Stormers @ Johannesburg

John Mitchell said during the week that is the worst injury list he has had to deal with in his 16 years of coaching … Yet he is still able to put out a side that looks pretty capable … At Currie Cup level. The home side look a little shaky up front, and the one thing the Stormers have done well this year, is take control in that area. Who would have predicted that? No longer the walking barcode, this Stormers tightfive, powered by young and fiery Etzebeth and Kitshoff, are doing the business, and I see them taking the game because of that.

My prediction: Stormers by 12

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 (captain), 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Marius Coetzer, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen
Bench: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Stephan Greeff, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Michael Killian, 22 Ruan Combrinck

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 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
Bench: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Gerhard van den Heever

So it’s up and at em on Saturday morning to catch the Sharks with a coffee en beskuit, the Cheetahs on a spin bike in the gym while your lightie racks up V-Club points, tea with aunt Jemima, plant buying at Stodels, and lawn mowing to round off the brownie point gathering, then onto the couch with a cold one while the fire burns during the Bulls game, and a boerwors and coolerbox extravaganza for the local derby to finish off the weekend’s action … One up on a visit to the dentist I would say …

Enjoy

Author: Tank

Ex WP prop with a fair amount of experience in all things media ...

4 Comments

  1. I’m also afraid of the bulls’ breakdown.

    Sly old Ewen McKenzie always has a trick or two up his sleeve, and he’s picked two loosies on the bench. One of which is Liam Gill, who comes highly rated as fetcher. He’s represented Australia at 7s and u20 level.

    I reckon my beloved bulls might be not have it all their own way, but I don’t think the reds can go the full 80 to win it

  2. Highlanders and Brumbies coming off narrow losses???

  3. Tank,the Rebels have one of the finest rugby brains coaching them – Rod MacQueen. You underestimate them at your peril. One can already see the constructive rugby they are playing. I don’t say they are going to win more than they will lose this season, but I am sure they will end up the most improved side in S15. 95% Of all SA coaches can learn by just watching what he does with a side of many no name brands.