Front Row Grunt

Rugby … with cauliflower ears

Super Rugby predictions …

Tank Lanning

It’s Easter Bunny time … always dangerous for us Cheerful Chunkies not shy of seeking out an excuse to hoover chocolate instead of a post gym low fat whey protein shake … But hey, it does mean rugby on a Thursday! Not sure I can remember that happening before …

Just remember to get your Superbru picks in on time … Speaking of which, this is how my 58% prediction record, middle of the table, beer stained brain reckons the weekend will pan out …


Rebels v Blues, Melbourne – 11:40
Referee: Bryce Lawrence
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees, James Leckie
TMO: Matt Goddard
Head to head: Played 1, Blues 1, Rebels 0
Last match: Blues 40 – 23 Rebels @ North Harbour (SR 2011, WK10)

My oath but the Rebels were rabble last week against the Highlanders, and this week they will be worse with the human turnstile Danny Cipriani back at flyhalf. The Blues have been the let down of the tournament thus far, but welcome back Mealamu, Woodcock and Ranger after getting the weekend off. It should be a cake walk for the visitors, with Pat Lam getting into CV polishing mode if they do not take this one.

My Prediction: Blues by 12

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 (captain), 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Rodney Blake, 2 Adam Freier, 1 Nic Henderson
Bench: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Alister Campbell, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Julian Huxley, 22 Lloyd Johansson

Blues: 15 Rudi Wulf, 14 Lachie Munro, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Brad Mika, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu (captain), 1 Tony Woodcock
Bench: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Dan Pryor, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Michael Hobbs, 22 Hadleigh Parkes


Hurricanes v Sharks, New Plymouth – 09:35
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson, Mike Fraser
TMO: Richard Kelly
Head to head: Played 14, Sharks 7, Hurricanes 6, Drawn 1
Last match: Sharks 40 – 24 Hurricanes @ Durban (SR 2011, WK10)

Perhaps the toughest pick of the weekend? The Sharks guttsed out a good win against the Brumbies last weekend, but just seem to be struggling to put a full 80 minutes together. This against a side who boast some of the more exciting backs in the tournament – who will be properly bitter after squandering a massive lead against the Cheetahs last weekend. It’s also the dreaded third week on tour for the banana boys, but I would not be that surprised to see them take this … Jane vs Mvovo and Smith vs Pietersen more mouth watering than an Easter egg!

My Prediction: Canes by 5

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Jack Lam, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 James Broadhurst, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben May
Bench: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Charlie Ngatai

Sharks: 15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Louis Ludik, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Tim Whitehead, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Jandre Marais, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Craig Burden, 1. Dale Chadwick
Bench: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Jean Deysel, 20. Jacques Botes, 21. Meyer Bosman, 22. Marius Joubert/Paul Jordaan

Reds v Brumbies, Brisbane – 11:40
Referee: Steve Walsh
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Rohan Hoffman
TMO: Steve Lesczcynski
Head to head: Played 18, Brumbies 16, Reds 2
Last match: Brumbies 22 – 14 Reds (2011 SR, WK16)

Got to love these Aus derbies as it means you can take a break and earn those pink tickets needed for the real rugby … These Reds have to fire at some stage, and after that embarrassing debacle last weekend, I am taking a flyer on it happening this weekend …

My Prediction: Reds by 17

Reds: 15: Luke Morahan 14: Dom Shipperley 13: Aidan Toua 12: Ben Tapuai 11: Rod Davies 10: Sam Lane 9: Will Genia 8: Scott Higginbotham 7: Liam Gill 6: Beau Robinson 5: James Horwill 4: Rob Simmons 3: James Slipper 2: James Hansen 1: Ben Daley
Bench: 16: Albert Anae 17: Greg Holmes 18: Radike Samo 19: Van Humphries 20: Eddie Quirk 21: Nick Frisby 22: Dallan Murphy

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 (captain), 7 Ita Vaea, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Leon Power, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander
Bench: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Scott Fardy, 19 Michael Hooper, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Zack Holmes, 22 Tevita Kuridrani

Force v Chiefs, Perth – 13:40
Referee: Jonathon White
Assistant referees: Ian Smith, Julian Pritchard
TMO: George Ayoub
Head to head: Played 5, Chiefs 4, Force 1
Last match: Chiefs 37 – 19 Force @ Perth (2010 SR, WK3)

Clash of the Aus killers, the Force having put pay to the Reds, and the Chiefs having hammered the Tahs. The Chiefs are the real deal this year, though – SBW and Kahui are an awesome pair, Cruden and Kerr-Barlow dominate games, Retallick bosses, while Taumalolo can scrum and score tries. Surely a one hit wonder for the Force last weekend?

My Prediction: Chiefs by 13

Force: 15: David Harvey 14: Samu Wara 13: Nick Cummins 12: Winston Stanley 11: Alfie Mafi 10: Ben Seymour 9: Brett Sheehan 8: Matt Hodgson 7: David Pocock 6: Richard Brown 5: Nathan Sharpe 4: Toby Lynn 3: Salesi Ma’afu 2: Nathan Charles 1: Pek Cowan
Bench: 16: Elvis Taione 17: Kieran Longbottom 18: Phoenix Battye 19: Ben McCalman 20: Josh Holmes 21: Rory Sidey 22: Patrick Dellit

Chiefs: 15. Robbie Robinson, 14. Lelia Masaga, 13. Richard Kahui, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 11. Tim Nanai-Williams, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8. Kane Thompson, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 6. Liam Messam, 5. Brodie Retallick, 4. Craig Clarke (captain), 3. Ben Tameifuna, 2. Mahonri Schwalger, 1. Sona Taumalolo
Bench: 16. Hikawera Elliott, 17. Josh Hohneck, 18. Michael Fitzgerald, 19. Sam Cane, 20. Augustine Pulu, 21. Andrew Horrell, 22. Jackson Willison


Highlanders v Stormers, Dunedin – 09:35
Referee: Chris Pollock
Assistant referees: Keith Brown, Kane McBride
TMO: Vinny Munro
Head to head: Played 15, Highlanders 8, Stormers 6, Drawn 1
Last match: Stormers 18 – 6 Highlanders @ Newlands (2011 SR, WK4)

Challenging Bulls vs Saders for the game of the weekend I reckon … even if just to witness Frans Malherbe taming the giant Jamie Mackintosh over the 60 odd minutes he will get in his first start. Nice long week for the Highlanders as they played on Friday last week (at home), and it was a fun run around against the Rabble. This while the Storm have spent 36 hours getting to Queenstown after a brutal encounter against the Pinkies. I just think this might prove too tough a hurdle to clear this week.

My Prediction: Highlanders by 7

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Adam Thomson, 6 James Haskell, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Bench: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Ma’afu Fia, 18 Culum Retallick, 19 Doug Tietjens, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Buxton Popoali’i, 22 Phil Burleigh.

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. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Bench: 16. Deon Fourie, 17. Brok Harris, 18. De Kock Steenkamp, 19. Nick Koster, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Burton Francis, 22. Gerhard van den Heever

Cheetahs v Lions, Bloemfontein – 15:00
Referee: Mark Lawrence
Assistant referees: Joey Salmans, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Johann Meuwesen
Head to head: Played 8, Cheetahs 4, Lions 4
Last match: Lions 27 – 25 Cheetahs @ Johannesburg (2012 SR, WK1)

The only SA derby of the weekend … The Cheetahs back from a sensational tour down under, the Lions fighting an ever increasing injury list and the ever increasing shadow of Cheeky Watson! The visitors welcome back Elton Jantjies and hand out a cap to a 19 year old giant Paul Williams in an attempt to shore up their woeful lineout. This while the Cheetahs give Johnson a start on the side of the scrum. On paper it is the Cheetahs all the way … On paper that is …

My Prediction: Cheetahs by 5

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Heinrich Brssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Bench: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Philip Snyman

Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Alwyn Hollenbach, 12 Butch James, 11 Andries Coetzee, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen
Bench: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Lionel Mapoe, 22 James Kamana

Bulls v Crusaders, Pretoria – 17:05
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Lesego Legoete, Tiaan Jonker
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee
Head to head: Played 18, Crusaders 12, Bulls 6
Last match: Crusaders 27 – 0 Bulls @ Timaru

Morne Steyn vs Dan Carter, who will be taking the pots at goal for the first time since the RWC … The Franks brothers and Wyatt Crockett vs Greyling and Kruger … Bulls off a loss against the Storm in Cape Town, the Saders off a win against the hapless Lions in Joburg. Will the real title contenders please reveal themselves? Too early to call it, but winner contends, and loser fights for wildcard … At Fortress Loftus, and back in light blue, with perhaps the form 8, 9 and 10 in the tournament, I am going with the home side …

My Prediction: Bulls by 7

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 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 JJ Engelbrecht

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Bench: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Tom Marshall SuperSport

It’s a highly manageable split this weekend. Three morning games to eyeball while on a gym machine of sorts, earning you both Vitality and Pink Ticket points, a missable Aus derby on Friday, and then a braai and coolerbox crescendo on Saturday afternoon … Sensational!

All the best for a long and fun-filled Easter weekend my friends …

Author: Tank

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


  1. Don’t be surprised if Jaco Peyper “blows” a potentially good game of rugby to pieces. The 2 assistants probably wont help either.
    If thats what you call it Tank, I say bring on the “Fold In” immediately and cut this current crap out. There are only 6 people on a rugby field who know how to sort the front row out- you only have to watch some of the old games on ESPN to come to that conclusion.

  2. And Varsity Cup final on Monday in case you can’t get enough rugga for the w-end!
    Tank, your quick thoughts on who will take it?

  3. Probably the best performance by the Stormers so far. If Duane Vermeulen does not become a Springbok it will be an absolutely travesty – he is the complete No8. Tank were the Stormers very good at “milking” those early engagements? – if it was they did it very well.