Front Row Grunt

Rugby … with cauliflower ears

Super Rugby predictions …

Tank Lanning
And Joburg does a jig as the Lions get a sniff of moving away from the basement of the Super Rugby log! Yep, with a guaranteed four points for a bye, and one of the Rebels or Blues likely to lose this weekend, the Lions could actually get a temporary reprieve from that number 15 spot on the log …

The Cheetahs also take a breather, the Stormers and Sharks have it fairly tough against the Reds and Chiefs respectively, while the Bulls should put pay to Jake’s Brumbies with relative ease at Loftus …

Highlanders v Blues, Dunedin – 09:35
R Bryce Lawrence
AR Mike Fraser, Kane McBride
TMO Vinny Munro
Head to head: Played 18, Highlanders 5, Blues 13
Last match: Blues 33 – 16 Highlanders @ Eden Park (2011 SR, WK18)

Highlanders off a break, playing at home, and in contention for the playoffs, against a side that is away from home after going down to the Rebels and Sharks, missing their regular skipper, and coached by a man being persecuted by the Auckland public. It’s a no brainer surely? Blues have to come good at some stage though … And I am feeling cheeky! Or is it the Klipdrift from Wednesday’s launch that is talking?

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

Blues: 15 Hadleigh Parkes, 14 George Moala, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Benson Stanley, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid (captain), 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Ali Williams, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock
Bench: 16 James Parsons, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Michael Hobbs, 22 David Raikuna


Reds v Stormers, Brisbane – 11:40
R Steve Walsh
AR Angus Gardner, Rohan Hoffman
TMO Steve Leszczynski
Head to head: Played 14, Reds 6, Stormers 8
Last match: Stormers 6 – 19 Reds @ DHL Newlands (2011 SR, WK8)

The most acidic of acid tests for the Storm. Away from home, missing all three of their leaders in Burger, De Villiers and Bekker, a young and fiery lock without a mentor, a wing playing centre, and a brand new captain. Against a side that is yet to fire this year, but are the reigning champs! I certainly would not bet my house on the visitors losing this one, as they are side filled with character, but this is a big ask.

My prediction: Reds by 3
Reds: 15. Luke Morahan, 14. Rod Davies, 13. Ben Tapuai, 12. Mike Harris, 11. Dom Shipperley, 10. Sam Lane, 9. Will Genia, 8. Radike Samo, 7. Beau Robinson, 6. Scott Higginbotham, 5. James Horwill (captain), 4. Rob Simmons, 3. James Slipper, 2. James Hanson, 1. Ben Daley
Bench: 16. Albert Anae, 17. Greg Holmes, 18. Van Humphries, 19. Jake Schatz, 20. Liam Gill, 21. Ben Lucas, 22. Nick Frisby

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Bryan Habana, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Bench: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Nick Koster, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 JP du Plessis


Hurricanes v Crusaders, Wellington – 09:35
R Craig Joubert
AR Glen Jackson, Mike Fraser
TMO Bryce Lawrence
Head to head: Played 21, Hurricanes 4, Crusaders 14, Drawn 3
Last match: Hurricanes 9 – 16 Crusaders @ Westpac Trust (2011 SR, WK18)

This will definitely be the game of the weekend, and fantastic to be able to just sit back and enjoy, the result not really being that important to us South Africans. Saders off a good win against the Stormers, but Canes at home after enjoying a week off. Much talk about Carter remaining at 12, but for me the Conrad Smith vs Robert Fruean battle is the midfield talking point. Taylor and Jane vs Guildford and Dagg enough to get those cooler boxes open, even if it is 09h30 in the morning!

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

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


Waratahs v Rebels, Sydney – 11:40
R Jonathan Kaplan
AR James Leckie, Francisco Pastrana
TMO Matt Goddard
Head to head: Played 3, Waratahs 3, Rebels 0
Last match: Rebels 19 – 35 Waratahs @ AAMI Park (2012 SR, WK2)

My prediction: Tahs by 9
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 (captain)
Bench: 16. John Ulugia, 17. Paddy Ryan, 18. Sitaleki Timani, 19. Lopeti Timani, 20. Rocky Elsom, 21. Sarel Pretorius, 22. Daniel Halangahu

Rebels: 15. Kurtley Beale, 14. Mark Gerrard, 13. Lloyd Johansson, 12. James O`Connor, 11. Lachlan Mitchell, 10. Daniel Cipriani, 9. Nick Phipps, 8. Gareth Delve (captain), 7. Michael Lipman, 6. Jarrod Saffy, 5. Hugh Pyle, 4. Luke Jones, 3. Rodney Blake, 2. Ged Robinson, 1. Nic Henderson
Bench: 16. Luke Holmes, 17. Jono Owen, 18. Alister Campbell, 19. Tim Davidson, 20. Richard Kingi, 21. Julian Huxley, 22. Cooper Vuna


Sharks v Chiefs, Durban – 17:05
R Garratt Williamson
AR Keith Brown
AR Reuben Roussouw
TMO Shaun Veldsman
Head to head: Played 14, Sharks 7, Chiefs 7
Last match: Chiefs 15 – 9 Sharks @ Waikato Stadium (2011 SR, WK5)

Sharks back home after an up and down tour that saw them get past the hapless Blues last weekend. Chiefs into their stride in SA after a convincing win against the Cheetahs last weekend, and SBW Tweeting about loving his time in the country because they get treated so well. The Sharks are yet to put an 80 minute performance together, and if they do that on Saturday, they could just pip the Waikato boys, but not sure that is going to happen in a travel week. And it’s not as if the Durban faithful pitch up at the Shark Tank every home game either …
My prediction: Chiefs by 5

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

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


Bulls v Brumbies, Pretoria – 19:10
R Marius Jonker
AR Lourens van der Merwe, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO Johann Meuwesen
Head to head: Played 13, Bulls 5, Brumbies 8
Last match: Bulls 50 – 32 Brumbies @ Loftus Versfeld (2010 SR, WK2)

Jake must feel a little let down after warning his team about the digs he was sure to receive in the press and then the only story bubbling up being just that one! Not sure he realises it yet, but most people in SA respect Jake as a coach and the work he is doing at the Brumbies, and are probably a little sad (rather than resentful) to see it happening outside SA rather than inside. Good work or not though, this Brumbies side is a military medium one that has performed admirably. At Loftus, against a side that stuttered rather than exploded against the Lions, I think the wild horses will come unstuck …

My prediction: Bulls by 22

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Juandre Kruger, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling/Dawie Steyn
Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Johann Sadie

Brumbies: 15. Jesse Mogg, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Andrew Smith, 12. Pat McCabe, 11. Joseph Tomane, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Nic White, 8. Fotu Auelua, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Ben Mowen (captain), 5. Sam Carter, 4. Scott Fardy, 3. Dan Palmer, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Ben Alexander
Bench: 16. Anthony Hegarty, 17. Ruaidhri Murphy, 18. Peter Kimlin, 19. Ita Vaea, 20. Ian Prior, 21. Robbie Coleman, 22. Tevita Kuridrani

So another fairly manageable viewing weekend with two Friday morning games – your boss has to be wondering why your dentist always schedules your appointments for Friday mornings, so perhaps the proctologist this week? – A cracker to get Saturday morning going and then a nice long pause to earn a few brownie points or get a round of golf in (I will be donning the spikes at Mowbray GC) and then two Saffer games to aid the braai digestion and cooler box emptying!


Author: Tank

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


  1. Surely Tank needs to give this up now – his predictions are becoming an embarrassment. Before the Canes-Crusaders game (which looks like it will be another 0 pointer for Tank) he stands at 58% accuracy…. and only a top 50% global ranking.

    • It’s more for the banter round the water cooler than the actual predictions … 3 from 6 for Tank … dreadful prediction weekend …