Yep, it’s a bit of a snoreathon, and there is a mountain of the stuff we need to get through this weekend, including a bloody Aussie derby, but I am going to make it interesting by offering a copy of John Dobson’s book “Year of the Gherkin” to the person who gets the yellow cap in the Front Row Grunt SuperBru pool this weekend …
The rugby link is a touch thin, but the book is written by the current WP coach, and it is about a wannabe called Jason Brydon who had the Front Row Grunt in his ten most accessed websites when his boss at the paint business felt the need to find out what Brydon was doing instead of selling paint!
So even if you have not been part of the pool from the get go, you can sign up now as the yellow cap goes to the best predictor of the weekend, and does not take previous predictions into account. CLICK HERE to sign up …
So to the weekend …
FRIDAY, MAY 4
Hurricanes v Blues, Wellington – 09:35
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
TMO: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
I have been burnt by these bloody Blues too often, so of course they will choose this weekend, the one I am not going to back them to “Eventually come good”, to actually come good! But that McCartney could not find a jumper if he was the size of the Eiffel Tower, Ranger is half the layer he was last year, Williams cannot break a match stick let alone a tackle, and Weepu eats at the Golden Arches more than I do. This against Taylor, Jane, Smith, Bateman and Barrett … Nope, not happening …
My prediction: Canes by 12
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 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 Reg Goodes, 18 Jack Lam, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Alapati Leiua.
Blues: 15 Hadleigh Parkes, 14 Rene Ranger, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 George Moala, 10 Michael Hobbs, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid (captain), 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tevita Mailau
Bench: 16 James Parsons, 17 Angus Ta’avao, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Lachie Munro, 22 David Raikuna
Rebels v Bulls, Melbourne – 11:40
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Julian Pritchard (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
The Rebels have made the best move of the season, and ditched the human revolving door, Danny Cipriani. It does mean they have to play Beale at flyhalf, though, which is not ideal. Nice to see old man Mortlock on the bench … Be interesting to see if he is still up to it … Both sides off a bye, but the Bulls have travelled. They are a top side, playing some good rugby, but I think the Bulls might struggle a bit.
My prediction: Bulls by 3
Rebels: 15 Julian Huxley, 14 Mark Gerrard, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Lachlan Mitchell, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (captain), 7 Tim Davidson, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Rodney Blake, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Bench: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Jono Owen, 18 Alister Campbell, 19 Ryan Hodson, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 James Hilgendorf, 22 Stirling Mortlock.
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 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Juandre Kruger, 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 Johann Sadie
SATURDAY, MAY 5
Chiefs v Lions, Pukekohe – 09:35
Referee: Ian Smith (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Grant Stuart (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
The Chiefs schooled the Canes last weekend at home while the Lions were taken to task by the Brumbies at the Coke Can. The Joburgers then got on a toothpaste tube and flew all the way to Pukekohe! Might as well just add lit petrol to the slow motion car crass! Taute and Hollenbach vs Kahui and SBW – is that even legal?
My prediction: Chiefs by 22
Chiefs: 15 Andrew Horrell, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Bench: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Arizona Taumalolo, 18 Alex Bradley, 19 Scott Waldrom, 20 Tawera Kerr- Barlow, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Maritino Nemani.
Lions: 15 Andrie Coetzee, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Josh Strauss (c), 7 Grant Hattingh, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen/JC Janse van Rensburg.
Bench: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Cobus Grobbelaar, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 James Kamana, 22 Michael Killian.
Brumbies v Waratahs, Canberra – 11:40
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Richard Goswell (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Aussie derby alert. Watch at your own peril. But this one might actually be worth keeping an eye on, if you don’t have grass to mow or shelves to put up … Tahs looked good against the Saders, and the Brumbies had a solid tour to the republic … The home side have travelled and the visitors have Barnes back at flyhalf …
My prediction: Tahs by 7
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Fotu Auelua, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben Mowen (c), 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.
Waratahs: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Atieli Pakalani, 13 Tom Kingston, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Jono Jenkins, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson (c).
Bench: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Rocky Elsom, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Daniel Halangahu.
Sharks v Highlanders, Durban – 17:05
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Take the Glow Worms lightly at your peril – just ask the Cheetahs, but they certainly used up all their “get out of Jail free” cards last week in Bloemfontein. Plumtree has two fetchers in the mix, Jordaan partnering Whitehead (with JP back on the wing), Lambie at flyhalf and the Big Bad Beast back in the number 1 jersey. All good moves / selections and they are looking a little more like a Sharks side …
My prediction: Sharks by 12
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie,9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain ), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis / Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Bench: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst / Jannie du Plessis, 18 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Ryan Kankowski, 21 Frederic Michalak, 22 Meyer Bosman
Highlanders: 15: Ben Smith 14: Kade Poki 13: Tamati Ellison 12: Shaun Treeby 11: Hosea Gear 10: Mike Delany 9: Aaron Smith 8: Nasi Manu 7: Doug Tietjens 6: Adam Thomson 5: Jarrad Hoeata 4: Josh Bekhuis 3: Chris King 2: Andrew Hore 1: Jamie Mackintosh
Bench: 16: Jason Rutledge 17: Ma’afu Fia/Jacob Ellison 18: Culum Retallick 19 Elliot Dixon 20: Jimmy Cowan 21: Chris Noakes 22: Kurt Baker
Cheetahs v Force, Bloemfontein – 19:10
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)
Sias Ebersohn is a really, really good player. But my oath, he must feel like a complete chop after last weekend’s debacle, and one has to wonder if that will plague him a little? The Force are properly ordinary though, and off a loss against the injury ravaged Stormers at home, they have also travelled. Mental scars or not, the Cheetahs should be too good for them ion Bloem.
My prediction: Cheetahs by 16
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Cameron Jacobs, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Bench: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Riaan Smit, 22 Philip Snyman
Force: 15. Alifeleti Mafi, 14. Samu Wara, 13. Nick Cummins, 12. Winston Stanley, 11. Napolioni Nalaga, 10. David Harvey, 9. Brett Sheehan, 8. Matthew Hodgson, 7. David Pocock (captain), 6. Richard Brown, 5. Nathan Sharpe, 4. Toby Lynn, 3. Salesi Ma’afu, 2. Nathan Charles, 1. Pekahou Cowan
Bench: 16. Elvis Taione, 17. Salesi Manu, 18. Phoenix Battye, 19. Locky McCaffrey, 20. Josh Holmes, 21. Ben Seymour, 22. Rory Sidey
SUNDAY, MAY 6
Crusaders v Reds, Christchurch 05:00
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Vinny Munro (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Matthew Muir (New Zealand)
Las year’s champs vs the greatest Super Rugby franchise ever … Should be a cracker, but the Reds have really struggled to come to life without Quade Cooper. Iaone is back and will get sharper with each game, and now that Genia has signed with the Queenslanders after considering an offer from the Force, perhaps that will also settle things a little. But even though they were made to sweat a little by the Tahs last week, the Saders look like the machine is starting to hum. And of course, with both McCaw and Carter now back full time, this side will only get better …
My prediction: Crusaders by 9
Crusaders: 15: Israel Dagg 14: Sean Maitland/Adam Whitelock 13: Robbie Fruean 12: Dan Carter 11: Zac Guildford 10: Tom Taylor 9: Andy Ellis 8: Kieran Read 7: Matt Todd 6: George Whitelock 5: Tom Donnelly 4: Luke Romano 3: Owen Franks 2: Corey Flynn 1: Ben Franks
Bench: 16: Ben Funnell 17: Wyatt Crockett 18: Sam Whitelock 19: Richie McCaw 20: Willie Heinz 21: Ryan Crotty 22: Tom Marshall
Reds: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Ben Lucas, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Greg Holmes.
Bench: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Eddie Quirk, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Rod Davies.
So it’s the Bulls at work on Friday on the Walka, half on eye on the Lions and Aus derby if you have nothing else to do, a cold one while the fire burns down during the Cheetahs game, hard core rare rump steak and rooi wyn to celebrate the Sharks win, and then ice cold Crème Soda and several toasted cheese to get one through the very early Sunday start …