Two truly coolerbox emptying games to end both Friday and Saturday… Grunt editor and former WP prop, Tank Lanning, takes a look at the Super Rugby weekend.
Six game weekends just seem so much more manageable, especially when they are well balanced with 3 games on each day. Throw in an Aussie derby on Saturday, and you actually get to focus on what you want to braai and what you want in the coolerbox rather than scrambling for those pink tickets needed just to watch the games!
And with 2 Coleman stainless steel coolerboxes and camping chairs to go with the 10 cases of Red Bull to fill the coolerboxes up for grabs in the Front Row Grunt SuperBru pool, it’s time to have a little stab at a few predictions:
Friday 05 April
08:35 Blues vs Highlanders, Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Some legendary front row names making their way back to rugby – Mealamu for the Blues and Mackintosh for the Landers. Blues frustratingly inconsistent, but have the potential to beat any side on their day. Highlanders the same, but perhaps to a lesser extent. Also seemingly not sure what to do with new signing Nonu. Backing Ranger, Noakes and Weepu at home.
My prediction: Blues by 7
Blues 15. Charles Piutau, 14. Frank Halai, 13. Rene Ranger, 12. Jackson Willison, 11. George Moala, 10. Chris Noakes, 9. Piri Weepu, 8. Peter Saili, 7. Luke Braid, 6. Steven Luatua, 5. Ali Williams (C), 4. Culum Retallick, 3. Angus Ta’avao, 2. James Parsons, 1. Tim Perry
Bench: 16. Keven Mealamu, 17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18. Anthony Boric, 19. Brendon O’Connor, 20. Jamison Gibson-Park, 21. Baden Kerr, 22. Francis Saili
Highlanders: 15. Ben Smith, 14. Buxton Popoalii, 13. Jason Emery, 12. Ma’a Nonu, 11. Hosea Gear, 10. Colin Slade, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Mose Tuiali’i, 7. John Hardie, 6. Jarrad Hoeata, 5. Josh Bekhuis, 4. Brad Thorn, 3. Chris King, 2. Andrew Hore (c), 1. Jamie Mackintosh.
Bench: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Ma’afu Fia, 18. TJ Ioane, 19. Elliot Dixon, 20. Fumiaki Tanaka, 21. Lima Sopoaga, 22. Phil Burleigh.
10:40 Brumbies vs Kings, Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistants: Angus Gardner (Australia), Andrew Lees (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
Brumbies out of jail against the Bulls last week and might fall into the trap of taking the Kings too lightly. Well, the Kings will be hoping so, as that is the only way I see them getting close. Kings battered and bruised and perhaps forced to play star 8th man Engelbrecht from the bench. More of the “Gutsy, never give up, good team spirit, play for jersey” type Tweets after losing by between 10 and 20 again I think.
My prediction: Brumbies by 17
Brumbies: 5. Robbie Coleman, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Pat McCabe, 11. Joseph Tomane, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Nic White, 8. Fotu Auelua, 7. George Smith, 6. Ben Mowen, 5. Etienne Oosthuizen, 4. Peter Kimlin, 3. Dan Palmer, 2. Siliva Siliva, 1. Ben Alexander.
Bench: 16. Stephen Moore, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Sam Carter, 19. Colby Faingaa, 20. Ian Prior, 21. Andrew Smith, 22. Zack Holmes.
Kings: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Andries Strauss (captain), 11 Ronnie Cooke, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Devin Oosthuizen, 5 Rynier Bernardo, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Grant Kemp, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Bench: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Marcello Sampson, 22 Elric van Vuuren.
19:10 Sharks vs Crusaders, Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistants: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
Not sure it comes much bigger than this, and anyone who is willing to put their pinky finger on this result is a better person than I, because this is darts at a board while blindfolded after smashing a quick 3 beers territory … Bold call to bring back Steyn at fullback, but perhaps better away from halfback heat as he did not seem to fit into the game that looked so good against the Rabble. That said, Saturday will be more like the game the week before against the Brumbies, and the Sharks will need to up their game considerably. The Sharks front row is going to need to dominate, as is the lineout – unlike the Stormers last week. Get those two right, and the home side have a chance against a side that one has to remember, are still missing their 3 best players!
My prediction: Sharks by 3
Sharks: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (capt), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Riaan Viljoen, 22 Louis Ludik/S’bura Sithole
Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (captain), 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Bench: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Telusa Veainu, 22 Israel Dagg.
Saturday 06 April
08:35 Hurricanes vs Waratahs, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
And another Savea pulls on the legendary bumble bee jersey from Wellington, too much fanfair downunder it has to be said. Tahs boring and lacking soul, but can grind out wins against sides that sink to their level. I am backing Perenara, Barrett, Smith, Savea and Taylor not to sink to that level.
My prediction: Canes by 16
Hurricanes: 1. Ben Franks, 2. Motu Matu’u , 3. Ben May, 4. Mark Reddish, 5. Jason Eaton, 6. Brad Shields, 7. Ardie Savea, 8. Victor Vito / Faifili Levave,9. TJ Perenara , 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Julian Savea, 12. Tim Bateman, 13. Conrad Smith (c) , 14. Alapati Leiua , 15. Andre Taylor
Bench: 16. Ash Dixon / Reggie Goodes, 17. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen / Reggie Goodes , 18. James Broadhurst, 19. Faifili Levave / Jack Lam, 20. Chris Smylie , 21. Tusi Pisi, 22. Reynold Lee-Lo
Waratahs: 1. Benn Robinson , 2. John Ulugia , 3. Sekope Kepu , 4. Sitaleki Timani , 5. Kane Douglas , 6. Dave Dennis ( captain) , 7. Michael Hooper , 8. Pat McCutcheon , 9. Brendan McKibbin , 10. Bernard Foley , 11. Drew Mitchell , 12. Rob Horne , 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper , 14. Peter Betham , 15. Israel Folau
Bench: 16. Luke Holmes , 17. Paddy Ryan , 18. Mitchell Chapman , 19. Wycliff Palu , 20. Matt Lucas , 21. Ben Volavola , 22. Tom Kingston
10:40 Force vs Rebels, NIB Stadium, Perth
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
My prediction: Force by 7
Rebels: 1. Nic Henderson , 2. Ged Robinson , 3. Paul Alo-Emile , 4. Hugh Pyle , 5. Cadeyrn Neville , 6. Luke Jones , 7. Scott Fuglistaller, 8. Scott Higginbotham (c) , 9. Nick Phipps , 10. Angus Roberts , 11. Richard Kingi, 12. Rory Sidey, 13. Mitch Inman, 14. Jason Woodward, 15. James O’Connor
Bench: 16. Shota Horie, 17. Laurie Weeks, 18. Jarrod Saffy, 19. Jordy Reid, 20. Nic Stirzaker, 21. Tom English, 22. Cooper Vuna
17:05 Cheetahs vs Stormers, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistants: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)
Not such a simple prediction these days. The Cheetahs look to have added some proper structure to a gameplan that is definitely the most attacking of the SA sides, and Sadie is looking sharp outside Ebersohn. Coetzee getting tetchy in having to defend giving Jantjies until Friday to prove his fitness leads me to believe that all is not well in that Cape Town camp. And if the lineout operates as badly as it did against the Saders (with the exact same staff it has to be said), then the Stormers might well see a similar result on the scoreboard. But together with the Cape Crusaders, the public backlash, and against a side that quite simply, is not the Crusaders, I think the blue and white will hell bent on putting their season back on track.
My prediction: Stormers by 11
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johan Sadie, 2 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Bench: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuisen, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Stormers: 15. Jaco Taute, 14. Joe Pietersen, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Gio Aplon, 10. Elton Jantjies 9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen (vice-captain), 7. Michael Rhodes, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. De Kock Steenkamp, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Bench: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Gerbrandt Grobler, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Gary van Aswegen, 22. Damian de Allende