Both the Bookies and the Brus say it is going to be plain sailing for the home sides this weekend. Tank Lanning is less convinced. Catch the weekend’s teams, times, refs, odds, and community picks.
Remember when we used to give the Stormers grief for playing a game that would only get them as far as the quarterfinals, but no further? This because the stats prove that defence alone will not be good enough come the business end of the tournament. Well against Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa, one has to wonder if the Sharks largely defensive outlook on life is going to be good enough in Durban on Saturday night?
Also, the Highlanders have beaten the Sharks in their last 2 encounters: 25-22 at home in 2013, and 34-18 in Durban earlier this season. Only the Bulls (28) have scored fewer tries than the Sharks (29) in 2014. However, the Banana Boys have conceded the fewest tries (22) in Super Rugby this year. This while the Highlanders’ opponents tackled at a competition low success rate of 82% this season. This mainly due to Malakai Fekitoa having beaten 61 defenders, at least 10 more than anybody else! Both scrums operate at about an 85% success rate, but with Stephan Lewies having produced more lineout catches (77) and steals (10) than any other player in the regular season, the Sharks lineout success (at 87%) is a whole lot better than the Highlanders (79%). Are we seeing a classic case of best defence vs best attack? Worrying signs for the Sharks, but with Lambie back (albeit on the bench), and a momentum building win at Newlands, I think they should be OK at home this weekend.
Brumbies vs Chiefs is a repeat of the 2013 Super Rugby final, a game the Chiefs won 27-22, but in the earlier encounter this year, the Brumbies beat the Chiefs 41-23. Both of these sides conceded exactly 378 points this season, an average of 23.6 per game. The Brumbies are making their second consecutive appearance in the finals after making the final last year. Prior to last season they had not appeared in the business end of the season since 2004. The Chiefs are aiming for a third title in a row, only the Crusaders (1998-2000) have ever won three titles on the bounce. The Chiefs have been really crappy for most of this year, while the Brumbies are almost unbeatable at home these days. So of course I have picked this game to produce the upset!
To the weekend then:
Saturday, July 19 2014
11:40 – Brumbies vs Chiefs, GIO Stadium, Canberra
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
AR’s: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
Tank’s prediction: CHIEFS to beat Brumbies by 9
SuperBru community: BRUMBIES (74%) to beat Chiefs by 4
Oddschecker: BRUMBIES (14/7) to beat Chiefs (13/8)
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Leon Power, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio
Bench: 16 Ruaidhri Murphy, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Fotu Auelua, 20 Tom McVerry, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Joe Tomane, 23 Pat McCabe
Chiefs: 15 Dwayne Sweeney, 14 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahroni Schwalger, 1 Jamie Mackintosh
Bench: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Nick Barrett, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Tevita Koloamatangi, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Tom Marshall
17:05 – Sharks vs Highlanders, Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
AR’s: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Tank’s prediction: SHARKS to beat Highlanders by 11
SuperBru community: SHARKS (95%) to beat Highlanders by 9
Oddschecker: SHARKS (1/6) to beat Highlanders (5/1)
Sharks: 15. SP Marais, 14. S’bura Sithole, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Paul Jordaan, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Frans Steyn, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Anton Bresler, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Thomas du Toit
Bench: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Etienne Oosthuizen, 20. Jean Deysel, 21. Charl McLeod, 22. Pat Lambie, 23. Tonderai Chavhanga
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co.captain), 7. Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Kane Hames
Bench: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 JP Koen, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Tom Franklin, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 Gareth Evans