Super Rugby predictions …

Tank Lanning

Take six my friends … Six games of Super Rugby on one day! I might have been tempted to watch all six (perhaps with a different drink for every game even) in my youth, but given that it is Derby day at Villagers and one of them is an all Aussie snoreathon, I will not even pretend to try and get all six in.

I hope not to jinx it, but are we seeing less of the ref now that the players are getting used to the new interpretations? Here’s hoping … Dastardly how they have become so influential in this over complicated modern game …

My predictions then …

Highlanders v Rebels, Invercargill – 08:35
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Vinny Munro (New Zealand), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Kane McBride (New Zealand)

Things went awry for the Landers last week, going down to the Brumbies, while the Rebels pulled a rabbit out the hat in actually winning a game! And while they are ten times the side without Cipriani, I do not see the Rebels upsetting the home side who welcome the talismatic Adam Thompson back. Keep an eye on Landers hooker Jason Rutledge, who gets his first start of the season. The kid can play!

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 James Haskell, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Bench: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Ma’afu Fia, 18 Culum Retallick, 19 Doug Tietjens, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Phil Burleigh, 22 Buxton Popoali’i.

Rebels: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Mark Gerrard, 13 Lachlan Mitchell, 12 Lloyd Johansson, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (c), 7 Tom Chamberlain, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Adam Freier, 1 Nic Henderson.
Bench: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Rodney Blake, 18 Alister Campbell, 19 Michael Lipman, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 James Hilgendorf, 22 Julian Huxley.


Hurricanes v Cheetahs, Wellington – 06:30
Referee: Ian Smith (Australia)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Richard Kelly (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Taylor, Jane and Smith are the form backs of the entire tournament at the moment, and all play for the same bloody side! Barrett has proved to be a revelation at 10 for the Canes, who many thought would crumble without the strike force that is Nonu. The Cheetahs have Coenie and WP back up front, and if they go into the game with the belief and intention of winning (missing last week against the Saders), they could actually pull this off. But it’s been a long tour and I do not see them doing it …

My prediction: Canes by 9

Hurricanes – 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 James Broadhurst, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tristan Moran.
Bench: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Jack Lam, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Jayden Hayward.
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 Justin Downey, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 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 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Philip Snyman.

Chiefs v Waratahs, Hamilton – 08:35
Referee: Mike Fraser  (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jonathon White (New Zealand), Glen Jackson  (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)

Has the ability to sneak in as the surprise game of the weekend! Pretorius remains on the bench after McKibbin’s cracker last weekend (his clash with Kerr-Barlow could well decide the match) and Barnes is at flyhalf – to my mind the position he should always play. Two great looseheads in Taumalolo and Robinson (let’s hope he leaves out the whoop from his post match interview!) but it’s the return of Kahui and SBW as a centre combination that decides this for me …

My prediction: Chiefs by 7

Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson , 14 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 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 (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Arizona Taumalolo.
Bench: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Lelia Masaga.

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 Jono Jenkins, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Daniel Halangahu


Brumbies v Sharks, Canberra – 10:40
Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Steve Lesczcynski  (Australia)

Seriously tough one to call! Jake is making magic with the Brumbies side, the irony being that it is fetcher (of a rugby ball, not beer) Michael Hooper who is providing a lot of the Brumbies ball. I have already been burnt twice by these wild horses, and might have to apply the balm again this weekend! But even without Lambie, I think this Sharks side – with Coetzee to handle Hooper in the first half and Botes in the 2nd – will have a little too much in the tank for the Brumbies. With 5 forwards on the bench, though, do not expect it to be pretty.

My prediction: Sharks by 4

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Leon Power, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ruadhri Murphy.
Bench: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Scott Fardy, 19 Ita Vaea, 20 Nic White, 21 Zack Holmes, 22 Joe Tomane.

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


Force v Reds, Perth – 12:40
Referee: Garratt Williamson  (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Andrew Lees (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

Lunch to celebrate aunty Maizy’s 94th birthday at her old age home that smells of urine and faeces will be more thrilling …

My prediction: Reds by 7

Force: 15: David Harvey 14: Samu Wara 13: Nick Cummins 12: Winston Stanley 11: Alfie Mafi 10: James Stannard 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: Ben Seymour 21: Rory Sidey 22: Kyle Godwin

Reds: 15 Rod Davies, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Joel Rapana, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Dallan Murphy, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Van Humphries, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Ben Daley.
Bench: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Eddie Quirk, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Nathan Eyres-Brown.


Lions v Crusaders, Johannesburg – 17:05
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Talk about JP Nel potentially getting a game for the Lions just emphasizes the injury list that John Mitchell is dealing with at the moment … But as predicted prior to this ridiculously long season, the Super15 was always going to be about squad depth and player management than about actual rugby. The Lions were beyond gutsy last week against the Stormers, but Mitchell does not come with a magic wand, and while these Saders are still missing McCaw, it’s That Man Dan who will be wearing the number 10 on his back at the Coke Can on Saturday. I see pain for the Lion.

My prediction: Crusaders by 18

Lions: 15 James Kamana, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Andries Coetzee, 10 Butch James, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss (c), 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Marius Coetzer, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Bench: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Stephan Greeff, 19 Cobus Grobbleaar, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Mapoe.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 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 Ryan Crotty, 22 Tom Marshall.


Stormers v Bulls, Cape Town – 19:10
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)

Vermeulen vs Spies, De Jongh vs Sadie, Steyn vs Grant, Etzebeth vs Flippie … My oath, it just does not come much juicier than this! Much talk from De Villiers and Coetzee about adding an attacking element to the Stormers game, but I do not see that happening this week. Elstadt in for Koster says it all, and with the former Bishops boy confirming it to me at John Dobson’s book launch on Wednesday night, the Stormers are not going to be playing much rugby for the first 50 minutes or so. This is going to be an industrial arm wrestle that will see the fists and claret flow. And blow me down with a feather, I think this new Stormers pack, if Etzebeth can stay away from yellow, might just shade the rumble, and the game … Just!

My prediction: Stormers by 2

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 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Bench: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever

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

Massive Saturday … again. Thankfully we have the pause that is the Force vs Reds (unwatchable), so it’s Cheetahs with coffee and rusks, Chiefs with my kid practicing his scrumming on my lap and the Sharks on a bike at the gym … I am commentating at the legendary Derby day that sees Village hosting Hamilton at Brookeside this year, so will have to give the Lions game a miss, but then it is straight to the grand old dame that is Newlands for the humdinger of the weekend …

It’s a Jimmy McCracken!!

Enjoy …