Weekend predictions

If both the Superbru community and the bookies have no idea regarding Reds vs Brumbies, how do you expect Grunt editor Tank Lanning to make a call?

At the time of writing, the Superbru community was calling it a draw, while the latest collated odds from Odddschecker had REDS (13/18) to beat Brumbies (6/4), but that is hardly decisive is it?

Jake vs Ewan also makes it a fairly spicy affair … So much for the Aussie derbies being dull!

And then the two pudding games are hardly easy to call either, with the Sharks in some state of disarray, the Cheetahs getting tired, the Bulls only just edging the Cheetahs and now heading to a packed PE to take on the Kings, who are back from an extraordinary tour.

Thankfully only six games to handle, and with two happening on Friday, it’s Saders on a gym bike, the Aussie derby over your kid’s shoulder at the Spur, Sharks while the fire burns down with beer in hand, and then post braai coolerbox denting for the Bulls vs Kings. Special!

To those pesky predictions then…

Friday 19 April

09:35 Hurricanes vs Force, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)

It could not have gone more differently for these two sides last weekend if they tried. Force over Saders, and Blues demolition of Canes. Still the Canes keep Pisi at 10, and Barrett at 15, with Perenara and Taylor on the bench. Not sure that is so clever, but I am still expecting a backlash of pretty severe proportions from the bumble bees.

My prediction: Canes by 16

Hurricanes: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Alapati Leiua , 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Ben Franks.

Bench: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Karl Lowe, 20 TJ Perenara, 21 Reynold Lee-Lo, 22 Andre Taylor.

Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Ed Stubbs, 10 Sam Norton-Knight, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Richard Brown, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan.

Bench: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Rory Walton, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Mick Snowden, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Alfie Mafi.


11:40 Waratahs vs Chiefs, Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

Tahs at home off a bye, Chiefs travelling after a pretty big hiccup against the Reds. Palu and Polota-Nau back for Tahs while Chiefs bench Nanai-Williams and Anscombe. Chiefs to bounce back or continue their mid-season slump before bouncing back? Going with the latter.

My prediction: Tahs by 5

Waratahs: 15. Israel Folau, Cam Crawford, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Drew Mitchell, 10. Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin, 8. Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis (capt), 5. Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, 3. Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.

Bench: John Ulugia, Paddy Ryan, Mitchell Chapman, Will Skelton, Pat McCutcheon, Matt Lucas, Ben Volavola, Peter Betham (one to be admitted).

Chiefs: 15. Andrew Horrell, Lelia Masaga, Charlie Ngatai, Richard Kahui, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10. Aaron Cruden, Brendon Leonard, 8. Fritz Lee, Sam Cane, Liam Messam (c), Brodie Retallick, Mike Fitzgerald, 3. Ben Tameifuna, Hika Elliot, Pauliasi Manu.

Bench: Rhys Marshall, Mike Kainga, Nick Crosswell, Tanerau Latimer, August Pulu, Gareth Anscombe, Tim Nanai-Williams.


Saturday 20 April

09:35 Crusaders vs Highlanders, AMI Stadium, Christchurch

Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)

Can you imagine the steam that will be coming out of the red and black nostrils after last week’s inept performance against the Force. It’s no wonder the Highlanders took until Friday to name a team this week. Apart from being industrially crap this year, that is. All the heavies are back for the Saders and I see this getting messy.

My prediction: Crusaders by 18

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 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 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Bench: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Adam Whitelock.

Highlanders: 15. Ben Smith; Tony Ensor, Jason Emery, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear; 10. Hayden Parker, Aaron Smith; 8. TJ Ioane, John Hardie, Jarrad Hoeata; Josh Bekhuis, Brad Thorn; 3. Chris King, Andrew Hore (captain), Tony Woodcock.

Bench: Liam Coltman, Ma’afu Fia, Jamie Mackintosh, Elliot Dixon, Fumiaka Tanaka, Colin Slade, Jake Paringatai.


11:40 Reds vs Brumbies, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

Perhaps the game of the weekend? And it’s an Aussie derby? Send the straight jacket now! Reds off a fantastic win against the champs, Brumbies off a workmanlike win against the inept Highlanders. George Smith playing the rugby of his life, and now signed up for the season, this week in tow with Brutus maximus Fotu Auelua. I think the Reds shade the travellers at half back, but Jake White will have a plan to shut down Cooper, and we all know what happens when he gets frustrated.

My prediction: Brumbies by 4

Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Greg Holmes.

Bench: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Ed O’Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 22 Dom Shipperley.

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Fotu Auelua, 7 George Smith, 6 Ben Mowen, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Peter Kimlin, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.

Bench: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Jordan Smiler, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Pat McCabe, 22 Clyde Rathbone.


17:05 Sharks vs Cheetahs, Kings Park, Durban

Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)

Assistants: Marius Jonker (South Africa),Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)

TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Sharks drop Kankowski because he is in a bad space according to the coach, Steyn only in the mix because there is no one else, Bok tighthead Jannie du Plessis onto the bench given his lack of form, and they lose JP Pietersen to injury. Some real issues in Durban. This against a side who will be looking to bounce back after being bullied a little by the Bulls last week. But the Cheetahs have toured and had no bye, and I think they must be hurting a little by now. So many top match ups, but Brussow vs Coetzee, especially given the Bok rankings, will be my cooler box denter of the game. Home side gets the edge …

My prediction: Sharks by 7

Sharks: 15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Sean Robinson, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Bench: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Jannie du Plessis, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Lubabalo Mtembu, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Francois Steyn, 22. Andries Coetzee

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk De Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.

Bench: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Frans Viljoen, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Ryno Benjamin.


19:10 Kings vs Bulls, NMB Stadium, Port Elizabeth

Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)

Assistants: Ben Crouse (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)

TMO: Johann Meuwessen (South Africa)

I actually cannot praise the Kings enough. They have changed the South African rugby landscape completely, and only for the better. They clearly play for each other and for a greater cause, and as such, have become a side that is bloody difficult to beat. I am not sure bringing Watson straight into the starting XV is the best call, as it might just disrupt the momentum, but they have a real chance of upsetting the Bulls, who have blown seriously hot and cold this year. The Kings will take it to the Bulls pack like there is not tomorrow, and it’s how the men in light blue handle said onslught that will decide the match. Ironically, the Bulls should counter that by moving the ball around a little, giving the likes of Ngungane and Mapoe some space in which to move. Bulls halfbacks to shade it at a packed NMB stadium in PE.

My prediction: Bulls by 7

Kings: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes,  3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira

Bench: 16 Hannes Franklin, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Rynier Barnardo, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Marcello Sampson, 22 Siviwe Soyizwapi.

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morne Mellett

Bench: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Bjorn Basson