Weekend predictions

After sneaking a GSP last week, former WP prop and Grunt editor Tank Lanning is all cock a hoop as he runs his rule over the weekend’s Super Rugby times, teams and refs.

Cheetahs take a breather and there is no Currie Cup match as the other 4 SA sides take on international opposition, two of those in New Zealand. And going out on what many might presume to be a beer fuelled whim, I am calling the away sides to win and the home sides to lose!

No stuff ups this week people – dentist appointment on Friday morning for the Stormers, Sharks on a gym bike with Red Bull in hand to clear the cobwebs, Kings while the fire burns down and Bulls post a tjoppie extravaganza with that well stocked Coleman right next to your couch!

Enjoy …

Friday 03 May

09:35 Blues vs Stormers, North Harbour Stadium, Albany
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistants: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

Storm off a seriously tight win against the canes last week, Blues off an even tighter loss to the Reds. Storm into second week of the tour, a week when reality tends to set in. Earth shatteringly exciting to see Eben Etzebeth back playing rugby, but he last played rugby when Ma caught her tits in the cheese grater, and must be rusty. Not so exciting to see Elton Jantjies on the same bench as I think his presence unsettles this Stormers side. Blues hacking with injuries and plenty flu in the squad, but with Mealamu back in the mix, they will be physical, if not particularly accurate come lineout time. Steenkamp has been a beast when it comes to lineout steals, and this could decide the game. Don’t rush the bench and the Stormers have a good chance …

My prediction: Stormers by 2

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Francis Saili, 13 Jackson Willison, Rene Ranger, 10 Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steve Luatua, 5 Ali Williams ©, Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, Keven Mealamu, Tom McCartney.

Bench: Quentin MacDonald, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Anthony Boric, Brendon O’Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Baden Kerr, Lolagi Vsinia.

Stormers: 15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Gary van Aswegen, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Rynardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. De Kock Steenkamp, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Steven Kitshoff

Bench: 16. Scarra Ntubeni, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Eben Etzebeth, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Nic Groom 21. Elton Jantjies, 22. Damian de Allende


11:40 Rebels vs Chiefs, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)

You just never know with these damn Rebels, especially given that Delve and Beale might need a boxing referee on the bench, but backing the Chiefs to do what the Crusaders could not do last week.

My prediction: Chiefs by 18

Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom English, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.

Bench: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Luke Jones, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Kurtley Beale, 22 Lachlan Mitchell.

Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, Lelia Masaga, Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Bundee Aki, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, Brendon Leonard, 8 Matt Vant Leven, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger, Pauliasi Manu.

Bench: Hika Elliot, Toby Smith, Mike Fitzgerald, Tanerau Latimer, August Pulu, Robbie Robinson, Patrick Osborne.


Saturday 04 May

09:35 Highlanders vs Sharks, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistants: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Keith Brown (New Zealand)

There was a lot of heart to that Sharks loss last week. To come back from being 24-0 down to the defending champs is pretty damn impressive. And now they have JP, Mvovo and Daniel back in the mix, against a side who just cannot buy a win this year. Landers off a buy, though, and no doubt a few introspection sessions, while the Sharks continue to face off with a few internal issues that saw Kankowski left at home. They have also chosen to drop the oke that seemed to be the heart of their pack last week – Derek Minnie. Herbst to tighthead for the second half with Janse van Rensburg doing some damage in black and white! Nice.

My prediction: Sharks by 3

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith; Phil Burleigh, Tamati Ellison, Shaun Treeby, Hosea Gear; 10 Colin Slade, Aaron Smith; 8 TJ Ioane, John Hardie, Jarrad Hoeata; 5 Josh Bekhuis, Brad Thorn; 3 Chris King, Andrew Hore (captain), Tony Woodcock.

Bench: Liam Coltman, Ma’afu Fia, Elliot Dixon, Joe Wheeler, Fumiaki Tanaka, Hayden Parker, Jason Emery.

Sharks: 15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Francois Steyn, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Lubabalo Mtembu, 7. Marcell Coetzee, 6. Keegan Daniel (captain), 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Wiehahn Herbst

Bench: 16. Craig Burden, 17. JC Janse van Rensburg, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Jean Deysel, 20. Tian Meyer, 21. Piet Lindeque, 22. Odwa Ndungane / Derick Minnie


11:40 Force vs Reds, NIB Stadium, Perth
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)

My prediction: Reds by 9

Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Dom Shipperley, 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 (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Albert Anae.

Bench: 16 James Hanson, 17 James Slipper, 18 Ed O’Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Chris Feauai-Sautia


17:05 Kings vs Waratahs, NMB Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (SA)
Assistants: Jason Jaftha (SA), Christie du Preez (SA)
TMO: Johann Meuwessen (SA)

They may have come a little short to the Bulls last weekend, but this Tahs side is on the up, and probably have the best scrumming pack in the competition. I love what the Kings have brought to this tournament this year, but converting their aggressive defence and passion into regular wins is going to take a little time.

My prediction: Waratahs by 12

Kings: 15. George Whitehead, 14. Sergeal Petersen, 13. Ronnie Cooke, 12. Andries Strauss (captain), 11. Siyanda Grey, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Shaun Venter, 8. Jacques Engelbrecht, 7. Wimpie van der Walt, 6. Cornell du Preez, 5. Rynier Bernado, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Kevin Buys, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. Schalk Ferreira

Bench: 16. Virgile Lacombe, 17. Grant Kemp, 18. David Bulbring, 19. Luke Watson, 20. Nicolas Vergallo, 21. Waylon Murray, 22. Siviwe Soyizwapi

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Rob Horne, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.

Bench (from): John Ulugia, Paddy Ryan, Will Skelton, Mitchell Chapman, Pat McCutcheon, Matt Lucas, Ben Volavola, Tom Kingston.


19:10 Bulls vs Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (SA)
Assistants: Jaco Peyper (SA), Attie Buitendag (SA)
TMO: Johan Greeff (SA)

Both the bookies and the Superbru community have the Bulls to take this at a canter, but I am not so sure. Deon Stegmann and Jürgen Visser strengthen the side, but a rusty Wynand Olivier in place of the mercurial Jan Serfontein is messy. JJ Engelbrecht has been a different player this season, and I put that down to Serfontein pulling in defenders. Also, this Bulls team cannot scrum! And against Toomaga-Allen and Franks, they will come short. Shields was a machine last week against the Stomers, and with Savea back to feed off Pisi and Smith, I think the Bulls might find themselves on the back foot!

My prediction: Hurricanes by 5

Bulls: 15. Jürgen Visser, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Mornè Steyn, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Dewald Potgieter, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Juandrè Kruger, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1. Dean Greyling

Bench: 16. Willie Wepener, 17. Frik Kirsten, 18. Grant Hattingh, 19. Arno Botha, 20. Francois Hougaard, 21. Louis Fouchè, 22. Lionel Mapoe

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith, Tusi Pisi, Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, Karl Lowe, Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ash Dixon, Ben Franks.

Bench: Reggie Goodes, Ben May, Mark Reddish, Faifili Levave, Jack Lam, Chris Smylie, Tim Bateman.


Sunday 05 May

08:05 Brumbies vs Crusaders, Canberra Stadium
Referee: Craig Joubert (SA)

Another game that the bookies are fairly confident the home side will win, and probably rightfully so given the way the Crusaders have played this year. And to drop Dagg to the bench only adds to the perception that the boys in black and red are in a little disarray this year. But all they need is parity up front for the legend that is Dan Carter to stamp his authority on the game. And while it is no Saders pack of old, Crockett, Flynn and Franks are probably only equalled by the Tahs at the moment, so I am going to base my prediction on the return of Carter!

My prediction: Crusaders by 4

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

Bench: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Leon Power, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Pat McCabe.

Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, Tom Marshall, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, Matt Todd, George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett.

Bench: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Dominic Bird, Jordan Taufua, Willi Heinz, Adam Whitelock, Israel Dagg.


  1. I dunno Tank…

    After some sensible picks in what was a relatively easy week last week there were a lot of grand slams being had.

    This week I feel you may be taking a bit of a long shot with the Saders beating a very impressive and solid well coached Brumbies team.

    I am however with you on the Canes sneaking one at Loftus as my bolter for the weekend. The pick of Olivier swinging it for me. I guess we will have to see how long it takes before the hook comes out and he is pulled from the field.

  2. dont be shocked when both the Bulls and Brumbies win. both will be close. home sides to win these two…

  3. Haha! I do get the sense that you had a few cold ones before writing this particular piece… Logic seems sound though, but will go for the Bulls myself.

    1. Only a few cold coffees sadly … Written yesterday morning … But I can certainly see why you say that …

  4. Your remarks regarding Derick Minnie sum up Plumtree – could not coach ivy up a wall. Mind you, the same could be said about AC.

  5. A little wild on the pics i think this week tank…..Bulls hungry and seems to get it together, Sharks to loose, the Landers have to win oneand this could be the upset of the weekend! Great Blog! Love it!!

    1. Shot. Shaky start with the Stormers. Got sidetracked by an article saying they all had flu!!

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