Weekend predictions

Well, it is one monster rugby weekend, with all the Super Rugby permutations to go with a final Aus vs Lions Test. All the weekend teams, refs, times, venues to go with Tank’s predictions …

Friday 05 July

09:35 Crusaders vs Chiefs, AMI Stadium, Addington Christchurch

Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)

I want to meet the person who would put their house on this result. I also want to meet the freak who has not made a plan to get out the office and watch this one. Owen Franks is back for the Saders, and Dan Carter tought me a vital lesson in losing faith in the great one last week, so I am going with the Saders, but Chiefs have that top spot on the log to play for. Absolutely anyone’s game.

My prediction: Crusaders by 2

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 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 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Telusa Veainu.

Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Matt Vant Leven, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.

Bench: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams.


Saturday 06 July

09:35 Hurricanes vs Highlanders, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)

Thought Highlanders might pull off a sneaky win last week, and paid for my sins with a Nonu red card. They are sans Nonu this week, which is probably a good thing for them, but also missing Hoeata and have dropped Andrew Hore. Beauden Barrett is a try scoring machine at the moment, and together with TJ Perenara, who seems to have miraculously recovered from that ankle injury, they form a lethal half back pairing that service a seriously sharp backline.

My prediction: Hurricanes by 3

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Reynold Lee-Lo, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ben Franks.

Bench: 16 Reggie Goodes, 17 John Schwalger, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Matt Proctor.

Highlanders: Ben Smith, Kade Poki, Shaun Treeby, Tamati Ellison, Hosea Gear, Colin Slade, Aaron Smith, Mose Tuiali’i, Elliot Dixon, Josh Bekhuis, Brad Thorn (captain), T J Ioane, Ma’afu Fia, Liam Coltman, Tony Woodcock.

Bench: Andrew Hore, Bronson Murray, Jake Paringatai, Joe Wheeler, Fumiaki Tanaka, Hayden Parker, Buxton Popoali’i.


12:00 Australia vs B&I Lions, Stadium Australia, Sydney

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Craig Joubert

Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

Well, no one can accuse Lions coach Warren Gatland of being sentimental! The controversial omission of Brian O’Driscoll from the side for Saturday’s third and decisive Test against Australia in Sydney was done for sound rugby reasons, says Gatland: “I can honestly say it’s the right rugby decision.” Which sees fit-again battering ram Jamie Roberts team up with Wales centre partner Jonathan Davies, with England’s Manu Tuilagi providing cover from the bench. Not much finesse there then! This while Wallabies coach, Robbie Deans has handed 110-Test veteran George Smith a starting place ahead of Michael Hooper. It’s not like the series needed any further PR, but these 2 selections have certainly added spice to what has been a magnificent rugby event, and I have absolutely no doubt that this final Test will do down to the wire in the exact fashion that the first two Tests did. The only one other change to the Wallabies’ squad sees loose forward Ben McCalman replacing centre Rob Horne on the bench, meaning Deans will only have two backline players to call upon on his bench, Nick Phipps and Jesse Mogg. And with the abrasive Mike Phillips back at scrummie for the Lions, this all points to the game being a brutally physical encounter. Kurtley Beale can only be better than he was last week … and I think the Smith selection will be a masterstroke. Like Eddie Jones says: “The Lions are bringing guys back that haven’t played much rugby, they’ll be pretty combative for 50 or 60 minutes but Australia will have too much for them.”

My prediction: Australia by 5

Australia: 15. Kurtley Beale, 14. Israel Folau, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Joe Tomane, 10. James O’Connor, 9. Will Genia, 8. Wycliff Palu, 7. George Smith, 6. Ben Mowen, 5. Kane Douglas, 4. James Horwill (captain), 3. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Benn Robinson.

Bench: 16. Saia Faingaa, 17. James Slippper, 18. Sekope Kepu, 19. Rob Simmons, 20. Ben McCalman, 21. Michael Hooper, 22. Nick Phipps, 23. Jesse Mogg

British and Irish Lions: 15. Leigh Halfpenny, 14. Tommy Bowe, 13. Jonathan Davies, 12. Jamie Roberts, 11. George North, 10. Jonathan Sexton, 9. Mike Phillips, 8. Toby Faletau, 7. Sean O’Brien, 6. Dan Lydiate, 5. Geoff Parling, 4. Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 3. Adam Jones, 2. Richard Hibbard, 1. Alex Corbisiero.

Bench: 16. Tom Youngs, 17. Mako Vunipola, 18. Dan Cole, 19. Richie Gray, 20. Justin Tipuric, 21. Conor Murray, 22. Owen Farrell, 23. Manu Tuilagi


14:50 Cheetahs vs Blues, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Referee: Jaco Peyper

Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Francois de Bruin

Television match official: Gerrie Coetzee

Beat the Blues with a bonus point and the Cheetahs could host a quarter final on 55 points, but they would need the Reds and Crusaders to lose all their final games. Lose to the Blues without a bonus point and they could be out the mix completely on 50 log points. On 44 points, the Blues probably need to beat both the Cheetahs and Chiefs with bonus points to sneak a quarter final. Talk about a knockout match! Both sides were pretty badly out of kilter in respective losses to the Stormers and Sharks last week, the Cheetahs more so in the face of a powerful Stormers lineout and in your face defence. There will be less of that against the Blues, but much more potency out wide in the form of Charles Piutau, Frank Halai and Rene Ranger. Achieve some sort of parity up front and it could be an explosion of skill, pace and power as the likes of Willie le Roux, Johann Sadie, and Robert Ebersohn go head to head with those three. The crux question will be how both sides will react to the pressure of it being a knockout mach. Go into their shells, a little bit like the Cheetahs did last week, and they lose the fundamental asset that got them to where they are on the log right now.

My prediction: Blues by 9

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Ligtoring Landman, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.

Bench: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Elgar Watts, 22 Rayno Benjamin

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (c), 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Sam Prattley.

Bench: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Culum Retallick, 19 Brendon O’Connor, 20 Wayne Ngaluafe, 21 Marty McKenzie, 22 George Moala.


17:05 Kings vs Stormers, NMB Stadium, Port Elizabeth

Referee: Lourens van der Merwe

Assistant referees: Marius Jonker, Christie du Preez

Television match official: Deon van Blommestein

Win both their remaining games against the Kings and Bulls with bonus points to go to 52 points, and the Stormers could sneak an away quarter final if the Crusaders, Cheetahs, and Blues lose all their games, and the Sharks one of theirs. Lose just one game and they are gone. So the visitors, after arguably their best performance of the tournament last week against the Cheetahs, are quite literally playing for their mathematical lives, with a 4 try bonus point an obvious objective, no matter how vehemently coach Allister Coetzee denies it. But those have been very scarce for the Stormers of late. And while the Kings may leak the post points per game (33.4 to the Stormers rather stingy 20.3), they are not shy to score a few points, with their average of 19.6 points per game only being a smidgen less than the Stormers 23.3. Play for the bonus point, and they could find themselves hacking to actually win the match, a bit like the Boks against Scotland at Mbombela. But it has been a long season for the Kings, fuelled mostly on passion, guts and team spirit, but with the worst record in the tournament in terms of carries and metres made with ball in hand, and their eye simply has to be on remaining intact for their playoff games against the Lions. I think this will be about how much, rather than who wins.

My prediction: Stormers by 18

Kings: 15. SP Marais, 14. Marcello Sampson, 13. Ronnie Cooke, 12. Andries Strauss (captain), 11. Michael Killian, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Shaun Venter, 8. Jacques Engelbrecht, 7. Wimpie van der Walt, 6. David Bulbring, 5. Darron Nell, 4. Cornell du Preez, 3. Grant Kemp, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. Schalk Ferreira.

Bench: 16. Charl du Plessis, 17. Hannes Franklin, 18. Steven Sykes, 19. Devin Oosthuizen, 20. Nicolas Vergallo, 21. George Whitehead, 22. Shane Gates.

Stormers: 15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Don Armand, 6. Deon Fourie (captain), 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff

Bench: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Gerbrandt Grobler, 19. Rynhardt Elstadt, 20. Nic Groom, 21. Gary van Aswegen, 22. Gerhard van den Heever


19:15 Bulls vs Sharks, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Referee: Jason Jaftha

Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Sieg van Staden

Television match official: Johann Meuwesen

Icing on the cake, cherry on top, pudding page of the newspaper … No matter what you call it, this will be one feisty finish to the weekend. The Bulls can top the Super Rugby log by winning both their last 2 games against the Sharks and Stormers if the Chiefs lose one of theirs. Lose both games without a bonus point of sorts, though, and they will be relying on the new tournament structure to get them 3rd place on the log as the top SA team. The Sharks, much like the Stormers, need to win both their remaining games against the Bulls and Kings, with bonus points, to go to 52 points, to stand a chance of sneaking an away quarter final if the Crusaders, Cheetahs and Blues lose all their games. Lose one game and they are gone. All the Boks are back, meaning Morne Steyn and JJ Engelbrecht (who has been truly magnificent in partnership with Jan Serfontein) start for the Bulls, while the mighty Bismarck is back to form an all Bok front row for the Sharks. It is no surprise, thus, that coach Frans Ludeke has gone with 2 props on the bench to try and counter the Sharks juggernaut forward pack, which now also includes the monstrous Willem Alberts. Having leaked the least points per game (19.4), it will be the Sharks defence against the Bulls attack, given that they top the conference with an average 28.2 points scored per game. Pat Lambie was well off his game last weekend against the Blues, and if the Bulls can just stay in the mix up front, it is the pairing of Francois Hougaard, back to his best last weekend, and Steyn, at halfback, that I think might sway it the home side’s way.

My prediction: Bulls by 5

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip vd Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling

Bench: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Jurgen Visser, 22 Morné Mellet

Sharks: 15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Louis Ludik, 12. Butch James, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Edwin Hewitt, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Bench: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Jandre Marais, 19. Jean Deysel, 20. Jacques Botes, 21. Cobus Reinach, 22. Jaco van Tonder

One Comment

  1. A smidgen light on those Crusaders then?? What a statement … Amazing how they get their timing so right …

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