Weekend predictions

Top six decided, the order not even close … A pretty special final weekend of Super Rugby league matches awaits … Take in Tank’s predictions and who NOT to pick on SuperBru!

Get out the office for Franks vs Franks on Friday morning, even if it means a written warning. It’s unmissable … Skip Landers vs Rebels … Take the missus dancing on Friday night because you need proper pink tickets for that pudding match of the weekend which will see Storm doing the Bulls not even half an ounce of a favour … And in between you have Blues vs Chiefs on a gym bike, two Aussie derbies worth keeping an eye on as you teach your kid the intricacies of scrumming in on the hooker, and the Sharks vs Kings fiasco while the fire burns down and you begin your epic Coleman coolerbox emptying Saturday afternoon in earnest …

Friday 12 July

09:35 Crusaders vs Hurricanes, AMI Stadium, Christchurch

Franks vs Franks! Weekend made! Who cares about the result?

My prediction: Crusaders by 16

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 (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Bench: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Jimmy Tupou, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Telusa Veainu.

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

Bench: 16 Reggie Goodes, 17 John Schwalger, 18 Blade Thomson, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Ope Peleseuma, 22 Matt Proctor/Andre Taylor.

 

11:40 Rebels vs Highlanders, AAMI Park, Melbourne

It’s a snorefest! Do some work instead!

My prediction: Highlanders by 11

Rebels: 15 Angus Roberts, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Tom English, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (captain), 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 Jordy Reid, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 James O’Connor, 22 Kimami Sitauti.

Highlanders:  15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Tamati Ellison, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Mose Tuiali’i, 7 Elliot Dixon, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.

Bench: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Jake Paringatai, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Hayden Parker, 22 Shaun Treeby.

 

Saturday 13 July

09:35 Blues vs Chiefs, Eden Park, Auckland

Tough pick. Blues the yo-yo side of the tournament this year and on their day, can beat anyone. But Chiefs in with a shout of topping the log and have a proper backline in action this weekend. Nanai-Williams and Masaga in the same team! The former vs Ranger in the midfield is to die for doll! Messam also back for the visitors, and Anscombe on the bench …

My prediction: Chiefs by 2

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Lolagi Visinia, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili/Brendon O’Connor, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Kane Barrett,  5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Sam Prattley.

Bench: 17 James Parsons, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Liaki Moli, O’Connor / Sean Polwart, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Marty McKenzie

Chiefs: 15 Andrew Horrell, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Robbie Robinson, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Matt Vant Leven, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.

Bench: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Mike Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 August Pulu, 21 Gareth Anscombe, 22 Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

 

11:40 Waratahs vs Reds, ANZ Stadium, Sydney

A similar situation to the Stormers vs Bulls game in that the home side is playing only for pride, while the Reds, like the Bulls, are playing for position in the top 6. Although, unless the Brumbies and Crusaders lose, there is not a lot the Reds can achieve, even if powering to a bonus point win, as the points difference between the Brumbies and Reds is just too big. And having last played Super Rugby before the Lions tour, and lost players to injury, prior form hardly seems a good indicator. A smidgen lottery like then in terms of predicting outcomes. New Wallaby coach, Ewan Mckenzie will obviously be wanting to ease out of Super Rugby on a high, with Quade Cooper perhaps looking to further impress the new boss with a little spring in his step given the demise of Robbie “Toxic environment” Deans. And being the 3rd stingiest side in the tournament in terms of points scored against them (an average of only 18.9 per game), the Waratahs, especially with Isreal Foloau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Wycliff Palu missing because of injury, might just struggle to score points against the Reds. But it is the Sydney-siders last game in the tournament and they are saying good bye to a loyal servant in Berrick Barnes, who heads to France after this. They are also perhaps the best scrummaging unit in the tournament (although Romain Poite might disagree) and more than solid on the half back front, so I see them sneaking this one against a side who might have one eye on their quarter final next week.

My prediction: Waratahs by 2

Waratahs: 15 Cam Crawford, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Dave Dennis (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Benn Robinson.

Bench (from): Luke Holmes, Jeremy Tilse, Will Skelton, Pat McCutcheon, Mitchell Chapman, Matt Lucas, Tom Carter, Ben Volavola

Reds: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ed O’Donoghue, 3 James Slipper (c), 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.

Bench: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Jono Owen, 18 Radike Samo, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Anthony Faingaa, 22 Dom Shipperley.

 

13:45 Force vs Brumbies, NIB Stadium, Perth

And it is another Aussie derby that we are going to have to sit through given the impact the result could have on the top section of the log. Although, to be fair to the Aussies, the rugby seen from them this year has been streets ahead of what was on offer last year, although less so from the Force and Rebels! If Ewan McKenzie will be looking to leave Super Rugby on a high, the Brumbies’ Jake White will be keen to use this game to remind people that the Wallaby selectors chose the wrong man. And of course, give his team a shot at topping the table should the Bulls and Chiefs slip up. As is to be expected from a side coached by White. The Brumbies are the stingiest side in the tournament in terms of points scored against them (an average of only 18.3 per game), while the Force are the side in the tournament with the worst record in terms of average points score per game – only 16.4! On 23, the home side have also scored the fewest tries in the tournament this year. This to the Brumbies 41. Sure there is scope for a derby upset, but with the likes of Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight, Christian Lealiifano, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, and Ben Mowen in the mix, I see too much firepower for the Force to handle.

My prediction: Brumbies by 14

Force: TBA

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Colby Faingaa, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy,3  Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.

Bench: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 George Smith, 20 Robbie Coleman, 21 Andrew Smith, 22 Mark Swanepoel.

 

17:05 Sharks vs Kings, Kings Park, Durban

A completely meaningless game, with neither side in with a shot at the quarterfinals. One might thus expect a Barbarian type game with both sides willing to throw the ball around in a carnival type game where the score does not matter, thus making it tricky to predict. Not so much in Durban this weekend. The Kings are pretty much unable to play that kind of game just yet, and having rested all their stars given the focus in the promotion / relegation matches set to take place against the Lions on the 26th, they will be cannon fodder for the Sharks in Durban. I have seen some odds offering you 16/1 on a Kings win, and 1/19 on a Sharks win! Look, the Sharks have some issues of their own, having lost Butch James to suspension and Pat Lambie to a minor back injury, but it seems they are a team intent on giving their departing coaches, Grant Bashford and Hugh Reece-Edwards, a fitting send off. And while the Kings might hold it off with their tigerish defence for a while, I see a little blood on the Kings Park dance floor.

My prediction: Sharks 28

Sharks: 15. Odwa Ndungane, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Louis Ludik, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Riaan Viljoen, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Jean Deysel, 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. Willem Alberts, 20. Jacques Botes, 21. Cobus Reinach, 22. Fred Zeilinga

Kings: 15 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 14 Hadleigh Parkes, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Mpho Mbiyozo, 6 Devin Oosthuizen, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Charl du Plessis.

Bench: 16 Grant Kemp, 17 Bandise Maku, 18 Darron Nell, 19 Thabo Mamojelle, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Michael Killian.

 

19:10 Stormers vs Bulls, Newlands, Cape Town

And in stark contrast to the meaningless match before hand, this game will be about passion, history, blood, mud and guts as the Stormers, completely out the tournament mix, set out to finish a poor season strongly, and in the process unhinge the Bulls final dash for that incredibly important top spot on the log. It seems a tad ridiculous if taking it in with your “Greater good of South African rugby” hat on, but it will make for some explosive and no doubt, entertaining, viewing. The home side have lost Joe Pietersen, which is big, and as such moved Gio Aplon to fullback and picked Gary van Aswegen at flyhalf ahead of Elton Jantjies, to keep the left / right boot combination. Well, so says coach Allister Coetzee. He might also want someone who can actually tackle against the likes of Dewald and Jacques Potgieter, and Flip van der Merwe! The Stormers are a tough side to score against (having leaked only 18.6 points per game), and the visitors will miss Jan Serfontein on that front, but on the flip side, struggle to score points of their own. Having scored a very respectable 29 points per game via 40 tries, making them a top 5 attacking side, this much talked about Stormers defence will be tested, and with the Bok half back pairing of Jano Vermaak and Morne Steyn back in light blue together, I am not sure the home side will be able to keep the Bulls in check. It would not be that surprising to see the Stormers upset the applecart though!

My prediction: Bulls by 9

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Deon Fourie, 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 Don Armand, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Damian de Allende.

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

Bench: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Morné Mellet, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Jono Ross, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Jürgen Visser