Can the Landers make it an all Kiwi affair?

It seems a forgone conclusion in Wellington, but much less certain in Sydney. Take in the weekend’s teams, times, odds and SuperBru predictions from Tank Lanning, Andrew Mehrtens and Mils Muliaina.

Tank Lanning

And then there were four. And then, sim sala bim, South Africa disappeared! Nope, not magic, just a game plan that came on the ark and has not evolved to include beating your man with ball in hand using skill and guile! Disappointing! You betch! Oh well, what can you do? At least coach Heyneke Meyer has more time with the manne preparing to take in Bakkies and Flip at Newlands in a few weeks’ time.

To the all Antipodean semis, then … Do the Brus know something the Bookies don’t know? Bookies backing Tahs, Brus backing Landers. Is the Saffa/Kiwi bias coming through on SuperBru? It does make it particularly spicy, though. Especially if it is as tight as it is at the top of the Legends pool on SuperBru.

Less than 3 points separate the top 5, with me being the grunter clinging onto that 5th spot. It could all change though, given that I have picked the upset in Sydney, while log leaders Andrew Mehrtens and Mils Muliaina have gone against the countryman and picked the home side. AJ Venter and Breyton Paulse are also in the mix, so hopefully we do not see another Kiwi clean sweep, but they were yet to make their picks at the time of writing.

The 2015 semi-finals:

Saturday, June 27

09:35 – Hurricanes vs Brumbies (Westpac Stadium, Wellington)

My prediction: HURRICANES to beat Brumbies by 14

Andrew Mehrtens’ prediction: HURRICANES to beat Brumbies by 16

Mils Muliaina’s prediction: HURRICANES to beat Brumbies by 18

SuperBru Community pick: HURRICANES (92%) to beat Brumbies by 9

The Collated odds: HURRICANES (2/5) to beat Brumbies (40/17)

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes.

Bench: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 Matt Proctor.

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Lausii Taliauli, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.

Bench: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Nigel Ah-Wong, 23 Robbie Coleman.

These 2 sides will face each other for the first time this year having not met since March last year. They have come up against each other 20 times in the regular season since the first year of the tournament in 1998, with the Brumbies coming out on top 12 times. History shows the Brumbies to be the dominant favourites, having defeated the Canes every year for the last four seasons. Yet with the Wellingtonians current red-hot form it may be time for the ’Canes to get one up.

Ma’a Nonu and Beauden Barrett return to the Hurricanes’ starting lineup. Nonu was rested for their last league match against the Chiefs, with Barrett missing it because of a slight calf strain. Cory Jane has been ruled out because of a hamstring injury, which sees James Marshall move to fullback and Nehe Milner-Skudder switching to the right wing. Brumbies wing Henry Speight has been suspended for five weeks for his judo throw on Juan de Jongh last week, and will thus miss the semi.

11:55 – Waratahs vs Highlanders (Allianz Stadium, Sydney)

My prediction: HIGHLANDERS to beat Waratahs by 11

Andrew Mehrtens’ prediction: WARATAHS to beat Highlanders by 10

Mils Muliaina’s prediction: WARATAHS to beat Highlanders by 7

SuperBru Community pick: HIGHLANDERS (52%) to beat Waratahs by 0.5

The Collated odds: WARATAHS (8/13) to beat Highlanders (7/4)

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Matt Carraro, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 David Dennis (c), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.

Bench (from): 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Patrick McCutcheon, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Jono Lance, 24 Peter Betham.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (c), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (c), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Brendon Edwards.

Bench: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 Shaun Treeby.

The closer of the two semis, the Waratahs and Highlanders go into this match-up with near identical regular season records, having both won 11 of their 16 matches, with the Kiwis finishing just one point above the ’Tahs on the log. Historically these two franchises have not been so close in comparison. Of the 19 times they have faced each other, the Waratahs have won 13 of those games, notably thrashing the Highlanders 44-16 at the end of the 2014 season.

Matt Carraro remains at inside centre for the Tahs, this after Kurtley Beale was ruled out with a thigh injury. In the only change to the starting XV that beat the Reds two weeks ago, Rob Horne starts on the left wing having recovered from a calf niggle, with Peter Betham moving to the bench. And in the only change to Jamie Joseph’s side, James Lentjes will start at openside flank for the Highlanders. He comes in for Dan Pryor who suffered a dislocated elbow against the Chiefs last week. On the bench they welcome back lock Joe Wheeler from a lengthy injury lay-off, while Trent Renata replaces Marty Banks, who was ruled out with a concussion.

One Comment

  1. Spot on with the Landers, well done. Cant wait for this week’s column and Think Tank, with all the bok squad announcements, whos in whos out, injuries galore. What to make of it all.

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