Weekend predictions

A more than manageable seven game weekend, made even simpler given that SA sides are involved in only 3. Tank Lanning makes his weekend predictions.

Tank Lanning

With both the Stormers and Sharks tanning chops this weekend, along with the big derby between the Bulls and Cheetahs taking place at Loftus on Saturday night, there are just the three games that involve SA sides.

The line-up:

Friday the 1st

08h35 – Highlanders v Force (Forsyth Barr)

19h00 – Lions v Crusaders (Emirates Airlines Park)           

Saturday the 2nd

08h35 – Blues v Jaguares (QBE)

10h45 – Brumbies v Chiefs (GIO)

17h05 – Kings v Sunwolves (Nelson Mandela Bay)

19h15 – Bulls v Cheetahs (Loftus Versfeld)

Sunday the 3rd

08h05 – Waratahs v Rebels (Allianz)

Two pesky 19h00 games on both Friday and Saturday night! Jeepers, that is anti-social. A cheeky few beers at the pub on Friday afternoon could actually see you miss the Lions game completely (well, if you play your shots instead of racing evaporation) and have to catch that on PVR on Saturday morning! On Saturday it is all about timing that braai before settling in for the Kings first win of the season and the derby. Get it wrong and it’s PVR instead of Church on Sunday morning!

For fantastic previews of every game, head to Vodacom Rugby’s NEWS section. And to see the weekend’s teams, head to their Team Sheets article that is updated as each side is announced.

Below my picks, the match odds, and SuperBru Community picks:

My picks:

HIGHLANDERS to beat Force by 15

CRUSADERS to beat Lions by 6

BLUES to beat Jaguares by 8

CHIEFS to beat Brumbies by 9

KINGS to beat Sunwolves by 3

BULLS to beat Cheetahs by 13

WARATAHS to beat Rebels by 5

What the Bookies say:

HIGHLANDERS (1.09) to beat Force (7.17)

CRUSADERS (1.76) to beat Lions (2.09)

BLUES (1.26) to beat Jaguares (3.75)

BRUMBIES (1.53) to beat Chiefs (2.49)

KINGS (1.65) to beat Sunwolves (2.24)

BULLS (1.26) to beat Cheetahs (3.79)

WARATAHS (1.29) to beat Rebels (3.49)

The SuperBru Community picks:

HIGHLANDERS to beat Force by 15

CRUSADERS to beat Lions by 1

BLUES to beat Jaguares by 5

BRUMBIES to beat Chiefs by 1

SUNWOLVES to beat Kings by 3

BULLS to beat Cheetahs by 8

WARATAHS to beat Rebels by 7

The Bookies and Brus disagree on just one game, and what a game it could be in PE. With neither side having won a game, but with both sides having won some hearts given the passion and guts we have seen from them, they will be itching to pick up that first win. Both sides will have travelled, the Kings from further away given that they were in Wellington last week, and it might come down to how many people pitch at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium. I am with the bookies and CJ Velleman, but that could definitely go either way.

The Lions could definitely surprise the Crusaders in Jozi. They are coming off a bye, while the visitors will be wondering how it took them so long to put away the Sharks last week, even though they dominated every attack stat. But these Saders are class, and on the up. It should be an absolute cracker of a game.

Unlike the big derby at Loftus on Saturday night, which has the potential to be a real snoreathon. The Cheetahs really struggling on defence – they are number 1 in missed tackles this year – and have now lost their third centre of the year. Jesse Kriel at fullback is a great call for the Bulls, allowing Jan Serfontein and Burger Odendaal to strut their stuff at centre. The battle of the flyhalves should be fun to watch – Neil Marais has blown hot and cold for the Cheetahs, while Tian Schoeman has only just edged Francois Brummer as the preferred choice given Handre Pollard’s injury.

And of course one has to have a stab at the upset. This week, I am backing the Chiefs to get past the Brumbies, who really did not have a great tour of SA. They will have travelled back home this week, but playing at home will give them a boost. Still, those Chiefs are top class!

Good luck with the timing of that braai on Saturday. Enjoy mense …