Weekend predictions

It’s another very manageable seven game weekend with a nice mix of SA games that sees the biggest problem lying with when to light that blimmin fire on Saturday!

Tank Lanning

The Stormers take on the Sunwolves in the Friday evening game, and then two absolute corker derbies finish it off on Saturday evening …

This weekend line-up:

Friday the 8th

09h35 – Chiefs v Blues (FMG)

13h00 – Force v Crusaders (nib)

19h00 – Stormers v Sunwolves (Newlands)

Saturday the 9th

09h35 – Hurricanes v Jaguares (Westpac)

11h45 – Reds v Highlanders (Suncorp)

17h05 – Sharks v Lions (Kings Park)

19h15 – Kings v Bulls (Nelson Mandela Bay)

Same fire lighting problem as last week! Manage those Friday arvie beers in the pub so you actually get to see the Stormers  game, and then braai time on Saturday for the two old fashioned Currie Cup games. But when do you start that fire? All I can suggest is “Crouch and hold …”

For previews of every game, head to Vodacom Rugby’s Breaking news section. And to see the weekend’s teams, head to their Team Sheets feature that will be updated as each side is announced.

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

My picks:

CHIEFS to beat Blues by 7

CRUSADERS to beat Force by 8

STORMERS to beat Sunwolves by 18

HURRICANES to beat Jaguares by 11

HIGHLANDERS to beat Reds by 7

SHARKS to beat Lions by 7

BULLS to beat Kings by 11

What the Bookies say:

CHIEFS (2/9) to beat Blues (6/1)

CRUSADERS (2/7) to beat Force (19/5)

STORMERS (1/25) to beat Sunwolves (17/1)

HURRICANES (5/19) to beat Jaguares (4/1)

HIGHLANDERS (4/1) to beat Reds (3/1)

SHARKS (4/7) to beat Lions (2/1)

BULLS (6/1) to beat Kings (1/6)

The SuperBru Community picks:

CHIEFS to beat Blues by 12

CRUSADERS to beat Force by 13

STORMERS to beat Sunwolves by 16

HURRICANES to beat Jaguares by 12

HIGHLANDERS to beat Reds by 11

SHARKS to beat Lions by 1

BULLS to beat Kings by 13

All about the picking the margins then? Unlikely, but I am not taking a stab at the upset this weekend. Seems a bit too risky …

I would not be surprised to see the Lions pip the Sharks, though, but in Durban it will be tough. If they can “pass” what Brendan Venter has called their Litmus Test, they could well test the Sharks with their attacking game much like the Crusaders did to the Sharks two weeks ago. The Johannesburg-based side has made more ball-carries (589 versus 396), running metres (2454m–1841m), offloads (50–23) and clean breaks (54–34), but executed less tackles (410–564) and considerably fewer kicks from hand (75–129) than the Durbanites. A classic case of the Lions’ attack versus the Sharks’ defence. Very worthy of a braai and coolerbox session!

But keep a little in the tank for the next game. The Bulls might see this game as easy pickings, but the home side saw three of their pack in the Vodacom Stats XV after their win against the Sunwolves, and in CJ Velleman, the PE boys have unveiled something special. Take in this infographic to see just how well the man stacks up against the likes of Sam Cane and the legendary Dave Pocock. Pull a “Cheetahs” like they did last week, and finish the game weekly, and the Bulls may well find themselves in trouble!

In Cape Town the well rounded Stormers should have too much in the tank for the travelling Sunwolves, but it will be interesting to see how Carel Du Plessis’ son goes at flyhalf now that both Rob du Preez and Curt Coleman are on the physio’s bed. And the backup if Du Plessis goes down? Well, Cheslin Kolbe of course. This is Robbie Fleck at his adventurous best. Sure it might backfire, but it may well fire up an exciting backline that sees Damien de Allende on the bench.

Enjoy, and good luck with getting that timing of the braai right on Saturday!