Guys – our regular prediction-king Ghost10 is swamped at work this week. I’m going to have a bash at doing the prediction thread in his place. Don’t blame me if I get them wrong!
Highlanders v Lions 08h35 on Friday
The clash of the bottom-feeders at the inaptly-named House of Pain. The Tartan Mafia haven’t managed to win a thing so far this year and are currently at the foot of the table, with a measly five log points from six games. The Lions, with a win and a draw to go with their four losses, are two places higher up, but only have seven log points. The Highlanders have made some sweeping changes in an effort to disguise the glaring weaknesses in their squad. The Lions look more settled, but are coming off a bye, have lost their skipper and, quite frankly, just don’t tour well.
Our pick: Highlanders to squeak a messy game. Ghost10, Sauce and RobD all back the home side, with only hellbent backing the Lions to win. 64% of the tipsters on SuperBru agree with us and give it to the Highlanders by 3.
Highlanders: 15. Paul Williams, 14. Matt Saunders, 13. Brett Mather, 12. Johnny Leota, 11. Fetu’u Vainikolo, 10. James Wilson, 9. Jimmy Cowan, 8. Craig Newby (Captain), 7. Tim Boys, 6. Hoani MacDonald, 5. Tom Donnelly, 4. Hayden Triggs, 3. Clint Newland, 2. Jason MacDonald, 1. Jamie MacKintosh
Replacements: 16. David Hall, 17. Chris King, 18. Isaac Ross, 19. Adam Thomson, 20. Toby Morland, 21. Daniel Russel Bowden, 22. Aaron Bancroft
Lions: 15. Louis Ludik, 14. Dusty Noble, 13. Jaco Pretorius, 12. Walter Venter, 11. Rayno Benjamin, 10. Jaco van Schalkwyk, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Willem Alberts, 7. Joe van Niekerk, 6. Cobus Grobbelaar (Captain), 5. Gerhard Mostert, 4. Anton van Zyl, 3. Eugene Maqwelana, 2. Willie Wepener, 1. Heinke van der Merwe
Replacements: 16. Ethienne Reynecke, 17. Ross Geldenhuys, 18. Dewald Senekal, 19. Franco van der Merwe, 20. Chris Jonck, 21. Rudi Vogt, 22. Jannie Boshoff
Brumbies v Chiefs 11h40 on Friday
Two sides that have been inconsistent this year. Both languish around mid-table, having won and lost more-or-less an equal number of games. Both have been hit hard by injuries, with the Brumbies looking very light up front and at halfback, although they will welcome talismanic centre Stirling Mortlock back. The Chiefs have been forced to again select captain Mils Muliana at fullback and their lineup has a distinct “journeyman” feel to it.
Our pick: Brumbies to be too strong at home, with Mortlock the difference. Ghost10 is against the majority here, though, so be careful when making your pick. 60% on SB say Brumbies and the average result there is Brumbies by 1.
Brumbies: 15. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14. Peter Playford, 13. Stirling Mortlock, 12. Tyrone Smith, 11. Francis Fainifo, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Patrick Phibbs, 8. Stephen Hoiles, 7. George Smith (Captain), 6. Mitchell Chapman, 5. Mark Chisholm, 4. Alister Campbell, 3. Guy Shepherdson, 2. John Ulugia, 1. Nic Henderson
Replacements: 16. Saia Faingaa, 17. Salesi Ma’afu, 18. Peter Kimlin, 19. Julian Salvi, 20. Joshua Holmes, 21. Matt Toomua, 22. Sanualio Afeaki
Chiefs: 15. Mils Muliaina (Captain), 14. Lelia Masaga, 13. Richard Kahui, 12. Callum Bruce, 11. Sitivini Sivivatu, 10. Stephen Donald, 9. Brendon Leonard, 8. Sione Lauaki, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 6. Liam Messam, 5. Kevin O’Neill, 4. Toby Lynn, 3. Ben Castle, 2. Tom Willis, 1. Simms Davison
Replacements: 16. Aled De Malmanche, 17. Ben May, 18. Jay Williams, 19. Faifili Levave, 20. Jamie Nutbrown, 21. Dwayne Sweeney, 22. Viliame Waqaseduadua
Western Force v Bulls 13h45 on Friday
The Bully Boys put in a far better performance last week, while the Force were stuffed at home by the Stormers. Pierre Spies and Bryan Habana are back to add some flair, while the home side have been hit by some late withdrawals. Sounds like a walk in the park for the Bulls? Except that their coach is still Frans Ludeke, who will no doubt be reeling from the lambasting dished out by Bulls CEO van Graan. The Force have John Mitchell at the helm and I know which coach I back to deliver the goods. The Force will learn from the mistakes of last week. The Bulls will play like SA sides usually do in their last week of a tour.
Our pick: Force to win comfortably. Better composure, better tactics and better fitness will see the home side prevail. All of us agree on this one, although only 56% of tipsters on SuperBru back the Force to win, by an average of 1 point.
Western Force: 15. Cameron Shepherd, 14. Nick Cummins, 13. Ryan Cross, 12. Scott Staniforth, 11. Drew Mitchell, 10. Matt Giteau, 9. Chris O’Young, 8. Richard Brown, 7. David Pocock, 6. Scott Fava, 5. Nathan Sharpe (Captain), 4. Tom Hockings, 3. AJ Whalley, 2. Tai Mcisaac, 1. Pek Cowan
Replacements: 16. Luke Holmes, 17. Troy Takiari, 18. Sam Wykes, 19. Matthew Hodgson, 20. James Stannard, 21. Josh Tatupu, 22. Dane Haylett-Petty
Bulls: 15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. JP Nel, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Derick Hougaard, 9. Fourie Du Preez (Captain), 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Wikus van Heerden, 6. Pedrie Wannenburg, 5. Danie Rossouw, 4. Bakkies Botha, 3. Rayno Gerber, 2. Derick Kuun, 1. Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: 16. Bandise Maku, 17. Werner Kruger, 18. Jaco Engels, 19. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20. Heini Adams, 21. Morne Steyn, 22. Deon Stegmann
Hurricanes v Sharks 08h35 on Saturday
A tough ask first-up for the Sharks, but they haven’t lost yet, while the Canes have yet to really hit their stride. The Sharks look to have the Canes beaten in the tight five, although the yellow loose forwards are all world-class. The Canes back division is probably more settled, although the Sharks backs are more talented, if they could just find some way to show that. History favours the home team here as the Sharks haven’t won in Wellington in their last three starts.
Our pick: We’re split down the middle here; hellbent and I give it to our boys in black, while Ghost10 and Sauce are backing H Squadron to deliver. 67% of SuperBru reckons the Sharks will take it, by 3 points, so we’ll let that be the decider and call the Sharks to win a close one.
Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Ma’a Nonu, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Shannon Paku, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So’oialo (captain), 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Hikawera Elliot, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Jeremy Thrush, 19 Thomas Waldrom, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Willie Ripia, 22 Hosea Gear.
Sharks: 15. Stefan Terblanche, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Francois Steyn, 12. Bradley Barritt, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Jacques Botes, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Johann Muller (Captain), 4. Steven Sykes, 3. BJ Botha, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Jannie du Plessis, 18. Albert van den Berg, 19. AJ Venter, 20. `Epeli Taione, 21. Rory Kockott, 22. Adrian Jacobs
Waratahs v Blues 11h40 on Saturday
Is a scoreless draw with all 30 players sent off a reasonable thing to hope for here? A Tahs win will move them above the Stormers, whereas Sharks fans will be hoping the Blues continue to struggle to prevent them putting further pressure on second place. Neither side was convincing last week and struggled to record home wins over weak SA opposition. One really feels that the Blues have too much firepower, though and are unlikely to play 4 bad games in a row, while the Tahs just don’t seem to have that winning feeling this year.
Our pick: Blues to take it. Sauce backs the Tahs and Ghost10 is vacillating, but hellbent and RobD agree with 74% of the guys on SuperBru, who reckon it’s Blues by 5.
Waratahs: 15. Sam Norton-Knight, 14. Lote Tuqiri, 13. Ben Jacobs, 12. Tom Carter, 11. Lachlan Turner, 10. Kurtley Beale, 9. Luke Burgess, 8. Wycliff Palu, 7. Phil Waugh (Captain), 6. Rocky Elsom, 5. Daniel Vickerman, 4. Dean Mumm, 3. Matt Dunning, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1. Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16. Adam Freier, 17. Al Baxter, 18. David Lyons, 19. Beau Robinson, 20. Brett Sheehan, 21. Rob Horne, 22. Alifeleti (Alfi) Mafi
Blues: 15. George Pisi, 14. Joe Rokocoko, 13. Isaia Toeava, 12. Benson Stanley, 11. Anthony Tuitavake, 10. Nick Evans, 9. Danny Lee, 8. Nick Williams, 7. Daniel Braid, 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Troy Flavell (Captain), 4. Kurtis Haiu, 3. John Afoa, 2. Keven Mealamu, 1. Tony Woodcock
Replacements: 16. Tom McCartney, 17. Nick White, 18. Anthony Boric, 19. Justin Collins, 20. Taniela Moa, 21. Ben Atiga, 22. Rudi Wulf
Cheetahs v Reds 17h00 on Saturday
The Reds played very well against the Sharks last weekend, but were actually stuffed up front in the final analysis. The Cheetahs have been doing everything but win, and are now 0/7. The Cheetahs have named a bloody good pack, but their backline just doesn’t seem to like tackling. The Reds, on the other hand, are full of running and only a determined defensive effort from the Sharks kept them out. And then there’s the Chris Latham factor. And the fact that the Cheetahs must be pretty fatigued after a long tour. Tough one to call.
Our pick: Split down the middle again. Ghost10 and Sauce back the home team, but hellbent and RobD reckon if the Cheetahs haven’t managed to win one yet, they ain’t gonna start this week against a Reds team that is a lot better than they’re given credit for. So let’s go with the majority on SuperBru and say the Cheetahs will take it. Average score there is Cheetahs by 2 with 67% picking a home win.
Cheetahs: 15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Eddie Fredericks, 13. JW Jonker, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Jongi Nokwe, 10. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9. Tewis de Bruyn, 8. Duanne Vermeulen, 7. Hendro Scholtz, 6. Heinrich Brüssow, 5. Barend Pieterse, 4. Rory Duncan (capt), 3. CJ van der Linde, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 1. Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16. Richardt Strauss, 17. Bees Roux, 18. David de Villiers, 19. Juan Smith, 20. Falie Oelschig, 21. Conrad Barnard, 22. Hendrik Meyer.
Reds: 15. Chris Latham (Captain), 14. Clinton Schifcofske, 13. Morgan Turinui, 12. Berrick Barnes, 11. Peter Hynes, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Sam Cordingley, 8. Leroy Houston, 7. David Croft, 6. John Roe, 5. James Horwill, 4. Van Humphries, 3. Dayna Edwards, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Greg Holmes
Replacements: 16. Sean Hardman, 17. Ben Coutts, 18. Ed O’Donoghue, 19. Poutasi Luafutu, 20. Ben Lucas, 21. Charlie Fetoai, 22. Brando Va’auluTweet