Thanks to Rob for filling in the predictions for Round 8. In all fairness, last week’s games were all very tough to call, so he did pretty well under the circumstances…
Remember, the Reds and Chiefs are both on a bye this week.
With that, let’s get to the previews for Round 9…
Highlanders vs Sharks
If this game goes according to form, then it should be a reasonably easy one to call. However, this is the Super 14, and no game is an easy game, especially if you are playing away from home.
The Highlanders got their first win last week, but it was against a very weak Lions side, while the Sharks did well to come out of their first tour game with 2 points. The Sharks should take this one reasonably comfortably, but they need to start getting a bonus point or two as well.
15 Paul Williams, 14 Matt Saunders, 13 Niva Ta’auso, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 10 James Wilson, 9 Toby Morland; 8 Craig Newby (c), 7 Tim Boys, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Hoani MacDonald, 3 Clint Newland, 2 Jason Macdonald, 1 Chris King.
Subs: 16 David Hall, 17 Jamie Mackintosh/Keith Cameron, 18 Isaac Ross, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Daniel Bowden, 22 Aaron Bancroft.
Stefan Terblanche, Odwa Ndungane, Frans Steyn, Bradley Barritt, Waylon Murray, Frederic Michalak, Ruan Pienaar, Ryan Kankowski, Jacques Botes, Keegan Daniel, Johann Muller (c), Steven Sykes, BJ Botha, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: Craig Burden, Deon Carstens, Jannie du Plessis, Albert van den Berg, AJ Venter, Rory Kockott, Adrian Jacobs
Crusaders vs Lions
As mentioned earlier, no game is easy in the Super 14, but when it is top versus bottom, and the bottom side rests 7 of their regular starters, then it should be a walk in the park.
The Crusaders are still struggling without Carter and Brett, but they have ample backup to get the job done. The Lions can only look at the Crusaders’ resources with envy.
The easiest game of the weekend to call… Crusaders by a lot.
Louis Ludik, Dusty Noble, Jannie Boshoff, Doppies la Grange, Rayno Benjamin, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Chris Jonck, Willem Alberts, Joe van Niekerk , Cobus Grobbelaar (capt.), Gerhard Mostert, Dewald Senekal , Ross Geldenhuys, Ethienne Reynecke, Heinke van der Merwe.
Subs: Willie Wepener, JC Janse van Rensburg, Anton van Zyl, Franco van Merwe, Jano Vermaak, Rudi Vogt, Justin St. Jerry
Blues vs Brumbies
I said a few weeks ago that the Blues were on a downward spiral, and so it proved last week against the ‘Tahs. The got whipped, and they just do not look like the same team that started the tournament so well. However, they still have so many dangerous runners, and it only takes one game to get the confidence back.
The Brumbies also got quite a smack last week against the Chiefs in Canberra, and just seem to be fading away a little bit now as well. A thin squad could start counting against them from this point.
These are two teams fighting to stay alive in the tournament, so it will come down to whoever wants it most. You can’t really look further than the Blues in Auckland… they should be too good for the Brumbies this week.
15 Isa Nacewa/Ben Atiga, 14 Anthony Tuitavake, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Lee, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Troy Flavell (c), 4 Anthony Boric, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Subs: Tom McCartney, Nick White, Bryn Evans, Justin Collins, Taniela Moa, Ben Atiga/TBC, David Smith
1. Nic Henderson, 2. Saia Faingaa, 3. Guy Shepherdson, 4. Alister Campbell, 5. Mark Chisholm, 6. Mitchell Chapman, 7. George Smith, 8. Julian Salvi, 9. Patrick Phibbs, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Peter Playford, 12. Tyrone Smith, 13. Stirling Mortlock (capt), 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 15. Mark Gerrard
Subs: 16. John Ulugia, 17. Salesi Ma’afu, 18. Peter Kimlin, 19. Jone Tawake, 20. Joshua Holmes, 21. Matt Toomua, 22. Francis Fainifo,
23. Ben Alexander
**one to be omitted
Force vs Waratahs
The toughest game of the weekend to call, as a local derby always is. Both are very good sides, with the Waratahs in slightly better form than the Force at the moment.
The Force have mysteriously struggled at home since the Super 14 started, and no one has been able to put their finger on exactly why, because they are a very good team.
The ‘Tahs have only lost twice this season, and are looking extremely dangerous on the log at this point. They have the ability to beat the better sides in the competition, but the acid test will come when they travel to the Republic to play the improved South African teams.
Such a tight game to call, but I’m going to go with the Waratahs by a few.
15 Sam Norton-Knight, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (capt), 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Dan Vickerman, 4 Will Caldwell, 3 Matt Dunning, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Al Baxter, 18 David Lyons, 19 Beau Robinson, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Matt Carraro, 22 Alfi Mafi
Stormers vs Cheetahs
Another local derby, and this will also be an interesting one. Both sides like to play entertaining rugby, so it should be a good spectacle.
If the Stormers can get their home run started with a win here, they will have a lot of confidence going into the next few games against foreign opposition. As long as they play like they did on their overseas tour, they should have no problem getting the 5 log points.
The Cheetahs played well last week, but again faded towards the end. Having said that, they’ll be well pleased with their first win of the season. Next season should be a good one for the Bloemfontein franchise, with the lessons they’ve learned this year.
The Stormers should have too much for the Cheetahs, and will be disappointed if they don’t walk away with a bonus point also. My money is on them for a semi-final as well.
Hennie Daniller, Eddie Fredericks, JW Jonker, Meyer Bosman, Jongi Nokwe, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Tewis de Bruyn, Duanne Vermeulen, Juan Smith (c), Heinrich Brussow, Barend Pieterse, Rory Duncan, CJ van der Linde, Adriaan Strauss, Wian du Preez.
Subs: Richardt Strauss, Bees Roux, David de Villiers, Hendro Scholtz, Falie Oelschig, Conrad Barnard, Hendrik Meyer
Bulls vs ‘Canes
The Bulls have been very unlucky in their last two games, and could easily have won them both if they had been smarter. Habana makes a huge difference in the side, and seems to lift everyone around him as well. SA rugby is lucky to have a player like this… he is a natural born winner, and every other country in the world would love to have him in their side.
The Hurricanes will feel they were robbed last week against the Sharks, and will want to put that right immediately against another South African team. They are a very strong side, and will be there or thereabouts at the business end of this tournament.
Tough to call, but I have to give it to the Bulls this week. They seem to have gotten stronger over the last few weeks, but are still prone to the odd brain implosion. Fortress Loftus is always uncomfortable for visiting teams, and I feel that could be the difference here.
Zane Kirchner; Akona Ndungane, JP Nel, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana; Derick Hougaard, Fourie du Preez (capt), Pierre Spies, Wikus van Heerden, Pedrie Wannenburg, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, Rayno Gerber, Derick Kuün, Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Subs: Bandise Maku, Werner Kruger, Jaco Engels, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Heini Adams, Morné Steyn, Deon Stegmann
15 Cory Jane, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Shannon Paku, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So’oialo (c), 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Subs: 16 Hikawera Elliot, 17 Neemia Tialata, 18 Jacob Ellison, 19 Craig Clarke, 20 Scott Waldrom, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Tamati EllisonTweet