Last week was one of the easier rounds for a while as far as tipping was concerned, so a full house was almost par for the course. There are no more easy rounds from here on end.
Remember, the ‘bye’ weekends are now over, and we are now at the business end of the tournament.
With that, let’s get to the previews for Week 12…
Saders vs Sharks
The Crusaders just about hung on last week against the Blues, and were lucky that their opposition was not a bit smarter in the closing minutes. Although they remain a very good side, they definitely do not look invincible anymore.
Two successive losses for the Sharks has seen them slip down the table at an alarming rate. Another loss here against the Crusaders, and they can almost kiss their semi-final chances goodbye, unless a few other results go their way. Their inability to get bonus points is largely to blame for where they now find themselves, so they will have to see this game as a must-win in order to keep their destiny in their own hands.
This game might either be really tight, or, if the ‘Saders hit their straps, the Sharks could be on the receiving end of quite a hiding. Either way, it’s hard to bet against the Crusaders in Christchurch, so I’ll go for the Saders to take this one.
Reds vs Blues
The Reds are strong at home, even though they are pretty dire away from Brisbane. Their remaining matches are all against teams still in contention, so they might just have a say in who goes through to the semis this year.
Mathematically, the Blues are still in with a chance, but they have to rely on a few other results going their way. They produced a much better performance last week against the Crusaders, but it still wasn’t good enough to win. A loss here will kill off their chances for another year.
I’m going for the Reds here, simply because they are a decent side at home, and because the Blues seem to be really low on confidence right now.
Cheetahs vs Highlanders
This game will have no bearing on the semi final placings, so there’s not much to talk about here. Both teams have been pretty poor in recent weeks, and they will have to improve their defences considerably for next season.
Cheetahs to take this at home. This could be another free-scoring game.
’Canes vs Lions
The Hurricanes still look very dangerous and they ran riot last week against a poor Cheetahs team. They have a couple of tough games to finish up with, so they will want to make sure that they get the maximum here.
The less said about the Lions, the better. They play for 40 minutes each week, but don’t seem to be able to go further than that. It looks like they will end their overseas tour with no wins this year.
’Canes to win by a lot… You might want to get your SupreBru margins up on this one.
Force vs Chiefs
The Force have almost disappeared completely from the radar, although they still have a mathematical chance of making it to the semis. Their squad might just be a bit thin at this stage to make a real challenge. If they strengthen in the off-season, they might be able to sustain it for a bit longer next year.
The Chiefs are the real dark horses this year, and if they make the semis, I can see them going all the way and winning the tournament. Stephen Donald is having a great season, and must be a contender for the All Black number 10 jersey this year.
The Chiefs seem to play with no fear, and that is the reason why I back them to go all the way this year. They are one of the few teams capable of beating any team, home or away. The Force have been on a steady decline for a while now, and I just don’t see them turning it around here. Chiefs by a few.
Bulls vs ‘Tahs
You never know what you are going to get from one week to the next with the Bulls. They have become an absolute joke in South African rugby. They can, however, still do the other SA sides some big favours in their remaining games.
The Waratahs seem to be hitting from at just the right time and look very good at the moment. Their defence is just so strong, and this is what wins tournaments.
This game depends on what Bulls teams turns up on Saturday. They are definitely capable of beating the Waratahs if they wanted to, but you just don’t see them having the motivation to do so. ’Tahs by quite a few in this one..
Stormers vs Brumbies
Injuries are really starting to take their toll on the Stormers, and this may be one year too soon for them. The loss of Chavanga, especially, has taken away a lot of their backline firepower. If they manage to make the semis in their first season under Rassie, it will be quite an achievement. From there, anything can happen.
The Brumbies just about kept their challenge alive last week against the Lions, and are really proving a surprise these last few weeks. Their SA road-trip will determine if they will remain challengers.
Tight game to call, this one. Winning is not good enough for either team anymore… Bonus points are a necessity now. I have to go for a Stormers win here though. The large Newlands crowd will inspire them, and hopefully help them pick up the 4 tries as well.Tweet