Well, last week sucked…. as we said at the time, though, predicting the winners of games in round 1, with no real form to go on, is hard to do, but I would still have liked to get more than two out of seven predictions right! Let’s hope round 2 goes better.
Chiefs v Blues 02 March at 08:35
This first one doesn’t look too hard to call (which probably means there will be an upset!). The Chiefs lost, somewhat unexpectedly, against the Highlanders at home and with a number of injuries weakening their side for this match, I expect the boys from Auckland to handle them rather easily. Blues by around 12, I reckon… with the competition’s first bonus points coming up.
Chiefs: 15. Robbie Robinson, 14. Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 13. Richard Kahui, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 11. Tim Nanai-Williams, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8. Kane Thompson, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 6. Liam Messam (Captain), 5. Brodie Retallick, 4. Craig Clarke, 3. Ben Tameifuna, 2. Mahonri Schwalger, 1. Sona Taumalolo
Replacements: 16. Hikawera Elliott, 17. Shane Cleaver, 18. Fritz Lee, 19. Sam Cane, 20. Augustine Pulu, 21. Andrew Horrell, 22. Declan O`Donnell
Blues: 15. Isaia Toeava, 14. David Raikuna, 13. Rene Ranger, 12. Benson Stanley, 11. Rudi Wulf, 10. Michael Hobbs, 9. Alby Mathewson, 8. Jerome Kaino, 7. Daniel Braid, 6. Chris Lowrey, 5. Ali Williams, 4. Anthony Boric, 3. Charlie Faumuina / Tevita Mailau, 2. Keven Mealamu (Captain), 1. Tom McCartney
Replacements: 16. Pauliasi Manu, 17. Angus Ta’avao, 18. Brad Mika, 19. Luke Braid, 20. Piri Weepu, 21. Gareth Anscombe, 22. Sherwin Stowers
Rebels v Waratahs 02 March at 10:40
The Rebels had a bye last week – and have yet to name their team, so we haven’t really got too much of an idea about how strong they will be this year. That said, they weren’t particularly good last year and probably aren’t going to set the world alight in 2012 either. The Tahs will bore them to death, I’m sure and emerge with at least 4 points. Waratahs by around 7.
Rebels: 15. Mark Gerrard, 14. Lachlan Mitchell, 13. Mitch Inman, 12. James O`Connor, 11. Cooper Vuna, 10. Daniel Cipriani, 9. Nick Phipps, 8. Gareth Delve, 7. Tom Chamberlain, 6. Luke Jones, 5. Hugh Pyle, 4. Adam Byrnes, 3. Laurie Weeks, 2. Adam Freier, 1. Nic Henderson
Replacements: 16. Luke Holmes, 17. Rodney Blake, 18. Alister Campbell, 19. Jarrod Saffy, 20. Richard Kingi, 21. Lloyd Johansson, 22. Julian Huxley
Waratahs: 15. Bernard Foley, 14. Tom Kingston, 13. Rob Horne, 12. Tom Carter, 11. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10. Daniel Halangahu (Captain), 9. Sarel Pretorius, 8. Wycliff Palu, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Dave Dennis, 5. Kane Douglas, 4. Dean Mumm, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1. Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16. Damian Fitzpatrick, 17. Paddy Ryan, 18. Lopeti Timani, 19. Jono Jenkins, 20. Brendan McKibbin, 21. Brackin Karauria-Henry, 22. Nathan Trist
MTN Lions v Hurricanes 02 March at 19:10
We see a potentially very exciting thing happening here… the Lions could honestly go two from two after two weeks, surely an unprecedented situation in Super Rugby! They were pretty useful against the Cheetahs, with Elton Jantjies in particular looking in good form with the boot and given the Hurricanes’ many indiscretions at the breakdown last week, the young Lion should be given more than a few opportunities to have a shot at goal. Expect a bit more of an open game, where we’ll maybe see some decent running rugby from both sides, if the ref allows it! It’s not going to be a runaway, but the Lions should take this by around 5.
Lions: 15. Jaco Taute, 14. Deon van Rensburg, 13. Doppies la Grange, 12. Alwyn Hollenbach, 11. Michael Killian, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Michael Bondesio, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Joshua Strauss (Captain), 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Stephan Greeff, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Callie Visagie, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. CJ van der Linde, 18. Marius Coetzer, 19. Cobus Grobbelaar, 20. Tian Meyer, 21. Butch James, 22. James Kamana
Hurricanes: 15. André Taylor, 14. Cory Jane, 13. Conrad Smith (Captain), 12. Tim Bateman, 11. Alapati Leiua, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. Chris Eaton, 8. Victor Vito, 7. Jack Lam, 6. Faifili Levave, 5. Jeremy Thrush, 4. Jason Eaton, 3. Ben May, 2. Dane Coles, 1. Tristan Moran
Replacements: 16. Motu Motu’u, 17. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18. James Broadhurst, 19. Brad Shields, 20. TJ Perenara, 21. Dan Kirkpatrick, 22. Charlie Ngatai
Highlanders v Crusaders 03 March at 08:35
The Hihglanders, at the time of writing, had yet to announce their side, but it matters little. The Whitelocks should win this game comfortably and may not even need to rely on the other 18 players in the squad to do so! Jokes aside, though, the Crusaders look very strong again this year and we shouldn’t expect the Highlanders to put up more than token resistance, especially given the off-field issues distracting them this week. Crusaders by 15.
Crusaders: 15. Tom Marshall, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Robert Fruean, 12.Adam Whitelock, 11. Israel Dagg, 10. Tyler Bleyendaal, 9. Andy Ellis, 8. Kieran Read (Captain), 7. Matt Todd, 6. George Whitelock, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Tom Donnelly, 3. Ben Franks, 2. Quentin MacDonald, 1. Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16. Corey Flynn, 17. Owen Franks, 18. Luke Romano, 19. Luke Whitelock, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Patrick Osborne, 22. Zac Guildford
Reds v Force 03 March at 10:40
Times have changed in Australian rugby – for so long the whipping boys of the competition, the Reds are now defending champions and one of the sides to beat in this year’s tournament. For the Force, though, not enough has changed; they remain limited and are unlikely to challenge the scorers any more this season than they have in years gone by. Expect the Reds to win by around 10.
Reds: 15. Luke Morahan, 14. Dom Shipperley, 13. Ben Tapuai, 12. Jonathan Lance, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Mike Harris, 9. Will Genia, 8. Radike Samo, 7. Beau Robinson, 6. Jake Schatz, 5. James Horwill (Captain), 4. Rob Simmons, 3. James Slipper, 2. Albert Anae, 1. Ben Daley
Replacements: 16. James Hanson, 17. Greg Holmes, 18. Van Humphries, 19. Ed Quirk, 20. Liam Gill, 21. Ben Lucas, 22. Rod Davies
Force: 15. Alifeleti (Alfi) Mafi, 14. Nick Cummins, 13. Patrick Dellit, 12. Winston Stanley, 11. Napolioni Nalaga, 10. James Stannard, 9. Brett Sheehan, 8. Ben McCalman, 7. David Pocock (Captain), 6. Matthew Hodgson, 5. Nathan Sharpe, 4. Toby Lynn, 3. Salesi Ma’afu, 2. Nathan Charles, 1. Pekahou Cowan
Replacements: 16. Ben Whittaker, 17. Kieran Longbottom, 18. Phoenix Battye, 19. Angus Cottrell, 20. Ben Seymour, 21. Rory Sidey, 22. Samu Wera
Toyota Cheetahs v Vodacom Bulls 03 March at 17:05
This one could go one of two ways…. well, no, I guess there could be a draw too! But seriously, the Bulls could replicate their pre-season result and absolutely stuff the Cheetahs, or the home side could pull out one of their typical giant-killing performances and surprise the former champs. I’m not convinced enough about this year’s Cheetahs team, though – this one will probably be more interesting from the perspective of seeing how Johan Goosen stacks up against Bok incumbent Morne Steyn. I think the Bulls will win by around 9 points.
Cheetahs: 15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Rocco Jansen, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Philip Snyman, 11. Willie Le Roux, 10. Johan Goosen, 9. Tewis de Bruyn, 8. Davon Raubenheimer, 7. Philip Van der Walt, 6. Heinrich Brussow, 5. Izak van der Westhuizen, 4. Andries Ferreira, 3. WP Nel, 2. Adriaan Strauss (Captain), 1. Trevor Nyakane
Replacements: 16. Hercu Liebenberg, 17. Lourens Adriaanse, 18. Waltie Vermeulen, 19. Ashley Johnson, 20. Piet van Zyl, 21. Sias Ebersohn, 22. Cameron Jacobs
Bulls: 15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. Wynand Olivier, 12. Francois Venter, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Pierre Spies (Captain), 7. Jacques Potgieter, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Juandre Kruger, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1. Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16. Willie Wepener, 17. Frik Kirsten, 18. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19. CJ Stander, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Louis Fouche, 22. JJ Engelbrecht
DHL Stormers v Sharks 03 March at 19:10
We’ve yet to see the Sharks side and without that, it’s hard to say exactly what will happen here. Both teams have lost key men – the Stormers are without their captain Schalk Burger and it will be interesting to see whether stand-in leaders like Andries Bekker and Tiaan Liebenberg can galvanise their forward efforts. That said, the Sharks are also lacking in up-front fire-power at the moment and, realistically, will battle to be competitive anywhere other than the scrums. The optimist in me sees a far better performance from the Durbanites, with them squeaking it by a few points. Close your eyes and go Sharks by 3.
Stormers: 15. Johan Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (Captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Gary Van Aswegen, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Nick Koster, 7. Duane Vermeulen, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16. Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17. Frans Malherbe, 18. De Kock Steenkamp, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Peter Grant, 22. Gerhard van den Heever