Another fun-filled weekend of Super Rugby awaits and with no Aussie derbies at all in the round (coupled with a realistic chance that all four of their teams that are playing this week might lose) it may turn out to be a great round indeed! Let’s run the rule over the round 12 action…
Blues v MTN Lions 11 May at 09:35
This battle of the cellar dwellars will unfortunately do little to hold the interest, save for those desperate few keen to figure out how one of them could possibly conspire to lose to the other, so dire have both been in 2012. Let’s give this one to the Blues, based on home ground advantage and the fact that while they are shit, they probably aren’t quite shit enough to lose to Mitchell’s mob. Blues by 7.
Blues: 15. Hadleigh Parkes, 14. David Raikuna, 13. Ma’a Nonu, 12. Michael Hobbs, 11. Benson Stanley, 10. Gareth Anscombe, 9. Piri Weepu, 8. Peter Saili, 7. Luke Braid (Captain), 6. Daniel Braid, 5. Ali Williams, 4. Liaki Moli, 3. Charlie Faumuina, 2. Tom McCartney, 1. Tevita Mailau
Replacements: 16. James Parsons, 17. Angus Ta’avao, 18. Filo Paulo, 19. Steven Luatua, 20. Alby Mathewson, 21. Lachie Munro, 22. Sherwin Stowers
Lions: 15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Deon van Rensburg, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Jaco Taute, 11. Michael Killian, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Joshua Strauss (Captain), 7. Grant Hattingh, 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Franco van der Merwe, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Callie Visagie, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. CJ van der Linde, 18. Cobus Grobbelaar, 19. Jaco Kriel, 20. Tian Meyer, 21. Ruan Combrinck, 22. James Kamana
Waratahs v Vodacom Bulls 11 May at 11:40
The Bulls have a great opportunity here to go two from two in Australia, in the process knocking the Tahs well back into the chasing pack and opening up a bit of breathing space for the top teams. They had their fright in Melbourne last week and will no doubt have tightened up on defence; the Waratahs, in contrast, have basically chucked away their whole team and started again after being humbled by the Brumbies. It’s always a long shot to call a South African win in Sydney, but that’s what I’m going to do this week. Bulls by 5.
Waratahs: 15. Daniel Halangahu, 14. Tom Kingston, 13. Rob Horne, 12. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 11. Afa Pakalani, 10. Berrick Barnes, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 8. Wycliff Palu, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Rocky Elsom (Captain), 5. Kane Douglas, 4. Dean Mumm, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. John Ulugia, 1. Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16. Joshua Mann-Rea, 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Sitaleki Timani, 19. Lopeti Timani, 20. Dave Dennis, 21. Brendan McKibbin, 22. Tom Carter
Bulls: 15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. Johann Sadie, 12. Francois Venter, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Pierre Spies (Captain), 7. CJ Stander, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Juandre Kruger, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1. Dawie Steyn
Replacements: 16. Willie Wepener, 17. Rayno Gerber, 18. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19. Arno Botha, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Louis Fouche, 22. JJ Engelbrecht
Highlanders v Hurricanes 12 May at 09:35
A few things make this one easier to call than might otherwise have been the case. Firstly, the Landers have just returned from tour and will face a Canes side presumably a wee bit fresher; secondly, Jamie Josephs’ side are now reeling with the sort of injury toll that makes it hard to even name a match 22. Neither side has been confirmed at the time of writing, but I reckon the Canes will be too strong here. Hurricanes by 4.
Hurricanes: 1. Reggie Goodes,2. Dane Coles,3. Ben May,4. Jeremy Thrush,5. Jason Eaton,6. Faifili Levave,7. Karl Lowe,8. Victor Vito,9. TJ Perenara,10. Beauden Barrett,11. Julian Savea,12. Charlie Ngatai / Tim Bateman,13. Conrad Smith (c) ,14. Cory Jane,15. Andre Taylor
Replacements : 16. Motu Matu’u,17. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen,18. Brad Shields,19. Jack Lam,20. Chris Eaton,21. Tusi Pisi / Daniel Kirkpatrick,22. Tim Bateman / Alapati Leiua
Rebels v Crusaders 12 May at 11:40
The mighty Cru, led by King Richie the Never-Onside, head to Melbourne to inflict more pain on the out-of-their-depth Rebels. Even though Todd Blackadder has opted to rest a few first-choice starters, the 750-time champions will romp to victory against a side that played their final against the Bulls last week. In round 11. Sheesh! Crusaders by 12
Rebels: 1. Nic Henderson, 2. Ged Robinson, 3. Rodney Blake, 4. Cadeyrn Neville, 5. Hugh Pyle (vc), 6. Tim Davidson, 7. Michael Lipman, 8. Gareth Delve (c), 9. Nick Phipps, 10. Kurtley Beale, 11. Cooper Vuna, 12. Lachlan Mitchell, 13. Mitch Inman, 14. Mark Gerrard, 15. Julian Huxley.
Replacements: 16. Adam Freier, 17. Jono Owen, 18. Al Campbell, 19. Ryan Hodson, 20. Nic Stirzaker, 21. James Hilgendorf, 22. Stirling Mortlock.
Crusaders: 15. Tom Marshall, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Robert Fruean, 12. Dan Carter, 11. Zac Guildford, 10. Tom Taylor, 9. Willi Heinz, 8. Luke Whitelock, 7. Richie McCaw (Captain), 6. George Whitelock, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Luke Romano, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Corey Flynn, 1. Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16. Ben Funnell, 17. Ben Franks, 18. Tom Donnelly, 19. Kieran Read, 20. Andy Ellis, 21. Ryan Crotty, 22. Israel Dagg
Sharks v Force 12 May at 17:05
Oh please tell me we cannot actually seriously contemplate losing this game? Ok, good – I didn’t think so either. We haven’t seen either side yet, but expect the Sharks to wrestle their way to a dour, 6-point win. It will only be worth watching because it means another Aussie loss. Yeeha! (Not)
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie,9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain ), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Ryan Kankowski, 21 Frederic Michalak, 22 Meyer Bosman
Force: 1 Pek Cowan,2 Nathan Charles,3 Salesi Ma’afu,4 Toby Lynn,5 Nathan Sharpe,6 Richard Brown,7 David Pocock (Captain),8 Matt Hodgson,9 Brett Sheehan,10 David Harvey,11 Napolioni Nalaga,12 Winston Stanley,13 Nick Cummins,14 Sam Wara,15 Alfie Mafi
Replacements :16 Elvis Taione,17 Salesi Manu,18 Phoenix Battye,19 Lachlan McCaffrey,20 Josh Holmes,21 Ben Seymour,22 Rory Sidey
DHL Stormers v Toyota Cheetahs 12 May at 19:10
This, I suspect, will be a good game. The Cheetahs will throw caution to the wind and attempt to unsettle the structured Stormers, which can, of course, result in one of two things. Either they will break against the Stormers’ resolute defence and lose on penalties (like everyone else who has played the Stormers this year), or they might just succeed in opening the game up a bit and may even sneak a win. Don’t go to the bank on this, but I have a feeling there’s an upset looming here. Cheetahs by 5 and that’s based on nothing but gut-feeling.
Stormers: 15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (Captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16. Tiaan Liebenberg, 17. Frans Malherbe, 18. De Kock Steenkamp, 19. Jebb Sinclair, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Burton Francis, 22. Gerhard van den Heever
Cheetahs: 15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Cameron Jacobs, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Andries Strauss, 11. Willie Le Roux, 10. Sias Ebersohn, 9. Piet van Zyl, 8. Philip Van der Walt, 7. Justin Downey, 6. Heinrich Brussow, 5. Izak van der Westhuizen, 4. George Earle, 3. WP Nel, 2. Adriaan Strauss (Captain), 1. Coenie Oosthuizen
Replacements: 16. Hercu Liebenberg, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Andries Ferreira, 19. Ashley Johnson, 20. Tewis de Bruyn, 21. Riaan Smit, 22. Philip Snyman
Reds v Chiefs 13 May at 08:10
Sunday’s game sees the champions up against the challengers and while the 2012 Reds make their 2011 counterparts look like a real flash in the pan, only time will tell whether the 2012 Chiefs are in fact the real deal, having looked the part in years gone by without ever managing to stay the course. The Reds, though, are not the side that will arrest the Chiefs’ march to the play-offs, because they simply aren’t good enough to do so this year. Chiefs by around 9.