Can you believe that the final round of Super Rugby is here already? There’s still plenty to play for, so let’s see how things turn out.
Hurricanes v Chiefs 13 July at 09:35
The Chiefs are already secure at the top of the New Zealand conference log and can now finish no lower than second overall. Having lost to the Crusaders last week, though, they’ll be determined to take as many as they can from this game to ensure a first place finish on the over all log; a slip up could see them lose out to the Stormers. The Canes are all but dead, but will also know that five good points here could see them slip through if both the Sharks and Bulls somehow lose. Plenty of motivation and it should be an open, high-scoring game. I expect the Chiefs to prevail by around 4 points, in the end.
Hurricanes: 15. Andre Taylor, 14. Cory Jane / Alapati Leiua, 13. Conrad Smith (c), 12. Tim Bateman, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. Chris Eaton / Frae Wilson, 8. Victor Vito,7. Jack Lam, 6. Faifili Levave, 5. Jason Eaton,4 . Jeremy Thrush, 3. Ben May, 2. Dane Coles, 1. Reg Goodes
Replacements: 16. Motu Matu’u, 17. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18. James Broadhurst, 19. Brad Shields, 20. Frae Wilson / Jamie Nutbrown, 21. Tusi Pisi, 22. Jayden Hayward
Chiefs: 15. Andrew Horrell, 14. Lelia Masaga, 13. Jackson Willison, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 11. Robbie Robinson, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8. Kane Thompson, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 6. Liam Messam, 5. Brodie Retallick, 4. Craig Clarke (capt), 3. Ben Tameifuna, 2. Hika Elliot, 1. Toby Smith
Replacements: 16. Mahonri Schwalger, 17. Sona Taumalolo , 18. Michael Fitzgerald, 19. Sam Cane, 20. Brendon Leonard, 21. Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 22. Tim Nanai-Williams
Brumbies v Blues 14 July at 07:30
Jake’s Brumbies are at home in their final match against the lowly Blues. With the Reds’ challenge for top spot in the Aussie conference having petered out last week, The Brumbies only need a single point from this game to end third, but with a 5-point win could move ahead of the Stormers temporarily. They’ll not be putting much faith in the Rebels beating the Cape side, though, so I reckon it will be safety first from the ever-pragmatic White and his side will play for a win, without picking up any injuries ahead of next week’s knock-out game. Brumbies by 6.
Brumbies: 15. Jesse Mogg, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Andrew Smith, 12. Pat McCabe, 11. Joe Tomane, 10. Zack Holmes, 9. Nic White,8. Ben Mowen (capt), 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Peter Kimlin, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Scott Fardy, 3. Dan Palmer, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Ben Alexander
Replacements: 16. Anthony Hegarty, 17. Ruaidhri Murphy, 18. Leon Power, 19. Fotu Auelua, 20. Ian Prior, 21. Tevita Kuridrani, 22. Robbie Coleman
Crusaders v Force 14 July at 09:35
There’s only one possible result here – the Crusaders by plenty. The Cantabrians now have the inside lane to a home knock-out game, but since they can no longer catch the Chiefs, they can’t end any higher than fourth on the log, regardless of how well they do. They need at least a win to be sure of that spot, but I simply don’t see them going easy on the Force. Crusaders by 25.
Crusaders : 15. Israel Dagg, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Adam Whitelock, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Zac Guildford, 10. Dan Carter, 9. Andy Ellis, 8. Richie McCaw (Captain), 7. Matt Todd, 6. George Whitelock, 5. Tom Donnelly, 4. Luke Romano, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Corey Flynn, 1. Ben Franks
Replacements: 16. Quentin MacDonald, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Sam Whitelock, 19. Luke Whitelock, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Tom Taylor, 22. Robert Fruean
Force: 15. Alfie Mafi,14. Nick Cummins, 13. Patrick Dellit, 12. Rory Sidey, 11. Napolioni Nalaga, 10. Ben Seymour,9. Brett Sheehan, 8. Lachlan McCaffrey, 7. Angus Cottrell, 6. Richard Brown, 5. Nathan Sharpe (capt), 4. Toby Lynn, 3. Salesi Manu, 2. Nathan Charles, 1. Tetera Faulkner
Replacements: 16. Ben Whittaker, 17. Ruan Smith, 18. Pek Cowan, 19. Ollie Atkins, 20. Josh Holmes, 21. Kyle Godwin, 22. Will Tupou
Reds v Waratahs 14 July at 11:40
This Aussie derby is the one that South African fans will want to watch with interest; bet you never thought we’d say that! All eyes will be on the current champions, who have left things very late in 2012 and will need to pick up five points in their last match to keep pressure on the Sharks and Bulls. Should the Reds lose here, or fail to pick up a fifth point, then both the Durban and Pretoria sides will have the luxury of only needing to win their games in order to progress. I reckon the Reds will take it, but I can’t see them getting the four tries in what is typically a low-scoring affair. Reds by 8.
Reds: 15. Luke Morahan, 14. Dom Shipperley, 13. Anthony Faingaa, 12. Mike Harris, 11. Digby Ioane , 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia (capt), 8. Scott Higginbotham, 7. Liam Gill, 6. Jake Schatz, 5. Adam Wallace-Harrison, 4. Rob Simmons ,3. James Slipper ,2. Saia Faingaa ,1. Greg Holmes
Replacements: 16. James Hanson, 17. Ben Daley, 18. Radike Samo, 19. Beau Robinson, 20. Jarrad Butler, 21. Ben Lucas, 22. Ben Tapuai,
Waratahs : 15. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14. Lachlan Turner, 13. Rob Horne, 12. Berrick Barnes, 11. Drew Mitchell, 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Grayson Hart, 8. Dave Dennis, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Dean Mumm, 5. Kane Douglas, 4. Sitaleki Timani, 3. Paddy Ryan, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1. Benn Robinson (Captain)
Replacements: 16. John Ulugia, 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Lopeti Timani, 19. Jono Jenkins, 20. Brendan McKibbin, 21. Tom Carter, 22. Tom Kingston
DHL Stormers v Rebels 14 July at 15:00
There’s not going to be much of a surprise here. The Stormers will win, but probably won’t get a bonus point. Stormers by 6 (as always).
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. Deon Fourie, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. De Kock Steenkamp, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16. Brok Harris, 17. Deon Carstens, 18. Quinn Roux, 19. Jebb Sinclair, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Burton Francis, 22. Gerhard van den Heever
Sharks v Toyota Cheetahs 14 July at 17:05
Nothing less than a 5-point win will suffice (we think) as the Sharks go in search of a play-off spot that they appeared to have bungled after losing to the Lions. The Cheetahs will put up stern resistance, but with the Sharks now firmly in last-chance saloon (again) we expect them to do what’s necessary. Sharks by about 12.
Cheetahs : 15. Willie Le Roux, 14. Nico Scheepers, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Barry Geel, 11. Philip Snyman, 10. Riaan Smit, 9. Piet van Zyl, 8. Boom Prinsloo, 7. Pieter Labuschagne, 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. Marcel Van Der Merwe, 18. Waltie Vermeulen, 19. Ashley Johnson, 20. Jacques (Animal) Coetzee, 21. Sias Ebersohn, 22. Andries Strauss
Vodacom Bulls v MTN Lions 14 July at 19:10
The final league game of Super Rugby takes place at Loftus and the Bulls will need to show that they’re a better team than the one that was humbled at Kings Park last week. We expect the unfortunate Lions to be the recipients of that rather painful lesson, with the Bulls to win by 14.
Bulls: 15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Pierre Spies (Captain), 7. Jacques Potgieter, 6. Dewald Potgieter, 5. Juandre Kruger, 4. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1. Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16. Willie Wepener, 17. Frik Kirsten, 18. Deon Stegmann, 19. CJ Stander, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Louis Fouche, 22. Francois Venter