Round 13: Preview and Predictions

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Super 14 on 8 May 2008 at 10:52

Friends, the Ghost is tied up again, so I’m going to take a stab at doing the predictions this week. Remember, I’m down in 18th position on SuperBru, so perhaps take that into account when reading these!

It’s crunch time this week, with all fourteen teams in action and all but five of them still in within reach of the play-offs. There are several key match-ups this week that will go a long way to deciding who will still have something to play for going into the final round next weekend.

Hurricanes v Force

The Force are all but out of the race. They can reach a maximum of 38 points, which looks like being at least 4 or 5 shy of what they’ll need. That said, they are well positioned as spoilers going into the last two rounds and an upset win over the Hurricanes could really knock the third-placed Wellington lads back into the chasing pack. The Canes probably have the toughest remaining fixtures, with the Blues away after the Force game so will know that they really need to take five points here to try and force home ground advantage in the play-offs. Should they lose, they could find themselves facing a do-or-die clash in Auckland to make the play-offs at all.

The Canes tend to blow hot and cold, but they’re hitting some decent form at the moment and have plenty of power and pace pretty much right throughout the team. The Force will be reeling from the loss of centre Ryan Cross, one of their stars. They’ll look to Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell to add some magic, but I’m afraid you have to pick the home side in this one. Hurricanes to win with quite a bit to spare.

Bulls v Brumbies

This is probably a meaningless game at this stage, although the Brumbies are on the same number of points as the Force and could possibly still sneak a play-off spot, if a number of really unlikely results come off over the next fortnight. It really is a hell of a long shot, though, meaning that this encounter will be about two teams playing to restore some pride and build some continuity for the years to come.

That makes it very hard to call. The Bulls were good against the Tahs, but the weather played into their hands. They are starting to find some rhythm again, although they won’t have Derick Hougaard on the bench this week to bail them out if the game turns into a kicking-fest. The Brumbies have been disrupted by some illnesses in the camp this week and thus might not have had the build-up they would have liked. They have nonetheless named a very strong team and were impressive against the Stormers last week.

I’m going to make a gut-feel call here and back the Brumbies to take this one, just because I feel their individual skill levels are so much better than the Bulls’ and also due to the fact that, once they get going, they can hold onto possession through phase after phase after phase like no other team in the competition. Faced with this, I suspect the Bulls’ discipline might implode.

Highlanders v Blues

There can only be one winner here: the side from Auckland. The Blues are finding form again and will whip the Highlanders, themselves somewhat buggered having made the long trip back from South Africa this week. From the point of view of the Sharks and the Stormers, it’s pretty vital that the Blues really hit their stride in this match, because we need them to go into the last match against the Hurricanes with everything to play for. Should the Blues no longer be in contention when the ‘Canes come to Auckland, there’s every chance the Wellington side could walk right over them and claim a home semi in the process.

David Nucifora has tinkered with his backs yet again, dropping Ice Toeava and bringing Benson Stanley back in at 12. Isa Nacewa will again be at flyhalf, a move which has not quite convinced all critics yet, but against the Highlanders, I don’t see it making any difference. Blues to win this game at a canter.

Reds v Crusaders

The Reds have quietly been putting in some pretty good performances over the last few weeks and actually ran the Blues a lot closer than the scoreline suggested last week. They have talisman Chris Latham back at fullback after a lengthly spell on the sidelines.

The Crusaders, though, look pretty unstoppable at the moment and will have the best possible insurance policy, with Dan Carter named on the bench. I don’t buy that this match is going to be complete on-way traffic as the Reds will be competitive for at least 40 minutes, but you have to bet on the Crusaders to win comfortably, thus sowing up first place in the standings with a week to play.

Sharks v Cheetahs

Local derbies are always a real pain to call, but to me, the equation here is simple. The Cheetahs have named the same exact side that couldn’t put away a team reduced to 13-men for ten minutes, at home last week. They have a good pack of forwards, that’s for sure, but their backs have leaked tries all year. They have a journeyman at scrumhalf, another at flyhalf and have only managed a single win in their last 11 starts.

That Sharks may well be disrupted through the loss of Johann Muller, but the squad has been bolstered by the return of Johan Ackermann and together with Steven Sykes and Bismarck du Plessis, both of whom should be back, should have the firepower to match the Cheetahs up front. The Durban team’s defence was pretty good against the Crusaders last week and I expect more of the same this week. The signs just don’t point to a Sharks loss here.

Then again, for the Sharks to keep their slim play-off hopes alive, they need to score four tries and win by as big a margin as possible. If they play like we know they can, they should have the Cheetahs buried by half time. I am going to back them to do just this. Quite frankly, they just don’t have any other option. It’s time for the boys to stand up. Sharks to win by plenty.

Lions v Chiefs

Man, but wouldn’t we love the Lions to pull off an upset here. Both teams have traveled to the republic this week, so there shouldn’t really be any advantage as a result of that. Both sides lost last week, so neither will be on a huge high going into this game. The Lions will welcome back centre Jaque Fourie, but it’s unlikely he’s going to make that much of a difference to a team that hasn’t managed to win since the first round of the competition.

To me, this game is unfortunately very easy to call as well. The Lions have nothing to play for, the Chiefs everything. A loss for the Hamilton side will mean no semi-final this year. They have the game to absolutely annihilate the hapless Lions and just the thought of Masaga opposing Rayno Benjamin is enough to convince me that the Chiefs are going to win this one with plenty to spare.

Stormers v Waratahs

The game of the round. Both of these sides know that a failure to pick up at least two points from this encounter will leave them vulnerable to losing out to either the Sharks or the Chiefs. Both have relatively simple games in the last round, so this match really is the final hurdle for both sides in terms of making the semis. A good win here could set either side up for a potential second-place finish.

The Tahs weren’t good against the Bulls, but they are a superb side nonetheless, with dangerous runners all over the field and a set of lose forwards that can win a game on their own. The Stormers, in contrast, are looking a little bit short in the pack, given injuries to JD Moller and Schalk Burger. They do have the momentum on their side at the moment and their fans will pack the stadium to the rafters and carry them on. They are capable of playing some superb rugby, but have developed a worrying tendency to try and defend a lead in the second half. The Tahs have played their best rugby in the second half in just about all of their outings to date, so the Stormers are going to have to ensure that they play for the full 80 minutes here.

I’m going with my heart and calling the Stormers to win here, but my sense of reason is screaming that it’s not going to end that way. If the Tahs get the better of the home side in the forwards, which they are well capable of doing, it could go the other way by a big margin.


  • We might just have the same selections for the first time this year…

    Going for a GS point Rob?

  • Comment 1, posted at 08.05.08 11:32:49 by MorneN Reply
  • I have a horrible feeling that the Tahs are going to whip the Stormers, Morras…

    But my picks reflect what I’ve written here

  • Comment 2, posted at 08.05.08 11:36:49 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I picked the same too…and so did Ghost 10…so you can trust Rob… 😆

  • Comment 3, posted at 08.05.08 11:44:44 by blackshark N.R.N.S! Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • I did consult with Ghost before writing this.

    Guys, if I could, I would go back and change the Stormers pick.

  • Comment 4, posted at 08.05.08 11:48:35 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I know…but I’m counting on the homeground advantage…

    Wanted to go with the Bulls too but I think the Brumbies have more to play for…

  • Comment 5, posted at 08.05.08 12:08:05 by blackshark N.R.N.S! Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • What and forego your Grand Slam point Rob? That would be silly! 😈

  • Comment 6, posted at 08.05.08 12:10:41 by MorneN Reply
  • Brumbies are just a better team, full stop.

  • Comment 7, posted at 08.05.08 12:11:56 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I have the Stormers by 12… they had better just deny the Tahs a bonus point

  • Comment 8, posted at 08.05.08 12:12:34 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I think the Tahs will get a loser’s BP…but I’ll be crossing my fingers for that 12 point margin of yours…

  • Comment 9, posted at 08.05.08 14:38:14 by blackshark N.R.N.S! Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • I had a quick chat with the keepers of Rugby upstairs and, I won’t mention names but was informed that the Lions will win this weekend.. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 10, posted at 08.05.08 18:11:17 by csb Reply

  • Just how long ago does that 75-14 feel now?

    For both stormers and bulls fans… 😆

  • Comment 11, posted at 08.05.08 18:24:33 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • Life is short at the top..except if you are a Crusaders fan..

    Seriously though its fantastic to see the Stormers doing well again..just a pity about their supporters.. 😉

  • Comment 12, posted at 08.05.08 19:01:11 by csb Reply

  • Man i still need to get my pics and FL team done.

  • Comment 13, posted at 08.05.08 20:09:14 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • 😯 😯 😯

    Loffie on Boots & All. He believes there is no place for mind coaches and psychologists in rugby 😯 😯 😯

    WTF I can see why the lions are where they are. There coach is stuck on his ossewa.

  • Comment 14, posted at 08.05.08 20:58:53 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • idiot!

  • Comment 15, posted at 08.05.08 21:11:31 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Excellent insight as usual from a South African perspective. I am still however picking that 41 points will be required to qualify and may still require high point differential. Note the large point difference for Crusaders then Hurricanes. Blues could also profit from early Super 14 form with a reasonably high point difference that will likely place them above Sharks or Chiefs if they finish on equal points (41).

    For me a couple of results of Round 13 will be decisive:

    * 5 points for Hurricanes against Force will get them through on points differential.
    * Waratahs also only need 5 points to be sure to get through. 1 point against Stormers is a reasonable result. They should get 4 against Reds who have nothing to play for.
    * If Stormers get 0 against Waratahs, they are out cold. 1 point is still likely to fail to suffice. 4 will make them a likely home semifinalist as they face Lions in last round. 5 is unlikely as two best defenses fight each other.
    * If Sharks or Blues fail to get 5 points in round 13 they are out of contention. This would respectively favour Chiefs to get through and Hurricanes to host semi. Even with 5 both will still have to face up to a round 14 decider with CHF and HUR, real quarterfinals!!!
    * A five pointer for Chiefs against Lions would give them a clear chance to reach 42 and qualify if they beat the Sharks – especialy if Sharks only get 4 in R13.

    Last thing to note if we remember the crazy score for the Bulls in the last game of last years Super 14, is that SHK-CHF is the last game of the championship. STM also will play round 14 knowing HUR, BLU and WAR results. This could definitly help STM to fight for home semi, and CHF if they know they need 5 points in the last game to get over one of these 4 other contenders.

    If you are interested I am reporting from an NZ perspective on my blog:



  • Comment 16, posted at 08.05.08 22:51:58 by Barag Reply

  • Barag – thanks for this. A very concise summary. I agree with you that points difference is likely to be a huge factor and that is why I’m most worried about the Sharks. Even if they manage to get to 42, I doubt they will be there on their own.

    In fact, the best possible chance the Sharks will have is if the Tahs stuff the Stormers PROPERLY tomorrow

  • Comment 17, posted at 09.05.08 09:17:50 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Hi Rob,

    I am pretty sure that 42 points will qualify for semis. There is only one scenario that gets 5 teams on 42 points or more (and I’d consider it to be not very plausible):

    Crusaders of course.
    HUR beat Blues in AKL to 44 or 45
    Stormers win 2 to get to 43-45
    Waratahs must get 5 (either 1+4 or 0+5) to get to 42
    Then only one of Sharks or Chiefs only can get there as they play off next round. Sharks need a 10 point haul in 2 games.
    Blues can’t get there.

    If the Sharks make it to 42 I qm certain at least one other team will fail to achieve the above requirements. As a Chiefs supporter, I can say the same that if CHF get to 42 they should be through hence my hope that they get 5 against Lions tomorrow.


  • Comment 18, posted at 09.05.08 14:17:17 by Barag Reply

  • Barag – how would you fancy swapping links?

  • Comment 19, posted at 09.05.08 14:21:24 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • you are already on my blog.

  • Comment 20, posted at 09.05.08 14:28:38 by Barag Reply

  • sweet – I’ll add you to ours as well.

    Any chance you’d fancy doing a spot of writing here, if you have the time?

  • Comment 21, posted at 09.05.08 14:32:46 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I keep it in mind… Maybe for the next season?

  • Comment 22, posted at 09.05.08 14:38:19 by Barag Reply

  • sure… anytime. Just let me know

  • Comment 23, posted at 09.05.08 14:45:37 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.