Super 15 – Round 11
29 Apr 2011
Terrible news for Blues lock Kurtis Haiu – we all hope for a fast and full recovery. Our world has an amazing ability to inject a little/lot ofperspective into life at regular intervals.
Seems there is going to be a salary cap in operation for the Aus sides. This will stop the likes of the Waratahs building ateamfull of Wallabies, probably force the Reds to dismantle their successful squad and work towards a stronger Force and Rebels. It will thus have the effect of making Aus teams less of a force in Soopa rugby as there will be noteams full of outstanding players like the Crusaders and Bulls of recent vintage. Unless of course players choose to play for less than their market worth. The Highlanders form of this season though gives hope to all teams.
Highlanders v Blues
What a great way to start the round, this should be a cracker. The Highlanders have been great all season, well coached by JJ, he has got the best out of his team with a simple game plan – get the bloody ballusing a great lineout, solid enough scrum and plenty of aggression at the breakdown, and don’t waste it when you have it on the back of a scheming 1 5/8.Simple, effective and everyone has bought in. Throw inthe outstanding form of individuals like Thomo, Hoata, Smithamd Poki and a depth in the ranks that must make JJ very happy to see come through – they are a real threat to go all the way. The Blues too continue on their winning way, and have also managed themselves through the inevitable injuries. The main isse for them is their hot and cold turns during the game – they won’t be able to do that tonight. I like the Blues for their greater strike power out wide, they will make breaks and they will score tries, hopefully they can sort out their defence for the full 80. Some great match ups too – Cowan v Matthewson and Kaino v Thomothe big ones but the lineout battle too looks a goodie. Can’t wait.
Blues 1 – 12
Cheetahs v Brumbies
The who cares game of the weekend. The Brumbies are coming off a bye and have been strengthened by the return of a few players. They will also want to put on a show for their new coach, though the way things are going not many of this years team will be left. They should be well prepared for the SA leg and with a 4 to 1 winning record against the Cheetahs will challenge strongly. The Cheetahs welcomeback the hugely influential Roussow and are a good chance to win this as they are not scared to throw the ball around. A toughie but think the Brumbies have a bit more class.
Brumbies 1 – 12
Hurricanes v Reds
A lot of injuries for both teams here, though the result won’t be affected. The Reds are on a roll on the back of their irresistable halves pairing and will be too strong here. The Hurricanes are having a shocker and will have a crack but have too many playersout or out of form.
Waratahs v Rebels
I fear a repeat score of the round 1 clash between these two sides, though injury may limit the effectiveness of the Waratahs. Waugh, Palu and Mitchell are big outs, and with only Barnes returning they are down on strike power. But they have a dominat scrum and still retain some outstanding players in the form of the Flying Affro, Ben Mowen, Bealeand Burgo. If they maintain 80 minutes of concentration they will be too strong for an erratic Rebels team. The Rebels are close to full strength and have made a point of dropping their 2 worsat defenders, who also happen to be their best attackers, but will be arguably better off for it. This will probably mean they will lose by 20instead of 40.
Force v Crusaders
I don’t fancy being a Forceforward this week, the Crusaders will be very keen to put last weeks disappointing effort behind them and get back on track with, in particular, a strong display up front. The loss of Thorn is the perhaps the key here and Romano and Jack will need to keep it tight to compensate. But with McCaw at the helm you feel this will happen and give the wonderfully gifted backline plenty of pill to run theForce ragged. The Force will be brave and the loosies will challenge all day, but they lack the class out wide that the Crusaders bring and will struggle to defend against them. A big game for Todd againstPocock and we will know more about him after this.
Bulls v Chiefs
Can the Bulls get their faltering campaign back on track. They are 2 1/2 wins out of the playoffs at the moment and a loss here would almost certainly end any chance to defend their title. And you know, I fancy the Chiefs here to pull off an upset so bad are the Bulls playing. The Chiefs haven’t wonin Pretoria for 10 years, but certainly have the backline ammunition to break that streak. The forwards of course hold the key and anything close to parity will see them go close. The Duck hopefully has sorted out his kicking blues, he wasshit last week and they can’t afford to give anything away with Steyn always accurate as hell. The Bulls are so out of form, with all their big guns struggling, if the Chiefs put it together a win is on the cards. My upset of the week, and yes I know … it is the Chiefs.
Chiefs 1 – 12
Stormers v Sharks
And we finish off with a good old fashioned South African grudge match. It will be tight, niggly and extremely intense. I see Smitty holds his hooking bath ahead of the returning Battleship.The difference could be at 1 5/8 where two young guns could be set to face off. Their goalkicking will be critical and Lambie will want to improve on his efforts of last week. The Stormers with home advantage should get up. Interestingly these sides are dead even on wins and losses both home and away and 9 of the 14 meetings have been wins by 12 or under.
Stormers 1 – 12