Super 15: Round 16 Preview
29 Jun 2012
So all local derbies, with a few injuries affecting some teams. Makes it interesting for the NZ sides anyway, Aus and SA should be more straight forward.
Highlanders v Chiefs – Some interesting selections strategies here, especially from the Highlanders where you would think 2 test class forwards must start ahead of 2 provincial journeyman in this must win game for them. YesHore and Haskell may be a bit jaded but if the Highlanders lose that is basically it for them – big call JJ. But even putting aside player selection, and surelythere isa question mark over Cruden as well, the Chiefs have the form on the board to win this. Their forwards have been great all year in all aspects, the direction from Cruden spot on, and the weapons available to him, whether it be SBW with his wide range of skills, or those further out where speed and timing have played a big part. The Hurricanes are all about intensity and pressure. They are a good team but a player or two short of being a real contender. Theyremain a little vulnerable at scrum time, an opportunity good opposition can exploit to get possession and territory, and look a little weak in the inside backs, where a fair bit of SBW traffic will be heading I would think. The only weakness the Chiefs have shown this year is just wide of the breakdown andto me the Highlanders lack the weapons to exploit this, if indeed the Chiefs still have thatproblem, I am sure it has been worked on. So while tough at home i think the more all round game of the Chiefs will see them home.
Chiefs 1 – 12
Rebels v Reds – Arguably the strongest Rebelsteam named thisseason, the backs especially look very dangerous. But again the Reds have a much stronger all round look and should be too strong. The Reds must win with a bonus point to keep their play offchances alive. This could be a problem as they will be chasing points. They won’t want to leave any/many counter attackopportunities for the likes of JOC and Kurtley!! The Reds to win in a high scoring contest.
Reds 1 – 12
Crusaders v Hurricanes – More injuries here. I wonder how the Soopa coaches really feel about thelast 3 weeks – resigned to it or pissed off. (it is funny how different codes have different priorities – Union is Tests 1st, Soopa next, then theITM Cup. League is State of Origin 1st, and thenprobably club and internationals about the same, AFL is all about the clubs, with interstate games stopped in the late 90′s due to club concerns about injuries to key players. Soccer I reckon is all about clubs, but they have to allow their players to play for their countries). Slackbladder must be pissed with 3 key players out injured. Fortunately the Crusaders do have great back up but any team losing the likes of Carter and Read is less effective. So the Hurricanes probably have a bitmore of a hope. The big question, and those injuries will play a part here, is whether the Crusaders cancontinue woth the form they were showing before the test break ( I tell you Blackadder won’t be happy). If that form comes to the fore the Hurricanes have no chance. And they have a couple of big injuries themselves. So where will the game be decided – scrums will be huge, goalkicking thus comes into it. And the weather of course, Tracey a nice tropical evening in the mid teens is it? I expect a close game with the Crusaders in the ascendency through their forwards as both teams get to grips with Soopa rugby again
Crusaders 1 – 12
Force v Brumbies – On paper the Force should be all over this. But of course they have been amongst the biggest underachievers so far. The complete contrast to the ever impressive Brumbies who have battled injury all season to be this years surprise package. Their all round game will be too strong against a Force team with as many duds as champions and thus always vulnerable.
Brumbies 1 – 12
Stormers v Lions – All about Mitch – yawn. Will it galvanise thepussies, I would doubt.
Bulls v Cheetahs – The Cheetahs will have spent the last 3 weeks planning for this game. Basically unaffected by the tests they have had a good chance to train for this game specifically and thus could be very dangerous. They play an all action game which can be hard to stop. The Bulls will need to be on the job and with 10 or so having returned from test duty they will need all their concentration. Home advantage is a blessing.
Bulls 1 – 12