28 Feb

Super 15 — Round 3 Preview
by WAJ
28 Feb 2014

We will know a lot more about how this season is going to shape after this round as several teams look to shake off their initial game rust. The Blues, Crusaders, Brumbies and Stormers were all fancied and then put in some ordinary performances.

And can I just say I am sick and tired of so many players not being available at this stage of the season. The Blues are 4, 5, 6 down because players are easing their way in, or not back from Japan. Well that is crap. Every game is important in the round robin phase – if a full strength Blues team had shown up last week would they have won, well that is unknown of course, but you’d fancy they might have – instead too many compromises are having to be made. ‘We had a slow start to the season but finished off well’ – if I hear that from the Blues at seasons end………. Oh for a properly structured rugby year!!

Blues v Crusaders – On displayed form – what am I saying – neither of these two have displayed any form. On paper this should be a convincing win to the Crusaders, butthe Blues have delivered their fairshare of upsets against the old foe and will turn up tonite you feel. Probably aren’t good enough yet with a number of players missing for various reasons, but need to show a game plan and some defence, a good scrum and that they have improved their lineout. Like the in’s in the forwards. But this will be a pissed off Crusaders team and they will be very hard to hold up front and you would think Warwick’s boy will get plenty of opportunities tokick for goal. The Crusaders will want an improved showing from the backline however after a limp display last week – don’t know whether they have the cattle to be a real threat, but straight running and passing to people in better positions than you are good building blocks. Expecting a tight game.
Crusaders 1 – 12

Rebels v Cheetahs – The Cheetahs will go into this as favorites against a rebuilt Rebels team. With two games already under their beltthe Cheetahs will certainly look to dominate up front and use their potent back 3 to finish off. Goosen showed better form last week and is the key to keeping his forwards on the front foot and getting the ball wide. A good player he needs to have his influence minimised. The Rebels are a bit of the unknown. Good trial form has them confident of a good season. Previously they have shown to be a pretty good attacking outfit, adequate at set piece, and they finish off games well. But they have always let in a bucket load of points. To compete this has to be fixed. A new coach promises this to be the case – if they can they could win this.Big Games from Higgie and Burgo are needed. The Cheetahs travel well and are confident, but fancy the Rebels can finally get things going.
Rebels 1 – 12

Stormers v Hurricanes -After getting their arse handed to them up front by the Sharks last week they now meet a pissed off and determined Stormers team. A couple of changes up front look to have stiffened up the pack a bit,and they have plenty of talent in the backs of course. But this game will be all about field position, and again the Hurricanes forwards will be under pressure from the Stormers at scrum and maul time. A strong backline defence led by de Villiers will be hard to crack and theHurricanes must look to giving there two world class wings some room.The Sharks held themwell last week and this could be the key.
Stormers 1 – 12

Chiefs v Highlanders – Who’d have thought that the Chiefs would have the eight forwards named to start tonite! The big question here is how good are the Highlanders? Great effort last week, they were pretty efficient and took their chances brilliantly. A different prospect in front of them this week though and I think they will be put back into their box against this extremely efficient Chiefs team brilliantly controlled by the best player going around in Superrugby.
Chiefs 13+

Waratahs v Reds – This should be a cracker. Both showed good form last week, with some brilliant tries scored by both sets of backs. All begins up front of course and if the Waratahs can get their running forwards making the yards they were last week- game over. Butthis is a pretty experienced Reds squad and they will be a lot more resilient that the Force were – expect big games from Horwill and Slipper in the tight/loose to stymie the Waratahs forwards and let Quade and Genia have a fair go on their own. The Reds have won the last five and will sneak this as well
Reds 1 – 12

Force v Brumbies – Brumbies should win in a close one. The Force trouble them and it is a stronger Force team fronting this week. Still think the Brumbies have too many options.
Brumbies 1 – 12

Bulls V Lions – So what is the bet that the side who has lost the last two (Bulls)will be favourite ahead of a team that has won the last two! Expect a bit more from a rejigged Bulls team at home. But hard to get inspired about this one.
Bulls 13+

Regards Waj