14 Mar

Super 15 — Round 5 Preview
by WAJ
14 Mar 2014

Double movement – if there was ever a case of a double movement when scoring a try it was in the Bulls v Blues game last week when the Bulls scored right at the end of the game.

Come on officials get it right – this interpretation of being able to place the ball after being tackled is fine but I struggle when the player turns it into a lunge for the line, and of course endless replays were always going to be in the Bulls favour. It was bollocks!

Chiefs v Stormers – The Chiefs have named their strongest side this year and should be too strong at home. It won’t be easy against a very combative Stormers side who were all but over the line last week against the Crusaders. They aren’t a side that scores lots of points the Stormers and whilst that also applies to points scored against them this Chiefs team has the ability to breach any defence. Any lead by the Chiefs will be very hard for the Stormers to pull back and that pressure will only play into mthe Chiefs hands as they perhaps losen up. Oh and all the rhetoric about holding in rucks will come to nothing.
Chiefs 1 – 12

Rebels v Crusaders – Will the Crusaders finally get their SHIT together? Just how good are the Crusaders, are they in a slump or are they just not that good? The big question this week – is Slade the man to get the backline going (it is a little surprising that he only gets a start at 1 5/8 now). This would be the perfect game for them to show where they are – an opposition who fire up at home, have enough good players to threaten most – and who will be keen to atone for a shabby performance last week. The key for the Mighty REbels will be the set pieces and their defence. The key for the Crusaders will be their attack. Who gets those right will come out on top. Would love an upset, but just think the Rebels might struggle too much up front.
Crusaders 1 – 12

Hurricanes v Cheetahs – Is this the first win for the Hurricanes? They aren’t a great team, at this stage anyway, a few changes this week give them a slightly better look, but that forward pack still fails to convince, and until they get more ruthless up front the backs will struggle. Mind I also think that Barrett is struggling for his best form as well. The Cheetahs have flattered to deceive so far this year, they are in a similar rut as the Hurricanes – they can’t get their game going. So not expecting a lot from this game, which could be played in less than ideal conditions, no doubt in front of another bumper crowd! Have to go with the home team but doubt there will much in it.
Hurricanes 1 – 12

Highlanders v Force – This is a great round with any team capable of a win, there are no real one sided matches, well maybe the last one, but this is another that could go either way based on the last games played by each team. The Force have won the last five times these two have played, so will back themselves here. But the Highlanders have a better look to them this year, there guns are firing, the forwards doing some good work and the midfield is very promising – they are all doing the basics pretty well. Who’d have thought?!? But then the Force looked uncommonly good for 40 minutes last week, admittedly the opposition were pretty ordinary, but confidence is a big part in any sport and they will have gained a fair bit of that from that 1st half. I’m thinking the likes of Ben Smith may make the difference in what will be another close game.
Highlanders 1 – 12

Brumbies v Waratahs – BIG game this – probably the match up of the round. The Waratahs are in terrific form with scoring options all over the place. How do you shut them down? The Brumbies will give it a good go, and will need to keep the Waratahs from getting too much possession for a start. And then defend very well in the inside channels where the Waratahs make so much ground. But keeping Foley, Beale, AAC and Folau all under control is a pretty big ask, and Hooper is another who can influence the contest. I think the Waratahs will be too strong up front, and with Phipps getting the ball quickly to those backs it will be too much for the Brumbies too handle, even at a ground where they rarely win.
Waratahs 13+

Lions v Blues – I don’t know what to think here. This is a pretty good no frills Lions team, another who are doing the basics well, don’t make a lot of mistakes and take all and any points when on offer. Boshoff kicks them from anywhere in your half so that would signal a pretty straight forward gameplan to me, oh and then the players to execute that. So the Blues bring in their two least effective kickers in the most critical positions when playing at altitude, one also the goal kicker who was anything but accurate the last time he played. So that says to me we are going to run it, further determined by the loose forward mix. If the Blues execute well then they certainly have the runners to pull it off, but the offset of that is to trapped in your halof with limited ammunition to get you out. Could be a disaster, could be a watershed moment.
Blues 13+

Sharks v Reds – Think the Sharks will be too strong again. They have an all round strength at the moment that looks tough to beat. And Steyn found his best form last week as well – ran the side beautifully. The Reds are going along OK, they outscored the Cheetahs in a pointathon last week and will always threaten with the halves they have. The Reds need to be clever and avoid too much of a forward battle, their smaller loosies will come out 2nd and I would think Cooper and Genia will have a lot of large individuals running at them this week and that may dull their attacking presence a bit. The Sharks have a couple of injuries which will make them slightly less effective, but no less efficient I would think, and such is their confidence in their game plan and the form of the likes of Steyn, Coetzee, Kankowski, Bismarck and Reinach that anything but a Sharks win would surprise.
Sharks 1 – 12

7 Mar

Super 15 — Round 4 Preview
by WAJ
7 Mar 2014

Hurricanes v Brumbies – It is hard to get a line on the Hurricanes. They were never going to beat the Sharks and were competitive against the Stormers – and the Brumbies are also a formidable opponent who have beaten them the last 3 times. They certainly have the backs to trouble any opposition but questions still remain about the forwards where they seem to lack the ability to dominate or boss another team for any length of time. A bit dour perhaps, but with Ardie Savea the 7th ranked loosie (really strange, or are they saving him – for what? Next Year!!) what would you expect. The Brumbies are still working their way into the season a bit as well, but they have some shrewd operators at this level and are pretty hard to beat. Just lacking a bit of spark at times and will miss the unluckiest man in rugby (Pocock). I think the Hurricanes can get up here, they have a pretty good record after returning from SA and after seven straight losses must come right!
Hurricanes 1 – 12

Reds v Cheetahs – Both these teams will be looking to bounce back after disappointing losses last week where they were both convincingly beaten, and really had little to offer. Think the Reds will improve a lot at home, and anyway how hot were the Waratahs! Saw the Cheetahs live and apart from a couple of forward rumbles really offered very little and will have to improve considerably to even get close here. Reds to get their SHIT together up front and give some ball for their halfbacks to take control.
Reds 13+

Crusaders v Stormers – Wow – well this is as big a game for the Crusaders as there has been for a while. Good to see they have Romano and Davey back starting – they will add plenty as they have replaced two inferior players, and Bird looks well off the pace as an AB contender – size isn’t everything!! But that backline still worries. Obviously looking for an attitude adjustment and change in game plan as the same players are basically named. For me Fred on the wing is wrong and I’d switch Slade and Taylor as the former is a bit more creative. But hey what do I know! Haven’t seen anything of the Stormers this year but imagine nothing has changed much and they continue as the most boring side in the comp. With this attitude in mind and the desperation of the Crusaders this might end up as a slugfest with penalties deciding it. Oh and I for one am not happy McCaw is injured – he needs to be playing, he is after all a rugby player!!
Crusaders 1 – 12

Force v Rebels – So the Mighty Rebels win convincingly against a difficult opponent 1st up and then the coach changes half the forwards and the 1 5/8 – go figure! They were pretty impressive and the most encouraging part for them was the different way they scored the tries and then there defence where they were determined not to let the Cheetahs get close to the line where those monolithic forwards are bloody hard to stop. Higgie great, Burgess fantastic and the likes of Woodward, English, Ellison, Pyle and McMahon hugely impressive. What to say about the Force – the true journeyman of the competition, they just lack quality and I reckon will really struggle this year. It is hard to see where they can get a win from. Think McGahan will have the Rebels firing again and should win well.
Rebels 1 – 12

Bulls v Blues – This will be all about the Blues handling the Bulls forwards and being able to defuse the barrage heading the way of the back 3. There are still question marks over this Blues team – the lineout remains a constant worry and that is one thing you need to get right in SA, and have they got a game plan that can get them over the line when the conditions are against them, which may well be the case this week. Big Kev will certainly help at lineout time with his greater accuracy and a lot is going to revolve around the kicking of Weepu and Hickey, they have to consistently relieve pressure if required. We attack brilliantly, so I am sure points will be scored. And this is not a vintage Bulls team, a fast moving game may see them struggle and they also need to kick accurately, cause Piutau and his mates will be a looking for any running opportunities and that means trouble.
Blues 1 – 12

Sharks v Lions – Mmmmm. Sharks will be all over this, well rested and in good form at home. Could get ugly.
Sharks 13+

Regards Waj