10 May

Super 15 — Round 13 Preview
by WAJ
10 May 2013

Chiefs v Force – The Force get up for 2 opponents each year – the Reds and the Crusaders, (there is some something in there about showing a red rag to ……….) apart from that forget it. Rennie has made his usual multiple changes,injuries a part of that, but is so much change helping? The big gamble this week is Anscombe at 1 5/8 and how he gets the bits and piecesChiefs back-line working. There should be few problems however as you would expect a dominant performance up front – looking forward to seeing how the revampedChiefs front row goes – in particular Afeaki.
Chiefs 13+

Reds v Sharks – What to make of the Sharks? Hit by a huge injury toll they are really battling to get anything going, and looked quite dysfunctional at times last week. So more changes this week will do little tohelp them.Their opposition though are not exactly in vintage form themselves – a lot of huffing and puffing but very little scoring action. Perhaps typified by Diggers – wonderful runner with the ball, butnever gets much of it on the wing, instead he seems to be always "taking it up". They need to get back to some basics, quick ball spun wide quickly perhaps a starting point.
Reds 1 -12

Cheetahs v Hurricanes – The Cheetahs should be far too good here. Am not liking the look of this Hurricanes side at all, and now with C Smith out, and they have benched one of their tough nuts in Shields, they look under powered up front still and may lack organisation in the backs . A comfortable Cheetahs win
Cheetahs 13+

Blues v Rebels – The Blues will look to regain there try scoring touch here. A more attacking back-line should give them every opportunity against a sometimes fragile Rebel defence, especially early. I distinctly remember last years game between these two with very mixed emotions – the local team you support vs the team you have supported since the comp began. The latter will always be "my team" and I struggled to watch the debacle unfold that night. Fortunately the Blues are back on much more solid ground this year showing real character. They are adapting well to each challenge, and a few changes this week will hopefully see more tries scored. Particularly like Ranger back at centre were he can get his hands on the ball more often. And great to see Boric starting a game for a change, and he has a lot to live up to after the great form of Retallick recently. And yes Tracey I see your boy O’Connoris starting as well, little will be lost as a result as he too has impressed. The Rebels have improved, but still lack time a team needs to really gel as a club I reckon. And are a top player short in both backs and forwards to make them a real threat – friggin’ Kurtley not helping at all either.
Blues 13+

Waratahs v Stormers – This is probably the hardest game to pick this week. After the unopposedtraining run the Waratahs had last week, it is back to reality against the toughest defending team in the comp when it comes to tries. The Stormers have a lot of good, clever players and will be right in this. The Waratahs also have to deal with the travel factor, and in a tight game that may be the one per-center that makes the difference. Izzy to be held on the way to a close Stormers win.
Stormers 1 – 12

Kings v Highlanders – Yawn. Are they really going to play this game? And will anyone watch it?
Highlanders 1 – 12

Regards Waj

3 May

Super 15 — Round 12 Preview
by WAJ
3 May 2013

Blues v Stormers – Danger Will Robinson, danger! I will be so bold as to say that this is the most important game of the season for the Blues. A tough opponent, a ground that has not always been the Blues best friend, and the need to keep winning to push for a play-off spot that must now be in everyone’s sights. Can they keep up the intensity? Their defence has been their real strength, the least points against of all teams!! But then the Stormers are no mugs on defence either. Ha – so probably a 6 – 3 scoreline. Just as long as the Blues win.
Blues 1 – 12

Rebels v Chiefs – After a really encouraging performance against the Crusaders, the Mighty Rebels are forced to back up 5 days later against the champions – terrific piece of scheduling. And on top of the inconsistency of the Rebels it doesn’t augur well. But they have been better defensively of late and are not far off an upset. Not in this game I would have thought. But with all the changes Rennie makes each week it can’t be easy finding a rhythm. Looking forward to seeing the Chiefs play live.
Chiefs 13+

Highlanders v Sharks – One day the Highlanders will win a game of rugby, pigs will fly and politicians will tell the truth.
Sharks 1 – 12

Force v Reds – This could get ugly. The Reds are due and a big win would not surprise. Some front foot ball from the Reds forwards and she’ll pretty much be all over I reckon. Not the strongest team the Force and yes though they won in Brisvegas in round 5, I can’t see the Reds letting that happen again.
Reds 13+

Kings v Waratahs – The Waratahs showed a fair bit in their loss to the Bulls and have definitely improved on previous seasons. They should be too strong here as they cling to their chances of still making the play-offs. The Kings I fear have reached their peak and whilst they are gutsy and have some interesting players, the Waratahs, with big Izzy starting to shine, and some confidence in a running game thus taking hold will come through.
Waratahs 13+

Bulls v Hurricanes – An interesting game this. The Hurricanes are only going to get up if they run it. They don’t have the forwards to cause the Bulls any problems up front. So they will need to be accurate, not a strength of late. The Bulls and Morne to march on here with a relatively comfortable win.
Bulls 13+

Brumbies v Crusaders – Taken on their relative seasons to date this should be a straight forward win to the Brumbies. They have had their ups and downs, but still have only lost the one game. But they do look a bit vulnerable when taken on up front – they were lucky not to lose to the Reds a fortnight ago when dominated by the Reds eight in the 2nd half. So you think this will be where the Crusaders will take them on, and they have the front five to do it. Fred benched I see – bloody good, hopefully he gets a couple of weeks on the pine! Carter is the key for me, he needs to dominate, not play pass the friggin’ parcel all day, but run and take the game on. If he does the Crusaders win.
Crusaders 1 – 12

Regards Waj

26 Apr

Super 15 — Round 11 Preview
by WAJ
26 Apr 2013

Wellington hosts the first AFL game for competition points ever outside Australia onANZAC Dayevening. Should be a good game, though Sydney will be too good for the Mighty Saints. And there is even a link to the All Blacks as a Sydney player, Mike Pyke, used to play for the Canadian rugby team and scored a try against the All Blacks playing on a wing – it is a great story!Hoping for great weather and a good crowd on what is a special day for New Zealand and Australia. 93,000 at the MCG today for Essendon v Collingwood – amazing!!!

Hurricanes v Stormers – Intriguing game this. Heaps of changes for the Hurricanes – Savea a big out (though a good decision on his part to stand down) but perhaps offset by the inclusion of Vito. They will need to be on their game as the Stormers have as good a record as any SA sides in NZ and are just the type of team to beat these Hurricanes. Strong defensively and good enough up frontto cause problems, they will want a close scrap, and with the game breakers they have in the backs, in the likes of the Flash and de Jong, though not used with any real enthusiasm, arestill a threat. I reckon the Stormers will be absolutely desperate and winin a close one.
Stormers 1 – 12

Reds v Blues – Probably the game of the round. And a big test fora developing Blues team. Thought the Reds blew it last week, the decisions to keep on attacking from all the penalties awarded to them ultimately cost them the game. They were totally in control up front and would have won if they had backed themselves and taken the kicks.Horwill blew itin what seemed to become a "me mightier than you" contest.But an excellent T5, really hard working loosies, and of course the terrible two working their magicthey are really hard to beat at the moment. TheBlues will need another big defensive effort as you feel they will struggle with possession. And they must treasure what possession they do get a bit more in the unforgiving Suncorp – and they are maturing. Needbig games from Ranger, Weepu and the loosies, and some defence from Noakes!
Reds 1- 12

Chiefs v Sharks – Both teams had unsatisfactory losses last week in games they would have expected to win. So this clash of last years finalists is one where they need to get their respective mojo’s back. And boy have the Chiefs made some changes to try and get going again. Plenty of pace and flair in the revamped backline,Cruden needs to take charge, and the forwards need to get back to supplying the quick ball that backline needs. And against this depleted Sharks line up, pace is going to be the deciding factor. The Sharks look down on pace out back and light on experience up front. Not going to that easy of course but still comfortable for the Chiefs.
Chiefs 13+

Brumbies v Force – Should be a reasonably comfortable win for the Brumbies. This is a pretty settled Brumbies team now, they showed all sorts of character, and no little skill in staying with the Reds last week – Mogg is a star! They just have too much for a willing but limited Force.
Brumbies 13+

Bulls v Waratahs – Huh, I see one of the Waratahs forwards is talking himself up in the week before they hit Pretoria – FOOL!! It is still one of the toughestplaces to win at, and the Waratahs haven’t won there since 2002. Though I do have to say it was a gutsy win last week against the Chiefs, something the Waratahs are not known for!Can their rediscovered running game overcome the patented altitude rugby that the Bulls play. The Waratahs back 3 are going to field a lot of bombs, a whole new experience for big Izzy and what are going to pretty inexperienced wingers. The Bulls will have too much.
Bulls 13+

Cheetahs v Kings – Should be a good old fashioned arse kicking.
Cheetahs 13+

Crusaders v Rebels – Should be a goodold fashioned arse kicking.
Crusaders 13+

Regards Waj

19 Apr

Super 15 — Round 10 Preview
by WAJ
19 Apr 2013

Hurricanes v Force – This should be a straight forward win for the Hurricanes. They have played them 4 times in NZ and won convincingly each time, so a repeat can be expected. Interesting team named for the Hurricanes – Barrett still at fullback after making such a success of it last week – not. Ditto with Pisi. Will a change of halfback make any difference – Perenara found wanting in defence and dumped – a good thing I reckon. More shuffling in the forwards as well, where it will be competitive, especially in the loose. The Force don’t roll over but the Hurricanes back at home will be pissed after that limp display last week.
Hurricanes 13+

Waratahs v Chiefs – Don’t know what to think here. Plenty of changes for the Chiefs – perhaps a freshen up after last weeks dropsies! And the vagaries of rugby selection/form sure are interesting. TNW, after being touted by all and sundry after 2 or 3 early good games now can’t get a starting role – behind Charlie Ngatai and Masaga it now seems. So two big sets of forwards going at it here and the Chiefs will need to be on the ball against the Waratahs at set piece time, all the Waratahs eight played test rugby last year, so the Chiefs will know they are in a battle. Actually on paper the Waratahs should win this every time, but some inbuilt flakiness comes over them when in the light blue jersey, and wrong options and mistakes become the standard fare. They look a bit more solid this year, but still some way off turning the various parts into the finished product. Folau a real danger as well. The Chiefs need to eliminate some of the mistakes from last week, defend well against the tricky and strong running of the likes of Foley, Mitchell and Folau.. They should win, but I suspect it won’t be easy as it once might have been.
Chiefs 1 – 12

Crusaders v Highlanders – This promises to be a huge clash. Plenty in it for both teams as the Crusaders struggle without there superstars, and the Highlanders just plain struggle. I reckon the Highlanders will have a real crack at the Crusaders up front, chuck everything at them. Hore, Thorn & co to really get in their faces and try and scrap it out. This is not a vintage Crusaders team, the style of rugby they are playing is not working, or maybe it’s the execution, but they don’t look like the Crusaders teams of old. I’d expect to see intensity here from go to whoa and a close result. Waiting still for the Highlanders team to be named – friggin annoying – but doubt that will change things.
Crusaders 1 – 12

Reds v Brumbies – The game of the weekend for me. Lots of build up for this, and plenty riding on it, as it serves as a good trial for Lions Series test spots, and is a shoot out for top spot. And two very good teams fronting as well, sound packs, efficient qat set piece with an edge in the loose from the likes of Gill and the legend that is George Smith. Probably the difference here will be in the inside backs where Genia and Rocky are starting to bring the game that won the Reds the title two years ago. Genia is a brilliant halfback/tactician/organiser, rarely takes the wrong option, and is even less likely to make a mistake. His partnership with Rocky is up there with the best going around, and with the added edge that Horwil has added to the Reds forwards they are a much better team than the one that lost to the Brumbies in Round 1.
Reds 1 – 12

Sharks v Cheetahs – Well another Saffa derby – and a bit of a contrast with this Sharks of late being very dour, the complete opposite of the Cheetahs. The latter lost there way last week, the defence of the Bulls probably the deciding factor. Expect the same this week – substituting the Sharks for the Bulls.
Sharks 1 – 12

Kings v Bulls – Can’t get interested in this one. My mind says the Bulls will kill them, reality probably has them much closer!
Bulls 13+

Regards Waj

12 Apr

Super 15 Round 9 — Preview
by WAJ
12 Apr 2013

Highlanders v Brumbies – Some interesting team selections here. Smacks of a bit of desparation from JJ getting rid of both Slade and Smith. Sure Slade, he has looked out of touch all season, but then considering the amount of rugby he has played in the last couple of years that is understandable, but Smith is a bit hard done by considering the crap going on from those in front of him. Is Hore next? He sure needs to be. Anyway another tough challenge awaits them in the top of the table Brumbies. Changes for them up front as they continue to rotate their players, this has started to look a bit worrisome of late with the edge falling off the Brumbies. A steadier backline and their first choice front row returning should help, and they have a good recent record in Dunners. So they should be too strong in a close battle.
Brumbies 1 – 12

Chiefs v Reds – Probably the game of the round. And how close have these sides been over the years – 17 games played and a points differential of 3 and a try differential of only 2. This should be no different. I think the key will be who out of Rocky and Cruden gets the better ball and can influence more. Rocky has been a lot better of late now that the jet called Genia is back on the field, and the Chiefs selecting Cane and Latimer is a horses for courses thing you feel to give them more defensive mobility to help snuff out the danger that the 2 Reds play-makers can deliver. The forwards look pretty even with Retallick v Horwill a great match up, Cane v Gill another. If Cruden can get some time on the ball, and in turn get Kahui running with his outsides so dangerous as well – so many angles to this game. Really hard to pick. Probably the Chiefs at home.
Chiefs 1 – 12

Blues v Hurricanes – Though this will hold plenty of interest as well. The Blues need to get off to better starts, try and retain the ball more early and not cut loose so much until things have settled down a bit. Noakes needs a better game all round and the T5 need to consistently nail the set pieces. Tough for this young side to maintain that consistency, but they are 2 months in now and have seen what happens when any flakey shit enters their game. Because you don’t want to give the Huricanes too much of a sniff, and certainly keep those turnovers to a minimum, the real Achilles Heel for the Blues. I suspect the Hurricanes will alternate Barrett and Pisi at 1st receiver and this will mneed to be watched as for all Barretts defensive frailties of late he is a master at setting up play. And am looking forward to watching the Savea boys in action again, you can’t complain when class is on show whoever they play for. Picking the Blues but not with any real confidence.
Blues 1 – 12

Rebels v Kings – A who cares game really. I’m going so have plenty of interest. It is all about which side can back up from the previous weeks display the best. Think the Rebels, of course, with JOC running the show. Showing some real class at times, he is starting to build some good understanding with his fellow backs. The Kings are going to be dangerous with their no fear approach. Probably be close.
Rebels 1 – 12

Force v Crusaders – Should be a straight-forward win for the Crusaders. Though the Crusaders have had a bit of trouble in Perth previously, the Force lack any real fire power to test the injury affected Crusaders. They will meet a team of far less intensity and defensive prowess than last week. Want to see a big game from Fred, he is due that’s for sure. The only concern is the number of 1st choice players that are out, especially in the loosies.
Crusaders 13+

Stormers v Sharks – Always a ding-dong battle. But one team has momentum and the other doesn’t.
Sharks 1 – 12

Bulls v Cheetahs - The pretenders v the old dogs. Going to be another close game, unless the Bulls get a roll on which is always on the cards at Loftus. They have never lost to the Cheetahs, never, anywhere. But this is not a full strength Bulls team, they have plenty of injuries and are thus as vulnerable as they have ever been. So you think they will go with the old pressure up front, and give it to Morne approach. If they defend well they should win at the fortress that is home.
Bulls 1 – 12

Regards Waj

5 Apr

Super 15 Round 8 — Preview
by WAJ
5 Apr 2013

Blues v Highlanders - Intriguing game this. Both teams battling away with little success, and need to win. The Highlanders pack have been well off the pace this year, that aggression at the breakdown that saw so many turnovers and momentum last year has gone – in strengthening the team with imported players JJ has taken away the edge. MacIntosh is a big in, and Tuiali’i an interesting addition. Are they enough to turn it around? Slade too a key in getting those backs flowing. The Blues need to tear into this. Eden Park has been a pretty good hunting ground against the Highlanders for the Blues. A Highlanders win last year can be simply offset by a better Blues team against a lesser Highlanders side, that easy for me.
Blues 1 – 12

Brumbies v Kings – Gunna be a hidin’
Brumbies 13+

Sharks v Crusaders – Can the Crusaders do it again? Huge game last week and you wouldn’t bet against them with much confidence. Some Crusaders really stood up, now consistency please. There is an article in the Herald today about Nonu and it makes mention of some of the top players not being at their best during the Soopa rugby season or parts of it. They need to get over themselves and perform all year round, that is why they are All Blacks. So Whitelock S, Davey Earp et al time to resume normal business. The Sharks have been a bit hot and cold this year, and are coming off the bye but I’m backing hot here. They have been changing a lot of players around trying to find the best mix, they looked to have found that last time, sure it was against the Rabble’s but you still have to front and they did. Weather could also yet play a part in this. I hope for Justin it is a Crusaders win, assuming he is in Durban as well this weekend, but I think the Sharks will have a little too much at home. And a question: when was the last time the Crusaders starting XV had only 7 AB’s?
Sharks 1 – 12

Hurricanes v Waratahs – These 2 have been pretty evenly matched over the years, the home side with usually the edge. Recent results would suggest they may not be far apart currently as well, as the Waratahs look to be improving – yeah big statement I know! Still struggling to score a lot of points and they don’t win away much at the moment, in fact the last time they won outside of Australia was May 2010 in the Tron!! So that record alone speaks volumes. And an improving Hurricanes team is picking up momentum nicely. Franks has stiffened up the T5, Shields is showing why he is rated so highly, and the danger the outside backs possess is well-known. I’m looking for a big game from Vito and some consistency through the 80 from Barrett and Perenara.
Hurricanes 13+

Force v Rebels – Both teams are battling, but none more than the mighty Rebels. Some improvement last week but something still missing – recognisable game plan, penetration in the backs, defensive capability all round, team harmony – yeah Ok a lot still missing. And it is interesting (well probably not for most) that Higgie gets the captaincy ahead of JOC with Delve out. Something smells a bit there!! The Force battle continuously with player strength and depth, but look to have some good recruits this year. The halves especially have been invaluable and the big outside backs have benefited. Even up front the Force will win it in this area.
Force 13+

Cheetahs v Stormers – Mmmm toughie this one. The Cheetahs have been fantastic of late. The loss of The Goose has seen them play even better and consistently better. No slip in form they are well drilled in the basics and attack with variety and accuracy. This is going to be tough against the defence of the Stormers, who have a good record in Bloemfontein, in fact the Stormers have won the last 7 times these two have played. That is a telling stat! But most have been close games, and with the improvement seen from the Cheetahs, with Brussow, Labuschagne and Strauss in excellent nick. The Stormers – sigh. How a team with so much talent in the backs continues to look so ordinary on attack is a travesty really. This inability to use that talent to back up a good set of forwards is seeing this team fail (in a word). The are great competitors but the style is straight out of Pretoria and wastes their talent. What might be if they threw caution to the wind??? Still think they will probably grind out a close win.
Stormers 1 – 12

Regards Waj

29 Mar

Super 15 — Round 7 Preview
by WAJ
29 Mar 2013

Highlanders v Reds – A toughie to start the weekend. Neither team has set the world alight this season so far. The Highlanders have just been crap – and if someone read you a list of B Smith, Gear, Nonu, A Smith, Slade, Thorn, Hore, Woody, with a mix of solid Soopa players and promising youngsters around them you’d be thinking top 6 for sure. But they haven’t clicked at all so far, have been hit by injuries – just a mess.The Reds have been very up and down so far, but looked a lot better with Genia and Horwill running round, and Rocky cutting down on the mistakes and being more direct. That same sort of performance should see another win. BUT the Reds have never beaten the Highlanders in NZ, haven’t played there since 2009 so I’m going to ignore that. I can’t see where the Highlanders can improve enough to get over this Reds side, certainly not in the forwards where theyneed it.
Reds 1 – 12

Hurricanes v Kings – The Hurricanes will be all over this. With C Smith directing traffic it could get ugly.

Hurricanes 13+

Chiefs v Blues – How well are the Chiefs going. Gutsy win last week and they change 6 and arguably look even stronger. They are equipped with players who make a difference and change a game (Highlanders take note) – Cane, Cruden, Afeaki and Messamare just some who make a difference. And some very clever coaching bringsexactly the game plan required. They should be too strong for the Blues. The young Blues side is starting to struggle. thereis definitely plenty of talent but they are struggling to maintain the intensity and accuracy across the team and across the 80 minutes. There does remain a degree of uncertainty about whether the Blues will get "excited", butagainst the week to week consistent performances of he Chiefs, even if they did get ‘excited" it probably wouldn’t be enough.

Chiefs 1 – 12

Brumbies v Bulls – A weakened Bulls side on the way home against a Brumbies team that will be freshened in some positions after the long trip back from SA. The Bulls don’t win out of turn in Canberra, withjust the one win, and that was when they were at their pomp, and they are a bit away from that these days. The Brumbies will have too many options for the Bulls, who, with so many out,may try and give the ball some air. But then Morne may decide to play his way, and we can all nod off without the need for a sleeping pill.

Brumbies 13+

Cheetahs v Rebels – The Rebels are a rabble! What a week – pathetic really!! They couldn’t win against this Cheetahs team of surprises and surprising class.

Cheetahs 13+

Stormers v Crusaders – Two big outs for the Crusaders, really big outs, really really big outs. And against a Stormers side that has rediscovered its mojo with consecutive wins against the 2 top sides this year so far, this will be tough. The Stormers haveimproved most up front and this game is set for a huge tussle in the forwards. Without the edge that Read gives them here I fear the Stormers may have the advantage. Carters accuracy and goalkicking another telling factor not in thisgame. Though the Crusaders have a good record at Newlands this might be too much with the team they have bought.

Stormers 1 – 12

Waratahs v Force – The Force are rightin this, and with the likes of Mathewson and Eberson driving them around the park very competently, and a forward pack that has surprised many, if they can maintain their intensity against a less than stellar Waratahs side, Foley will get his revenge. The Waratahs are yet to convince that they are anywhere near good enough to make their mark on this years comp some great players but still working on the team and game planconcepts. Having said all that I think the Force are maybe a couple of backs short of really being able tobeat the Waratahs.

Waratahs 1 – 12
Fight hard Jessie
Regards Waj
23 Mar

Super 15 — Round 6 Preview
by WAJ
23 Mar 2013

Chiefs v Highlanders – So the much fancied Highlanders will be win-less after a third of the season has gone and with a minimal chance to make the play-offs. I can’t see them improving enough to beat the impressive Chiefs, sure Nonu in is a plus, but he looked out of sorts in his first game and hasn’t played since. But they have problems in the looseand lack combinations in the backs still with an ever changing midfield.The Chiefs continue to impress, still won well enough last week whilst being sucked in to playing a lose untidy game by the Chiefs. The short turn around and travel are a concern but Rennie has rotated his players well enough, and has a strong bench.
Chiefs 1 – 12

Crusaders v Kings – The Kings have been quite competitive to date.Good opportunists, they have taken all scoring chances pretty well. No fear at this stage. This could be a step up, away from home and against a side that is starting to get its shit together. Big improvements seen in a lot of the Crusaders forwards the key. If the Crusaders stick to their business and play straight and direct this could get ugly.
Crusaders 13+

Reds v Bulls – The Bulls look to have conceded here, plenty of changes with numerous Boks now in the reserves. Whereas the Reds have a stronger teamwith the inclusion of Horwill and Diggers, and Genia better for the run last week. Both teams put in disappointing performances last week, the Reds probably the worst when out thought and out passioned by the Force. Doubt whether McKenzie will let that happen again.
Reds 13+

Force v Cheetahs – On displayed form this game should be a beauty. Two lowly rated teams are not afraid to give it a red hot go. Really impressed by the Force last week, they were goodin all aspects and Foley has turned them into a really good team, who don’t have many outstanding individuals but do their rolls brilliantly and have enough size and speed out wide to take advantage of any opportunities. The Cheetahs have lost Goosen, their talisman, for the season – a big blow and how well they get around that will be interesting. They have confidence now though and that will take them a long way. Big battle in the lose to decide this, but the Force at home for me.
Force1 – 12

Sharks v Rebels – Aaaaarrgh don’t know where to go here. The Sharks were so disappointing last week, hardly fired a shot, and Plummers has made changes accordingly. They have to be better thanthat and will have the motivation of wanting to show their real worth etc going forthem. SO you’d expect improvement, but how much. The Rebels have been playing at the level pretty much expected of them, and need to be able to put in an extra5 – 10% to get them over the line. Three big ins, Delve, Vuna and Woodward on debut, may be the difference as all are a step up on the players they replaced. Hoping, hoping, hoping!!!
Rebels 1 – 12

Stormers v Brumbies – The Brumbies are a bit of a bogie side for the Stormers. Only 3 losses ever against them and are the form team of the 2013 competition without a doubt. They play such a simple game and execute so well. It will be tough against the Stormers defence. And the Stormers – well a tough start to the year no question. A hard fought win over the Chiefs will have their confidence up, but they do look down on the ruthlessness they showed lastseason. But a more attacking mindset helped against the Chiefs and they will need it against the best defence so far this year. Going with form here.
Brumbies 1 – 12

Waratahs v Blues – If the Blues front with the same attitude and commitment they showed in the Hurricanes and Crusaders wins, they will win easily. The Waratahs are a rabble and have too many self doubts.
Blues 1 – 12

Regards Waj

15 Mar

Super 15 — Round 5 Preview
by WAJ
15 Mar 2013

Highlanders v Hurricanes – With the NZ conference looking to be an even affair a win here is a must for the bottom 2 NZ sides.A few changes for both teams, but the Highlanders are a team with a lot of question marks, and with 8 AB’s in the starting XV they should be performing better than they are – perhaps not together as a team yet. The Hurricanes were bloody lucky to get the win last week, but showed enough in staying with the Crusaders that they are coming right.And they more than any other NZ team need to have all facets working well to be competitive, and with the likes of Perenara, Barrett and Savea having more influence over a game, all marshalled by the wonderful Conrad Smith, a strong bench, and with Dunedin holding no fears,I fancy they will be too strong. What do the Highlanders need to do – get on top up front with a bit of mongrel needed by some perhaps, or, dare I say it, are they too old in the T5. Slade needs to find form straight away, andI wonder if Ben Smith shouldn’t be at centre, with Poki at fullback – would give them more strike weapons. But I just don’t think the Highlanders are playing well enough. Mmmm could be win-less after 5 rounds – JJ who. So that will come back to bite me no doubt.
Hurricanes 1 – 12

Waratahs v Cheetahs – Plenty of changes for the Waratahs after a pretty woeful performance last week. Wouldn’t want to be the Waratahs coach under any circumstances – they just lack heart;something is not right. They look like they need a Hurricanes/Blues type clean out. But they will need to beswitched on to beat this enterprising and opportunistic Cheetahs outfit. Boy dothey give it a go and they upset the Waratahs here 2 years ago with a 4 trys to nil spanking, and I certainly wouldn’t say they couldn’tdo it again. In fact so woeful are the Waratahs , can anyone even work out their game plan, and how accomplished were the Cheetahs when in possession with Pretorius (and this guy sums up the Waratahs, discarded by them after 3 early games, he has shown what a good player he is given the right circumstances or perhaps better environment)and Goosen great at making play, you’d have to back the Cheetahs. The latter also a dead-eye dick.
Cheetahs 1 – 12

Kings v Chiefs – Well the Kings havebeen a bit of a surprise package so far, 8 out of 14 available points is not to be laughed at. But the Chiefs will present a different challenge thanwhat they have faced to date with their running game,and especially what Cruden brings to the table, especially against a less than top class team. With their ability to score plenty of tries the Chiefs should win this relatively easily.
Chiefs 13+

Crusaders v Bulls – The game of the round for me. And absolutely crucial for the Crusaders, last year 10 wins was required to get into the play-offs. If the Crusaders lose this weekend they will have to win 10 of 13 probably to qualify, 11 of 13 to be sure and more if they want to be top 4. So tomorrow will be all about the forwards, well you know how the Bulls are going to play and the Crusaders are not going to stand around and let them do what they want. they willreally have a go at taking them on at the breakdown I reckon. And expect to see the Crusaders move the ball around as well, hopefully not that across the fieldcrap of a few weeks ago but plays that will run the Bulls around, they tired a bit last week, the Blues were just not good enough to take advantage of it, the Crusaders should be. At home, and with more to play for, and with players having more game time under their belts, the Crusaders by not many.
Crusaders 1 – 12

Reds v Force – The Force can’t take a trick – injuries and travelare against them here. And who is the person who scheduled them to play in BrisVegas after returning from South Africa, very stiff. The Reds are slowly building, Geniaback this week is a huge in, and you would think would be too strong all round for the Force. Mind you the Force don’t give in, they just aren’t good enough yet, and any slackening in attitude by the Reds will be used by the Force – ask the Bulls. Like the Reds industry in the forwards, hardworking and hard running loosies and midfield, and if Rocky comes right it could get ugly. McKenzie is not going to allow any minds to wonder I reckon.
Reds 13+

Sharks v Brumbies – Can’t pick this one. Two teams unbeaten so far, but in contrasting ways. The Sharks have been very dour, there last two wins on the back of penalties. The Brumbies are very much a pressure side as well but have been able to score a lot more tries using their outside backs. But Durban has been a hard place for them to win in, only once so far, and the Sharks will look to grind them down again with their narrow game and kick the inevitable penalties.
Sharks 1 – 12

Regards Waj

8 Mar

Super 15 — Round 4 Preview
by WAJ
8 Mar 2013

Hurricanes v Crusaders – Critical game for both teams even at this early stage of the comp. The Hurricanes cannot afford to let so many chances go to waste this week. Plenty were saying they should have won last week, and yes Hollywood was a problem, but you still have to be good enough to take opportunities and the Hurricanes weren’t. Still too many players not at the required level. The Crusaders were just out and out horrible last week, apart from the set pieces. No go forward, no sharpness in their play, or thought. Some changes in the back 3 give the backs a better look, but they need some of the experienced players to step up and play to the level required, Carter, Ellis, both starting Whitelocks. You would have to back them in doing this. And then getting the defence right, because the Hurricanes will give it a go.
Crusaders 13+

Rebels v Reds – Again the Rebels are not quite getting the job done. The forwards are holding up well enough, butthey lack consistent penetration and finishing fromthe backs and someone who can hoof the ball a mile as well.. Too much reliance is put on JOC and Kurtley, there is no real speed in the outside backs…….. The Reds too are not yet playing as well as they can, and the 2nd half that the Hurricanes put in last week will offer some encouragement to the Rebels.Mmmmm – the Rebels are better at home, no Kurtley might encourage more from the other backs, like JOC at 1 5/8 more than fullbackthe changes in the backline for the Rebels offer more pace. But is this enough??

Reds 1 – 12

Highlanders v Cheetahs – This should be a straight forward win for the Highlanders. They will want to get their game going a bit more convincingly than a fortnight ago, though a swag of changes may make that a bit more difficult. Good to see Slade named in the reserves, he needs aq change of luck that boy. The Cheetahs are brave but underwhelming, not enough class across the paddock and Goosen still finding his form.

Highlanders 13 +

Brumbies v Waratahs – The Brumbies continue to impress with their no nonsense game. And they have namedtheir strongest team this year. And they rarely lose at home to the Waratahs. And, lets face it,the Waraths are still shit!

Brumbies 1 – 12

Stormers v Chiefs – Hard to pick this oneI reckon. On displayed form the Chiefs should be all over it. But they don’t win too often in Capetown. And the Stormers have turned their home ground into a bit of a fortress over the last couple of years where they rarely lose. This will be by far the Chiefs toughest match up front this year, and they have gone for a pretty experienced 8, no doubt with that in mind. But it is in the midfield that the Chiefs will have too be strongest with de Villiers and co bound to test TNW’s defence. I think the Stormers will be a bit too strong in defence themselves, and that is a real strength of theirs, and win a close one.

Stormers 1 – 12

Kings v Sharks – Has a bit of interest from the point of view of seeing howcompetitive the Kings really are. They were the best of 2 average sides a fortnight ago, but face a different kettle of fish in the Sharks. The Shrks will be wanting to prove a pointto their neighbours. Could get ugly!

Sharks 1 – 12

Blues v Bulls – Don’t often see a Sunday arvo game these days. Just going to mention the one stat here. The Bulls have never beaten the Blues in NZ. Never ever!! And a swag of changes looks like they aren’t backing themselves too much this round either.

Blues 13+