Preview – Round 2
20 Feb 2009
Thank God Round 1 is out of the way. Some good rugby, but a lot of bad as well, as teams and players get to grips with S14 physicality and combinations look to gel.
Having said that there were twice as many tries scored in the opening round compared to last year, so we’ve got something right it seems. Maybe, just maybe having the top refs officiating went a little way towards that.
This weeks ranking of 1 5/8 – Slade, Bowden, The Duck, Kirkie, Lavea.
A huge Friday night awaits as we get back to back to back games, a crucial clash in Canberra on Saturday, and the two top teams on the S14 table battle it out in Pretoria on Sunday morning.
Hurricanes v Highlanders
Right – so how is team with one All Black in their 22 going to beat a team that has nine. If they show the flair and daring from last week and throw in some consistency the Highlanders may just show why a champion team will triumph over a team of champions. Get real right! Yes the Hurricanes will get their shit together this week I reckon. Thrush a big in for them with his go forward and in the wet this is exactly what will be required – also expect Tialata to play big, likes the Bicky Tin in the wet. Experience, home advantage, and a kick up the arse will get the ‘Canes home and reasonably comfortably.
Waratahs v Chiefs
Will the Chiefs ever take a trick on the injury front? How unlucky can they get – the last player they need to lose is Mils, looking in good nick too. Waratahs are a bit ominous I reckon. New coach, more attacking style, a solid forward pack with Waugh always niggling away, and some cracking backs who have a year or two under their belt – Horne could be anything. The Chiefs have won the last 3 games between these teams but home advantage, form and injuries point to a Waratahs win.
Force v Cheetahs
Should be a comfortable Force win. They have strengthened their side from last weeks fade out and having got their 1st game loss out of the way, as is their norm, should be primed for this. Like the look of Pocock, he has taken another step up and will push Waugh out of the Wallabies this year. The Cheetahs continue to struggle, they lack fire power and can’t put sides away. The X factor in this game is of course the Mitchell issue. More speculation in the press this week about him moving on, or being moved on. 20 players out of contract this year and it could be a choice between retaining players or farewelling coach – see ya Mitch.
Stormers v Reds
What to make of the Reds? Still battling by the looks of things and really miss Horwill. Fancy them as a home team only this season and they will struggle here against a pretty good Stormers outfit.
Brumbies v Crusaders
Close to the game of the round. An unchanged Brumbies team who got the required slap across the chops last week to wake them up and them performed pretty well, even if it took a last minute drop goal. Improvement in a couple of areas, mainly 1 5/8, and an obvious need to tighten up their midfield defence will put them in good fettle. The Crusaders are hard to like here, only 6 or so players starting from last years champion team, and no superstars to perform a miracle – couldn’t pick them.
Brumbies 1 -12
Bulls v Blues
This is a toughie and probably the hardest to call. The Blues with a rebuilt team did bloody well last week to get a bonus point win despite all the efforts of Lavea to do otherwise. Hit by injury, and that bloody stork that keeps circling, they are still a few weeks away from full strength, but have shown surprising depth. Boric, Collins and Moa stepped up big time last week and the former two will need to go again this week. Like the back line shuffle, more pace at the back and a better kicking game for the high altitude. But why, why, why is Woody on the bench – finishing strong is one thing but if you are to far behind because your scrum has been dismantled……………The Bulls will produce the same type of performance they have every week – bash ‘em up front, kick long and use the flash whenever possible to get in behind. Going with the heart as usual
Blues 1 – 12
Sharks v Lions
The Sharks are going to be hard to beat this year, strength in all aspects and a developing combination at 9, 10 & 12 could be really interesting. The Lions could be a bit of a dark horse this year. They have some very good players, a good tight five, honest loosies and strike power out wide. If Pretorius can get consistent game time and thus form they could be a real danger team. Still have to go with the Sharks comfortably here.