Super 14 – All To Play For
15 May 2009
Another excellent weekend of rugger to look forward to. Who would have thought 8 weeks ago that the Chiefs would be second, that the Sharks would be really battling to make the four, and that three NZ teams would be in prime position to make the top 4. Of course the realists amongst us knew one of them wouldn’t be the Blues, none of them live in Auckland however.
1 5/8 ranking – The Duck, Ripia, Brett, Hayward, any and everyone else, Gopperth.
Chiefs v Brumbies
Excellent game to kick off. The Brumbies HAVE to win, the Chiefs need to win, and both need the bonus point to maximise their playoff chances. The Brumbies have been riding on the Mackay factor this season, but this hasn’t really helped them in NZ. Done over by the freewheeling Hurricanes a few weeks ago, they face a team more than capable of doing a repeat job. A rearranged backline, and Chapman missing, givivng them a very light weight back row, won’t help their cause. The Chiefs are at full strength for the first time in a long time, Leonard is a big in, and with both wingers having had a run under their belt the backline should be cherry ripe. As always it comes down to the T5 for the Chiefs. This is a good Brumbies scrum, they did over the Canes a couple of weeks ago. If the Chiefs hold up they will win convincingly.
Lions v Waratahs
After a game effort last week kept them in touch with the top 4 all the Waratahs can do here is win with a 4 try bonus point and hope other results go their way. The issue is can they score 4 tries? They have only managed it twice in the years comp. And the Lions won’t roll over at home. The Waratahs should win with their dominant forwards, but can they finally get going in the backs and score the points – a struggle I reckon from the most boring side one could imagine. The big question – how much blood will Phil Waugh lose this week?
Waratahs 1 – 12
Blues v Crusaders
A comfortable win for the Crusaders coming up here. The Blues porous defence, ever increasing number of unforced errors and injuries will see to that. Whilst the Blues have always had talented individuals, the team ethic is not always as obvious in stark contrast to their opposition. The Crusaders also know that a bonus point win will all but guarantee them a chance to defencd their title. Motivation enough. The key match up – who will be the flakiest 1 5/8 on the night?
Reds v Hurricanes
A few big in’s for the Reds will at least make them more competitive than their last couple of efforts. Love watching Berrick Barnes, his ability to give himself time to play is the best around I reckon, even better than Carter or Giteau. But let’s face it the Hurricanes will win easy here. A nice kick up the backside last week will act as the perfect motivation and will also have given Coop’s plenty of area’s to improve in. The Hurricanes need a bonus point win to give themselves the best chance of a top two spot as well. With Rodders in the spotlight this week expect his team to get in behind him and win in a game where they need to show structure and accuracy in the semi final build up.
Force v Highlanders
the first of two who cares games. The intersting thing here will be – well actually there is nothing of interest at all really, perhaps a few players looking to impress selectors. The Force farewell a few players so will be keen to go out with a big win.
Cheetahs v Stormers – who cares!
Sharks v Bulls
The Sharks will know their fate before kick off, (or do you isolate the players from results perhaps) and thus will be either highly motivated or shattered they have no chance. Suspect the latter, and that combined with ruthless nature of the Bulls will see them win, but not by much. The bitter rivalry between these two will see to that. Looking forward to a huge scrap up front and plenty of counterattacking. The Bulls though finish better, goal kick better, and have the master controller at halfback.
Bulls 1 -12