Super 15 — Round 13
13 May 2011
After all the promise of some great games Round 12 turned into a bit of a damp squid.
The 2 all New Zealand games were average with a truck load of errors in both. The 2 all Oz games were pretty dire as well, especially the dross served up in Sydney. The only decent game was in Capetown and that was a ripper. Heres hoping for something better this weekend, though the 2nd half of the round is pretty much one way traffic.
Highlanders v Hurricanes
Again the lesser performed team is the favorite,even with the Highlanders having home advantage. Looking at the makeup of the two teams you would give the advantage to the Highlanders in the locking department, and inside backs. The front row and loosies are pretty even, as are the back 3, with the advantage to the Hurricanes in the midfield. The Highlanders won the 1st round match up, and though hit by injury, no more so than the Hurricanes. Surely all pointing to a Highlanders advantage! At home I reckon the Highlanders will tighten things up as they seek to return to better form, and look to dominate possession and let Cowan do his thing at a ground they have only lost at once in recent times. The first appearance of Weepu a nice sideline.
Highlanders 1 – 12
Reds v Blues
Game of the round for sure. Both teams have been a bit down on earlier form, the Reds only doing what was required against the Rebels after losing to the Hurricanes, theBlues very dour in its last two wins against the Highlanders and Hurricanes. Conditions tonite will favour a more expansive game than that, but the running ability and counter attacking ability of both teams may mean they choose to keep ittight. Accurate kicking will be paramount, with the Reds probably having the edge with Cooper and Genia, but if Brett can stay consistent and McAllister resume on form and they keep hitting the corners the more experienced Blues pack may have to edge it. If the likes of Mailau and the loosies can step up, the latter needing to "protect" Brett,then the Blues will win a close one. But the Reds will be very tough and will like the look of the flakey defence of the Blues in the inside backs.Could go either way.
Blues 1 – 12
Chiefs v Stormers
This has a lot of potential as well. I fancy the Stormers will want to send a strong message that they are just as good away from home and will be well fired up for this. They are one of the few sides able to play a full strength line upwith The Flash and Grant back. They have won 3 of the last 4 games between the two including the last 2 in Hamilton, last year in particular a belting. A lot of course will depend on what Chiefs team turns up. They need to improve in the inside backs and scrums and start taking advantage of the many linebreaks that the likes of Masaga and Sivi make. But I think the Stormers will just be too good for them, wet or dry, andget their campaign back on track.
Stormers 1 – 12
Brumbies v Lions – A who cares game if ever there was one.
Bulls v Rebels
The Rebels are fielding their 3rd string 1 5/8, a new centre and a rookie hooker -on top of some mediocre recent form things aren’t looking good. They will need to defend very well here, not their strength, and whilst theyremain brave up front, the Bulls aren’t exactly the weakest pack going around. The Bullies looked to be gaining a bit of confidence last time out and will be looking for more of that here. Based on the poor defensive record of the Rebels and the hard nosed approach to that the Bulls will bring this will be an easy overs win.
Cheetahs v Crusaders
A tough game for the Crusaders against a young improving Cheetahs side. With altitude and injury also against them they need to be on the job. Interesting move to put Fruean on the wing, no alternatives obviously but an intriguing move nonetheless. Great to see Carter and McCaw back, the latter in for a tough nite opposing Brussouw (I would have loved to haveseen how Todd would have gone against Brussouwv). The class of the Crusaders will be too good and they will win comfortably.