Super 15: Round 13 Preview
18 May 2012
Hurricanes v Brumbies – we are now at the stage of the season where any loss is going to have serious consequences for thosestill in reach of the finals- most especially in the Aus conference where it is probable that only the winner of that conference will make the playoffs. So this is huge for the Brumbies. A loss here, with the Reds almost certain of 5 points against the Pussy Cats, and they are deep in it. They do it without the very influential Lealiifano, a big loss. But they have been a revelation this season, the coach gets the best out of them, they take a lot or right options, are real competitors and have not had a loss over 12 points which says a lot about theirresilience. A very good pack is the key to their success and the Hurricanes will do well to get parity here. The backs are a good match up – 4 very good wingers on display. But 2 new 1 5/8′s could be where this game is decided and fancy Pisi may have the edge. With very little between them over the years I think the home side will get up, with Shields to have a big one.
Hurricanes 1 – 12
Highlanders v Bulls – probably the game of the round for me. The Bulls are flying, and they strengthen their side this week to pose a real threat to the Highlanders. At the time of writingwe have yet to see the Highlanders line up, but that aside they look to be struggling a bit. They are another side who are teetering on the edge of the playoffs and really have to win here to stay in touch. But I think the Bulls will be too strong, they have shown remarkable resilience of late, and the way they scored in the last minutes of their game against the Waratahs last week was very impressive and showed why they are top of the table. Such a well drilled pack of forwards and the halves are both playing very well. And I’ll say it again, don’t give away penalties in you own half with Steyn as hot as all hell at the moment. I can’t see where the Highlanders are going to win this.
Bulls 1 – 12
Crusaders v Blues – two pretty average performances from these teams last week. The Blues finally managed a few minutes of passable rugby to comfortably beat the Pussies but there was still plenty of dross as well, but some improvement at least – and they will need all of that and more to challenge what will be a fired up Crusaders.I imagine we will see a completely different Crusaders side in terms of game plan and execution this week. They have to start scoring tries again, the other parts of their game are in reasonable shape, they aren’t scoring enough points. Ellis and Fred are 2 huge ins and Slackbladder would be hoping to see Dan Carter bring Fred and Fruean into the play a lot more. But there are a lot of players in this game who don’t have a lot of form on the board, and that doesn’t augur well for a good game. The Crusaders have to get up, but there won’t be much in it I reckon between these 2 great rivals. From a Blues perspective I am looking forward to seeing how Luatua performs. And O Franks v Woody should be a beauty.
Crusaders 1 – 12
Reds v Lions – the Reds will kill the Pussies. The Burglar’s back, confidence rising and a real sniff of finals in the air, the Reds by a thousand.
Cheetahs v Sharks – mmmm tough one this. Like the Cheetahs but they are one of those sides that always finds a way to lose, and are not the same team without Goosen. The Sharks keep plugging away and should get up here, they have a good record in Bloem and will bedesperate to stay in the top 6. Great match up at hooker, Bismarck du Plessis is some player.
Sharks 1 – 12
Stormers v Waratahs – another disappointing season for the Waratahs will see them out of finals contention after this game. They will battle but lack a killer blow and always fail to take the chances that a good team would turn into points.They are touting an attacking game here, all good and well but against the best defensive team they will want to get it right, and what is the bet that de Villiers or the Flash get an intercept. Foley has changed the team a bit, big Palu on the benchindicates perhaps what is wrong with this team – too inconsistent. The Stormers won’t vary much from the norm, percentage rugby, play for territory and convert the chances that will come from the pressure – well they are South African after all.
Stormers 1 – 12
Force v Rebels – Can’t win at home, thrashed away – the Force have turned into a real lame duck of a team. The real opposite of the boys from Melbourne! And how good were the mighty Rebels last week, Kurtley has them humming. Plenty of attacking options, set pieces have solidified, and best of all the defence has finally started tocome right.They finally look like a team. A repeat of the last fortnights form will see them win this pretty easily.