Super 15 — Round 20 Preview
12 Jul 2013
Crusaders v Hurricanes – The Crusaders have finally hit top gear. In their demolition of the Chiefs last week they covered plenty of bases. The main ones were the return to form of Fred and the intensity of the forwards in all aspects. If the forward pack continue with this form then expect Carter and Fred to steer them around the paddock, and with their great ability to create pressure, and maintain it, the points inevitably come. They really need a bonus point to put pressure on the Chiefs for the top NZ spot – you’d back them to do that. The Hurricanes look to be treating it as a bit of a trial, a few of the forwards will have points to prove, like when will Vito ever dominate a game, and they do score good tries so should be a reasonable spectacle.
Rebels v Highlanders – Mmmm much ado at the Mighty Rebels of late – new coach, Beiber given the flick, and plenty of others leaving as well – Henderson, Robinson, Delve, Phipps, Vuna…… 2014 is looking interesting already! And then I read that JJ has a clause in his contract that he cannot lose his job due to playing results – what the!! Anyway this could go either way. Two pretty average teams, but if the Rebels can start well, and maintain that intensity, they can win this. The worry is the Highlanders backs – with Slade in better nick, the likes of the Smiths, Ellison and Gear will cause problems, and with Inman out for the MR, their midfield defence is a worry. This is a toughie – the Highlanders have been utter crap but can turn it on, the Mighty Rebels have been better but are missing a few.
Rebels 1 – 12
Blues v Chiefs – Should be a bit of feeling in this between these oldest of rivals. The first meeting this year was a very intense affair, lots of good defence in a really tough encounter. And plenty on this game. The Chiefs have to get back to some form after a couple of scrappy weeks. Get their line-out right and compete better in the loose/breakdown would be high priorities. Messam is a huge in as he is a dominant player at this level with his work-rate. Is Afeaki injured? Would have thought he would be invaluable before bringing on the Incredible Hulk for the last half hour. The Blues have only pride to play for. Some will be playing for spots next year – the likes of Kerr, Barrett and Moli need strong games to convince the coaches they have a future at this level. And of course it is a farewell game for others. On top of the travel, the average form of the Blues of late and the injuries to some you fancy they will struggle. But if they get enough ball those backs are capable of anything. And I would be applying the blowtorch to TKB.
Chiefs 1 – 12
Waratahs v Reds – Plenty of Wallabies missing from both teams, which evens things nicely, but may mean this game is not as intense as usual. But this of course is the biggest rivalry in Australian rugby, so what am I saying, there will be plenty of feeling again. The big question for the Reds is whether Quade can function as well as normal without Genia’s genius inside him. Never quite looks as good, and expect Hooper and the Waratahs to be all over him. The Waratahs look the more settled combination, and with the Reds missing their two talisman in Horwill and Genia, the Waratahs should get this.
Waratahs 1 – 12
Force v Brumbies – Might be tight early, but this should be a convincing win for the Nags in the end. The Brumbies will want to put in a good performance, keep the intensity up right through the 80 and set themselves up for the play-offs the following weekend, probably against the Cheetahs. And a few will be looking to impress link after lass than stellar test performances – yes that is you Joe Tomane and Ben Alexander.
Sharks v Kings – Yawn!
Stormers v Bulls – I reckon the Stormers won’t be going out to do the Bulls any favours and this will be another intense South African derby. There won’t be much in it, probably a kick or two, as the forwards go hard at it. These two have been very even of late, but the Bulls have plenty to play for as a win will guarantee them top spot and a home semi. They looked a bit sluggish last week and will need to lift for this, perhaps injuries/absences taking a toll with replacement players not quite up to the standard. But then it is pretty much the same in the Stormers camp. In a grind with plenty of intensity you have to back Morne’s boot
Bulls 1 – 12