Super 15 — Round 4 Preview
7 Mar 2014
Hurricanes v Brumbies – It is hard to get a line on the Hurricanes. They were never going to beat the Sharks and were competitive against the Stormers – and the Brumbies are also a formidable opponent who have beaten them the last 3 times. They certainly have the backs to trouble any opposition but questions still remain about the forwards where they seem to lack the ability to dominate or boss another team for any length of time. A bit dour perhaps, but with Ardie Savea the 7th ranked loosie (really strange, or are they saving him – for what? Next Year!!) what would you expect. The Brumbies are still working their way into the season a bit as well, but they have some shrewd operators at this level and are pretty hard to beat. Just lacking a bit of spark at times and will miss the unluckiest man in rugby (Pocock). I think the Hurricanes can get up here, they have a pretty good record after returning from SA and after seven straight losses must come right!
Hurricanes 1 – 12
Reds v Cheetahs – Both these teams will be looking to bounce back after disappointing losses last week where they were both convincingly beaten, and really had little to offer. Think the Reds will improve a lot at home, and anyway how hot were the Waratahs! Saw the Cheetahs live and apart from a couple of forward rumbles really offered very little and will have to improve considerably to even get close here. Reds to get their SHIT together up front and give some ball for their halfbacks to take control.
Crusaders v Stormers – Wow – well this is as big a game for the Crusaders as there has been for a while. Good to see they have Romano and Davey back starting – they will add plenty as they have replaced two inferior players, and Bird looks well off the pace as an AB contender – size isn’t everything!! But that backline still worries. Obviously looking for an attitude adjustment and change in game plan as the same players are basically named. For me Fred on the wing is wrong and I’d switch Slade and Taylor as the former is a bit more creative. But hey what do I know! Haven’t seen anything of the Stormers this year but imagine nothing has changed much and they continue as the most boring side in the comp. With this attitude in mind and the desperation of the Crusaders this might end up as a slugfest with penalties deciding it. Oh and I for one am not happy McCaw is injured – he needs to be playing, he is after all a rugby player!!
Crusaders 1 – 12
Force v Rebels – So the Mighty Rebels win convincingly against a difficult opponent 1st up and then the coach changes half the forwards and the 1 5/8 – go figure! They were pretty impressive and the most encouraging part for them was the different way they scored the tries and then there defence where they were determined not to let the Cheetahs get close to the line where those monolithic forwards are bloody hard to stop. Higgie great, Burgess fantastic and the likes of Woodward, English, Ellison, Pyle and McMahon hugely impressive. What to say about the Force – the true journeyman of the competition, they just lack quality and I reckon will really struggle this year. It is hard to see where they can get a win from. Think McGahan will have the Rebels firing again and should win well.
Rebels 1 – 12
Bulls v Blues – This will be all about the Blues handling the Bulls forwards and being able to defuse the barrage heading the way of the back 3. There are still question marks over this Blues team – the lineout remains a constant worry and that is one thing you need to get right in SA, and have they got a game plan that can get them over the line when the conditions are against them, which may well be the case this week. Big Kev will certainly help at lineout time with his greater accuracy and a lot is going to revolve around the kicking of Weepu and Hickey, they have to consistently relieve pressure if required. We attack brilliantly, so I am sure points will be scored. And this is not a vintage Bulls team, a fast moving game may see them struggle and they also need to kick accurately, cause Piutau and his mates will be a looking for any running opportunities and that means trouble.
Blues 1 – 12
Sharks v Lions – Mmmmm. Sharks will be all over this, well rested and in good form at home. Could get ugly.