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Week 2 of Super Rugby and what we can expect

Will the Crusaders’ Blues Continue?

This weekend’s Super Rugby kicks off with the Crusaders hosting the Blues in Christchurch. This is always a big game and one to look forward to. The Crusaders have dominated Super Rugby since inception and the Blues have not done to badly themselves.

The Blues won their opening game and even though it was a close game it was against the defending champions. As with most of the New Zealand sides they have had a lot of personnel changes and this makes it difficult to read too much into the first week’s result. The same can be said for the Crusaders who lost stalwarts like Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. The lost they suffered to the Chiefs was significant as they were playing at home.

Does this mean the Crusaders will fall against the Blues? Well you never know although the Blues win was at home. Both sides still have game makers and breakers although not as many as in the past. The players still need to find each other as many new combinations have been created and it is only the second week of the season.

The teams have met 26 times in the past with the Blues winning only 11. This game should be much easier for them as explained. I can however not see them beating the Crusaders by too big a margin and will give it to them within 5 points

Crusaders

15 David Havili, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Tim Boys, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody. Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Johnny McNicholl

Blues

15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 George Moala, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Matt McGahan, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino (captain), 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi. Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19  Akira Ioane, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Male Sa’u

Will the Brumbies stampede on or will the Waratahs stop them?

The Brumbies started the 2016 season with an impressive 52-10 win against the Hurricanes. Not that it was against the run of play, but most fans didn’t expect the margin. The Waratahs also had a good start to their campaign and it should be fair to say that the game Canberra on Friday is between the two Australian title contenders.

This is going to be a very closely contested game with both sides able to run the ball from just about anywhere on the field. Yet they both have strong packs and can dominate upfront. They have faced each other 27 times with the Waratahs winning 16. In all the average points difference is 1 but looking at the recent history the team that wins does so in style.

The flyhalves will play pivitol roles for both sides. Kurtly Beale can be an elusive runner while Christian Lealiifano has a dangerous kicking boot on him. The Tahs will have to stop Kuridrani and if they can do that the game should be theirs to win.

In this game discipline will play a big role as neither side will want a player sent off. My gut feel is telling me the Waratahs will win this game. The margin 10+ points.

Brumbies

15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano (c), 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Blake Enever, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio. Substitutes: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Nigel Ah Wong

Waratahs

15 Israel Folau, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Zac Guildford, 10  Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 David Dennis, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Angus Taavao, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan. Substitutes: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Matt Sandell, 18 Jeremy Tilse, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Bryce Hegarty

Can the Chiefs scalp the Lions?

The first game on Saturday will be the Chiefs hosting the Lions in Waikato. Both sides have their tails up after scoring wins away from home on the opening weekend of 2016. The Lions probably feels better than the Chiefs seeing as they had to make the big trek from South Africa to Japan. Still they played the new boys on the block, The Sunwolves, while the Chiefs beat the mighty Crusaders in their own back yard. If you want to see full on running rugby, both these sides can bring that to the party and will probably do so again this weekend.

The chiefs should be the favourites this weekend. Not only because the Lions had to make two day long flights across numerous time zones in the last 14 days, but also because they have won 13 of the 18 encounters between the two sides. It will be a high scoring game should history be anything to go by. Don’t be surprised by a 20+ victory margin either. I believe it will be closer than that but purely because of the traveling by the Lions the Chiefs will win by around 7 points

Chiefs

  1. Damian McKenzie, 14. Latu Vaeno, 13. Seta Tamanivalu, 12. Charlie Ngatai, 11. James Lowe, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8. Maama Vaipulu, 7. Sam Cane (captain), 6. Tom Sanders, 5. Brodie Retallick, 4. Michael Allardice, 3. Hiroshi Yamashita, 2. Rhys Marshall, 1. Pauliasi Manu. Substitutes: 16. Nathan Harris, 17. Mitchell Graham, 18. Siate Tokolahi, 19. Taleni Seu, 20. Michael Leitch, 21. Brad Weber, 22. Anton Lienert-Brown, 23. Glen Fisiiahi

 Lions

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnal Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith. Substitutes:  16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Fabian Booysen, 21 Jaco van der Walt, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Can the Hurricanes bounce back or will the Highlanders do it?

This is a game that both sides will want to win after losing their opening encounters last weekend. The Highlanders did so by a narrow margin and will look back at the game and wonder why? Probably because of ill-discipline and poor goal kicking. The Hurricanes, well they will know it was just because the Brumbies were too good for them.

This is a tough call to make as the Highlanders are defending champions yet the Hurricanes have won more games against them than what they have lost. Both sides have the players to make this a close fought affair and that it will probably be. The Hurricanes will try and dominate up front before setting their backline loose. The Highlanders will play the percentage game but can run it from anywhere on the field. The Highlanders to win by less than 5.

Highlanders

15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Shane Christie (co-captain), 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Brendon Edmonds. Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Jason Emery

Hurricanes

15 Nehe Milner-Skudder/James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Blade Thomson, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Reggie Goodes. Substitutes: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 James Marshall/Jason Woodward, 23 Willis Halaholo

Reds or Force who will it be?

This might look like an obvious pick to make. The Reds are at home and therefore they should win against the much weaker Force side. Well if that is what you think, think again. These two sides have met 12 times with the Reds winning 6 and there has been a draw as well. The Force had 4 wins and the draw in the last 6 games between the two sides. The last game did go to the Reds however.

This is one of those encounters where you know that the scores will be high or the victory margin will be huge. To be honest the Force has always been a much better team away from home as long as they played in Australia. The Reds on the other hand has underperformed for a couple of seasons now. I am going with the Reds b y between 10 and 15 points

Reds

15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Curtis Browning, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 Ben Daley. Substitutes: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Sam Balakai, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Junior Laloifi

 

Force

  1. Dane Haylett-Petty, 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Ben Tapuai, 12. Junior Rasolea, 11. Semisi Masirewa, 10. Jono Lance, 9. Alby Mathewson, 8. Angus Cottrell, 7. Matt Hodgson (captain), 6. Brynard Stander, 5. Adam Coleman, 4. Steve Mafi, 3. Guy Millar, 2. Nathan Charles, 1. Pekahou Cowan. Substitutes: 16. Heath Tessmann, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. Ross Haylett-Petty, 20. Ben McCalman, 21. Ian Prior, 22. Peter Grant, 23. Marcel Brache

Bulls to trample Rebels?

The Bulls might have lost against the Stormers last week while the Rebels won away from home against the Force, but that will mean nothing come Saturday. The Bulls have a young side while the Rebels side is more set. Again it will not mean much.

The Bulls have not lost to the Rebels and they will not be looking to do so at their holiest place, Loftus Versfeld. The Closest the Rebels has come to a win was in 2012 when they lost 41-30. Other than that they have not scored more than 10 points in a game against the Bulls, this while the Bulls have never scored less than 40. It might not be such a big score by the Bulls this weekend but they should win this one by no less than 10 points.

Bulls

15 Warrick Gelant , 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), Trevor Nyakane. Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel

Rebels

TBA

Will the Storm be too much for the Cheetahs?

For South Africa this will be the game of the weekend. Both teams are known for the running rugby they can produce through their backs. Both sides have strong forwards and can get the rolling maul to the work as well (ask the Bulls how well the Stormers make theirs work). The Cheetahs has never won this encounter by a huge margin and even though the Stormers has done so on more than one occasion it is never a one sided affair.

The teams have met 14 times with the Stormers winning 9. With an average of 50 points in a game and a winning margin of around 5 on average it does say a lot about these two sides. They like to play against each other and do so running the ball. The Stormers should win this one with ease and it will be with at least 10 points.

Cheetahs

15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais. Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Boom Prinsloo, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Niel Marais

Stormers

15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble. Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones

Can the Jaguars pounce again?

The Sharks did record a win in their opening game and yes it was away from and it was by 33 points, but it was against the Kings. Not South Africa’s strongest rugby province at the current moment or even for the last 20 years. The Jaguars also recorded a win and yes it was also away from home and yes it was a close call winning by 1 point. Still they did it against the Cheetahs, a team known for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

That it will be a good game I have no doubt. The Sharks will hope to build on the momentum they have. The Jaguars will want to show that they can continue winning and they should as the bulk of the team has played for Argentina at the international level. This game will be won up front and if that is the case it should go to the Jaguars, but discipline will be important as well and here they lack a bit. All I have to go on here is my head, my heart and my gut. My head says Jaguars, My heart says Sharks, and my gut says it will be a brilliant game won by a kick in the last minutes by the Jaguars.

 

Sharks

  1. Willie le Roux, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Joe Pietersen, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Daniel du Preez , 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Tendai Mtawarira (captain). Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Juan Schoeman, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Philip van der Walt, 21. Michael Claassens, 22. Garth April, 23. S’bura Sithole

Jaguares TBA

Last weekend I got 8/8. Let’s see how I do this week. Follow me on twitter @djvanman or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vanman1979 and let me know your predictions.

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A CRACKING START TO SUPER RUGBY 2016 AS THE STORMERS STEAL THE SHOW

The first weekend of Super Rugby 2016 has come and gone quicker than my salary. A good weekend of rugby it was though. High paced and electrifying rugby was seen. Only three really big victories and 4 games that could have gone either way. Any rugby lover would be happy with the rugby they saw.

The Blues beat the Highlanders but as predicted this one went down to the wire. The Highlanders will kick themselves for the yellow card they received. This probably made the difference in the game. Both sides struggled with kicking at goal. Blues 33-31 Highlanders.

The Hurricanes will look back at the Brumbies game and wonder what happened. Yes they missed a kick or two, but the Brumbies out played them. Even when the Brumbies were down to 14 men, and this happened twice, the Hurricanes didn’t look like they could buy a try. Brumbies 52-10 Hurricanes.

The Cheetahs once again showed us how you can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Leading 24-3 at one stage, they still managed to lose. True the Jaguars played with 13 men when the Cheetahs scored their tries. Still one would think that when you have a 21 point lead you can build on that. Hats off however to the Jaguars that stuck to their guns. They did not allow the scoreboard to put pressure on them and though before the break. A well-deserved win by the new kids on the block. Cheetahs 33-34 Jaguars.

The Lions travelled to Tokyo and although the Sunwolves had 4 world cup players in their team, the Lions were not overwhelmed at all. The Wolves played good rugby and the Lions did not have it all their own way. Both teams a gain missed crucial kicks at goal. Still it was a good show of running rugby. Sunwolves 13-26 Lions. Both sides still have some work to do going forward.

The Crusaders missed Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. Although they led the game for most of 65 minutes it was the last 15 minutes that mattered. The Chiefs came back and scored two late tries giving them a victory. Missed kicks at goal could have made the result much different but only that it would have given the Chiefs a bigger winning margin. Crusaders 21 -27 Chiefs.

The Waratahs versus Reds game was true to form. Both of these sides can be contenders in Australia and it is always a hard game. The Waratahs made sure of the win in the first half and the Reds were always going to struggle to come back. The fact that they got two yellow cards didn’t help them much. Waratahs 30-10 Reds.

The Force v Rebels game remained true to history. The away side winning although this time it was with a slightly bigger margin than what we have come to expect between these two sides. The Force will rue the mistakes made on the attack as this gave the Rebels just what they needed. In the end a good old contest between two equally strong sides. Force 19-25 Rebels.

The Kings started well but then they just fizzled out against the Sharks. The Sharks were always going to win this one, but I expected much more of a fight from the Kings. The off the field woes of the Eastern Cape side has carried over on to the field. The Sharks can also not read too much into the victory taking into account the opponents. Hopefully the Kings can sort out their problems and rather sooner than later or it will be a long season for them. Kings 8-43 Sharks.

The game of the weekend was the Stormers versus Bulls game and the first half lived up to expectations with the home side leading only 9-6. The second half however was a totally different ball game. The Stormers came out with a vengeance and it showed. The play of the weekend being the driving maul from their own 22. It looked like a freight train without brakes and the Bulls could only look on as it stormed forward. At one stage it looked like the Bulls players falling back was helping the maul move towards their own tryline. The Stormers will be happy with their performance while the Bulls can’t take a lot of positives from the game. Stormers 33-9 Bulls.

SUPER RUGBY 2016 ABOUT TO KICK-OFF

The coming weekend sees the kick-off of Super Rugby 2016. A lot has been said and written about the new format and two debutant teams. Pre-season games have been played and many have read into this and what we can expect for the season to come. However until the first weekend is over we will not truly know where the teams stand. Here is a look at what the weekend holds in store for us.

The Blues will take on the highlanders in the opening game of the season. This is always a good game to watch as both teams can rate themselves as contenders for the number 1 spot in the New Zealand conference. The last couple of seasons however both of these sides struggled in the first couple of weeks. Expect some good running rugby. The Blues to take this one purely because they have the home ground advantage. Kick-off at 8h35 SA time at Eden Park.

The Brumbies will then take on the Hurricanes at the GIO Stadium at 10h45 SA time. This is another good match up with two of Australia’s top 3 teams playing against each other. The Hurricanes have never really lived up to their potential in the past, but they have been known to make the front runners stumble. The Brumbies is always a side to watch. Again I will give this to the Brumbies due to the home ground advantage, but they will have to counter the Hurricanes up front. If not they will struggle to win.

One of the games that will have most neutrals pinned to their seats will be the Cheetahs vs Jaguars game. Purely because everyone will want to see what the Jaguars are going to bring to the table. This game should be filled with fast paced action and a lot of running. However the scrum and rolling maul will play a big part as well. That is if the Jaguars will stick to the tried and tested Argentinian style of rugby. Most will give this game to the Cheetahs. But to be honest I see the Jaguars winning this one. This is the perfect game to finish off Friday’s action. Kick-off at 19h00 in Bloemfontein.

Saturday will see an early start for Lions fans. The Sunwolves host the Lions in Tokyo with kick-off at 6h15. This will have many neutrals up early as well. The Lions did not have the best of warmup games but I will not read too much into that. The Sunwolves are an unknown factor. Still if the Lions stick to what they do best, running the ball and using the forwards to get quick ball, they should win this one. Then again we all know what Japan did against the Springboks in the World Cup. I am hoping to see fast running rugby in this game.

The Crusaders and Chiefs game is one of the two games of the weekend for me. The Crusaders has lost some key players and this might impact on them in a negative way. The Chiefs, as we all know, are one of those teams that can have a brilliant game one week and the next look like they have not played together in months. This game will see some good running rugby with hard tackles and lots of turnover ball. This is another game where I am going against the main stream and pick the Chiefs to win.

In Australia the Waratahs and Reds will take each other one. Easy pick is the Waratahs to win. I just can’t see the Reds winning this one. Then we also have the Force and Rebels taking each other on. If history serves t be right the Rebels will win as they are playing away from home.

The Kings vs Sharks game should be an easy pick, but both sides have been going through some of the field issues. The Sharks struggled of last season and unless there has been a monumental mind shift in the squad i don’t believe that it has changed. Management and players are essentially the same. The Kings are in financial crisis and players are begging to get paid. This can’t be good for them either. Still the Sharks should win this one.

The Game of the weekend will end of the action on Saturday. The Stormers take on the Bulls. This is never a high scoring game and kicking should play a big part in the outcome. Still running rugby is always on the cards. The Stormers are under a caretaker coach of sorts and the Bulls have their tails up after some good warmup results. The game however is played at Newlands and it has become extremely difficult to beat the Cape side at home in recent seasons. The Stormers should win this by a slim margin.

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