The demanding b*tch that is the real world has left me with little to no time to do this weeks preview any justice, however having locked down a GSP for my 100% last week I felt it would be criminal to miss the week after. If this season's Super Rugby penchant for throwing out upsets continues we should be in for a few surprises this week as last weeks results were pretty straight forward.
Friday 03 May
Blues vs Stormers - North Harbour Stadium, Albany - 09:35
I think week two on tour will get the better of the Storm. The Blues should have won last week if it were not for very poor decision making at the end and will be looking to make a statement this week. For the Storm to win they will need to control the set pieces, territory and score at least a try or two as I dont see them being able to keep the Blues from crossing their line. Bit much for them to do it all I think. Should be a cracker of a match though.
My Call: Blues by 2
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steve Luatua, 5 Ali Williams ©, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tom McCartney.
Bench: Quentin MacDonald, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Anthony Boric, Brendon O’Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Baden Kerr, Lolagi Vsinia.
Stormers: 15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Gary van Aswegen, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Rynardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. De Kock Steenkamp, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Bench: 16. Scarra Ntubeni, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Eben Etzebeth, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Nic Groom 21. Elton Jantjies, 22. Damian de Allende
Rebels vs Chiefs - AAMI Park, Melbourne -11:40
The Rabble showed last week that they are in fact able to play Rugby, with O'Biebs reminding us that he actually has talent and is not just famous for his terrible hair cuts. Does that mean that they will win this week. No.
My Call: Chiefs by 10
Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom English, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Bench: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Luke Jones, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Kurtley Beale, 22 Lachlan Mitchell.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, Lelia Masaga, Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Bundee Aki, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, Brendon Leonard, 8 Matt Vant Leven, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, Mahonri Schwalger, Pauliasi Manu.
Bench: Hika Elliot, Toby Smith, Mike Fitzgerald, Tanerau Latimer, August Pulu, Robbie Robinson, Patrick Osborne.
Saturday 04 May
Highlanders vs Sharks - Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin - 09:35
The Sharks showed more fight and determination to win in their match in Hamilton last week than they have all season. however, it is easy to play with nothing to lose when youre 24-0 down. A task of a different nature awaits the banana boys this week as they come into this one as favourites. Plumtree has made wide spread changes bringing back many big guns. In the case of the loose forwards I think this is a big error. The Landers might see this as one of their best chances to get a win this seson so a tight atch it should be, but the Sharks have it all to play for and will have that extra motivation in the final 20.
My Call: Sharks by 8
Sharks: 15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Francois Steyn, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Lubabalo Mtembu, 7. Marcell Coetzee, 6. Keegan Daniel (captain), 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Wiehahn Herbst
Bench: 16. Craig Burden, 17. JC Janse van Rensburg, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Jean Deysel, 20. Tian Meyer, 21. Piet Lindeque, 22. Odwa Ndungane / Derick Minnie
Force vs Reds - NIB Stadium, Perth - 11:40
Force to be bland. Reds to run. Quade to slap Will on the bum every chance he gets. Force may even effect the scoreboard this week. unlikely though.
Reds by 11
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Albert Anae.
Bench: 16 James Hanson, 17 James Slipper, 18 Ed O’Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Chris Feauai-Sautia
Kings vs Waratahs - NMB Stadium, Port Elizabeth - 17:05
Tahs to dominate set piece. Kings to slow down the ball. The little Greek to kick a lot. If the Kings do not improve the speed of their defensive line then the tahs could be another team in Blue that blows the Kings away in the first half. Kings should be up for it though. Good to see they have left Allan from the hang over on the bench again.
My Call: Waratahs by 6
Kings: 15. George Whitehead, 14. Sergeal Petersen, 13. Ronnie Cooke, 12. Andries Strauss (captain), 11. Siyanda Grey, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Shaun Venter, 8. Jacques Engelbrecht, 7. Wimpie van der Walt, 6. Cornell du Preez, 5. Rynier Bernado, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Kevin Buys, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. Schalk Ferreira
Bench: 16. Virgile Lacombe, 17. Grant Kemp, 18. David Bulbring, 19. Luke Watson, 20. Nicolas Vergallo, 21. Waylon Murray, 22. Siviwe Soyizwapi
Bulls vs Hurricanes - Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - 19:10
As was the case when the Storm held out in Plamerston North last week, this match sees two teams clash that represent very contrasting styles. I said last week that I believed the Canes were vulnerable against direct teams and that obviously hasnt changed. The Bulls will look to do what they do best. Play Rugby in the right areas and force the Canes into giving Morne opportunities to split the uprights. They will miss Serfontein as Wynand simply won't have the same effect. Morne should still do the job though.
My Call: Bulls by 5
Bulls: 15. Jürgen Visser, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Mornè Steyn, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Dewald Potgieter, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Juandrè Kruger, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1. Dean Greyling
Bench: 16. Willie Wepener, 17. Frik Kirsten, 18. Grant Hattingh, 19. Arno Botha, 20. Francois Hougaard, 21. Louis Fouchè, 22. Lionel Mapoe
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith, Tusi Pisi, Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, Karl Lowe, Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ash Dixon, Ben Franks.
Bench: Reggie Goodes, Ben May, Mark Reddish, Faifili Levave, Jack Lam, Chris Smylie, Tim Bateman.
Sunday 05 May
Brumbies vs Crusaders - Canberra Stadium - 08:05
Besides the now familiar pedestrian start, the Saders have been nothing like the uncomprimising teams of past years. They last won the tournament in 2008 and although they have featured in the semi finals every year since then, seem to be drifting further away from being championship favourites with each passing season. They have had to rest key players and lost others to injury and as a result have seriously battled for consistancy. The Brumbies on the other hand are a team on the rise and unlike the Saders-seem absolutely desperate to win the title this year. The a loss for the Crusaders will probably put them out of the play off race but the Brumbies wont want to give up their spot at the top of the table.
My Call: Brumbies by 3
Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, Tom Marshall, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, Matt Todd, George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett.
Bench: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Dominic Bird, Jordan Taufua, Willi Heinz, Adam Whitelock, Israel Dagg.
The Oval Ball Rules All!!