So because of the Royal Wedding yesterday I was totally slack and didn’t upload my predictions before the Blues v Highlanders and the Brumbies v Cheetahs games. Oh well to be honest both matches went the the way I expected and weren’t of much interest compared to the other highly anticipated games.
Hurricanes v Reds – Westpac Stadium, Wellington
The Reds will be looking to win a record eighth straight win after downing the Waratahs in an intense game last week. The bruising encounter caused some collateral damage with the likes of Ben Daley and Digby Ioane sideline due to injury but this shouldn’t cause too many problems as they are still with a lot of their stars. The Hurricanes are having a wobbly season at best and are at home after a their tour to South Africa. They are without key players Ma’a Nonu, Cory Jane and Piri Weepu so will be tested by the on-fire Reds.
Waratahs v Rebels – Sydney Football Stadium
The Waratahs put up a good fight against the Reds last week and despite being dominant in the scrum and having the majority of possession in the second half they were unable to convert to enough points. The devastating injury to Drew Mitchell is a huge loss but the return of Berrick Barnes from concussion will add stability. The Rebels on the other hand are a hard team to work out. They have been inconsistent and their defence of late has been lacklustre and downright pathetic. ‘Google Me’ Cipriani has been dropped to the bench while Mark Gerrard returns to the side. Jonathan Kaplan is referring so ultimately the result may come down to how he plays this week.
Force v Crusaders – nib Stadium, Perth
This is going to be one hell of match with both Richie McCaw and David Pocock returning from injury. McCaw turned down his invite to the above-mentioned Royal Wedding and I for one am very glad he made the decision. The Force had a great win against the Bulls last week so will be keen to continue their winning run against the in-form side of the season. The return of Pocock is a huge boost so I expect they will really take it to the Crusaders. On the other hand, the Crusaders have made a lot of changes to the side that was beaten by the Highlanders last week and are boosted by McCaw and the dazzling Sonny Bill Williams. I expect it to be a close match with the Crusaders edging out the men from Perth.
Bulls v Chiefs – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
The Bulls return to Loftus after a very unsuccessful tour and are in desperate need of a win. They are a former shadow of their 2010 champion selves and seem ever reliant on the boot of Morne Steyn to ensure victory. The Chiefs have also been a bit blah this season and will need to match the power of the Bulls pack. I expect a slow game with a lot of kicking…. snore fest in other words. Feeling uninspired by who will win so have taken a punt.
Stormers v Sharks – Newlands, Cape Town
This is the ultimate South African grudge match and looks set to be one hell of a game. The Stormers have been playing some great rugby and are boosted by the return of Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana but they will be tested by a Sharks pack that is impressive. The Sharks are also boosted by the return of Captain John Smit which will boost the team. The Stormers are coming off a bye so this will count against them as past performance has shown. A tough game to pick, but going with the Sharks to edge the Stormers at home.