Wow what a Super busy week it has been so far. With the sacking of Andy Friend at the Brumbies and rumours circulating it was due to player power, I am really happy now just to get back to the actual game. I am thankful that at least we don’t have the same issues as Rugby League!
Crusaders v Waratahs – Trafalgar Park, Nelson
This is going to one of the most exciting match ups of this week. The Tahs are the in-form team going in, with two very convincing wins against the Rebels and the Reds respectively. The loss of Barnes to his concussion from last week is a blow but with Captain Phil ‘Machine’ Waugh named and their awesome backline full of talent I can’t see this being too detrimental to their game plane.
The Crusaders will be riding high on emotion, the team will be wearing jerseys commemorating the Pike River mine disaster and this will also be their first game since the devastating earthquake in Christchurch. I suspect they would also like to prove a point after their first round defeat to the Blues so I expect them to come out all guns blazing. They have however lost home ground advantage and are still without Richie McCaw due to injury and he is one player that is hard to replace.
The Tahs don’t have the best record against the Crusaders but I think they will bring it home.
Lions v Blues – Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Last week I predicted that the Blues would continue their wining streak after beating the Crusaders in round 1. Unfortunately the Sharks spanked them last week in Durban so they will definitely have a point to prove. They have a great backline so they should produce some great play. The Lions are coming off two very close away matches against last year’s finalists, a dramatic improvement on last season, and should offer a real challenge to the visiting side. I’m going to go against trend tip the Lions to get their first win of the season.
Chiefs v Rebels – Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
One of the best parts of this match is again the return of Tana Umaga. Oh how I love this rugby player and what he brings to the game. Hopefully he can stabilise the Chiefs and give them some direction after last week’s loss to the Highlanders. The Rebels will come into this game full of confidence after the close win against the Brumbies last week. If ‘Google me’ Cipriani can direct play like he did last week then they will certainly take it to the Chiefs. I think this will be a very close game and I’m throwing it all out the window and backing the Rebels.
Brumbies v Reds – Canberra Stadium, Canberra
This is going to be the one hell of an exciting match to watch. The Reds seemed to have lost their way and coach Ewen McKenzie has made a lot of changes, including the exciting inclusion of Beau Robinson at open side flanker. They will have a point to prove and will hopefully bring some of the flair we saw in 2010.
What a week it has been for the Brumbies. With the sacking of coach Andy Friend and the rumour of player power, the Brumbies will look to quell doubts about their ability for the season. Despite the loss to the Rebels last week they were pretty solid in attack could have done a lot better had a few more things gone their way. If they improve on their defence, they could very well stampede over the Reds.
This one is uber close to call, so I’m sticking with my team and going for the Reds.
Force v Sharks – NIB Stadium, Perth
This should be another close game. The Force were very unlucky to be beaten by the Reds in round 1 and if they can replicate their super effort they could overpower the Sharks. Pocock is an absolute machine at the breakdown, and with a backline full of potential and youth, they may just beat the more mature Sharks team.
The Sharks have had a great start to the season and will be looking to consolidate their strong start to the season. The Force have hometown advantage though and I think this will tip them over the line…just!
Stormers v Cheetahs – Newlands, Cape Town
The Stormers didn’t start the season as well as predicted last week but I think they will come out firing against a determined Cheetahs side. The loss of Juan Smith is a huge blow to the Cheetahs though and could crush any momentum they had leading up to this game. This should be an easy win for the Stormers.
Bulls v Highlanders – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
The Highlanders have started the season with some entertaining rugby and come into this match with high hopes. They Bulls on the other hand haven’t been playing the dominant rugby we are used to seeing and have lost Springbok stalwart Bakkies Botha. I expect this to be a tight match and I’m tipping the Highlanders to cause an upset in Pretoria.