Super Rugby Preview
EWN Sport's Marc Lewis previews this weekend's Super Rugby action.
After a three week international break where we watched Heyneke Meyer make his debut as Bok coach in a 2-0 series win over England, we now turn our attention back to Super Rugby.
The Chiefs went into the break four points clear of the Stormers in second with the Brumbies in third place as the Aussie conference leader.
First up this morning, the Highlanders hosted the Chiefs in Dunedin –
Great first half for the Chiefs, looking really sharp, some great breaks and offloads from Sonny Bill as we’ve come to expect.
The Highlanders just struggled to hold onto the ball. A late Mike Delany try made it interesting, but in the end, it was the Chiefs who came out on top, winning 27-21, Aaron Cruden kicking 19 points.
Then currently underway, the Rebels are taking on the Reds. Whats the latest? –
Great opening half for the Reds, as we expected I suppose.
They controlled possession beautifully, scoring three tries in the opening half on their way to a 24-3 half time lead, thanks to Chris Feauai-Sautia, Dominic Shipperly and Adam Wallace-Harrison.
A second half try from Nick Frisby helped the Reds to a 32-17 victory.
Tomorrow the Crusaders, pushing for a playoff place, take on the Hurricanes in Christchurch –
This has the potential to be a really good game, two sharp New Zealand outfits going head to head.
A win for the Canes keeps them in the hunt, while a win for the Crusaders will see them open up some daylight between themselves and the chasing Bulls.
Crunch-time is quickly approaching, and because of that, you have to back the experienced Crusaders who have shown over the years, they really know how to turn it on when it matters most.
Then the Force come up against the Brumbies, Jake White’s men should have no difficulty disposing their Perth rivals –
It should be the case.
The Force has only managed to win three games all season long, so you can’t expect much to change over the international break.
The Brumbies on the other hand, have scored 35 tries in 13 games, so they shouldn’t have too much trouble against the Force tomorrow.
Then a match that has so many undertones to it; the Lions head off to Newlands to face the Stormers, but the bigger story here, has to be the suspension of John Mitchell –
John Mitchell was suspended after the Union received numerous complaints about him.
So now there is an investigation pending with both parties remaining quite tight lipped on the matter.
So in the interim, Johann Ackermann will look after the side.
As if the union wasn’t in enough trouble as it is with relegation battles, rumours of playing wanting to leave the Union for the Kings… It really is a mess.
On the field, Ackermann has stuck with continuity, making only two changes. Prop JC Janse van Rensburg replaces CJ van der Linde, who could play off the bench provided he passes a late fitness test.
The only other change to the starting 15 sees Jacobie Adriaanse replacing injured Pat Cilliers at tighthead prop.
For the Stormers, if you count all the positional switches, Alastair Coetzee has made nine in total. But Coetzee’s been playing some mental games. He’s come out saying the Lions could be at their most dangerous with their backs up against the wall. I’ll be very surprised if they come out and shock the Stormers.
The big news is that Springbok hard man Eben Etzebeth has been ruled out of the match 22 with what has been listed as a stiff ankle.
And then finally, the Bulls welcome the Cheetahs to Loftus with a somewhat out of sorts Morne Steyn. How important will this factor be –
Well according to Frans Ludeke, there is no issue there whatsoever.
Yes Morne kicked poorly for most parts of the England series, but he has received the full backing of his coach and union.
But another poor performance from the Bok number 10 this weekend, will see the calls to drop him get even louder.
Ludeke’s named all their returning Springbok players, and a starting line-up that has no fewer than 14 national players – with the only uncapped Bok being JJ Engelbrecht who was with the national squad for the England test series
Wynand Olivier will also join the 100 club, playing his centenary match at home, in what should be a straight forward win for the hosts.