Super Rugby 2012: 4 Teams Guaranteed to Lose in Round 13
It's Round 13, and the Bulls sit proudly on the top of the table with an impressive points differential of 108.
The big game of the round saw the Chiefs fall prey to the resurgent Reds 42-27, although the score made the Reds' win look more comfortable than it was.
The sixth spot on the ladder is fast becoming a throne with many pretenders, with the Sharks, Reds, Highlanders and now Hurricanes all laying their own claims (can you tell I'm a Game of Thrones fan?).
Even the mighty Crusaders will have to work for their ticket to the playoffs after becoming the victims of the Rebels by 28-19 in the season's biggest upset.
I only went two for four last week, so my total for the season is 37 out of 48. With a few big games looming, who will be the next to fall?
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After having a bye last week, expect the Brumbies to come back slightly sluggish against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
The last time the Hurricanes rested up starters (against the Cheetahs), it effectively cost them the game as they botched a 21-point lead.
This time Tusi Pisi and Brad Shields will walk onto the field. I actually rate Pisi, he's been fairly aggressive off the bench so far and he'll be lining up opposite Zack Holmes.
Shields, meanwhile, will be bolstered by his recent All Blacks selection and will arguably be an upgrade on Faifili Levave for this week.
Andre Taylor will be motivated by his exclusion from the international squad and should come up with a big game on Friday.
The Brumbies do have the stronger forward pack, but the Hurricanes will be good enough to keep themselves in the game and a couple of quick tries will make the difference.
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If there was any match last week in which both teams deserved to lose, it was the encounter between the Blues and the Lions.
It really was a game that was won by the least hopeless team, and you would surprise no one by saying that the Blues are going through their worst Super Rugby season to date—they're certainly playing like it.
Things only get worse for the embattled Auckland franchise with a trip to Christchurch on the cards, where the Crusaders await.
The red-and-blacks may have made seven changes from the team that lost last week, some through injury and others through Todd Blackadder realising complacency will get him nowhere, but they will be fired up after their dismal performance in Melbourne.
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The Waratahs have been one of my disappointments of the year.
Currently on a three-game losing streak (dating back to when they beat the Rebels), they face the unglamorous task of heading to South Africa.
Their first obstacle? The Stormers, which will be treating this game as a must-win to keep pace with the Bulls at the top of the table.
Neither side has made astounding changes, but it looks as though the Waratahs may try and match the hosts' structured game by bringing Brendan McKibbin on for the more aggressive Sarel Pretorius.
If they try that, they will simply find themselves outmuscled by the team that's simply better at it. If not, their attack will be stifled by the only team to concede less than 200 points this season (with 158, so there's nothing close about it either).
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Veteran Nathan Sharpe has survived an injury scare during training this week to be named in the squad.
Six changes won't have helped team chemistry, and Will Tupou will be rusty on his return.
The Rebels, however, will be on a confidence high after upsetting the Crusaders last week and that confidence should give them the boost they need against the worst Australian team in the competition.