Super Rugby 2012: 4 Teams Guaranteed to Lose in Round 16
Super Rugby is back!
After a three-week break for the arrival of our northern hemisphere brethren, the competition is set to resume with a lot still to play for.
Some players made a superb impression, others were left with a point to prove, while still more got inconveniently injured (as opposed to a convenient injury, I know).
Form has gone out of the window, so starting quickly from here might be important come the playoffs.
I went two from four, failing to anticipate the Lions stunning the Sharks (and just about everyone else in the process) and the Stormers grinding out the win against the Bulls. With a track record of 46 from 60, how will my own form recover after the break?
I know the Reds won't have James Horwill for the rest of the season.
I also know the game is in Melbourne.
James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale are making returns, and this will be Stirling Mortlock's home swansong.
That said, the Reds still want this one more. If they lose once from here, their season is done. There is also a match fitness cloud over O'Connor, who's spent the last couple of months on the sideline with a ruptured liver.
Also, I didn't know the Rebels had a winter ball on June 2. Interesting.
Unbelievably, the Hurricanes are in the top six.
They head to Christchurch buoyed by a win over their bogey side, the Waratahs. Julian "the Black Bus" Savea looked good against Ireland too.
That said, the Crusaders have been superb in Christchurch.
The Hurricanes will miss Victor Vito and Cory Jane, while the Crusaders have to replace Kieran Read and Israel Dagg.
This works in the Crusaders' favour for two reasons: 1) they have better depth than the Hurricanes; 2) their junior players are more likely to step up (what I call "the Hurricanes Effect").
Oh, and TJ Perenara is gone for the season with a compound fracture in his ankle. How in God's name did he end up on the wing with five minutes left in that pointless encounter with the Reds?
This will be Nathan Sharpe's final home game, and probably David Pocock's last home game in a Force jersey.
You could argue that alone will cause the Force to lift their game.
I still can't go past the Brumbies here. There's too much on the line this weekend and that forward pack looks brutal.
What they did to the Sharks a month ago is impressive.
But they won't back it up against a Stormers team that's almost impossible to break down, as the Bulls found out in the same week.
Especially with coach John Mitchell stood down.
Yeah, this will be a comfortable win to the men in navy and white.