6 Bold Predictions for Super Rugby Round 7
It’s a big weekend for some of the key contenders in this year’s competition.
The Sharks and Waratahs do battle in Durban, while the champion Chiefs travel to Pretoria. They face a Bulls side high on confidence, who will be in no mood to provide a tonic for the Chiefs’ shock loss to the Force in Round 6.
The men from Perth take a rest this week, which means there’ll be no Nick Cummins to occupy the post-match interviewers.
We’ll have to make do with what promises to be a mouth-watering weekend of matches.
1. Brumbies vs. Rebels Will Have Plenty of Bite
There’ll be no love lost between the Rebels and Brumbies this Friday.
The Rebels have lost all their games since an opening-day win over the Cheetahs but might want to think about putting as much effort into defence as they do into goading the opposition.
Their official Twitter account issued a picture of a horse’s gnashers as a welcome to their visitors from Canberra, with the text:
All of which went down none too well with the Brumbies' supporters, as you can see from their response below:
"@MelbourneRebels We may have terrible teeth. But we've found you've got 2 choices in life: look good, or be good! Happy to take the latter!"
Expect plenty of bite in this one.
2. Blues Will Play, and Win, for Piri
The Blues have struggled to produce a consistent 80 minutes under Sir John Kirwan, but there is no doubt they have one of the most talented squads in the competition.
Now they have another ingredient.
Blues and All Blacks scrum-half Piri Weepu will be out of action for the next month after he was diagnosed as having had a minor stroke.
Sportsmen often find an extra percent or two when they have the motivation of playing for one of their own when he’s been struck down.
They are at home to the high-scoring Highlanders this week and will win it for Weepu.
3. Read Will Mark Century with a Loss
Kieran Read may be New Zealand’s and the IRB’s player of the year, but the All Blacks No. 8 cannot sort the Crusaders out on his own.
The men in red have been in patchy form so far this season and face the Hurricanes this weekend, who are finding theirs.
They hammered the Cheetahs two weeks ago and only narrowly lost to the Highlanders as they staged a rousing comeback.
Read becomes the latest Super Rugby player to celebrate 100 games for his franchise, but it will not be a happy anniversary for the back rower.
Not quite as disastrous as Arsene Wenger’s recent milestone match, but the Canes will win all the same.
4. Waratahs Will Shock the Sharks
Both the Sharks and Waratahs lead their respective conferences at this stage of the season, but both go into this clash missing key men.
5. Reds Will Limp Home Against the Stormers
The Queensland Reds were unlucky not to come away from South Africa with a win over the Lions last week, but they have suffered the double blow of defeat and a pile of injuries to contend with.
Flanker Liam Gill and full-back Aidan Toua are both out for lengthy spells, adding to the injuries to centre Chris Feauai-Sautia and prop Ben Daley.
The Reds felt aggrieved by the display of South African referee Stuart Berry last week at Ellis Park, who helped them become the competition’s most penalised team as they surrendered a 17-point lead.
They’ll use all that frustration this weekend to get a much-needed win over the Stormers.
6. Chiefs Will Chop Down the Bulls
The champions were stung last week by defeat to the Western Force, while the Bulls enjoyed an unexpected win over the Sharks.
The two meet this weekend, and the Chiefs will be looking to reassert their credentials with a tough away win. Assistant coach Wayne Smith have given them no doubt about what’s expected of them this weekend, as the New Zealand Herald reported via APNZ:
"We're considering all options," said the assistant coach "There will be a fair bit of anxiety this week around player selection, I guess.
"When you perform like that every player is up for a selection competition. We've been known for keeping edge in the team by changing people and not putting up with poor performances. So I'd say that applies to everyone this week and there will be a bit of an edge."
The champs will respond this week.