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    Super Rugby preview: Week 12

    2013-05-02 08:55

    James Hutchison

    Cape Town - Last weekend on SuperBru was relatively successful all round, with no fewer than 36 551 players winning Grand Slam Points for a clean sweep of predictions. Compare this to Rounds 9 and 10, in which only a handful of people managed that feat - 12 and 13 respectively!

    Perhaps the season has turned a corner, and the favourites will triumph for the rest of the season? I wouldn't count on it, but here are my SuperBru picks for Round 12.

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    Blues v Stormers, Albany - 09:35

    Both sides have had a mixed season, each winning 4 and losing 4, and your success in this round could depend on your pick for this game. The Blues will be smarting from their 1-point defeat to the Reds last weekend and looking for a victory to put them top of the New Zealand Conference - at least for a couple of hours. The Stormers, meanwhile, were efficient in overcoming the Hurricanes in their first match on tour, and I'm expecting another victory against a side they haven't lost to since 2009.

    Prediction: Stormers by 3

    Rebels v Chiefs, Melbourne - 11:40

    Any match involving the Rebels seems very difficult to call this year, and they nearly caused a huge upset away at the Crusaders last week. With Kurtley Beale back in their ranks and with home advantage, they are in with a shout, but it's hard to look past last season's champions, even if they haven't quite been firing so far this year.

    Prediction: Chiefs by 8


    Highlanders v Sharks, Dunedin - 09:35

    The Highlanders have to win one some time, don't they? I'm beginning to doubt it, and won't be backing them against the Sharks - a side they haven't beaten since 2005. The injury-hit away side will be eying up their first win on tour, and will take confidence from their spirited performance against the Chiefs last week, in which they scored four tries and were cruelly denied a losing bonus point at the death.

    Prediction: Sharks by 5

    Force v Reds, Perth - 11:40

    An incredible upset against the Crusaders aside, the Force haven't been great this season, and the form book points to a Reds victory. However, the Force won the reverse fixture in March - their only other victory this season - and will fancy their chances of doing the double.  But the Reds have been starting to click, and are unbeaten since that defeat, so a Reds victory is the sensible pick.

    Prediction: Reds by 8

    Kings v Waratahs, Port Elizabeth - 17:05

    After their heroics on tour, the Kings have had a bump back down to earth with heavy defeats to the Bulls and Cheetahs in the last fortnight. The Waratahs were unlucky not to come away with anything against the Bulls last week, and will start as favourites in Port Elizabeth. You should never discount the Kings, but head says 'Tahs.

    Prediction: Waratahs by 13

    Bulls v Hurricanes, Pretoria - 19:10

    The 'Canes have played some reasonable rugby, but this one looks fairly straightforward on paper. The Bulls are unbeaten at Loftus this season, and sit top of the SA Conference despite their travails on tour last month. They haven't lost to the Hurricanes since 2008, and I'd expect that streak to continue.

    Prediction: Bulls by 10


    Brumbies v Crusaders, Canberra - 07:05

    There's a chance that you'll have a full house so far, and your SuperBru GSP will hinge on your pick for this game. Jake White's Brumbies have generally been impressive, despite two draws on their record, and they sit top of the overall log. The Crusaders have had the better of them in recent seasons though, including a 42-point thrashing the last time they met in 2011, and some of their big names could feature this weekend. I'm leaning towards home advantage in this one, but it could go either way.

    Prediction: Brumbies by 3

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