Super Rugby Week 15 preview
Cape Town - SuperBru fans, the Chiefs
now stand alone at the top of the Super Rugby table after defeating the Bulls
last Friday in Waikato. Teams: Super Rugby Round 15
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Replacement Sam Cane crossed under the posts to win the game for the home side with 10 minutes left, continuing their remarkable run of 10 wins out of 12 so far.
It meant that the Bulls missed a valuable chance to move above the Stormers
at the top of the South African Conference, with the current leaders losing to the Sharks
in Durban. Speedster Gio Aplon did score two tries but the visitors had too much to do following the Sharks stretching away to a 25-6 lead after tries from Frederic Michalak, Keegan Daniel and Lwazi Mvovo. It means that the Sharks close the gap on the top two and have a very realistic chance of making the Super Rugby playoffs coming the end of July.
Berrick Barnes failed to snatch the lead for the Waratahs
against the Cheetahs
, meaning that the visitors narrowly lost out 35-34. There may have been nine tries in the match, but the quality was poor, summed up by the Waratahs' inability to create a drop goal opportunity at the death.
There was another one-point victory for the Reds
against the Brumbies
in a bitter Aussie derby in Brisbane, a spectacular solo try from Luke Morahan the only worthwhile detail to report. The Hurricanes'
margin of victory was slightly more impressive, running in nine tries against the Rebels
including a hat-trick from the exciting Julian Savea. The other results included wins for the Highlanders
over the miserable Blues
(their 11th defeat in 13 this season), whilst tries from David Pocock and Napolini Nalaga gave the Force
a rare win over the Lions
Looking ahead to Round 15 and there is an all-important clash between the South African Conference leaders.
With the mid-season Super Rugby break coming into action after this weekend, the Stormers
and the Bulls
have the chance to secure top spot before the next round of fixtures when they face each other at Loftus this weekend. The Bulls loss to the Chiefs came at the end of a long four-match Australasian tour. Coming home, the list of walking wounded is surprisingly light apart from Deon Stegmann. With the home support behind them, they may well leapfrog into top spot. Prediction: Bulls by 5
Looking at the rest of the fixtures, we start on Friday with the Crusaders
hosting the Highlanders
in Christchurch. Well rested after their bye last weekend, Dan Carter’s side will look to put away their impressive Kiwi rivals as they continue to hunt down the Chiefs. Prediction: Crusaders by 6
Next on Friday the Rebels
host the Brumbies
fresh from their hiding in Wellington. It looked as though the side has turned a corner but with Kurtley Beale now out injured until Round 20 - their third flyhalf this season - the situation looks desperate. Prediction: Brumbies by 12
Saturday kicks off with Blues
hosting the table-topping Chiefs
in Auckland. The season just goes from bad to worse for Pat Lam’s side and with the Chiefs form still excellent - Sonny Bill Williams in particular impressed last weekend - their chances of success are minimal. Prediction: Chiefs by 13
are the back in Sydney to face the Hurricanes
, bringing to an end their hard tour of South Africa. Their season of mediocrity does not look set for a break however given how the Hurricanes are performing. Prediction: Hurricanes by 6
Finally, the Lions
host the Sharks
in Johannesburg. Their injury list may be improving but the results still aren’t coming for John Mitchell’s side. The Sharks can smell the playoffs and have won their last four matches. Prediction: Sharks by 13
That’s it for this week, best of luck with your picks and see you after the internationals in Round 16.Click HERE to follow Ben Coles on Twitter