Cape Town - Super Rugby returned with a real bang last weekend, leaving plenty of punters’ nerves reduced to shreds after a number of tight finishes! Teams: Super Rugby Round 2
Join the Sport24 SuperBru Super Rugby Challenge!
Two games in particular really went down to the wire. Dom Shipperley’s crucial break for the Reds
as the hooter sounded against the Waratahs
had yours truly up on his feet as the champions snatched the win and turned what looked like a certain SuperBru loss around. The same situation happened when Piri Weepu dropped back into the pocket for the Blues
against the Crusaders
, except this time the celebrations were down to him being unsuccessful.
Elsewhere the Highlanders
came from behind to beat the Chiefs
as expected, though it took a charge down from Jason Rutledge to create the winning try for Phil Burleigh. The Stormers
comfortably defeated the Hurricanes
in Cape Town through a combination of the raw pace of Gio Aplon and the power of their forward pack, but suffered a blow losing captain Schalk Burger for six weeks with a knee injury.
The two South African derbies up in the north saw home wins for the Lions
against the Cheetahs
, with both winning teams indebted to their kickers Elton Jantjies and Morné Steyn for their accuracy with the boot. There was also a surprise win in Canberra for Jake White’s Brumbies
over the Force
, the young side inspired by Robbie Coleman picking up an important first home win of the season.
So it’s on to Week 22 of Super Rugby 2012. Here are some guiders for your SuperBru picks...
We start on Friday back in Waikato with the Chiefs
taking on the Blues
, both smarting from their narrow defeats last weekend at home to Kiwi opposition. For the home side there will be no Brendan Leonard who is out for 10 weeks with a torn hamstring. His influence on last Saturday’s game was telling, with the Highlanders coming back after he departed. They also lost two props from their weak pack for a minimum of six weeks in Toby Smith and Ben Afeaki, so expect the Blues to win this up front.Prediction: Blues by 6-8
Over to Melbourne, where the Rebels
play their first game of the season against the wounded Waratahs
. They will be without star signing Kurtley Beale but otherwise are at full strength, whereas the Waratahs will miss Rocky Elsom, Drew Mitchell and Berrick Barnes, not to mention Lachie Turner who is gone for the season. A shock therefore could be on the cards dependent on how well the Rebels pack fronts up, so back the home side for a surprise.Prediction: Rebels by 3
Next up the touring Hurricanes
head north from Cape Town to Johannesburg to take on the Lions
. The Wellington outfit showed some spirit coming back from 23-9 down last weekend but were hammered upfront, so expect the same again from a Josh Strauss-led pack at Ellis Park.Prediction: Lions by 7
Saturday starts in Otago, with the Highlanders
running out at their new Forsyth Barr Stadium for the first time this season against last year’s finalists the Crusaders
. Picking a winner here isn’t easy. Colin Slade is not expected to take part against his old side after recovering from his groin injury from World Cup, whilst a number of others are still out including Jarrad Hoeata and Kade Poki. That should make the Crusaders favourites, but the Highlanders have a lot of spirit. Prediction: Crusaders by 5
The following match in Brisbane sees the Reds
take on the Force
. This should be a lot simpler, confidence on a high in the Reds camp after last week’s smash and grab in Sydney. Prediction: Reds by 15
then travel to the Cheetahs
in the first South African derby of the weekend. The 2010 champions will be without star signing Johann Sadie for three weeks, but Morné Steyn’s boot was dead on last week and could prove the difference in Bloemfontein. His duel with Johan Goosen though will be special, with the youngster impressing with his kicking last week against the Lions. Prediction: Bulls by 6
Finally to Cape Town, where the Stormers
face the Sharks
in the second South African derby of the weekend. As previously mentioned the home side will be missing their captain Burger but could have Peter Grant back from the bench. The Sharks have injury concerns of their own with Ryan Kankowski and Beast Mtawarira both ruled out, but after the disappointment of last weekend, will keen to make amends. It will come down the battle upfront, so the Stormers might edge it.Prediction: Stormers by 3
It’s going to be another very tight week of Super Rugby. Good luck!Click HERE to follow Ben Coles on Twitter