Sharks to be lone SA winners

2015-03-27 08:50

Cape Town – Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing, in the seventh of his regular South African-focused Super Rugby previews this year, sees the Sharks doing enough to down the Force at Kings Park despite so much upheaval in personnel of late.

But unimpressed by their showing even in victory over the tourists from Perth last weekend, he reluctantly sees the Bulls – in a blow to their playoffs chances -- being narrowly outwitted by the Crusaders at Loftus.

There may similarly be no joy (though they have punchers’ chances) for the Stormers in Dunedin or the Lions in Brisbane ... and as for the very weakened Cheetahs, it could turn fairly gory on them in Hamilton.



When: Saturday, 19:10

Referee: Angus Gardner (Aus)

TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

SuperSport commentators: Owen Nkumane & AJ Venter (Eng), Gerrie Scheepers (Afrik), Kaunda Ntunja & Kaya Malotana (Xho)

Weather outlook: Cloudy, chance of rain, light breeze

Background: The listless, unimaginative Bulls looked nothing like a title-interested outfit in edging out the Force, while outscored 3-1 in the try department. It is going to require a massively more committed and accurate performance to down the Crusaders, who ominously look like more than half of an All Blacks team on paper. Given the general mediocrity of the game-plans of most SA sides thus far in 2015, I found it impossible not to tip the visitors, even given the Highveld factor – which no longer seems to scare NZ-based players anyway. The Bulls winning is hardly out of the question, and I have a feeling Handre Pollard will be influential on the day, but a major worry must be the scrums: it surprises me a bit that both Dean Greyling and Marcel van der Merwe are curtailed to the subs ranks for this one, and the ‘Saders could cash in mercilessly on this front.

Key head-to-head: A few tasty and quite well-established ones here ... including of course the seismic lineout scrap between Messrs Matfield and Whitelock, so well-known to each other at both first-class and Test level. But I’ve chosen instead the clash of the captains, as PIERRE SPIES and KIERAN READ lock horns at No 8. If ever there was an opportunity for forgotten Bok Spies to re-establish his credentials for the national side against the very best opponent possible, this is it. For starters, as much as any colleague in last week’s Loftus slop, an upped work-rate would help enormously in his difficult task.

Last result between sides: March 16, 2013: Crusaders 41 Bulls 19 (Christchurch)

Rob Houwing’s prediction: Crusaders by three points



When: Saturday, 17:05

Referee: Nick Briant (NZ)

TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

SuperSport commentators: Matthew Pearce & Gcobani Bobo (Eng), Hennie Koortzen & Kobus Wiese (Afrik), Lonwabo Mtimka & Lungelo Payi (Xho)

Weather outlook: Cloudy, warm, light breeze

Background: Phew! The postponement of the Frans Steyn disciplinary saga at least means the hefty unit can take his place at flyhalf as in-form Pat Lambie takes the required mini-break. The Sharks are missing a hatful of normal first choices, but there’s still tons of experience to compensate, and in their humid terrain should be able to keep the spirited yet modest Force at bay. The thought that they might climb to the top of the SA conference, should the Stormers have stumbled earlier in the day in Dunedin, is an appealing extra incentive. What I do hope is that they play some crowd-pleasing rugby, at a time when bums are required on seats at Kings Park. Oh, and keeping 15 men on the park would also help. On that note, a minor fear is that some of the personnel who put in that immense defensive effort to thwart the Chiefs may be pretty exhausted come the later stages; deft use of the bench could be required.

Key head-to-head: For much of the game against the Bulls, and possibly helped by Matfield’s initial absence from the mix, ADAM COLEMAN was seriously bothersome to the hosts (even if he later gave away the decisive last-ditch penalty!), including tearing away off an in-field break for a try at the posts. The long-legged No 5 lock is a bit Andries Bekker-like in physique, with his 2.05m and 122kg, and hails from relatively rugby-unfashionable Hobart. In the sad absence of Pieter-Steph du Toit, much-travelled veteran MARCO WENTZEL has been working his socks off for the Sharks, however, and has another tough policing job on an enemy second-row foe this time.

Last result between sides: May 17, 2013: Force 13 Sharks 23 (Perth)

Rob Houwing’s prediction: Sharks by nine points



When: Saturday, 08:35 (SA time)

Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Aus)

TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

SuperSport commentators: New Zealand panel

Weather outlook: (Indoor venue)

Background: A week’s hiatus, immediately ahead of the overseas leg, should carry certain benefits for the Capetonians as they start their four-match itinerary in faraway climes. That icon of the last decade, Schalk Burger, playing his 100th game is another reason to be fired-up at the Forsyth Barr. But it is still a very tough task to win in New Zealand, and the Highlanders are under pressure for a bounce-back win themselves after losing to the Hurricanes in a home derby last weekend. Having seen off the champion Waratahs only a week earlier is nevertheless a reminder of what they are capable of. The Stormers are capable of possession supremacy, and they have kept intact that tight five which put such a spectacular first-half heave on the Chiefs at scrum-time. But whether they can do constructive things with the ball is another matter – already they are showing slightly worrisome signs that four-try tallies won’t come their way too often again this year. I see the Highlanders nicking it, thus ending a bogey spell against these opponents, but the Stormers at least earning a maiden bonus point for staying within seven ...

Key head-to-head: Don’t get me wrong: this is no statement against the immense Duane Vermeulen. But as the captain takes his break from this game, the Stormers may just be in a position to play a different, more up-tempo game with NIZAAM CARR taking over the eighthman role (one many believe may be his best stationing). He offers superior pace and dynamism to Big Duane there, even if the huge physical side to the normal skipper’s game will be missed. Carr, who is due a rip-roaring game of the type evidenced more regularly from him last year, comes up against the Highlanders’ muscular pack leader, NASI MANU. 

Last result between sides: May 3, 2014: Stormers 29 Highlanders 28 (Cape Town)

Rob Houwing’s prediction: Highlanders by six points


REDS v LIONS, Brisbane

When: Friday, 11:00 (SA time)

Referee: Glen Jackson (NZ)

TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

SuperSport commentators: Australian panel

Weather outlook: Clear, warm, light breeze

Background: The Lions have probably already exceeded the expectations even of their own fan base by stealing two wins from three tour games so far. Wouldn’t a third be a marvellous cherry on top? With the Reds so not the factor of a few years ago, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility. But there’s still a good dose of Wallaby-level quality in their ranks, and the Queenslanders must be desperate to get off the bottom berth in the Aussie conference. The Lions stole the last meeting between the two on the Highveld last year, courtesy of a 77th-minute Courtnall Skosan try, but I fear their legs will finally go in the fourth quarter this time as “one foot on the plane” takes a hold mentally ... 

Key head-to-head: The ropey, 14th-placed Reds should feel revitalised by the return of an old favourite for the first time this season as that box of tricks QUADE COOPER takes charge of the No 10 jersey after a lengthy shoulder injury. In doing so, he resumes his long-time partnership with co-Wallaby and scrumhalf Will Genia. But the Lions’ ELTON JANTJIES is also playing good rugby right now and has been restored to flyhalf after a decent appearance at inside centre in the commendable win over the Rebels last week. Former coach John Mitchell had hailed his presence at No 12 as a “fine strategy” afterwards, so the wisdom of curtailing Marnitz Boshoff to the bench this time will be put to the test.

Last result between sides: March 22, 2014: Lions 23 Reds 20 (Johannesburg)

Rob Houwing’s prediction: Reds by seven points



When: Saturday, 05:30 (SA time)

Referee: Craig Joubert (SA)

TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

SuperSport commentators: New Zealand panel

Weather outlook: Partly cloudy, cool, moderate breeze

Background: Oh dear: no Willie, no Coenie, no Oupa, no Super Sarel. Plus unpleasant, all-too-recent memories of those late floodgates in the 14-57 outcome in Christchurch. You have to feel the poor old Cheetahs are ripe for a proper roasting in this fixture. The fact that Sonny Bill Williams brings his heavyweight presence back into the Chiefs mix (good luck in the 10-12 channel Joe Pietersen and Mikey van der Spuy!) only adds to the likelihood that the Mooloo Men will win, and win good. I see a four-try bonus point before halftime as a real possibility ... and no, not to the Cheetahs, even if memories of 43-43 at Free State Stadium last year will give them at least a semblance of hope at Waikato Stadium.

Key head-to-head: He’s a clever, multi-skilled utility back and TOM MARSHALL, playing on the left wing for the Chiefs here, will probably be expecting plenty of front-foot action if the fast and loose Cheetahs confirm ongoing defensive frailty here. But if the visitors are to have even the slightest chance of an upset, their own hopes are going to depend on the unusually few game-breakers left in their current ranks. So Marshall’s direct opponent in the Cheetahs’ right, CORNAL HENDRICKS, may have to play out of his skin, stepping, weaving and sprinting like there’s no tomorrow. He is the only Springbok in the backline this week, and will need to demonstrate that pedigree.

Last result between sides: April 5, 2014: Cheetahs 43 Chiefs 43 (Bloemfontein)

Rob Houwing’s prediction: Chiefs by 29 points (it just sounds that bit less severe than 30, doesn’t it?)

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • Stephen Trenam - 2015-03-27 08:40

    Wow, Rob has virtually zero faith in our franchises. I believe the Stormers and Lions are in it with a shot, the spineless and whimpering Cheetahs will get another rugby lesson of note.

      Ryan Brewster - 2015-03-27 08:49

      I also went Sharks, Stormers and Lions for Superbru.

      Bob The Builder - 2015-03-27 09:00

      Rob is wrong 90%of the time so it's no biggie.

      Craig Taljaardt - 2015-03-27 09:57

      Geez Stephen why the hate towards the Cheetahs?? If you knew your rugby history in SA you would know that the Free State is the breeding ground for rugby in SA! All the SA rugby franchises are littered with Players who learned their trade in the Free State. The raeason why the Free State cant keep theirs players is simple: MOELA! Chill bud and less hate......

  • Stephen Trenam - 2015-03-27 08:45

    The Sharks have to put on a much more decisive victory, they haven't shown the determination, discipline and urgency so far. All the best though.

  • Evan Linley - 2015-03-27 08:46

    All the teams are in with a chance of a win except for the Cheetahs who are playing minus their start playmakers... would love to see the Bulls give the Crusaders one even though the Saders are going to be one hell of a tough team to beat... Good luck to all the SA teams..

  • Jesse Arries - 2015-03-27 08:49

    So much is being made of the Stormers not scoring 4-try bonus points but neither has the other S.A. sides, except in derbies!

  • Warren Hirst - 2015-03-27 09:04

    Ok lets see how good you are Rob...lets see...

      Francois Cronje - 2015-03-27 16:32

      Useless. Already stuffed up the first one. AWESOME predictions Rob!

  • Sean - 2015-03-27 09:09

    What a way to mess up the Superbru Rob Houwing,still... 6 wins in a row against the Highlanders,so I'd tip the Stormers to win by less than 10. Sharks to win by 15,but you never know about them. Crusaders can handle the Bulls,so it's Crusaders by 5. Cheetahs is a write off by many,so it's Chiefs by 20 at least. Reds in very poor form and coming off a bye,but O'Connor and Quade is back and it's a must win for them.

      Stephen Trenam - 2015-03-27 09:17

      Sean, I hope you've been getting some counseling after being named a particular Star Wars character, you seem all wired up and just need a re-boot.

      Sean - 2015-03-27 09:46

      @Treman You like a 2 year old tw@t that's constantly looking for attention.Do you even realize how pathetic you've become on this forum by always behaving like a natdr0l?Grow up ffs and stop your kuk.

      Stephen Trenam - 2015-03-27 09:51

      I didn't know 2yr olds can be tw@ts, that's a very mean thing to say about 2yr old babies. R2D2 seems like you're burning out, I didn't know I could get under a robots metal.

  • Richardson Mzaidume - 2015-03-27 09:25

    What has Gerrie Scheepers done to deserve to commentate alone. Looking forward to Xhosa commentary. For me, Lonwabo Mtimka is the best of them all followed by Malotana. No Makhaya Jack this weekend? Kaunda can be better if he can learn to control his emotions and leave politics to politicians.

      Stephen Trenam - 2015-03-27 09:36

      What relevance does your comment have with the demographics on this forum? All commentary should be broadcast in the international language English, this way everyone can understand.

      Bob The Builder - 2015-03-27 09:48

      Racist much Stephanie?

      Stephen Trenam - 2015-03-27 09:54

      Why did Richardson post his comment in English in the first place, so that we would all understand it, point made.

  • Dimitri Kiewiet - 2015-03-27 09:56

    Rob are you crazy. I'm not a Bulls fan and yes they have not convinced yet, but if there is one game they will win it will be the Saders game.. Think Bulls pack will smash the Saders and the likes of Pollard & Kriel will have a jol.

  • Vis PE - 2015-03-27 10:01

    Ja ou Rob met jou track record sal ek maar eerder my bek hou. Het jy nou nie al genoeg eier in jou gesig gehad die seisoen nie. Bulls en Lions gaan ook wen.

  • Paul Vuma - 2015-03-27 10:04

    Rob, Bulls losing by 3????? You sound like a weatherman right now...bills are gonna get punished

  • Bradley Kronson - 2015-03-27 10:23

    Rob has a woody for the Sharks, he has no clue about rugby

      Bradley Kronson - 2015-03-27 12:48

      That's another game called wrong by Rob the Sharkey. Guess the Lion's stole that one too ?

  • Gavin Simpson - 2015-03-27 10:39


  • Nicolaas Jonker - 2015-03-27 11:52

    Stormers to win .Cheetahs will lose big time.Lions might sneek it.full strength Crusaders tough bulls been there bogey side in SA.Sharks play better with less players hope there's no cards.Sharks To sneek the force.Rob don't leave your day job your not very good at being a medium

  • Deon Kruger - 2015-03-27 12:20

    Why Graig joubert for ref.

  • Ria Cook - 2015-03-27 12:48

    Well, I'm glad the Lions are better at playing rugby than Rob Houwing is at predicting outcomes!

  • Jean Rossouw - 2015-03-27 12:51

    Rob.. Lions just won!! guess you are wrong you rugby expert!

  • Franco Gates - 2015-03-27 12:55

    Lions win again!! When will you start supporting our own? Do you even watch their games? Seriously?

  • Anthony Harris - 2015-03-27 12:55

    You've just been proven wrong by the lions so let's watch this space

  • Andro Nel - 2015-03-27 12:57

    Guess the Lions just proved you wrong!

  • Werner Kramer - 2015-03-27 12:59

    Ek wonder hoe ROB voel om elke week verkeerd te wees.

  • Theunis Botha - 2015-03-27 13:03

    Do the right thing Rob, Apologize to the Lions right now!

  • Michael England - 2015-03-27 13:08

    One game down and you are wrong already......

  • Frits van Oudtshoorn - 2015-03-27 13:19

    Thanks Rob, your article inspired the Lions to win!!

  • Keiran Reilly - 2015-03-27 13:38

    Didn't take long for that prediction to be proved wrong.

  • Grot Man - 2015-03-27 13:38

    Rob you tool.

  • Herman Red - 2015-03-27 13:45

    Again, Jean

  • Christian Schmidt - 2015-03-27 13:47

    Rob is an idiot when it comes to rugby... he has no sense, but you cant blame him he is probably a journalist who just accepted a job and has no interest in the game, as anyone with a bit of interest would do a far better job... We need an ex rugby player with a bit of journo skills to replace him. or atleast someone who has more insight and technical ability.

  • Andrew J Barker - 2015-03-27 14:11

    Already wrong, Knob... Well done Lions, now let's hope the Stormers can do it for Schalla tomorrow morning.

  • Tobie Schalkwyk - 2015-03-27 14:24

    Well, the Lions have done it this morning - their 3rd win away from home! Well done boys!

  • Bart Nel - 2015-03-27 14:45

    Ag Shame, Already wrong????

  • Gordon John - 2015-03-27 15:00

    Despite the ref and Houwig, the Lions won!!!!!!!

  • Billy Read - 2015-03-27 15:11

    Thanks Rob!! Another ridiculous round of predictions.. Lions already downing the Reds. Come on Stormers, Bulls and Cheetahs prove this d1ckhead wrong!!

  • FNWitch - 2015-03-27 15:19

    Rob Houwing you are a totally biased idiot. Keep your idiotic opinions to yourself. In your oinion only the Sharks and the Bulls are good. Every single week you downplay the Lions performances. And when you have to write about them, you write as little as possible and ignore their accomplishments.

  • Greg Van Heesch - 2015-03-27 16:39

    Rob you are a clown. Rather stick to netball

  • henri.langeveldt - 2015-03-27 16:54

    Egg on your face Rob Houwing! Well done Lions!!!!

  • johan.nel.712 - 2015-03-27 20:57

    Rob Houwing you are and will always be one of the worst predictors of results.

  • Victor van der Vyver - 2015-03-28 01:26

    Maybee a lone SA loser might sound better than a winner. I hope all franchises from SA WIN and might yet be. The only side that might loose is the Cheetas as the ions won already I see definite wins for 3 others Stormers Bulls Sharks.

  • Herman Neveling - 2015-03-28 22:18

    Pessimistic much Rob?

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