Cape Town - We've reached the business-end of the 2015 Super Rugby tournament. Who will emerge victorious in Round 13?
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FRIDAY, MAY 8
Crusaders v Reds, Christchurch - 09:35
The Reds have had a week off to take stock of what has been
a disaster of a season so far. They have just two wins to their name, and
average just 13 points scored per game - comfortably the lowest in the
competition. By contrast, the Crusaders points scored column reads 295, more
than any other side. The Reds have not won this fixture since 2011, and their
last two losing margins to the Crusaders have been 28 and 29.
Expect more of the same this weekend in a comfortable home
Prediction: Crusaders by 24
Rebels v Blues, Melbourne - 11:40
Having beaten the Brumbies, Crusaders and, most recently,
the Chiefs, the Rebels are developing somewhat of a reputation as giant
killers. Their latest win against the Chiefs was picked by just 3% of people on
SuperBru, but I suspect many more will pick them this weekend against a Blues
side with just two wins to their name this year.
These two sides have only met three times since the Rebels'
inception, with the home side on the day winning on each occasion. That makes
the in-form, at-home Rebels a sensible shout here.
Prediction: Rebels by 6
SATURDAY, MAY 9
Hurricanes v Sharks, Wellington - 09:35
The Canes' dream season continued in Round 12 with a fine
win over the Crusaders, while the Sharks' plummet from grace reached a new top
speed as they were hammered by the Highlanders. The South African heavyweights
now sit just one point off the bottom of their conference, and an away game
against the log-leaders is the last thing they need. They do at least have a
good record against the Hurricanes, having lost to them just once since 2006.
You can likely chalk up one more loss for them to the men
from Wellington this weekend.
Prediction: Hurricanes by 18
Force v Waratahs, Perth - 11:40
The Force's season continued to go from bad to worse as they
added a loss to the Blues in round 12 to make it 10 games lost in a row - an
astonishingly bad run by anyone's standards, but considering where they were
last season, it's even worse. Their life isn't about to get any easier, as they
take on a Tahs side that has won five of its last six games and struck a
telling blow in the Aussie conference last weekend by beating the Brumbies in
The Force's only win this season was against the 'Tahs, way
back in round one, but it would take a miracle for them to do the double over
them this weekend.
Prediction: Waratahs by 9
Lions v Highlanders, Johannesburg - 15:00
The Lions' astonishing winning run may have finally come to
an end against the Bulls, but their two point loss at Loftus proves they are a
serious force to be reckoned with in this year's competition. And speaking of
serious forces, the Highlanders are in town this weekend. The men from Dunedin
have four wins in their last five and sit in fifth with a game in hand over the
three teams above them.
The Landers have not visited Ellis Park since 2009, and have
not won there since 2006. The home side look likely to return to winning ways -
Prediction: Lions by 2
Stormers v Brumbies, Cape Town - 17:05
After their home loss to the Waratahs last weekend, the
Brumbies know they have to win this one to keep the pace with the new
conference leaders. And there is a similar sense of desperation surrounding the
Stormers, with their meek loss to the Cheetahs not exactly the kind of
performance that sends out a title warning. They, too, have been usurped at the
summit of their conference. Away wins are not uncommon in this fixture, and the
Brumbies have enough strength up front to match the Stormers, before hurting
them with their back-line firepower.
A narrow away win, in my book.
Prediction: Brumbies by 3
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