SuperBru S15 playoff preview

2012-07-18 10:06

Cape Town - So, after a truly fascinating final round of regular competition, the Super Rugby season heads into the home straight. This weekend sees a delicious double-header of playoff matches featuring four sides whose momentum is almost irresistible.
Starting off a scintillating Saturday of rugby, the Bulls head to Christchurch for a showdown against Richie McCaw’s Crusaders. Pretoria’s finest have a 37-20 win over a tenacious Lions outfit in their legs from Round 18 but now face an altogether more imposing proposition.
Having endured a dire second half from his charges as they laboured to a 38-24 victory against the Western Force, Todd Blackadder will not stand for more sloppiness from last season’s losing finalists. Expect the hosts to put 80 minutes of intense graft and hard running together - nothing else will be tolerated. Neither Dan Carter nor McCaw will be wrapped in cotton wool at half-time either. Remember the All Black backlash against Ireland in Hamilton last month? Expect something similar. 
For the visitors, mercurial Springbok scrumhalf Francois Hougaard will have to get the Bulls pack - Jacques Potgieter and friends - rampaging around the fringes in the early stages. Only then can the pace of Akona Ndungane and Bjorn Basson - the competition’s joint-top try-scorer this term - cause problems. In what will be a tense, tight atmosphere, Morne Steyn must locate his kicking boots too.
With a staggering return of 10 titles between them, neither of these teams lack for big-match pedigree and a compelling classic surely awaits. The Crusaders' desire to defend Christchurch may prove just too much, though.
Prediction: Crusaders by 6
Next, over at Brisbane’s iconic Suncorp Stadium, comes another titanic tussle as the Reds, proud defending champions, entertain the Sharks. Do not miss this one!
The week’s unavoidable news - that Quade Cooper misses the match through suspension - has rocked the Queenslanders, even if they have managed the majority of the year without him anyway. Will Genia’s boys are made of stern stuff, though, and are sure to rally around their inspirational skipper. Scott Higginbotham for one, set for a close season move down the East Coast to the Rebels, will be especially hell-bent on creating havoc.    
Hungry for their first trophy in this tournament having twice fallen at the final hurdle, the Sharks ride into the fixture on the back of a sensational second-half showing against the Cheetahs.

Whoever plays in the back row - pick a terrible trio out of captain Keegan Daniel, Marcel Coetzee, Ryan Kankowski and Willem Alberts - will be in a destructive mood. Outside of that, Freddie Michalak can tear defences to shreds and has JP Pietersen, the in-form wing in world rugby, to unleash. However, disruptive injuries to Pieter-Steph du Toit, Pat Lambie and Frans Steyn are significant.
Genia has spoken this week about avenging the regular season tussle at Kings Park, which saw the Reds surrender a 17-0 lead to be beaten 27-22. Suncorp will be a hive of energy awaiting the same kind of drama. No neutral will leave disappointed...
Prediction: Reds by 2
That is all for this week. Best of luck with all your SuperBru picks and see you on the other side.

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  • eugene.duplessis.7 - 2012-07-18 10:18

    Reckon the Sharks might just upset the Reds. If the Reds and the Crusaders won both their matches - would the Stormers play the Reds and the Chiefs the Crusaders?

      david.s.duncan.1 - 2012-07-18 10:28

      If Reds and Crusaders win, the Stormers will be hosting the Crusaders

      cape.maori - 2012-07-18 10:30

      According to Supersport, if the Reds and Saders win, the Saders will travel to CT for the semi and Reds to Hamilton. Maybe someone else has a different take. The Saders will be the lowest placed team if they and the Reds (3rd overall) win their games on the overall log. Stormers (on top) will play lowest rank.

      Dave - 2012-07-18 11:00

      The top rank team from the log plays the lowest ranked team. Stormers would play Crusaders in your senario unless Sharks beat Reds then Stormers would play Sharks.

      ashley.sweeney.7355 - 2012-07-18 19:06

      Well, according to my knowledge, if the Reds and Crusaders win, then the stormer(1st) will face the lowest ranked team, Crusaders(4th) and obviously Chiefs(1st) vs Reds(3rd) then. If you are high on the superbru pool log, i would suggest picking Reds and Saders, BUT the Bulls and Sharks could push you up the log if you need those few points to jump.

  • MarkSchrade1980 - 2012-07-18 10:31

    Well this may sound illogical but I'm a Sharkie but will pick the Reds on superbru. See if the Sharks win I'm happy, and if the Reds win at least I get superbru points....

      david.s.duncan.1 - 2012-07-18 10:48

      Actually 2 points now for the win, being the playoffs. I've still backed my Sharks. Go Sharks!!!

  • P.J. - 2012-07-18 10:39

    Easy pick in the 1st game, monster pick in the second. I reckon most pools will be split down the middle.

  • henri.lombard - 2012-07-18 10:44

    Freaking hell, i dont have a clue what to pick !!!!! i dont think the Bulls have it in them to beat the Saders but i want a all SA final. If the Sharks pull it off, they will play the Stormers in the Semi`s, correct me if i`m wrong as i need to make my pick ASAP !!!

      david.s.duncan.1 - 2012-07-18 11:06

      I've picked and Saders and Sharks to win. The Shark game will be tight and I fancy them to eke out a win. As much as a Bulls win would be great, I just don't see it happening.

  • scott.canny - 2012-07-18 10:47

    The picks above would mean that you can take the Sharks and Bulls on the handicap. Check out this preview with Tank Lanning.

  • tim.kilpin - 2012-07-18 10:57

    I am going to go with my heart on this one and back the Sharks - the other game is still anything goes

  • dewald.botha.50 - 2012-07-18 11:28

    (and has JP Pietersen, the in-form wing in world rugby, to unleash) I just laugh my ass off!

      david.s.duncan.1 - 2012-07-18 11:43

      Are you one of those idiots who don't rate JP? JP rarely has a bad game for the Sharks and Boks

  • dewald.pretorius.37 - 2012-07-18 16:28

    Crusaders by 15. Reds by 5

  • raymond.abrahamse - 2012-07-18 17:59

    I sincerely wish the SHARKS and the BULLS the very best of luck for Saturday.We will be watching and supporting both teams..Come home with a win guys.From a STORMER

  • raymond.abrahamse - 2012-07-18 20:59

    For the BULLS,it's a tall order but not an impossible one Playing the Crusaders on their home field requires a full 80 minutes commitment.For the SHARKS,I'd say,on current form,it is a 50-50 game,and I have just got the feeling that they are going to pull this one off however close it may be.But I hope that both our teams win.

  • heinrich.vanjaarsveld.52 - 2012-07-19 06:41

    Qfinal sharks 25 reds 19 saders 21 bulls 22 Sfinal stormers 22 sharks 29 chiefs 15 bulls 28 FINAL sharks 34 bulls 19

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