Cape Town - What does Week 9 of this year's Vodacom Super Rugby
tournament hold? Time to get your SuperBru campaign back on track!
Click HERE to challenge the Sport24 'experts' on SuperBru!
FRIDAY, APRIL 22
Highlanders v Sharks, Dunedin - 09:35
Sorry Sharks fans, but even the most optimistic amongst you
must have trouble seeing a win for your side here. Last week's game against the
Blues looked like the best chance the men from Durban would have at getting a
win on tour in New Zealand; now they have to dust themselves off after a loss,
and travel battered and bruised to face a Highlanders side refreshed from a bye
weekend. The Sharks haven't won in Dunedin since 2010 - that won't change this
Prediction: Highlanders by 15
Rebels v Cheetahs, Melbourne - 11:40
The Cheetahs' 92-17 win over the Sunwolves was one of those
results that make you do a double take when you first see it, and check with
another source that there hasn't been a typo. It's one thing beating an
injury-ridden, tired Japanese side at home, though, and another entirely
beating an established Rebels team in their own backyard. The men from
Melbourne were surprisingly lacklustre in losing to the Hurricanes last time
around, and will want to bounce back with a much-improved performance here.
Prediction: Rebels by 6
SATURDAY, APRIL 23
Sunwolves v Jaguares, Tokyo - 07:15
And so we come to the first game between the two
expansionist teams. To be honest, it's been pretty underwhelming stuff so far.
The Sunwolves were never expected to win a great deal in the first season
(although shipping 92 points to the Cheetahs was a real nadir), and indeed they
haven't at all. But the Jaguares' solitary win - way back in round one - and
subsequent six losses represent a massive underachievement for a side boasting
so many Argentine internationals. Of the two, however, they still look the
better side, and should have enough to win in Tokyo.
Prediction: Jaguares by 18
Hurricanes v Chiefs, Wellington - 09:35
Oof, what a game this will be. Not only is this a meeting of
two of the form teams in the competition (neither side has lost since round
two), but also two of the most free-scoring (of their run of five wins in a row
each, both have notched four try bonus points). And while one unbeaten record
should come to an end, you can bet that it will happen in exhilarating style.
While the Canes have home advantage, the Chiefs have a much better record
against the top teams (the Canes have, in fact, only beaten one side in the top
half of the table - last week's win over the Rebels, who sit in ninth). That
just about makes the Chiefs favourites in my eyes.
Prediction: Chiefs by 5
Force v Waratahs, Perth - 11:40
Fun fact: the only side that either of these two teams have
beaten this season is the Reds. The Tahs are having a miserable campaign, so
this is perhaps not the time when they would have wanted to come up against
something of a bogey team for them. The Force have won the last three
instalments of this fixture, including on the Waratahs' last two visits to
Perth. That record, along with the fact that the Waratahs are just lacking so
much confidence at the moment, makes me favour the home side.
Prediction: Force by 2
Stormers v Reds, Cape Town - 15:00
After a couple of tough picks, you can relax into this one -
it should be a regulation home victory. Sure, the Reds have looked like a much
better team in recent weeks (and in Samu Kerevi they have a gem of a
midfielder), but at Newlands, the Stormers will surely be way too powerful for
the travelling Australians.
Prediction: Stormers by 21
Kings v Lions, Port Elizabeth - 17:05
The Kings have had a week to recharge their batteries, but
in all honesty it is unlikely to make much difference against a Lions side on
the up after their morale-boosting win over the Stormers. In Elton Jantjes they
have one of the form playmakers of the competition, and he should lead the men
from Johannesburg to a regulation win here.
Prediction: Lions by 35
SUNDAY, APRIL 24
Brumbies v Crusaders, Canberra - 08:05
It's looking like it's going to be up to the Brumbies to
retain some pride in Australian club rugby this season. The men from Canberra
looked like the team to beat in the opening few rounds, but have stumbled
somewhat in recent weeks, most notably in a big loss at home to the Chiefs. The
bad news is that the Crusaders are not a team that they enjoy playing - they
have lost their last five games against them, in fact, with their last win
coming back in 2009. That said, I think they are showing enough to suggest that
they can beat the Crusaders, who don't quite have the polished all-round game
of the Chiefs side that won here a few weeks ago.
Prediction: Brumbies by 4
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