Thursday, July 05, 2012
Super Rugby Round 17 Preview - Do or Die, A Tipster's Nightmare!
The Daniel Carter vs Aaron Cruden duel will be entertaining.
Super Rugby Round 17 has for a long time been targeted as a tipster's nightmare with most matches either difficult to pick, or directly involving teams involved in contention for the finals. There are so many must win matches for teams at this late stage and one look at the congested Super Rugby points table (at bottom of post) makes you realise just how important these matches are. The Chiefs are almost assured of finishing top in the New Zealand conference, but if they are to finish top overall and get crucial home advantage then they must beat the Crusaders who are second in the New Zealand conference. Second in the South African conference play third when the Sharks host the Bulls in another tough to predict game. The Waratahs who are out of contention host the Brumbies in a very difficult match to predict given that it is in Sydney. The Stormers and Reds are favourites to beat lower ranked teams, but one slip up could be costly, while the Lions and Blues who are the bottom two teams at the moment will be hoping to snare home wins. There is a Super Rugby table at the bottom of this post to use as a guide. Who are you picking?
While it is ideal to pick players for your testrugby teams who will appear in the finals, you must remember that some teams will have the bye for the first round of the finals, and so you may still have to use up valuable trades. It will also be interesting to see how the bye affects the three teams who had the week off last week.
For Super 15 Rugby Round 17 team lists named go to
Game 1 - Chiefs vs Crusaders
There are so many great players on display in this match, it will be a cracker! The Chiefs had a narrow win over the Highlanders last week and really need to win to stay ahead of the chasing Stormers in top overall spot. Plenty will depend on Aaron Cruden's injury which seems to be limiting his performance. The Crusaders welcome back star players Israel Dagg, Daniel Carter and Kieran Read and these guys are as cheap as they are going to get. The Crusaders really miss Sonny Bill Williams who has added an attacking dimension to the Chiefs which makes them dangerous off scraps of possession. Andrew Horrell starts in midfield and could be a bargain player in www.testrugby.com. The match-ups between great players like Carter, Sam Whitelock and McCaw against the new breed like Cruden, Retallick and Cane.
Players to watch - Daniel Carter, Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean, Sonny Bill Williams, Aaron Cruden.
Bargains - Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Andrew Horrell.
My pick Crusaders by 3.
Game 2 - Reds vs Highlanders
The Reds can't afford to lose again this season if they are to overtake the Brumbies as the top Australian side. The Reds have more to play for than the Highlanders who are out of contention now (unless several results go their way) after a disappointing last month which has seen the southern men drop out of contention. This will be Jimmy Cowan's last game for the Highlanders. I love you Jimmy! Digby Ioane is out for the Reds, while Tamati Ellison is out for the Highlanders. The Highlanders could help their countrymen the Crusaders and Hurricanes with a win in this match.
Players to watch - Adam Thomson, Andrew Hore, Hosea Gear, Scott Higginbotham, Saia Faingaa.
Bargains - Siale Piutau, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Mike Harris.
My pick - Reds by 12.
Game 3 - Sharks vs Bulls
South Africa's third best hosts second best in a crucial match. The Sharks will be missing Patrick Lambie and Willem Alberts to injury, but still have a great forward pack especially to keep the Bulls on their toes. The Sharks will have Freddy Michalak in the hot seat and I think with the help of their strong loose forwards, that they should be able to get home at home. They have the luxury of losing Willem Alberts and replacing him with Ryan Kankowski, now that is depth! This is another one of those matches that could go either way this weekend. I can't want to see Francois Steyn playing for the Sharks. He is relatively cheap and could kick some goals.
Players to watch - Keegan Daniel, Morne Steyn, Bismarck Du Plessis, Francois Steyn, Pierre Spies.
Bargains - Marcell Coetzee, Lwazi Mvovo, Juandre Kruger.
My pick - Sharks by 3.
Game 4 - Blues vs Force
This match is another tough match to pick, but at the other end of the table to most other matches. The Blues are stone cold motherless last out of the New Zealand teams, while the Force are only playing for pride as bottom Australian team. A win by either team would pretty much guarantee they don't finish bottom overall, while the Force could finish above the Rebels in the Australian conference. The Force will miss David Pocock, while the Blues will welcome back Keven Mealamu and will unleash a refreshed Ma'a Nonu onto the Force.
Since both of these teams are out of contention then you are probably not wise to pick any players from this match, but if you have spare trades then you might consider the following.
Players to watch - Ma'a Nonu, Luke Braid, Nathan Sharpe, Keven Mealamu.
Bargains - Nick Cummins, Lachie Munro.
Blues by 7.
Game 5 - Waratahs vs Brumbies
The Waratahs have been disappointing this season losing several games by less than seven points. They will have a chance to ruin the chances of their rivals, the Brumbies. Berrick Barnes has been in great form for the Waratahs, but will this be enough to get them home against the finals bound Brumbies? It will be another tough to pick derby match.
Players to watch - Tatafu Polota-Nau, Stephen Moore, Berrick Barnes, Wycliff Palu, Ben Mowen.
Bargains - Dave Dennis, Zac Holmes.
My pick - Brumbies by 3.
Game 6 - Cheetahs vs Stormers
This match is a potential banana skin for the Stormers as they play away against the exciting Cheetahs. The Cheetahs bring an entertaining style to the game and at home are a genuine threat. This has one of the more attacking teams against the best defensive team. There could be plenty of opportunities for www.testrugby.com points.
Players to watch - Adriaan Strauss, Heinrich Brussouw, Deon Fourie, Peter Grant, Gio Aplon, Jean De Villiers.
Bargains - Willie Le Roux, Siya Kolisi.
My pick - Stormers by 10.
Game 7 - Lions vs Rebels
The Lions have a genuine chance for victory and must start as favourites at home after a decent effort last week. Maybe losing coach John Mitchell has done them a favour! The Rebels will be missing stars like James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale which will leave them short of fire power for this match. I think the home side will get home on the back of Elton Jantjies and Josh Strauss. You would be a fool to pick any players from this game in your www.testrugby.com squad, given their non involvement in the finals. The Rebels haven't been named yet.
Players to watch - Josh Strauss, Derrick Minnie, Cooper Vuna,
Bargains - Elton Jantjies, Hugh Pyle, Caderyn Neville.
Lions by 7.
Who do you think will win Super Rugby Round 17 matches? Which players are you most looking forward to seeing in action? Have your say!
Super Rugby Table
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chiefs 14 62
2 Stormers 14 58
3 Brumbies 14 54
4 Bulls 14 54
5 Crusaders 14 52
6 Hurricanes 15 49
7 Reds 14 49
8 Sharks 14 49
9 Highlanders 15 45
10 Cheetahs 14 37
11 Waratahs 14 34
12 Melbourne Rebels 14 29
13 Western Force 14 27
14 Blues 14 23
15 Lions 14 20