6 Bold Predictions for Super Rugby Round 6
This week’s bold predictions have decided to go out on a limb, ignore logic, throw caution to the breeze and fly in the face of the bookmakers by backing the underdogs.
Call it a hunch, blind optimism or nonsense, but there will be shocks this week—shocks that reverberate from the tip of the Cape of Africa to the lower reaches of New Zealand’s South Island.
You heard it here first.
1. Force Will Foil the Chiefs
The champions start their overseas tour on Australia’s West Coast, where they face a Force side that is running into form.
After slaying the Rebels on their home turf, they hopped across the Tasman to down the Highlanders and are now back in Perth, awaiting the visit of Dave Rennie’s men.
The Chiefs’ back row looks lean and mean with All Blacks duo Sam Cane and Liam Messam on either flank, while the electric Tim Nanai-Williams moves into the midfield to accommodate veteran Mils Muliaina on the wing.
Away from New Zealand for the first time in the campaign and up against a side that is brimming with confidence, the champions will have an away day to forget as the Force sweep them away for a third straight win.
2. Rebels Will Topple the Tahs
The Melbourne Rebels got their hides tanned in Perth and went down in a damp squib of a game at home to the Crusaders.
They travel to Sydney to face the fancied Waratahs, who came unstuck last week against the Brumbies.
The Canberra side beat the Sydney men up at the scrum and were too physical around the park for Michael Cheika’s men.
It would not have gone unnoticed by Rebels boss Tony McGahan, whose days in charge of Munster taught him all he needs to know about how to mould an uncompromising forward unit.
The Rebels also beat the Waratahs last season and again in pre-season this year.
McGahan’s men will make it a hat-trick this weekend.
3. Bulls Will Beat the Sharks
The Sharks have done nothing to shake off their strong favourites tag for the whole competition with four wins from four so far.
The Bulls have found some rhythm after two early defeats and look in better shape as the two big guns of South Africa go head to head at Loftus this weekend.
The Bulls have a new weapon in the shape of Dewald Potgieter, a No. 8 who has returned from a season in Japan and goes straight into the side for Saturday.
Jake White has stuck with the same lineup that beat the Reds last week, but I’m going for home advantage to see the Bulls beat the league leaders.
4. Cheetahs Will Shock the Blues
After they were hammered by the Hurricanes last week, it would seem outlandish to suggest the South African Cheetahs will turn that into a win in Auckland.
But outlandish is the theme this week, so, on his 50th appearance for the franchise, hooker Adriaan Strauss will lead the men from Bloemfontein to a famous win.
The Blues have stuttered so far with a defeat to the Highlanders in their first outing, and they have had to contend with travelling back from another loss, to the Lions in South Africa.
Coach John Kirwan has also decided to bench Benji Marshall after he made a scoring start last week. All is far from well with the Auckland outfit, and the Cheetahs, who are sick of losing on this tour, will take advantage.
5. Highlanders Will End Home Hoodoo Against Canes
The Highlanders have beaten the Hurricanes just once on home turf in 11 attempts.
They face an uphill battle this weekend with the visitors, who are high on confidence thanks to their 60-point haul against the Cheetahs.
But Jamie Joseph has old warhorse Brad Thorn back.
We should see plenty of points on the board if last season’s clash is anything to go by, when the Hurricanes ran out 49-44 winners.
The Highlanders will stop the rot this week and halt the Wellington men’s hope of gathering some momentum after a slow start.
6. Reds Will Tame the Lions
The Queensland Reds put up a decent fight in the second half of their defeat to the Sharks last week, and they will use that to spur them on to a win over the Lions.
The clash should see a contrast of style in the respective No. 10 jerseys between points machine Marnitz Boshoff and the mercurial Quade Cooper.
It will be up to the Reds to maintain discipline to deny Boshoff too many pots at the sticks given his current form with the boot, and when they have the ball, Cooper will have to find a way to unlock a defence that was praised for its performance last week by coach Johann Ackermann after a victory over the Blues.