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Super Rugby Preview: Week 15

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We haven’t even had time to miss Bismarck and before we knew it we’re in Week 15 of Super Rugby. Funny thing is, if I told you 15 weeks ago that the Stormers would only have one more victory than the Kings and that it would be the Bulls and Cheetahs fighting for South African dominance, you’d probably have called me drunk…

15 weeks into this competition and we find ourselves debating not who, but if we would have two South African sides in the playoffs. Debates spread around braaivleis fires range from the Cheetahs winning the conference cup to the Sharks sneaking 24 points from their last four games to get to that majestic 57 log points. All things considered, Stormers fans are not allowed at this braai and the boys from PE never really cracked an invite.

Climbing the speculation table is the latest Springbok Camp kicking off in Durban after the much anticipated Sharks v Bulls game. The new faces include someone named Willie, a Lappie and a Greek God… we also welcome back some old faces in Gio Aplon and an ex-Shark player that seemingly isn’t good enough for the for the Durban Starfish. Not that I believe old Heynie will come up with any surprises when he makes his final selection in a couple of weeks. I solemnly swear to act surprised when he selects Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard (at left wing) and Pierre Spies. Naturally both Bryan Habana and Cupcake McClear will move to their “preferred” positions of right wing and fullback…

PLAYERS INVITED TO THE SECOND SPRINGBOK TRAINING CAMP OF 2013:

Forwards (19): Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Jannie du Plessis, Coenie Oosthuizen, Wiehahn Herbst, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Eben Etzebeth, Flip van der Merwe, Juandré Kruger, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, Arno Botha, Lappies Labuschagne, Pierre Spies, Ryan Kankowski.

Backs (19): Jano Vermaak, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Morné Steyn, Elton Jantjies, Demetri Catrakilis, Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh, Jan Serfontein, Robert Ebersohn, JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Raymond Rhule, Lionel Mapoe, Bjorn Basson, Gio Aplon, Zane Kirchner, Willie le Roux.

Back to the action of week 15 where the rugby starts high goes low then ends high.

Chiefs v Crusaders

I welcome you to that time of year where the Crusaders hit form… It’s truly an anomaly no one can scientifically explain, but like the birds fly at winter or the release of some cheesy badly scripted piece of shit movie about elves and some fat fart around December, the Crusaders come in the dying weeks of Super Rugby. The Chiefs does not have the resistance anymore, they’ve barely escaped the last couple of weeks with honour let alone dignity. These sides are yet to face each other in 2013 meaning that an 8 point swing is on the cards. Am I saying that the Crusaders will hit their groove, win their remaining 5 games and end first in the New Zealand conference? Yes.

@froners – Crusaders by 8

@keegankruger – Crusaders by 7

Betting Tip:

Crusaders -3 at EVS

Rebels v Waratahs

So it seems that the Rebels can indeed pull the rabbit out of the hat even though they missed their duckface instagramming lesbian superstar… It also seems like the Australian conference is not quite done and dusted as the flowery side from Sydney looks to make a late bid for playoff contention. Yes, they would need the Stormers to beat the Reds with the Blues doing them another favour but with a couple of games to go the Tahs might just sneak in there. Their resurrection has truly spiced up the Australian conference and I’d even go as far as to say their the form side in the land where you probably get poisonous squirrels. They play the Reds in the final week of open play… Just saying

@froners – Waratahs by 14

@keegankruger – Waratahs by 5

Betting Tip:

Blues v Brumbies

Last week the Crusaders gave them 20 reasons to reconsider their game plan as it became evident that counter attacking rugby only works if the opposition allows you to touch the ball. The Blues season can be liked to Rene Ranger, sure it looks a little ridiculous and people are starting to notice when run through defensive lines while juggling hand grenades and just born babies but they also know that one wrong move leads to death… Fact of the matter is class beats form any day, this is also the reason why Blues will not make the semi finals. Now these Ponies, they are cut from a different grain, somewhat lucky as Hipster Jakes boys may be one cannot disregard their presence. They might have been beaten by a spirited Tahs side in Sydney, only to rub in the previous loss against the Saders but I can guarantee you this… Hipster Jake knows that no one got time for three losses in a row.

@froners – Brumbies by 2

@keegankruger – Blues by 6

Betting Tip:

Blues -3 at 2.00

Force v Highlanders

Just when you thought that the most boring game in Super Rugby consisted of two Australian sides you realise that it’s not. Yes, the battle for that wooden spoon resumes and no one seems to want it more than these two sides.  My heart still says that the Highlanders are better than a wooden spoon but this is Rugby, not a slow dance, and when you predict rugby we all know you think with your head then follow a R2 coin… We’ve played this game, head for home, tails for away. Coin says tails.

@froners – Highlanders by 1

@keegankruger – Highlanders by 3

Betting Tip:

Highlanders +2 at 2.00

Kings v Cheetahs

At the beginning of the season I said that the Kings won’t be as bad as we expect… Off course I expected them to take the wooden spoon but in doing so I still predicted they will take one South African scalp… I also said that this scalp will be their home game against the Cheetahs. Since then the Kings magically exceeded my wildest expectations moving 8 points clear of wooden spoon territory. Similarly the Cheetahs moved into a spot where they no longer look like the fat girl at the dance. Will I be as mad as saying that my initial prediction will remain the same? Let’s just say I also expected the Stormers to make the playoffs…

@froners – Cheetahs by 4

@keegankruger – Cheetahs by 5

Betting Tip:

Don’t bet, the odds are either upsetting or you’ll be upset

Stormers v Reds

When Bruce Springsteen sang that you can’t start a fire without a spark, he surely sang about my Stormers. Last week they tried their bestest to score 4 tries against arguably the worst defence in Super Rugby but noooooooo, they just had to forget how to win the game and refused to kick the easy points. There’s another team that’s been found guilty of this same offence. The Reds drew two games by trying to win it and narrowly escaped embarrassment against the Highlanders employing the same strategy. The question then remains, will both these sides respectfully take the points when they are on offer or will they tirelessly go for that line-out? It being a home game, I’ll back the Stormers to take it by a whisker, even if they’ll be dancing in the dark.

@froners – Stormers by 3

@keegankruger – Stormers by 3

Betting Tip:

Stormers -2 at 2.00

Sharks v Bulls

Our week was filled with wide speculation that both Bismarck Du Plessis and Butch James will enter the Shark Tank once more; unfortunately Shark management refrained from telling us it will be as spectators. The build up to this game is somewhat muffled by the Springbok camp as the entire Springbok Dream team travels to Durban for a brief warm-up game in preparation for their much anticipated camp. In other news, Ryan Kankowski is fast becoming the Wayne Rooney of the Sharks as questions are being asked as to his omission from the local team. Was his tweet on Thursday mentioning the “flu” a clever stunt to draw attention elsewhere… an actual, not made up at all, telephone call with his agent earlier Thursday evening confirmed that this was definitely not the case and to prove that he is sick, Kanko will not attend the game…    

@froners – Bulls by 9

@keegankruger – Bulls by 7

Betting Tip:

Bulls +1 at 1.80

BYE: HURRICANES

Special thanks to Melissa for waiting in anticipation…

Written for The Pundits by @froners and @keeganKruger

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