The final Super 15 matches have, to date, seen a number of unexpected results. Picking the winners in Superbru is almost as difficult as trying to predict the scores.
One of the guys in our group follows a fixed approach of nominating the home team to win by five, unless it is very certain that the visitors will win. This worked very well in previous tournaments, but he currently lags close to the bottom of our log.
Last week’s heroics against the Blues would have given the Lions a major boost in confidence. With the little possession they had, it would have been suicidal to try and play their normal expansive game. The new approach worked well. Being able to field an unchanged side will no doubt make it easier to repeat the winning recipe.
There is just one snag, though. The Crusaders are not such a demoralised side as the players representing Auckland was last week. Much as I am a loyal South African fan, my gut feeling says Crusaders. Unlike Johan Ackermann, I do not expect a close finish.
A highlight of the match will be the battle of the loose forwards. This is a strength of the Lions, and it will be very interesting to see how they match up against Kieran Read, Richie McCaw and Jordan Taufua. Oh, and Sam Whitelock.
With Dan Carter back at the helm, the Crusaders ship will be very difficult to sink.
Arguably the surprise of the season so far, the Stormers, face a daunting task against the Chiefs who will still be smarting from being dusted at home by the Highlanders last week. Forget about jet lag and all the other reasons we normally look for to bolster our confidence in our own side.
There is far too much class in the Chiefs for them to be considered underdogs. The Stormers actually relish being regarded as the second best team on the day, and then proving the experts wrong. Their young side really worked very hard to give Allister Coetzee a good send-off at the end of the competition. With some stalwarts returning from injury, they will not give up their spot at the top of the log without a good fight. Eben Etzebeth, please note that this is not a reference to your return.
One suspects that, given the choice of which other local side they would prefer to face after winning just one out of four matches at the beginning of the season, the Sharks would have opted for anyone but their bogeyman side, The Cheetahs.
Facing them in Bloemfontein just adds to the difficulty of the task facing the Durban boys.
The returning Springbok front rowers may not necessarily strengthen the side, and with Alberts out, they could have a tough day at the office.
Despite all of this, there is just so much talent in the Sharks side that one cannot see them continuing their underperformance for much longer.
The Cheetahs may be lacking in terms of big names, compared to the Sharks, but if you “looks at the scoreboard”, they have no fear when it comes to the reputation of their opponents. Joe Pietersen certainly injected a new spirit in their backline, and Willie le Roux is no longer the only concern for the Sharks. Some of the Free State “no-name” forwards like Francois Uys , have for quite a few seasons now, made their presence felt, despite seeming to be ignored by the national selectors.
Ja nee, swaer, daar gaan weer bloed, sweet en trane vloei Saterdag, so hou maar die nodige versterkinkie byderhand. Of jy nou gaan fees vier, of jou sorge verdrink, drink sal daar gedrink word.