Rebels v Kings: Saturday – AAMI Park, Melbourne 11:40
Friday morning sees the Kings play their last tour match as they meet the Rebels in Melbourne – both sides would have this fixture marked as a must win. Being at home, the Rebels might be dubbed as favourites, but after last week’s performance, and the Kings gradual improvement as the tournament progresses, a win for the visitors is quite possible. Their first choice fly half, Demitri Catrakilis, also returns to the starting fifteen, which will add to their strength. If I had to make a “Cheeky” bet, I would put my money on the Kings to win this game by 6.
Stormers v Sharks: Saturday – DHL Newlands, Cape Town 17:05
All the pressure is on the Stormers, as this fixture is a critical, must win match. It is a home game, and after last week’s loss against the Cheetahs, they can hardly afford to lose yet again. If they do, they will move even closer to the Kings at the bottom of the conference. Jokes of playoff contenders against the Lions are already doing the rounds.
Having said that – Alistair Coetzee is an astute coach, and the experience in the Stormers side should help them to cope with the mounting pressure.
Although the Sharks have come off with a win against a good Crusaders side, I am of the opinion that their depth is being tested to the maximum. The momentum gained from last week will be beneficial, and sees a welcome return for Jean Deysel who is likely to make an appearance in the second half. If I had money to bet I would keep it in my pocket as this game might be too close to call!
Bulls v Cheetahs: Saturday – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria 19:10
History could be rewritten in this fixture as the Cheetahs have never won a Super 15 game against the Bulls. Coming from a hugely successful tour and beating the Stormers last week to make it a record 5 wins in a row, will boost their confidence to up the tally to 6.
Naka has the benefit of fielding the exact same 15 who started last week which ensures continuity. His side is also deadly on the counter attack, which will force the Bulls to rethink their kick and charge approach. The Cheetahs’ defence, a weakness of last year, has now become a strength.
Ludeke’s Bulls would need to be very disciplined and their execution accurate as the Cheetahs will punish mistakes and convert half chances to points. Returning to the side this week is winger Akona Ndungane (ankle) and lock Flip van der Merwe (chest).
Being at home is a definite advantage for the Bulls, but as a wild card bet, I reckon the Cheetahs could sneak this one!
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