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Super Rugby preview (play-offs)

  • 01 Aug 2013

JON CARDINELLI and RYAN VREDE analyse the key match-ups and pick the winners at the weekend.

2013 RECORD – VREDE: 85/129 (66%), JC: 90/129 (70%)


JC'S CALL: No contest. The Sharks did something special in the 2012 play-offs when they beat the Reds in Brisbane and then the Stormers in Cape Town, but those efforts came at a price as they were well and truly exhausted by the time they reached the final in Hamilton. The Brumbies' path to the 2013 decider has not been as difficult, although they will not be at their best, having travelled to South Africa and back in the space of a week. The Chiefs have the forwards to match the Brumbies at the scrums and breakdowns, although the Brumbies will have the edge in the lineouts. Goal-kicker Aaron Cruden will punish the Brumbies' transgressions and ensure the hosts build a good lead. A couple of tries in the second half will then serve to inflate the scoreline and confirm the Chiefs as 2013 champions. Chiefs by 14

VREDE'S CALL: I don't share Cardinelli's view that it's going to be a blow-out for the Brumbies, but the Chiefs are certainly favourites. The Brumbies showed plenty of tactical intelligence and ticker to stay in the contest against the Bulls and I think they'll be able to exploit the Chiefs' dreadful lineout in a manner the Crusaders were never able to. This is significant because it would rob the Chiefs of a primary launchpad and, given that the teams are evenly matched at the scrums and breakdown, I can't see the Chiefs being as rampant as they were against the Saders. Forcing them to gamble in their half is key, and the Brumbies have a clutch of competent tactical kickers to be able to succeed here. Furthermore, their defence has been excellent and will pressure the Chiefs. Still, the Chiefs have a number of game-breakers who have repeatedly sparked something special from seemingly hopeless situations. Also, in Cruden they have a solid goal-kicker, while the Brumbies' Christian Lealiifano is good without being exceptional. It'll be close until the final quarter, when the Chiefs should ease ahead. The Brumbies will go down fighting, but ultimately their taxing travel schedule will undermine their cause. Chiefs by 10

Chiefs – 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga/Robbie Robinson, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Matt Vant Leven, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (c), Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Bundee Aki, 22 Robbie Robinson/Patrick Osborne.

Brumbies – 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Andrew Smith, 22 Joe Tomane.


JC'S CALL: What transpired in Port Elizabeth will have a huge bearing on the decisive match in the promotion-relegation series. The Kings need to beat the Lions by eight points or more, and will need to do so without their form goal-kicker, Demetri Catrakilis. They may look to kick for posts initially, with George Whitehead more than capable of converting opportunities, but they will need more than penalties to win this match. Their best bet is at the lineout, where they will look to set the driving maul and score from close quarters. Having said that, they will also have to contend with a determined Lions attack. The Kings defence hasn't been as disciplined in recent weeks as it was at the start of the Super Rugby competition and will concede tries again this Saturday. I can't see them beating the Lions at Ellis Park in front of a capacity crowd. Never mind the eight-point margin. The Lions will win this match and secure promotion to the elite tournament. Lions by 7

VREDE'S CALL: I'm not sure where the Lions fans' immense confidence comes from. Listening to them this week, you'd swear they had smashed the Kings in Port Elizabeth and would put 50 on them this week. They are undoubtedly favourites, made more so by the absence of the Kings' points machine, Catrakilis. But if they think the Kings will surrender their Super Rugby status meekly, they've got another thing coming. The Kings must improve their potency at the gainline for a start. Refusing to allow the Lions any attacking momentum will force them to kick tactically, which isn't their strength. Failure to do so will see the Lions grow in confidence and, spurred on by a 60,000 sell-out crowd, this will spell trouble for the visitors. They must also guard against getting too loose in their attack. The Lions regularly stole or stifled their ball at the breakdown last week, but when the Kings kept it close and went through the phases they looked dangerous. With Elton Jantjies kicking well, discipline is key for the Super Rugby rookies. But I'm not sure they have the quality of personnel and tactical execution to pull this one off. Lions by 7

Lions – 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Dylan des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (c).
Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Guy Cronje, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Chrysander Botha.

Kings – 15 SP Marais, 14 Scott van Breda, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Hadleigh Parkes, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Darron Nell (c), 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Charl du Plessis, 17 Hannes Franklin, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Wesley Dunlop, 22 Shane Gates.

Photos: Sandra Mu/Richard Hugo/Getty Images/BackpagePix

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