Super Rugby Preview (play-offs)
- 26 Jul 2013
JON CARDINELLI and RYAN VREDE analyse the key match-ups and pick the winners at the weekend.
2013 RECORD – VREDE: 85/127 (67%), JC: 90/127 (71%)
LAST ROUND'S CALLS – VREDE: 1/2, JC: 2/2
KINGS vs LIONS, PORT ELIZABETH, FRIDAY, 19:10
JC'S CALL: The Kings have suffered significant personnel losses. They will miss Luke Watson and Andries Strauss's leadership, not to mention Strauss's defence in midfield. They will, however, enjoy home advantage for this clash and on that heavy pitch they will have the edge in a tight, tactical battle. The boot of Demetri Catrakilis will ensure that they take an important 1-0 lead in the two-game series. Kings by 6
VREDE'S CALL: I'd imagine this series is worth millions for the winner. The Lions are almost bankrupt and desperately need Super Rugby to save them, while the Kings represent the future of the Eastern Cape region. The home support is sure to be immense and I think their boys will rise to the occasion, building their victory on solid defence, territorial dominance and Catrakilis's excellence from the kicking tee. Kings by 5
Kings – 15 SP Marais, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Hadleigh Parkes, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 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 George Whitehead, 22 Waylon Murray.
Lions – 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Dylan des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 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 Ross Cronje, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Chrysander Botha.
CHIEFS vs CRUSADERS, HAMILTON, SATURDAY, 09:35
JC'S CALL: Last year I backed the Crusaders to beat the Chiefs in a semi-final staged in Hamilton. I got it wrong on that occasion, but I suspect the Crusaders will prove me right in this Saturday's knockout game at the same venue. The Crusaders are starting to peak at the right time, with their forward pack looking unstoppable in recent fixtures and their multi-talented halfback combination routinely translating forward dominance into territory and points. The Chiefs have done well this season but have lacked the X-factor that they had in 2012. They come into this fixture having enjoyed a two-week break, but I just can't see them knocking over the form side in the tournament. Crusaders by 6
VREDE'S CALL: JC is right, the Chiefs don't have the X-factor they did in 2012. But that is an issue of diminished degree, not the absence thereof. They lead the competition in the average number of tries, points and clean linebreaks in a match. They may not have Sonny Bill Williams, but they certainly remain a formidable attacking force. However, they do have a glaring vulnerability – their lineouts. They have lost more ball in that facet of play than any other team in the tournament, while the Crusaders are up there with the best in terms of lineout steals. Robbed of that base, the Chiefs could struggle. Still, I can't see it being terminal to their cause, but when you consider that they are also without Tim Nanai-Williams and Mo Schwalger, they have problems. The Saders look to have peaked at exactly the right time and while I don't see them blowing the Chiefs away, I can see them progressing to the final. Crusaders by 7
Chiefs –15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 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), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Mike Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 August Pulu, 21 Bundee Aki, 22 Robbie Robinson.
Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Luke Whitelock, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Adam Whitelock
BULLS vs BRUMBIES, PRETORIA, SATURDAY, 17:05
JC'S CALL: The odds are stacked heavily against the Brumbies. Six days is all that will separate their previous play-off against the Cheetahs and what will be a physical semi-final in Pretoria. They've travelled from Canberra to Pretoria, and history shows that teams that travel overseas in the semi-finals just don't win. What the Brumbies have in their favour is that coach Jake White understands the psyche of the Bulls. The Brumbies play a similarly structured game. I suspect there will be a few nervous moments for the hosts in the first half, with the Brumbies enjoying relative success at the scrum and breakdowns. Nevertheless, the Bulls, who are well rested after two weeks' break, should do enough to beat the Australians. Fatigue will come into play in the final quarter, with the effects of travel as well as those of altitude sapping the strength and fight from the visitors. Bulls by 8
VREDE'S CALL: This will be like watching a Test, with both teams kicking often and seeking to pressure their opponent into errors through territorial dominance and solid defence. In a war of this nature, you'll struggle to beat the Bulls in front of their disciples. I do, however, think the Brumbies will be pleased to see Francois Hougaard named at scrumhalf instead of Jano Vermaak, whose kicking game is superior. They'll put the heat on Hougaard in the hope that they'll expose his technical deficiencies. Hougaard's forwards will have to dominate the collisions to give him the time and space he requires to thrive. Failure to do so will seriously compromise the Bulls' game plan. But I don't think the Brumbies will have the legs and lungs to sustain their effort at the required level. The altitude and travel fatigue will kick in early, and the Bulls should pull away as the game winds down. Bulls by 12
Bulls – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter (c), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Jurgen Visser, 22 Morné Mellett.
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.
Photos: Anthony Au-Yeung/Barry Aldworth/photosport.co.nz/backpagepix
Matera makes first impact
Pablo Matera has the potential to become a legendary loose forward for the Pumas, writes FRANKIE DEGES.
Combrinck’s flying high
Ruan Combrinck forced his way into the Springbok starting XV with a game-changing cameo at Ellis Park, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Lions leave lasting impression
Although the Lions stumbled at the final hurdle, their Super Rugby campaign should still serve as unequivocal evidence that South African rugby can dare to be different, writes CRAIG LEWIS.