This is the Super Rugby Ultimate Preview, your one-stop shop for everything you need to know for those all-important tips or fantasy transfers. As always the Brown Hornet is on board, providing his well thought-out tips for each fixture.
Friday 13th May
Highlanders v. Hurricanes @ Carisbrook Stadium, Dunedin 5:35pm AEST
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Matt Saunders, 11 Telusa Veainu, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Chris King, 2 Mo Schwalger, 1 Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 John Hardie, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Ben Atiga, 22 Robbie Robinson.
IN: Saunders, Poki, Veainu, Donnelly, Schwalger, Murray, Hardie, Atiga
OUT: Robinson, Paterson, Piutau, Thomson, Rutledge, Te Moana
The Highlanders have lost Piutau for the season, and Thomson for a month. Veainu and Donnelly take their places.
Hurricanes: 15. Andre Taylor, 14. Alapati Leiua, 13. Jayden Hayward, 12. Ma’a Nonu, 11. Hosea Gear, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Chris Eaton, 8. Victor Vito, 7. Jack Lam, 6. Faifili Levave, 5. James Broadhurst, 4. Jason Eaton, 3. Neemia Tialata, 2. Andrew Hore (c), 1. John Schwalger. Reserves: 16. Dane Coles, 17. Anthony Perenise, 18. Jeremy Thrush, 19. Mark Reddish, 20. Piri Weepu, 21. Julian Savea, 22. Beauden Barrett.
IN: Nonu, Weepu
OUT: Kirkpatrick, Keats
A couple of big names returning for the Canes, with Nonu in the XV and Weepu on the bench.
Recent History: Highlanders 1 – 4 Hurricanes. The Highlanders broke a five match hoodoo in Round 1, winning 14–9 in Wellington. The average winning margin in their clashes is a measly 3.5 points.
Last 5: Highlanders WWWLL, Hurricanes LWLWL
Hornet’s Tip: The Highlanders need to make every post a winner from this point onwards if they want to make the finals, starting with Friday night. They look like being without their star player Adam Thomson and that will hurt them a bit. He’s been absolutely outstanding this season. They’ll need to win the battle up front first and then turn on a bit of the razzle-dazzle to get maximum points. The Hurricanes have nothing to play for, other than spoiling a few other teams’ finals hopes. It’s been a pretty dreadful season for them, but this being a local derby, expect them to come out and try to stick one on the Clan. Highlanders by 12.
Odds: Highlanders $1.95, Hurricanes $1.85
Reds v. Blues @ Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane 7:40pm AEST
Reds: 15. Ben Lucas, 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Anthony Faingaa, 12. Ben Tapuai, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 8. Radike Samo, 7. Beau Robinson, 6. Scott Higginbotham, 5. James Horwill (c), 4. Rob Simmons, 3. James Slipper, 2. Saia Faingaa, 1. Ben Daley. Reserves: 16. James Hanson, 17. Guy Shepherdson, 18. Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19. Jake Schatz, 20. Ian Prior, 21. Will Chambers, 22. Dom Shipperley.
Just one change for the Reds, with Ben Tapuai coming in for the injured Harris.
Blues: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tevita Mailau. Reserves: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 James King, 19 Sean Polwart, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Lachie Munro, 22 Sherwin Stowers.
IN: McAlister, Williams
OUT: Munro, Bancroft, Kaino
The Blues lose Jerome Kaino, but that loss is tempered by the return of Luke McAlister and Ali Williams.
Recent History: Reds 1 – 4 Blues. The Reds recorded their solitary win in 2009 with a triumph in Auckland. Last year the Blues took the honours 27–18 at Suncorp.
Last 5: Reds WWWLW, Blues xWWWW
Hornet’s Tip: An absolute blockbuster and a potentially season-defining game for both teams. The Reds are well ahead of their nearest conference rivals, but they really need a scalp or two from the NZ teams, as they will most likely meet at least one of them if they make the finals. They are getting a few players back this week and will be all the stronger for it. The pack looks to be pretty strong and the backs have been good all season. The Blues haven’t lost for a while and will be champing at the bit in this game. Even without Toeava, they look hugely dangerous and they also have a grizzled and streetwise pack. This is almost too close to call, but I’m going with the Reds at home by 4.
Odds: Reds $1.61, Blues $2.34
Saturday 14th May
Chiefs v. Stormers @ Waikato Stadium, Hamilton 5:35pm AEST
Chiefs: 15. Mils Muliaina (c), 14. Lelia Masaga, 13. Richard Kahui, 12. Dwayne Sweeney, 11. Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10. Stephen Donald, 9. Brendon Leonard, 8. Fritz Lee, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 6. Liam Messam, 5. Craig Clarke, 4. Romana Graham, 3. Ben Afeaki, 2. Hika Elliot, 1. Toby Smith. Reserves: 16. Aled de Malmanche, 17. Sona Taumalolo, 18. Isaac Ross, 19. Sam Cane, 20. Taniwha Kerr-Barlow, 21. Tim Nanai-Williams, 22. Jackson Willison
IN: Latimer, Cane
Scott Waldrom is out for the season with a shoulder injury, with the able Latimer taking his spot.
Stormers: 15. Conrad Jantjes, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Jaque Fourie, 12. Jean De Villiers, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Ricky Januarie, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Francois Louw, 6. Schalk Burger (c), 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Rynhardt Elstadt, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Wicus Blaauw. Reserves: 16. Tiaan Liebenberg, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. De Kock Steenkamp, 19. Anton van Zyl, 20. Dewaldt Duvenage, 21. Lionel Cronje, 22. Juan de Jongh.
IN: Habana, Grant, Januarie, Harris, van Zyl
OUT: Sadie, Cronje, Duvenage Coleman, van der Linde, Koster
The Stormers are almost back to full strength with Habana and Grant returning. They lose CJ van der Linde with injury, however, and his place is taken by Brok Harris.
Recent History: Chiefs 2 – 3 Stormers. The Stormers have actually won the last two games played in Waikato, winning 49–15 there last season.
Last 5: Chiefs xLWLW, Stormers LWxWL
Hornet’s Tip: After shocking a few good judges last week by beating the Highlanders, the Chiefs will have a bit of a spring in their step. They have been playing a bit better recently and will fancy their chances, especially in a milestone game for their great captain. The Stormers are venturing out of the Republic for the first time this season and perhaps with a little bit to prove. They are sitting atop their group, but have lost a couple of times at Newlands, which used to be unheard of. They need to have a good tour to ensure they stay in finals contention, especially as their rivals have already played away from home. I’m still going with them though, by 5.
Odds: Chiefs $2.06, Stormers $1.78
Brumbies v. Lions @ Canberra Stadium, Canberra 7:40pm AEST
Brumbies: 15. Pat McCabe, 14. Andrew Smith, 13. Tyrone Smith, 12. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10. Matt Giteau (c), 9 Josh Valentine, 8. Ita Vaea, 7. Colby Faingaa, 6. Mitchell Chapman, 5. Ben Hand, 4. Peter Kimlin, 3. Dan Palmer/Jono Owen, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Ben Alexander. Reserves: 16. Huia Edmonds, 17. Jono Owen/Salesi Ma’afu, 18. Mark Chisholm, 19. Michael Hooper, 20. Patrick Phibbs, 21. Robbie Coleman, 22. Henry Speight
IN: Hand, Valentine, Speight
OUT: Chisholm, Phibbs, Fainifo
Dan Palmer is in the side pending a fitness test. Ben Hand and Josh Valentine return to the starting side.
Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Dylan Des Fountain, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derek Minnie, 5 Wikus van Heerden, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg. Reserves: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Jannie Boshoff.
IN: Taute, Hollenbach, Jantjies, Vermaak, Rhodes, Minnie, van der Merwe, Cilliers, Maku, Boshoff
OUT: Killian, La Grange, Francis, Kockott, Whiteley, Grobbelaar, de Villiers, Buys, Marutlulle, Bezuidenhout
John Mitchell has made a fuckload of changes.
Recent History: Brumbies 4 – 1 Lions. The solitary Lions win came in 2009 in the Republic, other than that it has been all Brumbies.
Last 5: Brumbies WLxLL, Lions LLLxL
Hornet’s Tip: Another game between a couple of battling teams involving the Brumbies. The Horsies were well in it against the Shorks last week before the men from Durban powered away from them in the second half. They would give themselves a chance against a fairly abject Lions team, who haven’t really progressed after providing some hope earlier in the season. If the Brumbies have any pride, they’ll knock over Lions and I’m tipping them by 6.
Odds: Brumbies $1.14, Lions $5.75
Sunday 15th May
Bulls v. Rebels @ Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria 1:05am AEST
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Stephan Dippenaar, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Danie Russouw, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Dean Greyling. Reserves: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Derick Kuün, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Francois Brummer.
IN: van den Heever, Russouw
OUT: Hougaard, Matfield
A few minor changes for the Bulls, with Hougaard and Matfield going to the bench.
Rebels: 15 Richard Kingi, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Afusipa Taumopeau, 12 Stirling Mortlock (c), 11 Luke Rooney, 10 Julian Huxley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (vc), 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Hoani MacDonald, 5 Alister Campbell, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Heath Tessman, 1 Nic Henderson. Reserves: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Kevin O’Neill, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Tim Davidson, 21 Peter Betham, 22 Cooper Vuna.
IN: Kingi, Taumopeau, Tessman, Henderson, Rooney, O’Neill
OUT: Gerrard, Hilgendorf, Betham, Robinson, Weeks, Byrnes, Cordingley
A couple of big losses for the Rebels in the shape of Mark Gerrard and James Hilgendorf. A front row reshuffle sees Robinson and Weeks benched for Tessman and Henderson.
Recent History: None
Last 5: Bulls LLLWx, Rebels xLLLL
Hornet’s Tip: The Bulls still have some hope of making the finals and they could make a good start by beating the Rebels. This has been an autumn of discontent for the men from Pretoria, as they’ve seen the ravages of time catch up with them a bit. They can hold back the years this week by doing what they do best: be brutal up front and play their famous field position game. The Rebels will be in the Republic for the first time and it will obviously be a new experience for most of the players, playing at altitude in front of a rabid Loftus crowd. They’ve been going backwards recently and I think they’ll really struggle here. I’m picking the Bulls by 15.
Odds: Bulls $1.02, Rebels $15.00
Cheetahs v. Crusaders @ Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein 3:10am AEST
Cheetahs: 15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Riaan Smit, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Corne Uys, 11. Ryno Benjamin, 10. Sias Ebersohn, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 8. Davon Raubenheimer, 7. Ashley Johnson, 6. Heinrich Brüssow, 5. Wilhelm Steenkamp (c), 4. Francois Uys, 3. WP Nel, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 1. Coenie Oosthuizen. Reserves: 16. Ryno Barnes, 17. Lourens Adriaanse, 18. Waltie Vermeulen, 19. Kabamba Floors, 20. Tewis de Bruyn, 21. Naas Olivier, 22. Hennie Daniller.
Ryno Benjamin replaces Phillip Burger on the wing.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Robbie Fruean, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks. Reserves: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Joe Wheeler, 19 Matt Todd, 20 Steve Alfeld, 21 Matt Berquist, 22. Brent Ward.
IN: Crotty, Marshall, Carter, Heinz, McCaw, B. Franks, Alfeld, Ward
OUT: Dagg, Maitland, Berquist, Fotuali’i, Todd, Crockett, Olorenshaw, A. Whitelock
A big injury-forced reshuffle in the backline this week for the title favourites. Although Daniel Carter comes back in, they lose Dagg and Maitland at the back and Fotuali’i at the scrum base. Robbie Fruean moves to the wing with Ryan Crotty coming into the centres, while Tom Marshall takes the vacant fullback spot.
Recent History: Cheetahs 1 – 4 Crusaders. The Cheetahs won 20–13 the last time these two teams met in Bloem; however, last year the Crusaders took it out easily 45–6 at home.
Last 5: Cheetahs LLxWW, Crusaders WWLWW
Hornet’s Tip: The Cheetahs have won a couple of games recently and have looked a lot better for it. Their big boys have found some momentum and they certainly know how to find the try-line. It’s a big test for them this week though. The Crusaders were unbelievably gutsy against the Stormers last week and took the points. They have an injury list a mile long, but due to the strength of their squad, they just keep finding ways to win. If they can keep 15 fit blokes out on the field you’d have to believe that they’ll flog the Cheetahs. Cru by 13.
Odds: Cheetahs $4.85, Crusaders $1.18
The Bet: The Force were a bit unlucky last week not to get the chocolates, and as a result we are now sitting on a measly $6 profit. But I have a special this week that will put us back on track. The Chiefs are finally hitting some form, and should get over the line against the Stormers, who will be weary after a tough game against the Crusaders and a long flight. But they won’t win by much.
Take the Chiefs 1-12 at $2.90 with Centrebet
Whom are you tipping?