This is the Super Rugby Ultimate Preview, your one-stop shop for everything you need to know for those all-important tips and fantasy transfers. The Brown Hornet is along for the ride, providing his well thought-out tips for each fixture.
Friday 25th February, 2011
Highlanders vs. Chiefs @ Carisbrook Stadium, Dunedin, 5:35pm EDST
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 James Paterson, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Kade Poki, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 David Te Moana, 2 Jason Rutledge, Jamie Mackintosh [c]. Reserves: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Joe Tuineau, 19 John Hardie, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Robbie Robinson, 22 Siale Piutau.
An almost unchanged 22 for the Highlanders, with hooker Mo Schwalger returning to the bench from injury.
Chiefs: 15. Mils Muliaina [c], 14. Lelia Masaga, 13. Jackson Willison, 12. Dwayne Sweeney, 11. Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10. Mike Delany , 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8. Liam Messam, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 6. Scott Waldrom , 5. Isaac Ross, 4. Hayden Triggs, 3. Nathan White, 2. Aled de Malmanche, 1. Toby Smith . Reserves: 16. Ben May, 17. Daniel Perrin, 18. Culum Retallick, 19. Steven Setephano, 20. Brendon Leonard, 21. Stephen Donald, 22. Tim Nanai-Williams
IN: Masaga, Willison, Delany, Kerr-Barlow, Ross, Triggs, Waldrom, Smith, Retallick, Setephano
OUT: Nanai-Williams, Donald, Leonard, May (all benched), Lee (injured), Graham (rested), Clarke, Umaga (dropped)
After an average showing against the Brumbies coach Ian Foster has gotten change-happy, making ten changes to the 22. Some are deserved (Leonard was outplayed by Kerr-Barlow), some are injury inforced, and some are just weird (Umaga gone from the 22, Graham supposedly rested after one match).
Recent History: Chiefs 5 – 0 Highlanders. The Chiefs have had the measure of their fellow countrymen in previous encounters, however it must be noted that four of those five wins have come with margins under 7 points. Last year the Chiefs rebounded from a 7 point loss to the Brumbies to beat the Highlanders 27-21 at home. How will they rebound this year?
Hornet’s Tip: The Highlanders were the surprise packet of Week 1 and really fronted up against the Canes, much to my surprise. The Chiefs, conversely, were fairly well beaten against the Brumbies. If the Highlanders pack can do the same kind of number on the Chiefs this week, they could sneak a win. The men from the South by less than 7.
Odds: Highlanders $2.50, Chiefs $1.54
Rebels vs. Brumbies @ AAMI Park, Melbourne, 7:40pm EDST
Rebels: 15 Mark Gerrard, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Julian Huxley, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (vc), 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Kevin O’Neill, 4 Adam Byrnes, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson. Reserves: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Alister Campbell, 19 Tom Chamberlain, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 22 Luke Rooney
IN: Gerrard, Cipriani, Phipps, Saffy, Chamberlain, Kingi
OUT: Rooney (benched), Hilgendorf, Cordingley, McDonald (all injured)
Macqueen has made 5 changes to the 22, with injuries to Hilgendorf, Cordingley and McDonald all forcing his hand. Mark Gerrard returns from Japan to make his first start for the Rebels at the back.
Brumbies: 15. Pat McCabe, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Robbie Coleman, 11. Francis Fainifo, 10. Matt Giteau (c), 9 Josh Valentine, 8. Ita Vaea, 7. Julian Salvi, 6. Mitchell Chapman, 5. Mark Chisholm, 4. Ben Hand, 3. Dan Palmer, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Ben Alexander. Reserves: 16. Huia Edmonds, 17. Salesi Ma’afu, 18. Peter Kimlin, 19. Colby Faingaa, 20. Patrick Phibbs, 21. Matt Toomua, 22. Andrew Smith
Just one injury enforced change for the Brumbies, with Peter Kimlin returning in the place of Hoiles.
Recent History: None.
Hornet’s Tip: The Rebels got a bit of lesson in top level footy from the Tahs last week and will need to show some more organisation against the Horsies. The Brumbies were good in parts and ordinary in others against the Chiefs and should have won by more. I’m still tipping them this week by 10+.
Odds: Rebels $5.55, Brumbies $1.15
Saturday 26th February, 2011
Cheetahs vs. Bulls @ Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein, 4:10am EDST
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Philip Burger, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Ryno Benjamin, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Kabamba Floors, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Waltie Vermeulen, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen. Replacements: 16 Skipper Badenhorst , 17 Kobus Calldo, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Riaan Viljoen.
IN: Smith, Vermeulen, Barnes, Badenhorst
OUT: Van Der Walt (dropped), Uys (benched) Strauss (injured)
The Cheetahs receive a huge boost with Juan Smith returning from injury to lead the side. However that gain is tempered by the loss of stand-in captain Adrian Strauss, who is out for around six weeks with a fractured hand.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius , 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp. Replacements: 16 Derick Kuun , 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip Van Der Merwe, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Stephan Dippenaar.
IN: Ralepelle, Van Der Merwe
OUT: Van Der Westhuizen, Botha (injured)
The Bulls lose starting hooker Gary Botha (expected to be out for a couple of weeks), but have the dynamic Ralepelle to step into the breach.
Recent History: Bulls 5 – 0 Cheetahs. The Bulls have it all over the Cheetahs, especially at Vodacom Park, where they have won their games by an average of 23 points despite it not being their home ground.
Hornet’s Tip: With a sense of deja vu from my statements about the Bulls game last week, I will again say that this game shouldn’t be close. It’s in Bloem, but the Bulls should be able to cope with that, even without Gary Botha. Bulls by 15.
Odds: Bulls $1.13, Cheetahs $6.10
Hurricanes vs. Crusaders @ Westpac Stadium, Wellington, CANCELLED
Waratahs vs. Reds @ ANZ Stadium, Sydney, 7:40pm EDST
Waratahs: 15. Kurtley Beale 14. Lachie Turner 13. Rob Horne 12. Tom Carter 11. Drew Mitchell 10. Berrick Barnes 9. Luke Burgess 8. Ben Mowen 7. Phil Waugh [c] 6. Dave Dennis 5. Kane Douglas 4. Dean Mumm 3. Al Baxter 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau 1. Sekope Kepu. Reserves: 16. Damien Fitzpatrick 17. Benn Robinson 18. Sitaleki Timani 19. Chris Alcock 20. Brendan McKibbin 21. Daniel Halangahu 22. Ryan Cross.
Reds: 15. Peter Hynes, 14. Rod Davies, 13. Will Chambers, 12. Anthony Faingaa, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia; 8. Scott Higginbotham, 7. Ed Quirk, 6. James Horwill, 5. Rob Simmons, 4. Van Humphries, 3. James Slipper, 2. Saia Faingaa, 1. Ben Daley. Res: 16. James Hanson, 17. Greg Holmes, 18. Leroy Houston, 19. Beau Robinson, 20. Ben Lucas, 21. Mike Harris, 22. Aidan Toua.
OUT: Houston (benched)
Link makes just one change, bring Higgers into the starting XV in place of Leroy Houston.
Recent History: Waratahs 5 – 0 Reds. The Tahs have had the upper hand of late, but before that it was all Red. The games have been tight though, with the average margin in those 5 games being just 6 points.
Hornet’s Tip: One of two expected close games this weekend. These clashes generally aren’t free flowing affairs unfortunately, and both teams will probably play it pretty tight. The Tahs looked great last week and the Reds a little lucky. In a moment of madness, I’m going with the Reds by 2.
Odds: Waratahs $1.42, Reds $2.90
Sunday 20th February, 2011
Sharks vs. Blues @ ABSA Stadium, Durban, 2:05am EDST
Sharks: 15. Louis Ludik , 14. Odwa Ndungane , 13. Stefan Terblanche (C) , 12. Meyer Bosman , 11. Lwazi Mvovo , 10. Patrick Lambie , 9. Charl McLeod , 8. Ryan Kankowski , 7. Willem Alberts , 6. Keegan Daniel , 5. Alistair Hargreaves , 4. Steven Sykes , 3. Jannie du Plessis , 2. Bismarck du Plessis , 1. Tendai Mtawarira Reserves: 16. John Smit , 17. Eugene van Staden , 18. Anton Bresler , 19. Jacques Botes / Lambert Groenewald , 20. Conrad Hoffmann , 21. Jacques-Louis Potgieter
IN: Mtawarira, Daniel
OUT: Smit, Botes (both benched)
A few tactical changes for the Sharks, with Beast coming in for Smit (Terblanche takes over the captaincy), and Daniel in for Botes.
Blues: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tony Woodcock. Reserves: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Kurtis Haiu, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Luke McAlister, 22 Sherwin Stowers
IN: Haiu, McAlister
OUT: Paulo, Munro
After a big win against the Saders the Blues receive a big boost with the return of veterans Luke McAlister and Kurtis Haiu to the bench. The starting fifteen is unchanged.
Recent History: Sharks 5 – 0 Blues. The Blues have really struggled with the Sharks, with their last win coming way back in 2005. Their last encounter was a 23-10 Sharks win at Durban. The average winning margin at Durban has been 12 points.
Hornet’s Tip: This is the second of the close games. The Sharks were solid against the Cheetahs last week and the Blues were great value against the Cru. On paper, this should be a fascinating match up. I fancy the Sharks, but only just (1 point).
Odds: Sharks $1.54, Blues $2.50
Stormers vs. Lions @ Newlands, Cape Town, 4:10am EDST
Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 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 CJ van der Linde. Reserves: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Peter Grant, 22 Juan de Jongh.
Making their first appearance for 2011, the Stormers have named a strong side littered with Springboks. They are still missing midget winger Gio Aplon and hooker Tiaan Liebenberg, both of whom should be back next week.
Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Derrick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe (capt), 4 George Earle, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg. Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Wikus van Heerden, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Burton Francis, 22 James Kamana.
OUT: Cilliers (benched)
John Mitchell makes only one change from the side that pushed the Bulls last week.
Recent History: Stormers 5 – 0 Lions. The Lions have never got close to the Stormers, with the closest margin being 11 points in 2008. The only two times the sides have met at Newlands the Stormers dominated, winning 56-18 in 2009 and 30-8 in 2007.
Hornet’s Tip: Last game of the round and the Stormers with their first of the season. On paper they too strong for the young Lions team and I think they’ll get up by 13.
Odds: Stormers $1.27, Lions $3.75
Note: All of the teams are listed in convenient table form on our Ruggapedia. Add it as a favourite as it will be updated as teams are released and late changes are made.
The Bet: After last week we are in the black, with a whopping $9 profit. But this round is a real toughie. While some of the games seem foregone conclusions, the little voice in my head is raising doubts. Will the Stormers hit the ground running against a battle-hardened Lions? Will the Blues keep their sensational form going? Will the Chiefs play like Tarzan or Jane?
After all that I have settled on the Chiefs. Despite what Hornet said I think they probably should have beaten the Brumbies last week, and hopefully the kinks would have been ironed out at training this week. They have enough talent to beat the Highlanders, who beat a very average Hurricanes side. Given the historical closeness of the sides:
Take the Chiefs by 1-12 at $2.75 with Centrebet
So the G&GR tenner goes on the Waikato boys, lets home they can get their arse into gear and bring home the bikkies.
What’s your hot tip for the weekend?