For me the two big matches this week are trans Tasman clashes first up on Friday night.
Apparently there is some possible scenario where by the Stormers would not make the last four. I can’t even imagine what that might be?
Crusaders v Brumbies. The Crusaders face a short change around and have the trip back to Christchurch from South Africa to deal with. Equally the Brumbies have not beaten the Crusaders in Christchurch for a number of years. Looking how both teams faired last week I have to give the nod to the Crusaders in what should be a great match.
Waratahs v Hurricanes is the second of what are effectively quarter finals. The Waratahs are unbeaten at home this year and home ground advantage counts for a lot at this end of the competition. The Reds pushed the Hurricanes hard last week. I am not sure the same can be said for the Highlanders against the Waratahs. The Canes by a nose.
Sharks v Force. Sharks at home will prosper
Blues v Chiefs. The Blues will have too much for a very disappointing Chiefs side.
Reds v Highlanders. Reds to finish with an emphatic win.
Cheetahs v Lions. I wonder how the Lions fans are feeling about this years results? Cheetahs in this one.
Stormers v Bulls. The Bulls have secured their home semi and have made the decision to rest almost all of their starting line-up.
Please see the link below. I expect the Stormers to win under these circumstances.
Securing a home semi has a huge say in who will advance through to the final. There is also a lot of money at stake.
The non South African contenders are clearly disadvantaged by this decision. Go the Bulls!
We are finally starting with the European tracks and I couldn’t be happier. Most teams have made improvements to their cars since the first few races, some with fancy-pants duct manipulation systems and some with new cars altogether. There has been speculation of a wet weekend and even though that’ll probably spoil my picks, I’m quite happy with what that has done to the recent races.
Without further a due, my very quickly picked picks for the podium are:
Go Schuey and happy watching!
Dave is sick, so I’m doing the picks. Sadly, I don’t have a TV aerial and haven’t been able to see a single match this year. But don’t be fooled - this is the real Goss, the Inside Edge, the Low Down, the Juice.
Hurricanes will thump the Reds. A few weeks ago the Reds looked like Champion material, but they’ve shot off all their arrows and are out of ammunition.
Lions will get past the Blues because the Blues play sevens rugby and that doesn’t work against fifteen men. Another season down the toilet despite talent to burn. Turns out Pat Lam wasn’t the hero they said he would be - sorry Fiona.
Chiefs don’t have enough in the tank to get past my Grandmother at the moment so expect a comfortable win to the Waratahs.
Brumbies will get their act together at home to take down the struggling Highlanders. But it won’t be enough to save their season.
Bulls will be swept away by a resurgent Crusaders machine that will click for the first time this season to win by the narrowest of margins at the death with a corner kick from Carter as the whistle blows. Remember you heard it here.
Cheetahs will beat the Force but few will care.
Sharks will be run over by the Stormers because Shalk will run riot. These boys are heading for the semis.
So ladies and gentleman, gird your loins, place your bets and enjoy the weekend.
I need to be quick this week as the end of the day is fast approaching.
This really is the pointy end of the competition with even the Hurricanes a chance of making the semi’s, assuming favourable results
Waratahs should continue their winning ways against the Highlanders in the deep south.
My head says the Stormers should win, but my heart says the Crusaders will do what the Crusaders do - win even when the are not playing well. I might be watching this game with one eye closed… maybe both. It will be very tense at my house.
Hurricanes to win against a predictable Chief’s side. The Canes really looked the goods at the start of the season. Will they surprise at the end?
Reds have to be considered the favourites going into this one. Not sure history is on their side in Canberra, but they’ll take another close one.
Cheetahs v Blues might be fun to watch, both sides can score a lot of points. Blues defence should carry the day.
Force to go well this week against the Lions in the republic.
Bulls at home are a real force to be reckoned with and although the Sharks will be aware of the challenge I expect them to come up short.
Are the REDS a chance to win the competition this year?
I can’t believe I am even asking this question. However, I am not alone and after watching the game last week you’d have to rate them an outside chance.
I have to think the Chiefs will win against the Cheetahs, but it doesn’t matter in terms of the competition.
This week sets up another brilliant game – between the Reds and the Stormers, both teams are playing exciting rugby. The Reds carry the underdog tag into this one and as such I hope they win. My head says the Stormers have the class.
Last year I recall the Crusaders snuck a draw vs. the Force in Perth… and counted themselves lucky. They have a tough run in to the semi’s this year and need this one maybe even with a bonus point.
Hurricanes vs. Highlander. The Hurricanes need this one to stay alive and should have no trouble against another poorly performing Kiwi side.
Form and home advantage favours the Waratahs against the Brumbies. Is this do or die for the Brumbies?? Maths will be easier next week.
Bulls vs. Lions. The Bulls should win this one comfortably, although local darbies in South Africa are often closer then expected.
Sharks v Blues. As a frustrated Kiwi supporter I should be backing the Blues to beat the Sharks to keep their season alive, but I’m tipping the Sharks to win at home whilst secretly hoping that the Blues will surprise me.
All teams are in action this week.
Even though they lost and I am a Crusaders fan, I did see a lot to like about the way the Waratahs played last week, the Crusaders did it the hard way especially with Carter kicking poorly… again!
There are some good match ups again this week with a number of teams needing to win to stay in contention.
Stormers vs Chiefs might be a close one. The Chiefs have not played to their potential this year and I think the Stormers will have their measure.
Brumbies vs Hurricanes is a hard one to pick. Both teams have underperformed in my view, but the Brumbies have managed to win ugly and this trend should continue.
Blues vs Western Force is an interesting one. Blues should have enough class to take this one.
Crusaders vs Cheetahs. I do hope that Carter gets his kicking boots back this week, but it won’t matter either way though.
I like the Reds this year and the style of rugby they are playing. Sadly, having said that I think the Bulls are a game too far.
Lions vs Sharks might be a torrid affair. I can’t see the Lions getting up over the Sharks even though they are at home.
The Waratahs and the Highlanders have a bye this week.
New Zealand teams finally came to the party last week and leave the competition looking better for it.
I was pretty happy with the draw in the New Zealand capital first game up; and the Blues impressed against the Bulls.
As discussed a couple of weeks ago I was interested to see that the two strongest S.A. teams both lost at the start of their road trips. If this trend continues it will have the affect of compressing the table even further. It will be very interesting to see if they can bounce back this week.
Bulls vs. Chiefs like all the games this week could go either way. I favour the Bulls in this one.
Highlanders and the Force both have poor records this season. I guess the Force have momentum? I tossed a coin toss - tails won.
Blues at home go into this one as my favourites vs. the Stormers.
Despite the conditions on Saturday night the Waratahs looked really good. Did I say that? This should be a great game, but I am going to back history and say that the Crusaders will have their measure. Just!
The last two games look a little more certain. Brumbies to win against the Cheetahs and Reds to hold their own against the Lions.
The Sharks and the Hurricanes have the bye this week.
It’s that time of the year again, yep the wet one…no not Brazil, Malaysia. Fingers crossed we get another race like Melbourne rather than Bahrain.
The podium as I see it:
1. Vettel - no more gremlins please
2. Alonso - the Ferraris are so strong at the moment, I can’t see one not making it.
3. Massa - I’m itching to write Schumacher here but know the Ferraris are quicker cars.
Is Redbull using a ride height adjustment system? Will they get their reliability issues resolved? Can Button outperform Hamilton again? We’ll soon see :)
Happy Easter and happy watching!
It appears that even this far out we are starting to get some idea of who might be in the semi-finals this year. It is possible, depending on results over this week, that a handful of teams will get a break on the rest of the field.
The most important game this week, surprisingly, is between the Waratah’s and Cheetahs at the SFS. Because I will be at the game on Saturday night!
The Waratah’s have struggled, so far this season, to beat teams sitting above them on the table. I don’t see this changing if they do make it to the knock-out stage. Having said that they should account for the Cheetah’s at home.
I do worry about the state of New Zealand rugby at the moment. Apart from the Crusader’s there is not much to smile about. I probably should be tipping the Hurricanes and hoping that they win well… but I’m not.
Western force vs. the Stormer’s leaves me little choice. Stormers again.
The Blue’s can surprise but I expect the Bull’s to have too much class and the Blues to fall away. Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn will dominate.
Chief’s should have enough to beat the Highlander’s. They need to get back to winning ways if the are going to factor near the end.
Shark’s vs Red’s is a good one. I can’t help but think that the Shark’s winning streak; short as it is will come to an abrupt end this week. The Red’s have found a way to win this year even in South Africa.
The Brumbie’s and Lion’s have a bye this week.
Disclaimer. I don’t do blogs. Carlton made me do it.
With two of the stronger teams out and the Bulls in Perth we have more of a level playing field this week.
The teams are a lot closer together in terms of recent form than their respective positions on the table might suggest.
With that in mind, and two perfect weeks behind me, I confidently predict the following:
Highlanders to win as they should have recovered from their trip to S.A. and will score points against a semi-permeable Lions defence.
Chiefs away in what could be a great game. I might be wrong but don’t think the Brumbies can win against the better sides this year without George Smith. He will be missed when he goes north, most especially by the Wallabies.
Reds have always been any easy team to tip IMO. Difference is this year I am tipping them to win. Cheetahs at home are winning… but not this week.
Hurricanes need to get back to winning ways after a good start to the competition. Sharks should not cause them any problems. I do wonder if we have not seen the last of John Smit in a South African jersey.
Waratahs v Blues may be a very tight game depending on which Waratahs’ team come to the game. This is a coin toss for me. Tah’s defence to win it for them at home.
Bulls will win vs. the Western Force.
The Crusader and the Stormers have a bye this week.
Disclaimer. I don’t do blogs. Carlton made me do it.