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Xerox Golden Lions 10 10 48
Vodacom Blue Bulls 10 8 39
DHL Western Province 10 7 35
Toyota Free State Cheetahs 10 3 24
Cell C Sharks 10 4 22
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Super Rugby 2014: Round 1 preview and predictions


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Super Rugby on 13 Feb 2014 at 12:51
Tagged with : , ,

Right, we have all the teams named, so let’s dive straight into Round 1, which is more of an hors d’oeuvre than a main course this year, since only two matches will take place.

Match 1: Cheetahs v Lions (Saturday 17h05)

Last year’s surprise knock-out contestants come up against last year’s, um, Vodacom Cup winners. Obviously there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then and the Lions are now back in Super Rugby, for better or worse. Matches between these teams always seem to be closer on grass than they should be on paper and early-season games are notoriously hard to call. That said, the Cheetahs have looked good in pre-season (admittedly against weak opposition) and have bought well to replace those players who’ve left. In fact, the annual drain of talent from Bloemfontein has been more of a trickle than a flood this year, meaning a fair deal of continuity for Naka Drotske’s men. Their pack, with Springboks Adriaan Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen in the van, will be a handful. The Lions, in contrast, have the look of a team in trouble before a ball has even been kicked. Their lack of depth was ruthlessly exposed by the Sharks last weekend and with six debutants in their starting fifteen this week (four of them in the tight five) it’s hard to predict anything other than a very long afternoon for Johan Ackermann’s young side. Our call is for a Cheetahs win by around 15 points.

Toyota Cheetahs: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Cornal Hendricks, 13. Johann Sadie, 12. Francois Venter, 11. Raymond Rhule, 10. Johan Goosen, 9. Shaun Venter, 8. Philip van der Walt, 7. Lappies Labuschagné, 6. Boom Prinsloo, 5. Francois Uys, 4. Lood de Jager, 3. Coenie Ooshuizen, 2. Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1. Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16. Ryno Barnes, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Maks van Dyk, 19. Ligtoring Landman, 20. Jean Cook, 21. Sarel Pretorius, 22. Elgar Watts, 23. Rayno Benjamin.

Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley (capt), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Francois de Klerk, 22 Coenie van Wyk, 23 Alwyn Hollenbach.

Match 2: Sharks v Bulls (Saturday 19h10)

The second match should be an interesting affair indeed, with all and sundry blowing plenty of hot air up every possible Sharks orifice ahead of any meaningful action having taken place. Jake White has named a strong 23, featuring no fewer than 14 capped Springboks, but long-suffering Sharks fans will know that rugby results are seldom decided on reputation alone and that a strong team lineup hasn’t always, in the past, naturally translated into on-field success for this team. The Bulls, in contrast, have lost a huge amount of experience from their 2013 squad and have thus included a smattering of youth to complement their Bok core, which includes veterans like Pierre Spies, Flip van der Merwe, Francois Hougaard and Akona Ndungane. A pair of exciting young Bok centres will give Bulls fans some hope here, but it will fall to their pack, which includes a fair few younger players such as Paul Willemse, Jono Ross and Jacques du Plessis, to take a big step up and show they can compete with the Sharks’ start-studded eight. The sticky Durban conditions will prove a leveler, but despite all thoughts to the contrary, one simply has to look at the home side for the win here, if for no other reason than that amazing starting pack. Sharks to prevail by around 8 points.

Cell C Sharks: 15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Anton Bresler, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Stephan Lewies, 20. Jean Deysel, 21. Charl McLeod, 22. Heimar Williams, 23. S’bura Sithole

Vodacom Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (capt), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers.



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