The Tank's predictions
Time for Tank Lanning run the rule over the 5 matches making up the Rugby 5 bet this week … 4 of them Super Rugby matches and the last one an international extravaganza featuring the British and Irish Lions against the Barbarians in Hong Kong.
Each Rugby 5 bet comprises 5 matches, which are labelled M1 to M5. In each match the home team is shown as Team A and the other as Team B, and you must predict the results of all 5 matches using one of the following 5 result options:
1 = Team A to win by difference of 1 to 12 points (say 7-3, 10-9, 24-12 etc)
2 = Team A to win by difference of 13 points or more (say 19-6, 20-3, 32-6 etc)
3 = Draw
4 = Team B to win by difference of 1 to 12 points
5 = Team B to win by difference of 13 points or more
So a look at the weekend then …
M 1 – Highlanders vs Blues
Both teams off losses last week, which is no surprise for the Highlanders given that they have only managed 1 win in 12 outings this year! On paper, not a bad side, but between the white lines, they are quite a few sandwiches short of the old picnic. The Blues have been terribly inconsistent, but there is no shame in losing to the Brumbies, even at home. But that first half of theirs last week was abysmal, and in Otago, they are going to need more of the gummy berry juice they seemed to take at half time last week. Either that, or the good old fashioned hairdryer treatment from coach John Kirwin from the get go. The Blues are still in with a shout of making the playoffs, while the Highlanders are playing for the jersey. It should be one way traffic, but it is a Kiwi derby, and one never knows when those Highlanders will fire.
My Rugby 5 pick: 4
M 2 – Reds vs Rebels
Reds off a truly horrific tour of South Africa where they went down to both the Cheetahs and the Stormers while putting in fairly flat performances. This while the Rebels – who were also complete rabble when touring South Africa - have beaten both the Stormers and the high riding Waratahs at home in recent weeks. So recent form suggest easy pickings for the Melbourne side. But the Reds, still in with a shout of making the playoffs, unlike the Rebels, will be a lot better against a side without the defence of the Stormers, and both Will Genia and Quade Cooper, controversially left out of the Wallaby squad to face the Lions, will be itching to impress.
My Rugby 5 pick: 1
M 3 – Barbarians vs British & Irish Lions
What a truly salivating clash! It’s almost a clash of two World XV’s playing in a trial match to take on Mars … The Lions really are a great concept and a fantastic tradition that seems to have survived the onslaught of professionalism, unlike many “Old fashioned” traditions sadly. We get our first look at this 2013 side that has already gone through some controversy given the non selection of Jonny Wilkinson and the suspension of Dylan Hartley, and I am sure Warren Gatland will be looking to get this tour off to a winning start. No Baa-Baa exhibition rugby from the men in red I don’t think, even in Hong Kong. It’s the second time out for the Baa-Baa’s though, and they will be looking to bounce back from their 40-12 hammering from the young English side last week. But even with some stellar names (like Joe Rokocoko, Casey Laulala, Nick Evans, Sergio Parisse, Martin Castrogiovanni etc), and a ban on booze this week, I cannot see them derailing a Lions side so determined to get the tour off on the right foot.
My Rugby 5 pick: 5
M 4 – Stormers vs Kings
The Stormers had a horrible tour, and after topping the South African conference last year, now find themselves in the unfamiliar position of being mere spectators - which will be hurting them like no words can describe - while making sure they remain clear of the all new promotion/relegation game against the Lions. A match seemingly earmarked for their opposition on Saturday. And while the Kings have impressed hugely in their first year in the tournament, winning three games thus far, beating the Stormers, who gutssed out a win against the Reds last week using their Fort Knox like defence to frustrate Mr Cooper, at Newlands, just seems a tad fairytale like. Luke Watson, not shy of a fairytale himself, vs Siya Kolisi, will be fun to watch, though, as will Demetri Katrakilis vs Elton Jantjies – the latter brought in to replace the former, who was deemed surplus to company requirements.
My Rugby 5 pick: 2
M 5 – Cheetahs vs Bulls
And so we get to this weekend’s pudding game in Bloemfontein, and it is monumental given that it is more than likely the game that will decide the SA conference. Raymond Rhule is back for Cheetahs, while Arno Botha, seemingly the lovechild of Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, is back for the Bulls. But it is the Jan Serfontein and JJ Engelbrecht vs Robert Ebersohn and Johann Sadie clash that will get the hearts pumping ... and the coolerboxes emptied. That is a Bok trial right there. Not to mention Pierre Spies vs Phillip van der Walt and Deon Stegmann vs Heinrich Brussow! The Bulls have never lost the the Cheetahs in Super Rugby though, and I have a feeling that Morne Steyn’s experience will prevail over Elgar Watts.
My Rugby 5 pick: 4
You can choose more than one result in one or more matches, but I am going with the cut and dried 5 calls for 5 games this weekend …