Time for Tank Lanning to run the rule over the five matches making up the Rugby 5 bet this week ...
And again we have a wonderful mix of Test and Currie Cup rugby. All Blacks onto flyhalf number three and looking raw at lock, but playing at home against a new look Aussie side who were perhaps a little better than last week’s scoreline suggested, while the Boks move onto the scene of last year’s lucky escape against the Pumas, but looking a lot more balanced. And locally, it takes a brave man to call a Currie Cup result with any conviction …
Each Rugby 5 bet comprises five 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 five matches using one of the following five 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...
M1 - New Zealand vs Australia
Out of the 147 times the Aussies and All Blacks have played each other, Australia have lost 100 of them, with last week requiring the Aussies to raise their bat for the wrong reasons! And they were all so excited too … What with the arrival of a new coach and new fly half, but this came crashing down via a heavy defeat to the World Champion All Blacks. The Wallaby camp face an uphill task in Wellington yet again. Australia’s failure to win in New Zealand in over 12 years will play on the minds of the players who will have been demoralized by the six tries they conceded on home soil last week. However, a wounded Wallaby has proved to be dangerous in the past, and with Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett both being out injured, they will target the new man Tom Taylor. Cruden has stepped into Carter’s boots magnificently in 2013, but now with Barrett out as well, could we see a weakness at New Zealand’s beloved first five eight? Unlikely, given that the man on the bench is Colin Slade! Their depth is just amazing. Also, given their dominance up front last week, it is very difficult to see Australia causing an upset in Wellington.
My Rugby5 pick: 2
M2 – Valke vs Leopards
In their first round match earlier in the year, the Leopards hammered the Valke 50-25 at Potchefstroom. At home in Kempton Park, the Valke will be desperate to show the boys from Potch that they are a team bouncing back from a tricky start to the season. Thje botton line, though is that the Leopards are third on the log, while the Valke look up from the bottom rung. The Leopards, in beating Boland 22-17, proved last week that they can win tight games. Former SA U20 wing Luther Obi will be looking to add to the 2 tries he scored last week, while Adriaan Engelbrecht’s consistency off the kicking tee will no doubt be a factor. For the Valke, Former Bok speedster Jongi Nokwe scored two tries in their 50-35 loss to the Griffons last week. Nokwe’s team mates will be looking to him for inspiration through his dazzling pace and finishing ability, attributes that saw him run in four tries against the Wallabies at Ellis park in 2008. The Leopards have been too dominant in recent weeks, however and their strong forward pack, steered by a quick and versatile back row should see them home with relative comfort.
My Rugby5 pick: 4
M3 – Griquas vs Western Province
I have no doubt in my mind that we have a nail biter on our hands here! As with most of the Currie Cup games this year, both sides have been involved in close games, and despite a narrow loss to the Bulls at Loftus last week, Griquas will be confident going into their first home game of the year against a young WP side yet to play away from home. A last gasp Deon Fourie try, via their traditional attacking weapon, the driving maul, got WP home against Cheetahs last week, and they will look to gather momentum on their travels. Expect big things this week from the fleet footed Gio Aplon and his prodigy, Cheslin Kolbe. The pair have been hindered by the wet weather in recent weeks, but that could all change on the hard dry surface in Kimberley. Kurt Coleman gets the nod at flyhalf given the injury to Gary van Aswegen, so there will no doubt be a few nerves around. Griquas lock Hilton Lobberts, having fought back from many an injury problem since his Bok call up in 2006, will continually look for work around the field, stamping down his dominance on some of the Province youngsters, who would have watched Lobberts on the big screen growing up. Perhaps key, is how the home pack will go without Lourens Adriaanse, who is now with the Boks in Argentina. He has been monstrous this year. If the Province side can match the physicality of the Griquas pack, expect to see the Province backline fire. That is a pretty big if, though, and I reckon it is worth shelling out for a double option here.
My Rugby5 pick: 1 and 4
M4 – Bulls vs Lions
Top of the log vs bottom of the log! But let that deceive you at your own peril! That said, despite their return to Super Rugby, the Lions have now lost two games in the Currie Cup, but have been unlucky not to have racked up more points on the log. They have played with a great deal of ambition, including looking to run the ball from their own half, and even their twenty-two metre line on a number of occasions. Elton Jantjies has been kicking his goals and looks far more comfortable in the red and white, than in the blue and white. They went down to the Sharks last week, but scores some incredible tries doing so. Across the Jukskei, the Bulls have put in two mature performances in their start to the season, despite having a young and relatively inexperienced side due to injuries and Bok call ups. They have terrific depth, though, and youngsters such as the other Jantjies, Tony (what a battle this will be!) and Grant Hattingh have put their hands up to show that they are genuine title contenders. It was not pretty last week, but in gutsing out a penalty only win against Griquas last week, the Bulls showed that they can “Win ugly”. At scrumhalf, Ruan Snyman will earn his first start, swapping places with Rudy Paige, Bongi Mbonambi who will start at hooker in place of the injured Callie Visagie, while new recruit, Jacques Engelbrecht, will earn his first start for his new team should he be called upon from the bench.
My Rugby5 pick: 1
M5 – Argentina vs South Africa
Played 16, won 15, drawn 1. Last result 73-13 … Put me down for Boks by a lot more than 12 I hear you say. Probably a good call, but … that draw came this time last year at the very venue that the 2 sides will meet on Saturday, a week after the Boks had won fairly convincingly in Cape Town. A few fundamental changes to the make up of the 2 sides in the last 12 months though. Either to retirement or injury, Argentina have lost several players who have customarily provided their backbone. Players like captain and No 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, lock Patricio Albacete and ironman prop Rodrigo Roncero. And they just do not have the depth of their fellow Rugby Champs sides. An uncompromising and angry pack is a key pillar of their game-plan, yet last week they were forced to blood the raw, 20-year-old Matias Diaz at tighthead. And it did not work out well … This while the Boks have moved on from the under confident Francois Hougaard, stable at best Zane Kirchner, and confusing selection of Jacques Potgieter, to a stellar loose trio of Francois Louw, Willem Alberts and Duane Vermeulen, a Morne Steyn who as added massively to his game, and the super exciting Willie le Roux. You just feel the Boks probably have Argentina’s number at present, irrespective of where they may do battle. Expect a similar first half to last week, with the Boks looking to play in the Argentina half and just suffocate them into submission.
My Rugby5 pick: 5