First up in the play-offs is the Crusaders entertaining the Reds at home. These are two seasoned campaigners – the Crusaders have won the thing umpteen times – not recently though – while the Reds won it two years ago. The Crusaders have put together a good run of results to get into the final, including thumping the Chiefs and they have a big advantage being at home, but the win is by no means a foregone conclusion. This is like New Zealand taking on France – half of the Crusaders are All Blacks anyway, and the Reds take on Frances role – they are going to have to bring something completely leftfield to win this. Messer’s Cooper and Genia and are going to decide this match I think, if the Crusaders shut them down, the Crusaders will win easily, but if the Red’s playmakers get a free hand, the Reds will win. On balance, I think the Crusaders aren’t going to let this one slip. Great to see McCaw on the bench too.
The other match is lot more up in the air. The Brumbies haven’t been contenders for ages, and the Cheetahs never have! Jake White has drilled discipline in the Brumbies, so that all their set pieces are excellent, their defense is sound, and they have a great kicker. They have some good attacking backs too, Lealiifano, Speight and Mogg, their game plan doesn’t generally give them much scope but they are potent on the counter attack. The Free State is frankly the last place you’d expect innovation and flair from, but they are delivering that in spades this season, and they have confidence too. Their pack is massive and will test out all the Brumbies weaknesses, and their flair is going to cause problems for the Brumbies defense. It’s a hell of a long way to travel for a match though, and I don’t know if they have the self belief to win this one, but I’m going with a Cheetahs victory against the odds.
Super Rugby Saturday , July 20 Crusaders vs Reds Sunday , July 21 Brumbies vs Cheetahs