Former Reds and Wallabies forward Mark Connors previews Round 5 of Super Rugby.
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Chiefs v Stormers
Friday 14/3/14 @ 16:35
The Chiefs will be fresh having come off a bye, while the impressive Stormers come off two hard games and the tough travel schedule from South Africa. The Stormers are playing with confidence and their physicality and defence are causing opposition teams difficulty. However they have suffered some injury setbacks, with a number of front line players sent home this week. While the Stormers will provide solid resistance, the Chiefs will be fresh and too potent in attack and should be able to secure the home win.
My pick: Chiefs to win
Rebels v Crusaders
Friday 14/3/14 @ 18:40
Rebels coach Tony McGahan learnt a harsh lesson last week after “resting” a number of players following one good win and then getting schooled by the previously unbackable Force team. They will be better this week and have surprised the Crusaders before – but not this week in my view. The Crusaders narrowly escaped with their first win last week and will be more settled with that pressure off them.
My pick: Crusaders to win, but it could be close
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Saturday 15/3/14 @ 13:35
The Canes are none from three and the pressure is building on their players & coaching staff, with the critics lining up. They will need to sure up their defence to beat the Cheetahs who can score from anywhere, but I am going to lean towards the home side this week. The Cheetahs can be tamed, but the Canes will need discipline!
My pick: Hurricanes to win
Highlanders v Force
Saturday 15/3/14 @ 16:35
The Highlanders come off a bye, while the Force will be buoyed by their efforts last week against a dismal Rebels side. With inconsistency a feature of both sides over recent years, it’s hard to get too excited or confident about the result of this game and the win will be decided by who shows up on the day………....and my pick is one team won't!
My pick: Highlanders will be more consistent
Brumbies v Waratahs
Saturday 15/3/14 @ 18:40
This may turn out to be either the match of the round or a good old fashioned dust up. With fresh accusations of “dobbing” on the end of season Wallaby tour (Waratahs' claims against Brumbies Mowen & Moore), there is sure to be plenty of feeling in this local derby. The Brumbies were solid last week against the Hurricanes, with inspiration provided by their fallen skipper David Pocock. Assuming the Waratahs are on their game (and not letting their egos or trash talk distract them), I expect they have the grunt up front and talent out wide to win in Canberra. But the Tahs will need to bring their A game!
My pick: Waratahs to win
Lions v Blues
Saturday 15/3/14 @ 23:00
The Blues promised much, but didn’t deliver in the last round against the Bulls. Too many errors and defensive lapses meant they were not in the contest. The Lions were similar against the Sharks, though fought back strongly as the game wore on. This should be a closely fought match, though I do expect a lot of points scored. While it’s a risk, I will lean the way of the home side which has shown great improvement this year. At home, against a Blues side who gives away their fair share of penalties, I think the Lions can get home.
My pick: Lions to win at home
Sharks v Reds
Sunday 16/3/14 @ 01:05
The Sharks keep on improving under new coach, Jake White, and will be super confident against a Reds side who have been a little erratic thus far. While the home side is a hot favourite for this game, I'm going to suggest the Reds can take the Sharks on at the breakdown and fix their defensive lapses to cause a big upset. It would be a massive achievement to win in Durban, but if they fancy themselves as title contenders this is a game the Reds need to target.
My pick: I'm going for an upset by the Reds
Mark Connors, former Reds and Wallabies forward
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