Former Reds and Wallabies forward Mark Connors previews Round 13 of Super Rugby.
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Chiefs v Blues
Friday 9/5/14 @ 17:35
With both sides back in winning form, this will be a keenly fought contest. The Blues are certainly on the up and are looking strong again with some powerful individual performances, especially in their backline. While the Chiefs depth is being sorely tested, I expect they will be well enough drilled to grind this game out.
Pick: Chiefs to win but Blues will run them close.
Rebels v Hurricanes
Friday 9/5/14 @ 19:40
The Rebels will be looking to bounce back after letting a great opportunity to beat the Sharks pass them by last week. The Hurricanes are riding high though and were unlucky themselves against dogged Waratahs who just wouldn’t give in. Assuming that form continues, I expect the greater attacking prowess of the Canes will see them home, though they will need to pick up their sloppy defence. The Rebels wont give it away though.
Pick: Hurricanes to win.
Highlanders v Lions
Saturday 10/5/14 @ 17:35
The Highlanders toured well, and while they will be weary from travel, should be glad to be back in front of their home crowd. The Lions fought for 30 minutes last week, before fading badly, and will be looking to put in a better effort this week. Aaron Smith at 9 is leading the way for the home side and they have the attacking weapons wider out to take this game.
Pick: Highlanders on home soil.
Brumbies v Sharks
Saturday 10/5/14 @ 19:40
This game will be a psychological feast with former coach Jake White leading his new side (the Sharks) back into Canberra to face a Brumbies unit he led to the finals in 2013…. and then abruptly left! Both coaches will be trying to press all the right buttons to fire their players up for this one, which I expect will be one of the highlights of the round. Both sides look evenly matched across the park, though I am expecting the home side to be more motivated, after a poor display last week and coming up against their former coach.
Pick: Brumbies at home.
Cheetahs v Force
Sunday 11/5/14 @ 1:05
The Cheetahs have regained their form in previous weeks and are playing physical rugby and contesting everything. They can largely thank Heinrich Brüssow at 6. He's been key for them since his return and his aggression has also lifted team mates. The Force come off a bye week and will be fresh and eager to claim some much needed points while on tour. While they will again play the spoiling, smothering rugby that has been successful for them so far this year, I feel the Cheetahs at home should match their physicality and have the ability to build points.
Pick: Cheetahs to win.
Bulls v Stormers
Sunday 11/5/14 @ 3:10
This will be a physical derby, with both sides back into winning form and both desperate to claim the points. The Bulls are difficult to top at home and showed as much last week after a win was looking unlikely for most of the contest. I do though like the resurgent form of the Stormers and they will need to be at their best for this match up, which will see the Bulls try to dominate up front.
My pick: I'll tip Stormers in an upset.
Reds v Crusaders
Sunday 11/5/14 @ 16:05
The Reds woes continue with the weight of losses getting greater each week. Their inconsistency, missed tackles and errors across 80 minutes is costing them dearly and they will need to take the battle (and I literally mean a physical battle) to the in-form Crusaders to even come close. Injuries make it even harder this week though with F-Sautia, Liam Gill and Ed Quirk out, along with the suspended James Slipper. The odds tell the tale…………..
My pick: The Crusaders should take this one.
Mark Connors, former Reds and Wallabies forward
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