Time for Tank Lanning to run the rule over the five matches making up the Rugby 5 bet this week ...
Two scintillating Super Rugby semi-finals to look forward to, but only one of them sneaks into the Rugby5 bet this week sadly - the Sunday game between the Brumbies and the Cheetahs. The other four games making up the bet all come from the Currie Cup 1st division, making it all the more tricky to call ...
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...
M 1 - Boland vs Valke
Having only played three rounds of the Currie Cup 1st division, it is still very early days in terms of talking about form, but already the log seems to be taking shape, and given that this game sees 4th vs 6th on the log going head to head, both sides will see themselves as contenders. Boland, off a tight 22-20 over Border in Wellington, but showing signs of good form, while the Valke went down 37-38 to SWD in an incredible game. They had a 32-10 lead shortly after the break, but the tables turned as SWD took advantage of the Valke's permeable defence in the second half to run in four tries, and this will no doubt be playing on their minds in wellington this weekend. Too tough to call a winner I am afraid ... Time to call on the double option.
My Rugby5 pick: 1 and 4
M 2 - Leopards vs Pumas
The big Currie Cup 1st division game of the weekend ... 1st plays 2nd on the log, and with both sides unbeaten, the Leopards take top spot via an extra bonus point. They are off a good 22-18 win against EP in PE, while the Pumas destroyed the Griffons 56-10. The Leopards dominated the first half last weekend, but a change of tactics by the home side after the break - making the call to retain possession rather than pursue their kicking, got them back into the match and left the Leopards feeding off the scraps. Same again this weekend, and they could hurt. Especially with in-form Pumas fly-half Carl Bezuidenhout having notched up 19 points last week, while wing JW Bell's hat-trick of tries took the team's total to seven. I am afraid it is time to haul out the extra R10.00 for another option.
My Rugby5 pick: 1 and 4
M 3 - SWD vs EP
Battle of the Kings franchise partners ... And no doubt another resulting in another tight match that is pretty tough to call. SWD are currently 3rd on the log, while EP are in 6th place. The clash between SWD and the Valke last week was a thriller with the match featuring a try festival, as the Eagles scored six tries to the home team's five, to secure their second away win. So they will head into this game full of confidence. EP, on the other hand, even though dominating the second half against the Leopards, are coming off a an 18-22 loss, and with their big brothers fighting for survival in the Super Rugby arena, it just might see them taking their eye off this ball.
My Rugby5 pick: 1
M 4 - Brumbies vs Cheetahs
One in of the nasty anomalies of this new Super Rugby format, these teams have yet to meet this year, but the Cheetahs did lose by a point to the Brumbies in Canberra last season after a controversial scrum penalty which was later deemed to be incorrect by referee Keith Brown. Having qualified for the finals series for the first time ever, the Cheetahs, if they can get past the nerves, should take a lot of confidence into the game after success this year in Australia against the Waratahs and Force, as well as their win last year against the Rebels in Melbourne. They can definitely win away from home, especially in Aus! The Australian Conference winners were rusty in their first match after the Lions Test window and subsequently slumped to a surprise 15-21 loss to the Force at the weekend. But in their last game before the bye last weekend, the Cheetahs were hardly stellar against the Stormers. It looked like the players came back from their time with the Boks thinking they could take on the Cape side in the line-outs and scrums, instead of playing their traditional game. The end result was that the Cheetahs were suffocated out of the game! And that tape will be like porn for Jake White! He is big on abrasive, defensive Test match type rugby. On average, they have let through only 18.4 points per game this season, which is second only to the Stormers 18.3. White has said it is a misnomer that the Cheetahs do not kick, and he is right. Every side plays for territory, but it's what they do when in the opposition half that counts. Willie le Roux will be key, but there is no need for him to be the hero in every play. It is said that defence gets you to the finals, but attack wins you those crux games. On 43 tries for the season, making them the 5th best side, the Brumbies are no slouches on attack. The Cheetahs are chasing their first victory in five trips to Canberra ... The odds, as they say, are against them.
My Rugby5 pick: 1
M 5 - Border vs Griffons
A battle of the bottom feeders in the Currie Cup 1st division as we see 7th on the log Border taking on the bottom placed Griffons, although both are on the same amount of log points - 2! The Griffons are coming off a 56-10 pasting from the Pumas, while Border will be a lot more confident after running Boland close in Wellington last weekend. Fly-half Cecil Dumond was in top form for the Eastern Cape side, and I see him causing further damage this weekend.
My Rugby5 pick: 2