AUCKLAND, NZ – Truth be told, this country is on a massive high after the sporting events of this week. This may come to a shock to those of you outside of NZ, but it’s not the All Blacks that have captured the public’s imagination, but the national cricket team, who have qualified for the World Cup Final for the first time. Which therefore makes this round of Super Rugby probably the least anticipated ever as everyone looks forward to a potential showdown with Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (capacity 100,000). In another nice bit of symmetry the Black Caps managed to beat South Africa at Eden Park the other night in the semi final, meaning the Southern Hemisphere was well represented at the business end of the tournament. Is it a foreshadowing of what will happen later in the year at the Rugby World Cup? After watching what the very turgid Six Nations had to offer, most probably.
Here’s the action coming up in Round Seven:
At Westpac Stadium, Wellington: Hurricanes vs. Rebels #HURvREB Prediction: Canes by 20
At Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane: Reds vs. Lions #REDvLIO Prediction: Lions by 2
At Waikato Stadium, Hamilton: Chiefs vs. Cheetahs #CHIvCHE Prediction: Chiefs by 25
At Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin: Highlanders vs. Stormers #HIGvSTO Prediction: Highlanders by 5
At Allianz Stadium, Sydney: Waratahs vs. Blues #WARvBLU Prediction: Waratahs by 15
At Kings Park, Durban: Sharks vs. Force #SHAvFOR Prediction: Sharks by 9
At Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria: Bulls vs. Crusaders #BULvCRU Prediction: Crusaders by 5
The Brumbies have the bye.
The Hurricanes play their first game this season in the capital, hopefully a big crowd shows up after their amazing 5-0 start to the season. They have taken the opportunity to rest All Blacks Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles and Julian Savea, with James Marshall taking Barrett’s spot at 10.
Dan Carter will start at first five for the Crusaders in Pretoria for the first time this season, having started the last two games in the 12 jersey.
Speaking of 10’s, wandering soul Daniel Bowden will get his first chance to impress for the Blues, replacing Ihaia West. Bowden has spent the last few seasons in Japan and the UK, having originally been a star for Northland in the ITM Cup and a reasonably forgettable signing for the Highlanders.
The Highlanders woes at open side continue, with James Lentjes (who?) set to be their fifth player to wear the 7 jersey this season. If I were him I’d probably wear a different number, that one seems to be cursed.
The Lions will be on a high after their upset win over the Rebels last week, if they can pull off another result in Brisbane they’ll be heading home with a highly respectable 2 from 3 record on their Australasian trip.
Game To Watch: No local derbies means the game with the best history to call upon is the Bulls/Crusaders match at Loftus. Here’s a look at a classic match at the same venue from 2010:
Here’s how the table looks heading into round seven:
Enjoy the footy this weekend…and the cricket of course! #BackTheBlackCaps
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