What an opening week! A big win over the Hurricanes meant that the 2012 Super Rugby season could not have started any better for the DHL Stormers, running in three tries and it could have been four with Joe Pietersen coming up just short at the final whistle. It means the side sit top of the log on points difference after Round One.
It only took four minutes for Gio Aplon to notch up his first try of the season, using his searing pace to dummy on the outside and burst through the hole to give the DHL Stormers an early lead. Following this up with two tries that came on the back of the excellent power in the pack showed how the Stormers have a great variety in their attacking options. It was also good to see Pietersen back in the fold, notching up 21 points with the boot on his return. He was unlucky not to score at the end, but given that my SuperBru prediction had been the Stormers to win by 13 I was not too disappointed.
Looking ahead to this weekend, the Stormers are back at DHL Newlands this time to take on their Durban rivals the Sharks, who lost out to the boot of Morné Steyn in Pretoria last weekend. The pressure will be on Siya Kolisi to step in with captain Schalk Burger ruled out for up to six weeks, but if the Stormers can replicate their power in the pack this weekend and Pietersen nails his kicks, they should win by 5-6 points.
Looking elsewhere, the Force travel to Suncorp to take on the Reds, their second away match so far after losing in Canberra to the Brumbies last weekend. The Queensland side will be eager to perform in front of over 30,000, picking up a 15 -point win in the process. In the other Australian derby of the weekend, the Rebels play their first match of the season at home to the wounded Waratahs. The Tahs impressed despite defeat last week, so seem the obvious pick, but the Rebels could pull a surprise here winning by a narrow 3 points.
Over in New Zealand, expect the Blues to edge out the Chiefs in Waikato by about 5 points in a thriller, whilst the Highlanders will look to back up last week’s superb win by beating the Crusaders in a tight 3 point win at the new Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Back in South Africa, it won’t get any easier for the Hurricanes against the Lions in Johannesburg, despite fly-half Beauden Barrett impressing last week in Cape Town. I’m backing the Currie Cup champions to win by about 8 points, whilst the Cheetahs should just lose out to the Bulls in Bloemfontein depending on the kicking duel between Johan Goosen and Morné Steyn, by either 6 or 9 points.
That’s all for this week, don’t forget to make your picks on SuperBru and good luck!