The time has come for certain teams to either stand up and start winning of they will not make the play-offs this year.
The worrying factor is that almost all the South African teams excluding the Lions are falling in this group of teams.
We have some exiting matches coming up this weekend and in Europe we have the European Cup also playing out.
The Blues and Highlanders are both coming of wins last week.
For the Highlanders it was yet again an great win and the Blues struggled past the Sunwolves.
The Blues will want to correct the mistakes from there first match with the Highlanders which they dominated the whole game but lost on the scoreboard.
The Highlanders claimed a 41-3 win in Dunedin early on in the season and they will go as favourites into the match again this weekend.
They have won 9 out of the last 12 matches against the Blues and even if they are away from home we expect another win for Ben Smith team.
This match is normally a close contest and it is definitely a game to look forward to.
Gatland is back for the Blues and he will bring some more stability to the team and backline.
Blues made several changes to their team with Gatland returning to number 10, and Perofeta moving to 15.
The tight five remains mostly intact with the versatile Jimmy Tupou moving into the second-row – a role he has played often – alongside the in-form Patrick Tuipulotu who will be honoured after the game having achieved his 50th cap for the Blues in last weekend’s win over the Sunwolves in Tokyo.
Prediction: The will be another close contest but the Highlanders will have to much for the Blues by atleast 11 points.
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi/Mike Tamoaieta, 2 James Parsons, 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds/Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Mike Tamoaieta/Sione Mafileo, 19 Ben Neenee, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Tumua Manu, 23 Matt Duffie
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (cc), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Alex Ainley, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes
The Lions are on tour and first up is the Waratahs in Sydney this weekend.
The Waratahs have gone quietly on their merry way this season and got some good wins under the belt and will be a difficult team to beat at home for the Lions.
They have won their last four games but the Lions is the top South African team at the moment.
Both teams are leading their respective conferences and will want to get a win this weekend.
The Waratahs have improved their offload game and are playing with width this season.
They have scored some great tries and are looking like the dangerous team they should be in the Aussie conference.
This game will be the Waratahs toughest yet this season and they will have to proof now that they can also beat the top teams in the competition.
It will be a huge battle upfront with the Lions having dominated most teams for the past few years with their tight five.
There are not many better than the Lions at set pieces and something the Waratahs would have take note off.
The Lions also have a great weapon in the driving maul which Waratahs coach Gibson notice.
“While we are one of the smaller packs going around, we are punching above our weight and we have certainly cleaned up our vulnerabilities in terms of stopping lineout drives. We see that as a real strength the Lions possess, and something we are going to have to be very good in stopping on Friday night,” he said.
Naiyaravoro have been great this season and he is a real treat to the Lions.
The best hooker in the world, Malcolm Marx has been brilliant again this season and will be a marked man.
He has won 12 turnovers this season so far and are deadly on the run as well with skills to back that up.
Tahs have only made one change with Staniforth in the second row
For the Lions Nic Groom will make his debut for the team of the bench.
Mostert will move to flank and captain the team with Whiteley still out injured.
Orie and Ferreira will make up the second row.
Van Rooyen will replace Ferreira at prop.
Prediction: I tend to want to go for the home team but believe the Lions will pull through with 7 points
Waratahs: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Nick Palmer, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Will Miller, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Lalakai Foketi
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Franco Mostert (c), 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza
The Crusaders are taking on the Sunwolves this weekend who has not won a game this season so far and it does not look like they will start this weekend.
The Sunwolves look like a team that can only keep up with other Super Rugby side for the best part of forty minutes then slowly fade away.
It is there third season in the competition but the progress has been slow to non existent.
I am not a big fan in the inclusion of this team in Super Rugby and I do not see the benefit in them playing except the money SANZAAR gets out of it.
The Crusaders have started slow this season but have stayed in touch with the top teams.
They are slowly getting their injured All Blacks back and this weekend will see Owen Franks and Israel Dagg back into the starting fifteen.
Can only see one way traffic in this game and another huge loss for the Sunwolves.
Prediction: Saders by 45 +
Crusaders – 15 George Bridge, 14. Israel Dagg, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Chris King, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Jack Stratton, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Seta Tamanivalu.
Sunwolves: 15 William Tupou, 14 Hosea Saumaki, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Michael Little, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Pieter Lappies Labuschagne (c), 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 James Moore, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Craig Millar
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Shintaro Ishihara, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Sam Wykes, 20 Edward Quirk, 21 Yutaka Nagare, 22 Ryoto Nakamura, 23 Semisi Masirewa
The Reds will be hosting the Chiefs this weekend and will have to make a huge improvement to beat the New Zealanders.
With the Chiefs coming of a lost in their last game they will also be more motivated to beat the Australian side.
With perfect record in the last few years against Aussie sides it will not be easy.
The Reds have shown some good play this year but they are not consistent enough and they give to many penalties away this season.
The Chiefs has a good balanced side and one struggle to see this game going anywhere else than to the Chiefs.
Prediction: Chiefs by 30+
Reds – 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Izaia Perese, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ben Lucas, 8 Caleb Timu, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper (c).
Replacements 16 Alex Mafi, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Harry Hockings, 20 George Smith, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Jordan Petaia.
Chiefs – 15 Charlie Ngatai (co-c), 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Fa’auli, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (co-c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Luke Jacobson, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Alex Nankivell.
The Bulls return to Loftus this weekend to face the Rebels with their tails up after giving the Sharks a rugby lesson in the wet last week.
The team has grown under coach Mitch and have shown some great skills this season.
The most impressive aspect of the Bulls side this last couple of games have been their tight five and set pieces.
They are becoming a team with 15 players and not just certain individuals playing in a team.
The Rebels on the other hand had an easy start to their season and came away with great wins but they have not beaten a top team this season which is worrying.
The Waratahs have also not overtaken them on the Aussie log and with them struggling on tour in the past this weekend will be a huge game for them.
This can be the game of the weekend as both teams match up quit well against each other.
With so much on the line we expect a great game and one to be watching this weekend.
Prediction: I have to go Bulls by 12 points
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal (c), 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Marco van Staden, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Shaun Adendorff, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Duncan Matthews
Rebels – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman (c), 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Billy Meakes, 23 Sefa Naivalu.
Two teams almost out of the running which means desperation will set in this weekeed as the Sharks host the Stormers on Saturday.
Supporters of both side will be pulling out their hair with the performances these two teams have dished up this season.
With no consistency one almost want to say their is no desire in them to perform.
Just as you think they have turned a corner they come up with a mediocre performance.
Both teams does not look like they have a solid game plan and no Plan B as well.
Although they have the players to dominate scrums and lineouts they have been poor and not much better on the ground.
Both teams defence have been poor and although they can score tries from anywhere on the field if they can hold on to the ball.
Prediction: Sharks by 7, I am just pulling this out of the hat..
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (c), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Juan Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Lwazi Mvovo
Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Craig Barry, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian De Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 SP Marais, 23 JJ Engelbrecht
The last game of the weekend is Sunday when the Brumbies host the Jaguares.
With a win last week in their first game on tour against the Rebels the Jaguares will want to keep that momentum while they play Aussie teams.
This is surely a game that the Jaguares will target to win as the Brumbies has also been one of those teams that struggle to keep momentum.
When the Jaguares are allowed to go wide and play their hand to hand game they are able to beat any team on the day but they quickly struggle when teams put pressure on them.
If the Jaguares can get a good start then they will be unstoppable against this Brumbies side.
The Brumbies is and look like a team in a building phase and that is their biggest concern to play a good game for 80 minutes.
Prediction: Jaguares by 6 for me, I believe they will have enough against the Brumbies to squeeze a win
Brumbies – TBC
Jaguares – TBC
Here is the full schedule for the weekend
||Jonsson Kings Park Stadium
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