Super 15 insider: Expert picks, round five previews

By Dylan Cleaver


Bye: Brumbies

Hamilton, tonight 7.35pm
Referee: Garratt Williamson

Mike Greenaway: Sharks
Dylan Cleaver: Chiefs
Andrew Slack: Chiefs
Rachel Glucina: Sharks
Wynne Gray: Chiefs

THE MATCH: This round one fixture provided the Chiefs with one of few high points last year. By the end of the season the Sharks were on an upward trajectory that has carried into 2011, while the Chiefs went into a tailspin. It might not be the most attractive fixture of the week - the two NZ derbies probably share that billing - but it could be the most important.

WATCH OUT FOR: Stephen Donald made life fairly unpleasant last week by directing traffic, including himself, through Aaron Cruden's channel until the Chiefs' playmaker was forced off with an ankle injury. The Chiefs might get some change out of doing something similar with Sharks' star first five-eighths Patrick Lambie.

TAB Chiefs $1.95 Sharks $1.80

Brisbane, tonight 10.40pm
Referee: Stuart Dickinson

Mike Greenaway: Reds
Dylan Cleaver: Reds
Andrew Slack: Reds
Rachel Glucina: Reds
Wynne Gray: Reds

THE MATCH: Without seeming to have done a thing this year, the Reds find themselves in second place in the Australian conference, hovering just outside the playoff spots. They've yet to play a team from outside Australia and have another couple of weeks of soft fixtures before they get into the meaty part of their schedule. By that stage, they could be talked about as playoff contenders - that would be foolish talk though.

WATCH OUT FOR: It's hard to know what to make of Jarrod Saffy. The South African-born, Australian-raised backrower looked befuddled against the Chiefs, but came back to be the best player on the park against the Sharks. Either way, the league convert is well worth a look.

TAB Reds $1.20 Rebels $4.25

Dunedin, tomorrow 5.30pm
Referee: Marius Jonker

Mike Greenaway: Crusaders
Dylan Cleaver: Crusaders
Andrew Slack: Crusaders
Rachel Glucina: Crusaders
Wynne Gray: Crusaders

THE MATCH: This suddenly fascinating match-up would appear to boil down to one basic question: Can the Jamies, Joseph and Mackintosh, come up with a strategy to shut the Crusaders for the entire 80 minutes? We've seen in recent matches against the Brumbies and Waratahs that the Crusaders need only 20 minutes of freedom to put teams away. The Highlanders have been highly effective in penning teams in, but they haven't met any side with this
much class and discipline yet.

WATCH OUT FOR: People. Come on Dunedinites, nobody is blaming you for staying away over the past couple of years, but you've got a team to watch now and an evening kickoff to boot.

TAB Highlanders $4 Crusaders $1.22

Auckland, tomorrow 7.35pm
Referee: Vinny Munro

Mike Greenaway: Blues
Dylan Cleaver: Blues
Andrew Slack: Blues
Rachel Glucina: Blues
Wynne Gray: Blues

THE MATCH: The Hurricanes have not hit anywhere near top gear yet. The Blues have, but it was way back in round one against the Crusaders. On paper, it might appear that these are just two evenly matched, under-achieving teams, yet on grass the prospect is a lot more enticing. It's not like the loser's season will be over, it'll just feel like that for a couple of days.

WATCH OUT FOR: Over the past month Ma'a Nonu has had plenty of time to contemplate such things as the fragility of human life in the face of Mother Nature and the effect the lowering of the OCR will have on mortgages. All crucial stuff, but first and foremost in his mind should be wondering why he's left the door so wide open for those with designs on his black No 12 jersey.

TAB Blues $1.65 Hurricanes $2.15

Sydney, tomorrow 9.40pm
Referee: Chris Pollock

Mike Greenaway: Waratahs
Dylan Cleaver: Waratahs
Andrew Slack: Waratahs
Rachel Glucina: Waratahs
Wynne Gray: Waratahs

THE MATCH: Good news for those investors looking for immediate returns on the dollar. Nowhere has a 12 per cent guaranteed return on your money seemed so safe since Richard Long solemnly declared that Hanover Finance had the "size and strength to withstand any conditions". The Waratahs are well-rested, while the Cheetahs, who have never liked flying, are coming off a dispiriting home loss to the Lions - yes, the Lions.

WATCH OUT FOR: Queues of people with wheelbarrows of money leaving the local TAB. If ever there was a $1.01/ $10 match, this was it.

TAB Waratahs $1.12 Cheetahs $5.50

Johannesburg, Sunday 4.05am
Referee: Mark Lawrence

Mike Greenaway: Lions
Dylan Cleaver: Lions
Andrew Slack: Lions
Rachel Glucina: Lions
Wynne Gray: Force

THE MATCH: Not one that will feature highly on the consciousness of too many rugby fans here, but the fact they're both coming off meritorious efforts in the weekend at least gives it an edge. The Force did everything bar beat the blues in Perth while the Lions snapped a 17-game losing streak at Bloemfontein. It would be wrong to describe this as a match between contenders, but it is at least mildly interesting.

WATCH OUT FOR: Directing traffic will be two young first five-eighths with big futures. There is a touch of the Carlos Spencer about the way Elton Jantjies plays, perhaps not surprising given the former All Black is his mentor at the Lions. James O'Connor's potential in the three-quarters has been recognised at the highest level, but No 10 seems to be where his calling is.

TAB Lions $1.57 Force $2.30

Pretoria, Sunday 6.10am
Referee: Keith Brown

Mike Greenaway: Bulls
Dylan Cleaver: Bulls
Andrew Slack: Bulls
Rachel Glucina: Bulls
Wynne Gray: Bulls

THE MATCH: Last year's finalists meeting for the first time in 2011. Should be a cracker, right? Maybe not. Neither team has taken the competition by storm, or by the horns, depending on which pun you find least offensive. As fate would have it, the Stormers have remained unbeaten but at some point they are going to have to learn how to score tries.

WATCH OUT FOR: Linesmen running from their flanks to take station under the posts. With two of the game's superboots - Peter Grant and Morne Steyn - duelling in the thin air of Pretoria, expect this game to move along in multiples of three.

TAB Bulls $1.75 Stormers $2

- NZ Herald

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