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Super Rugby Round 12: The Great South Island Derby and Andrew Mehrtens Pulling the Finger

Kiwi teams continue to prop up the likely finalists list, with the Aussie teams – in particular – underwhelming this year. Six rounds left to get your A into G, lads.
May 13, 2016, 4:15am
Image via @superrugby

The Lineout popped the champagne this week, with its first accurate prediction of a Super Rugby match. Last week, we said the Blues would beat the Kings in Port Elizabeth by 16 points. If you thought we were on the money and took it down to the TAB, surely we get a cut?

Kiwi teams continue to prop up the likely finalists list, with the Aussie teams – in particular – underwhelming this year. Six rounds left to get your A into G, lads.

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Highlanders vs Crusaders in Dunedin, tonight

There's never any love lost between the 'Landers and the 'Saders in Super Rugby's South Island derby – and don't expect tonight's clash in Dunedin to be any different.

On form, you'd have to tip the Cantabs, who have won eight straight and haven't lost since the first round. In fact, there's an almost throwback feel to the 'Saders this season; a re-animation of the dominant Canterbury teams from a decade ago.

The reigning champs, meanwhile, welcomed back All Black winger Waiseke Naholo last week from a broken leg – who promptly scored a brace of tries against the Chiefs. Their backline looks the better of their opponents, though they might be outdone by the Read-Whitelock connection up front.

This should be the game of the round. Look for the 'Saders to just pip the Southern Men, in what should be the game of the round.

PREDICTION: Crusaders by 1.

Last year's Super Rugby clash between the Highlanders and Crusaders

Rebels vs Brumbies in Melbourne, tonight

On the weight of competitiveness so far, only one Australian team will likely make the top eight Super Rugby playoffs this season.

The Brumbies are in pole position, meaning they'd have to host the second best Kiwi team in the quarters. That's going to be a hugely difficult job.

The Rebels aren't far back – which, again, says a lot for the Aussie conference – and will welcome back star fullback Mike Harris for tonight's clash.

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The Brumbies have history on their side here with seven victories in their last ten encounters with the Victorians. They'll push them, but come up short again.

PREDICTION: Brumbies by 8.

Hurricanes vs Reds in Wellington, tomorrow

The Reds have been an absolute rabble this season, and really haven't looked convincing since their upset of the Highlanders back in Round 7.

The Canes have a few off-field dramas bugging them at the moment, with up to five players to be stood down for tomorrow's clash after a breach of team curfew in South Africa last week.

All Blacks Cory Jane, Victor Vito and Julian Savea were amongst the troublemakers, though the Canes squad is definitely deep enough to cover for them given the weakness of their opposition.

This could be an absolute toweling.

PREDICTION: Hurricanes by 28.

Waratahs vs Bulls in Sydney, tomorrow

After a dire start to the year, the Waratahs have won their last three in a row and should be favourites heading into tomorrow's hosting of the Bulls in Sydney.

The 'Tahs have only won one of their last nine against the Bulls, but you'd argue their cattle are better – as is their first-five Bernard Foley, who will torment the South Africans all day long with his kicking game.

The New South Welshmen have the better incentive of the two sides, as well – with victory, and a Brumbies defeat, seeing them move to top spot in the Aussie conference.

It'll be tight, but it'll go sky blue.

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PREDICTION: Waratahs by 4.

Sunwolves vs Stormers in Singapore, tomorrow

Here's the weekly 'you don't care about the teams, you won't set the alarm and you don't care about the result' game. What would Super Rugby be without it?

PREDICTION: Bore draw.

Highlights of the Sunwolves Round 11 game against the Force

Cheetahs vs Kings in Bloemfontein, tomorrow

In the second of our regular weekly match-ups, here's this round's 'all South African early morning clash that just as few people as any match involving the Sunwolves' game. Enjoy.

PREDICTION: Cheetahs by 3.

Lions vs Blues in Johannesburg, Sunday

The once-mighty Auckland Blues broke a four-year drought last week when they smashed the Kings by 16 points in Port Elizabeth.

While the rugby stats community is a-buzz with The Lineout's stunning prediction of the result, it does mark a beacon of hope in what has been a poor showing for the Blues in Tana Umaga's first season in charge.

The beat could go on this week against the Lions, who may have won their last two against the Blues – but only have two wins at home this year.

The team from the Highveld has been the Republic's most entertaining this season, and with the Blues defence leaky, look for plenty of tries – for both sides – on Sunday.

PREDICTION: Blues by 2.

Highlights of the Blue's win over the Kings last week

Jaguares vs Sharks in Buenos Aires, Sunday

After impressing early on, the HUG-YOU-WA-REZ has flattered to deceive in Super Rugby this year with no real scalps to show for their first season battles.

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Sunday's opponents – the Sharks – are unlikely to be that victim. The Sharks have been the very definition of a mid-table team this year, but kudos must be given to them for their latest road trip to New Zealand.

The Capetown team was able to beat the Highlanders and Canes in Dunedin and Wellington, and were only pipped by 2 points by the Chiefs in New Plymouth.

This is their fifth straight road game – who the hell made their schedule? – but they're easily the better team here.

PREDICTION: Sharks by 6.

BONUS: CLASSIC SUPER RUGBY THROWBACK MOMENT

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Crusaders rugby was going through its dynasty phase. Few players summed up the ability and guts better than All Black first-five Andrew Mehrtens.

One of his most famed moments in the red and black jersey came in an away game against the Bulls in 1999.

'Merts' kicked over the winning drop goal with mere seconds left, and let the Pretoria crowd know what he thought of them with a brazen one-fingered salute.

Wild stuff.