Super Rugby Unlocked – much like Super Rugby Aotearoa – will be finishing on a disappointing note with at least one of the three games scheduled for Round 7 falling victim to the pandemic. The match in question that has been canceled is the clash between the Sharks and the Stormers, and the result of this is that the Bulls will be crowned as Super Rugby Unlocked champions regardless of their result at home against the Pumas.
Here is a look at the two remaining games:
Bulls vs Pumas
Saturday, November 21 – Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria
The Bulls have been the form team of Super Rugby Unlocked and it would have taken a brave man to bet against them winning here and taking the championship even if the Sharks/Stormers match was going ahead as planned. The match has been pushed back to Saturday for player welfare reasons, specifically, the 24-hour delay will allow the Pumas players to get in a training session before taking on the best team in the comp after 10 days in isolation following a Covid outbreak in their camp that put pay to their match against the Lions last weekend.
This means that both squads will be coming into this one after a week off, though the Bulls not playing last weekend was due to a bye week as opposed to a match cancelation. The big team news from the Bulls is that Chris Smith will start at fly-half ahead of former Springbok Morne Steyne, perhaps with one eye looking towards the Currie Cup campaign that starts next weekend. Arno Botha will start on the flank and Corniel Els at hooker.
The Pumas have the second-worst defensive record in the comp so even if they were fully fit and firing after a good week of practice they wouldn’t have a chance here. Due to Covid, they are far from that. and one bet that looks interesting is the Bulls minus a huge 29.5 points that pays 1.20 with BetXChange. The Bulls have the horses to blow past this number if they are in the frame of mind to do so.
Cheetahs vs Griquas
Saturday, November 21 – Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
The Cheetahs beat the Bulls back in October but haven’t kicked on from that point and will likely be disappointed with their maiden Super Rugby Unlocked campaign as a result. They should, however, be able to close out their campaign on a winning note as they take on the hapless – and winless – Griquas on their home patch.
The Griquas out up a big-time fight last time out – they went down by one to the Sharks – but not winning that game will have taken an emotional toll on the players. The Cheetahs have lived by their defence – it is the second-best in the comp in terms of points allowed – but their attacking shape has struggled to find consistency all season.
Captain Junior Pokomela is an injury doubt with Aidon Davis waiting in the wings and Carl Wenger ready to step in and lead the side. Wing Rhyno Smith and centre Howard Mnisi will both start for the first time in Super Rugby Unlocked as the Cheetahs run down a point spread that sits at -20.5 to pay 0.90 with BetXChange. It is a big number, but the Cheetahs are catching the Griquas after a tough outing and will cover the number with a couple of late tries.