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SA teams may battle away

M1: EP Kings v Border Bulldogs
The EP Kings are looking the likely favourites heading into the middle phase of this competition and they will be hard to beat against their neighbours.

They are unbeaten in three matches. Although the Bulldogs played rather well against the Griffons last week, this will be a different kettle of fish because they play against a side desperate to prove their worth after a tumultuous week.
Prediction: Kings by more than 12.

M2: Crusaders v Bulls
Playoffs are normally tight but this could break the norm. Many pundits will ask what are the Bulls even wasting their time for? They should not be able to beat the Crusaders in New Zealand. Especially for the championship winning side, they are, who always peak at this stage of the tournament to visit. The Springbok Bulls need to shine now. They have been largely oblivious since the international break. Even though Kieran Read is not playing, Matt Todd is a suitable replacement for the Crusaders and this should be one-way traffic.
Prediction: Crusaders easily.

M3: Reds v Sharks
The Sharks certainly have the best chance of the South African teams but they also have their backs against the walls. No Frans Steyn and Pat Lambie escalates their problem further. In their favour is that Quade Cooper misses this match through suspension and the Reds will lack the spark that took them to glory last season. It is a travesty that the Reds have less points than the Sharks and that this match is in Brisbane but that is a gripe for another day.
Prediction: Reds to scrape home.

M4: Pumas v Valke
Both sides have played three, lost two and won one match to date. However the Pumas have had harder games and they are at home this week. They have also dropped a division so this match would be considered easier than who they played at this stage last year. A high-scoring match is expected.
Prediction: Pumas to be too strong.

M5: Leopards v SWD Eagles
This should be a good match. Both teams have played three, won two and lost once. The Leopards have a slightly better team on paper while the Eagles have Kurt Coleman among their ranks and he has lifted them to their two wins to date. The fact that this match is in Potchefstroom gives the Leopards a slight advantage but it will be close.
Prediction: Leopards by a couple.

Date Posted: 7/18/2012
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