Super Rugby round 14 preview
An absolute cracker of a round this week in the Super Rugby, highlighted by three clashes between teams that are shaping as being the major players in the finals.
First game up is arguably the game of the round. It features the high flying Chiefs against the Bulls. These teams have played 15 times for 7 wins a piece and 1 draw.
Those 15 games have seen 109 tries scored so these two are not afraid to throw the ball around, averaging more than 7 tries and 62 points a fixture.
Aside from losing Richie Kahui, the Chiefs look in great order for this fixture. They were bought back down to earth by the Reds, have had a week off to recharge their batteries and will be raring to go for this.
The Bulls are playing their fourth match away on a tough road trip and have just six days to recover from a physical encounter with the Highlanders.
The way I see this match, if the Chiefs can cover for the loss of Kahui they should win this comfortably. The Bulls looked like a side struggling from a tough road trip last week and I think this will be the deciding factor here. I think the Chiefs will look to open them up and exploit their travel weariness. I am predicting them to win by 10 points.
Hurricanes vs Rebels are next up. Which Hurricanes team will turn up: the one that beat the Highlanders and belted the Sharks, or the one that capitulated to the Brumbies and Cheetahs?
Last year when these two clashed the Hurricanes exploded away early on and everyone was thinking Hurricanes by lots. Then the Rebels clicked into gear and absolutely smashed them for the next 70 minutes, notching their best win.
The Hurricanes have more to play for here but the Rebels are going great guns at the moment. I am tipping the Hurricanes by 5 points. The line here is ridiculously here and a few dollars on the Rebels at +11.5 might be worth a look.
Blues vs Highlanders – The Highlanders are on a high after last week while the Blues are at the lowest point they have ever been in their super franchise history.
Just as the Bulls don’t like playing the Highlanders, the same can be said of the Highlanders against the Blues. They have a shocking record against the Blues and they barely got home against them earlier this season.
The Blues, after last week, will be desperate to gain some credibility back. With an 88% win record against the Highlanders at home, I am tipping them for the upset. My tip is the Blues to get up by 4 points.
Next is the heavyweight contest to decide the Australian Conference. It’s the Brumbies versus Reds clash.
The Reds were all but down on the canvas and have picked themselves up. However they face a Brumbies side at home who would love nothing more than to deliver the knockout blow.
Although the Reds are playing better rugby, they still haven’t beaten a quality opponent away from home. They come to Canberra boasting a record of 3 wins from 19 attempts against the Brumbies and just 1 win from 10 in Canberra.
The Brumbies know how to beat the Reds. They did it in Brisbane last year despite being at the bottom and the Reds being on top. This time they have something to play for. Long range forecast also suggests there could be some rain about with will take a lot of potency out of the Queensland backline. I am tipping the Brumbies to get over the line here by 8 points.
The bottom of the table blockbuster is next when the Force take on the Lions. This is the last game in a tough road trip for the Lions and they will be looking to get this over with and head back home.
The Force, after losing narrowly last week will be fired up to win this and expecting them to deliver here. Despite their positions on the ladder, I am expecting an entertaining game with plenty of tries here and both sides will be willing to run it around. Force to win this by 18 points.
Cheetahs vs Waratahs” With their season now over will the Waratahs throw the ball around? The Cheetahs certainly will.
This could be another entertaining fixture if the Waratahs release their backline. Cheetahs to win this by 3 points.
From a South African perspective, the Sharks and the Stormers shapes up as the game of the round. In the last month the Sharks have been on fire. They have come back from their bye with a lot of bite. The Stormers, although winning, have been plodding and doing just enough to win.
For me, the Sharks have been in great form recently while the Stormers have been struggling, just doing enough to win. Given the magnitude of the game for the Sharks, their form and the home ground advantage, I am tipping them to deliver the Stormers their second loss of season. Sharks by 10 points for me.
It’s a very tough round where you can make a case for every side. I feel this week the advantage of playing at home will be punctuated.