After all the talk of southern hemisphere rugby being better quality there were a few shockers last weekend. It’s early days in the competition and let’s hope some of the teams start to improve. Here are my predictions for round 3 of Super Rugby 2016.
First here is a link to my round-up of last weekend’s action.
How did your round 2 picks go?
5 from 8, I picked a bit with my heart then head last week.
Blues v Hurricanes
The Blues got taken apart up from last weekend by the Crusaders. This was a reality check after their bullying of the Highlanders in week one. Lucky this week they are again back home against a weakened pack. The Canes were much improved against the Landers but did slip to their second loss. Even so there are still signs that the loss of players to Europe has impacted them more than other teams. This will also be their third game on the road so I’m backing the Blues pack to get more front foot ball this weekend and win another one narrowly.
Blues by 3
Force v Brumbies
The Force came out and won a poor game on the road against the Reds last weekend. Kicking the ball and tackling everything that ran at them is not going to be good enough this weekend. The Reds didn’t ask enough questions and that early tournament favourites will certainly do that. This should be a relatively easy win for the Brumbies who have been impressive in their first two games. Like many I’m still getting my head around the new TBP rules but this one looks like a prime candidate.
Brumbies by 10
Highlanders v Lions
The champions looked much more like themselves last weekend as they won against the Canes. But I think that they are going to struggle all season long upfront and with a couple of backs missing at the moment will they be able to save the day? The Lions racked up their second win on tour and are proving to be one of the best touring sides around. Last season they kick started their season on tour and this time they are 2 from 2. So I’m going for the upset away victory but by the narrowest of margins.
Lions by 1
Rebels v Reds
The Rebels found a trip to South Africa a step too far as it has always been for them historically. Still they are looking like a decent outfit and are now back home. The Reds looked so poor that they took the unprecedented step of sacking their coach after only 2 rounds. There have been board level resignations since and it all looks messy up there. The two assistant coaches are taking the reins for the foreseeable future and we will have to see if that can bring an improvement. Sacking the coach can bring a “dead cat bounce” in results but the Rebels have looked the far better side so far this year.
Rebels by 7
SunWolves v Cheetahs
The SunWolves get their second outing with a “home” fixture in Singapore. The only reason to watch this game is for the novelty value of it being Singapore’s first Super Rugby game. These are two of the poorest sides in the competition and whilst the SunWolves performed above expectations in round 1 the lack of preparation time combined with the travel should hand the Cheetahs a rare win.
Cheetahs by 10
Kings v Chiefs
If you like one-sided contests then this is the game for you. The Kings lost by 35 points in round 1 and after a bye week I think we will be seeing something similar this week. OK I’ve only gone for 15 but that’s because I pick conservatively and it should be much more. The only things that might keep it down are the travel for the Chiefs and that they had so much player turnover in the off-season so are still gelling.
Chiefs by 15
Stormers v Sharks
This is the game of the round as we see two of the unbeaten South African sides go head to head. Pre-season I though that the Stormers were going to be the top team in this side of the draw. So far it’s still looking likely even though the Lions are going well. The Sharks do have two wins but they have been against two new sides in the Kings and Jags. This is their first real test as the Jags are playing too much rugby for consistency and their discipline has given teams gilt-edged opportunities. I’m going with the popular opinion of a home win.
Stormers by 7
It’s 1-1 between man and machine, you can see RugbyNumbers algorithmic predictions here.