We are a third of the way into the season, so there are no excuses for rustiness anymore as we are into the meat of the season. Here are my round 6 predictions.
First here is a link to my round-up of action from last weekend.
How did your predictions go last weekend?
6 from 8, I misplaced my faith in a couple of home teams.
Highlanders v Force
The Friday night game is an easy call. The Landers haven’t lost since their opening game of the season and sit second in the table. In contrast the Force haven’t even been close in the last few games with their only win so far against the Reds. You need to remember that the Reds are still winless and have fired their coach. This could easily blow out to a bigger margin than the 15 I have gone for.
Highlanders by 15
Lions v Crusaders
This is one of the most intriguing games of the round. The Lions with the most exciting brand of rugby in South Africa and building on a good season last year. Are against the Crusaders who are now into their stride after losing their opening game as tradition dictates. The Saders are in good form but the Lions should be a stiffer challenge than the Sharks were last week so I’m going for the home team.
Lions by 5
Blues v Jaguares
I’m looking forward to being at this game and seeing the Jags for the first time. They have been playing some of the most attractive rugby but with too many errors and not at the right times. Their ambition has to be applauded but they do need better decision making about when to play and when to kick. The Blues are an improved side from last season and as long as the pack holds up their defence should hold up enough for them to take advantage of the Jags errors.
Blues by 3
Brumbies v Chiefs
This is the tie of the round with the top Australia team who have to do it this year before players head off against the top team in Super Rugby. The Brumbies have been going welts season with just a solitary loss in South Africa to the Stormers. The Chiefs did lose at home to the Lions early on but when you have changed a third of your squad there will be early setbacks. The Chiefs are playing some great attacking rugby and it will be interesting to see if they can keep that up against a more structured side that will play the full 80 minutes. I think that home field advantage will tell though and I’m backing a narrow Brumbies win against public opinion that was close.
Brumbies by 3
Kings v Sunwolves
I did think about picking this game for the vote this week as the two bottom winless sides from the African conferences go head to head. There will be lots of endeavour but I’m not sure it will be a quality game. This could be their only win of the season so both sides will be desperate. I’m going with the Sunwolves who at least have been getting close enough to pick up a couple of LBPs compared to the Kings who’s closest loss was only by twenty two points.
Sunwolves by 3
Bulls v Cheetahs
After a few breathless encounters we come to one that should be fairly routine. The Bulls may not be the team that they were a few seasons ago but they still have only been beaten once this season. In stark contrast the Cheetahs have a solitary win and that was against the Sunwolves. So easy home victory but I still don’t think the Bulls will make the playoffs so don’t expect a classic in this one.
Bulls by 7
Waratahs v Rebels
This is another intriguing encounter as the these two battle it out to be the second best team in Australia. The Tahs have lost a couple but they were to the Brumbies and Landers, conversely they have only beaten the Reds so far (twice). So this will be a real test of where they are at. The Rebels have shown that last season wasn’t a fluke and that they can push on to challenge for a playoff spot. They did have a setback last weekend with a big defeat to the Landers and this will be a test of if they can put that behind them and bounce back. I think that home advantage should be enough to get the Tahs over the line but it should be a tight one.
Waratahs by 5
Check out Rugby Numbers algorithmic predictions, we are not in agreement this week.
Finally my 30 second one line predictions.