The Kiwi sides have been dominating the competition so far and with three of the Australian sides having a buy this week they are going to be centre of attention again.
First here is a link to my round up of all the action from last weekend.
How did your Round 6 predictions go?
3 from 7, a poor weekend as home advantage went out the window.
Here is my 30 second one line predictions, for the fuller predictions have a read below.
Chiefs v Blues
Last week we had some real marque games but this week the picking is looking easier. The Chiefs host their big city neighbours in the opening game on Friday night. Last weekend they made a real statement and are topping the table. The only concern you have for them is coming down from that game and also a possible travel hangover as they have played i four different countries in their last four games. The Blues are improved on last season but are still figuring out their best side and have looked especially vulnerable away from home. So I’m driving down to this game fully expecting a big home win.
Chiefs by 20
Force v Crusaders
Again the biggest threat here is travel as the Crusaders have been in South Africa for their last two games picking up good wins. After their obligatory opening round loss the Saders have been looking good and are on a run of 4 wins. The Force have looked poor again this season with little more than good endeavour. They are coming into this off the back of 4 losses but they have been against the fancied Brumbies and then three games in New Zealand. The problem is though that they haven’t even been close come the final whistle. Hopefully home comforts will make this more of a contest but still an away win.
Crusaders by 7
Stormers v Sunwolves
The Stormers came into this season as favourite to top their conference and they have been quietly going about making this happen. There was one slip up against the Sharks at home and there are some injury worries that need to be over come. The Sunwolves have come close to winning several times and have picked up three LBPs. The problem is though that they didn’t have a real pre-season and are stuck in a losing habit at the moment. So even with those injuries for the Stormers I can’t see anything other than a home win.
Stormers by 10
Hurricanes v Jaguares
The Canes received a drubbing in the opening round but have turned things around since then. They are on a run of three wins but if you look at the details those games have been against the Blues, Force and Kings so not the hardest opposition. This weekend they take on another team at the wrong end of the table. The Jags had that opening win but it has proved to be a false dawn. They have a mandate to play attractive rugby but winning rugby is even more attractive. They will improve their decision making over time and balance their play better but this weekend sees them having a harder assignment than last and so I can’t see them snapping the losing streak here.
Hurricanes by 7
Reds v Highlanders
Since sacking their coach the Reds have looked better and have picked up points if not yet a win. The problem is that they host the champions before heading off on tour to South Africa. The Landers are playing great defensive and counter attacking rugby that is becoming the New Zealand trade mark. After their opening round loss to the Blues they have swept all before them. They are still susceptible if you can dominate them up front and with the Reds good set piece they could cause some problems. It just feels like that will only delay the inevitable rather than provide hope of a win.
Highlanders by 15
Sharks v Lions
These two teams should both be joining the Stormers in the playoffs. The big question is who tops the conference and who takes the wildcard slot. Both teams have been going well and only stumbled when they have come up against Kiwi opposition. Popular opinion is that home field advantage and the structure of Sharks is going to be too much for the Lions to over come. I’m going against the prevailing opinion and backing the more adventurous attacking of the Lions to win the day.
Lions by 3
Kings v Bulls
The Kings finally got their first win against the Sunwolves last weekend. One team had to end their losing streak. Will it provide the platform for them to push on and challenge other teams more? This weekend will be a good guide because when you realise that the Kings faced three New Zealand sides in those opening four losses it doesn’t look quite so bad. The Bulls have had a much easier draw so far and so perhaps their realist have been slightly flattering. I still don’t see them losing against the Kings but it should be a closer game than the table might suggest.
Bulls by 10
This season I’m competing with Rugby Numbers, check out his algorithmic predictions.
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