We have come to the last round of the regular season. Whilst we know most of the teams that will make the finals the order and some teams are still up in the air. Here are my predictions for this weekend’s games.
How did your predictions go in round 16?
8 from 9, as I didn’t trust my Blues to do the business over the Brumbies.
Blues v Waratahs
With the Brumbies hosting the force the Tahs will know that they are long shots to make the playoffs. The Blues already know that this will be their last game of the season but that didn’t stop them registering their biggest win of the season last weekend. The Tahs should ask more questions than just at the scrum and driving maul but they did resort to that tactic last weekend. Still I’m backing the Blues and hope to be at the game so follow @DrivingMaul on twitter for video reports and tweets during the game.
Blues by 7
Reds v Rebels
This is one of those games that has no relevance to the playoffs picture. The Rebels season starting promisingly but then spluttered. In the end the only top team that they defeated were the Tahs. All their other victories were against bottom of the table teams in stark contrast to their wins away to the Saders and Brumbies last season. Still finishing a comfortable 3rd in their conference is a step forward. The Reds have improved since their early season shambles. Even so they have only managed 3 wins even if one was against the signing champions. I still think that the Rebels will be the more organised to take the away victory.
Rebels by 3
Sharks v Sunwolves
The Sharks know that they need a victory to claim their wildcard slot into the playoffs as the 8th seed. I fully expect them to gain a rare TBP victory over the Sunwolves who have really struggled this season. The Sunwolves have battled and with a better preparation next season should put up a better fight especially on their away trips.
Sharks by 15
Crusaders v Hurricanes
This is one the 2 big games this weekend and the public vote is backing the home side. This should be a real humdinger and I’m also backing the home side. It’s not with a great deal of confidence though as the Canes are in rich form. Barrett is pulling the strings well and even when put under pressure by the Blues recently they didn’t panic. Still the Saders are one of the surprise packages this season and are plying great rugby so I think home advantage will be the deciding factor.
Crusaders by 5
Highlanders v Chiefs
This is the other big game and along with the previous one will decide the seedings for these 4 Kiwi franchises in the playoffs. There have been suggestions that coming second might be better than first as the first place probably will host another New Zealand side rather than travel to Australia. I don’t think any of the sides will be aiming for that and all will begging for the win. Again I’m going with the public vote at time of writing and backing the home side to win in front of a sellout crowd.
Highlanders by 5
Brumbies v Force
The Brumbies know that they got a let off last weekend with the Tahs also losing after they lost in Auckland. By the time this game is played they will know what they have to do after the Blues v Tahs game to open the round. Either way they will be looking for a confidence booster heading into the playoffs. The Reds have been poor and many fans will be looking forward to next season already with the announcement of some good signings. I can only see the Brumbies winning this one even with their limited game plan.
Brumbies by 10
Stormers v Kings
This is another game that doesn’t matter as the Stormers have already secured top in their conference. Either way this is another confidence booster game against one of the poorest sides in the competition so a TBP home win is expected even with potentially rested players.
Stormers by 15
Cheetahs v Bulls
If the Sharks have suffered a major upset against the Sunwolves then suddenly this game matters as the Bull could overtake them for the wildcard spot. I can’t see that happening and all the players will know this is a dead rubber. Either way though the Cheetahs have been poor this season and the Bulls should finish the season with a win.
Bulls by 10
Jaguares v Lions
The Jags have shown some improvement especially with that shock win over the Bulls. That was a wet weather game where they out muscled the Bulls. Even with their improvements I think that the Jags would need it to be a wet game against the Lions. Many have been surprised by the Lions performance this season but I tipped them to top their conference even so I didn’t think they would take the top seeding. They know that to have home advantage all the way if they make the final then they still need another win and so I don’t think there’ll be any letup.
Lions by 7
This season I’m competing with Rugby Numbers, check out his algorithmic predictions.
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