We had a wonderful opening round of Super Rugby with some comebacks and upsets. Also we saw a number of teams put down their title credentials as well. Check out the Super Rugby 2020 Round 1 Review where Steven Harris and I go over all the games.
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Highlanders v Cell C Sharks – Highlanders by 3
This round has a few games that are hard to pick and we have one straight out of the blocks! The Highlanders have had a massive amount of turnover in their squad during the offseason. So what are we going to see from them? With Smith and Ioane running a Tony Brown attack though I’m sure we are going to see points.
What did we learn about the Sharks in Round 1? Not much really, Durban at this time of the year is really hot and unsurprisingly we saw them kicking a lot. We’ll see a totally different game in Dunedin under the roof. I think the Sharks are a decent side but the travel will take its toll.
Brumbies v Rebels – Brumbies by 3
I was surprised to see that the Rebels have been the Brumbies bogey team in recent years. It’s not that long ago that the Rebels got their first ever win in Canberra. Surely the Rebels can’t be as bad as they were against the Sunwolves? It’s going to be a real test to see how they bounce back from that result which makes this another hard one to call.
The Brumbies will also need to improve on last weekend’s performance. They got the in win but there were a lot of errors in that game with the Reds. The positives though are that they have a win to build on and don’t waste time travelling so are better placed to improve.
Chiefs v Crusaders – Chiefs by 3
This is a tie of the round. The Chiefs came back from a poor first half to beat a limited Blues side. They won’t be able to do that against the Crusaders who racked up a comfortable victory over the Waratahs. This is a real test of Gatland’s coaching as he tries to in still his style of play on the team.
The continuity in this Crusaders side was clear to see when they came flooding through on opportunities. The amount of running off the ball to be there in support is a joy to watch. Perhaps this is a heart over head pick as I don’t want to see this season as a Crusaders procession to their 4th title in 4 years.
Join me straight after the final whistle for post match reaction to Chiefs v Crusaders.
Waratahs v Blues – Blues by 3
The Tahs definitely had some things to build on in that loss to the Saders. Rookies like Harrison and Nawaqanitawase had good games for example. However someone needs to have a long chat with Beale about his decision making. There were a number of opportunities where he was clearly taking the wrong option.
For the Blues I think we are going to see more of the same. That means one out runners to get front-foot ball and then look for space. It’s a very direct game plan and one that’s clear to see coming. The only question is, can you stop it? Against this lightweight Tahs pack I think it could be.
Emirates Lions v Reds – Emirates Lions by 5
Two sides that had tough starts to their campaigns. To be fair to the Lions they were up against one of the four sides that we picked pre-season as contenders. The Reds don’t even have that excuse. Both sides will have disrupted preparations with travel, the Lions back from Argentina whilst the Reds jet over from Australia. That makes it tough for the coaching staff to fix things.
With that in mind I’m going with home advantage especially as we have the altitude to take into account. The Lions should be able to pull away in the last ten or twenty minutes.
DHL Stormers v Vodacom Bulls – DHL Stormers by 15
The Stormers are another of those sides that we picked out pre-season and they delivered with a TBP win. The Canes do have a reputation for blowouts in the opening game but I still think that we saw good signs from the Stormers.
The Bulls in contrast struggled against the Sharks last weekend and are looking like a team in transition. Well with some back to the future players with Strauss and Steyn in there. Losing the breakdown to that Sharks side is worrying when they are up against Kolisi and du Toit this weekend.
Jaguares v Hurricanes – Jaguares by 7
The Jaguares followed up their Super Rugby final appearance well with a TBP win over the Lions. We saw the big tackling again and wonderful runners. There’s also still issues with their scrum. That though shouldn’t be an issue this weekend as the Canes are a side noted for their backs not their forwards.
The Canes are a bit like the Rebels, surely they can’t play that badly again? Also they don’t have much time to fix things as they are having to travel from South Africa to Argentina. Coming up against one of the four real contenders after that kind of performance really isn’t what the Canes need and I will we’ll see them starting the season with two losses.
Join me straight after the final whistle for post match reaction to Jaguares v Hurricanes.
Bye – Sunwolves
This is possibly the worst time for the Sunwolves to get a bye. They have just got a wonderful victory over the Rebels and it would have been good to build on that momentum.
Also do they need a rest only after one game? No but someone has to take the round off as there’s an uneven number of teams.
Record So Far
5 from 7 or 71% is a solid start.
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