SUPER RUGBY WEEK 3
Hurricanes v Chiefs
The Hurricanes have scored a momentous 24 tries in the first two rounds of this season, they have however played two of the weaker sides of the competition. The Chiefs meanwhile will be battle hardened having played two NZ Teams in the Highlanders and Blues, resulting in two important victories. Once again their defence has proved strong against these sides, with a few late tries against the Blues all that they have conceded this season. You could argue that the Chiefs score line was flattering given the red card the blues conceded late in the first half, but they were always on top of the game against the Blues up until this point.
A mouth-watering clash this one. Attack v Defence. Both these teams are pretty even when coming up against each other. In the last 5 years each teams has won 5 games. The last 5 games have had an average score of 40.5 points.
I marked this one Hurricanes 2 point favourites and they've opened up as 1-2 point outsiders. A small play for the Hurricanes in this one.
Brumbies v Force
The Brumbies were robbed late last week by the Sharks while the Force came back to beat the Reds in two tight matches last weekend. So far my predictions of a Brumbies tough year is correct, although they have had two very close losses and both of those games could have gone their way. The Force has been somewhat of a surprise package, considering the injuries they have early on this season. They've pushed the Waratahs and got a win against arguably the 2nd best Australian side in the competition.
The Brumbies have a stellar record against the Force winning the last 6 games against the Force and also winning the last 5 home games against the Force. The last 3 of games the Brumbies have won by at least 13 points. However, this is a new Brumbies side and a new Force side so I'm not inclined to look at the statistics too much for this match.
I think the Brumbies will win by 12 or less but not prepared to risk anything on it. No Play.
Blues v Highlanders
The Blues game was ruined last week due to the late red card, meanwhile the Highlander suffered their second loss of the season with the Crusaders getting up late.
The big talking point of this game is the injury toll to the Highlanders. They're apparently onto their 5th/6th Hooker and have a string of injuries including but not limited to Ben Smith, Ash Dixon, Dan Pryor, Luke Whitelock, Marty Banks and Liam Squire. All would normally feature in the match 23.
The Blues have won their last 5 of 6 home games against any side while the Highlanders travel away from home for the first time this year they'll be desperate for a win. They've always been a bit of a battler type side and this injury toll will test their depth dearly.
I'm picking a Blues victory here; I think they're one of the more improving sides this year.
Reds v Crusaders
As mentioned the Reds were unlucky not to win last weekend while the Crusaders did the opposite and snatched a late victory against the Highlanders.
The Crusaders haven't lost to the Reds since their defeat in the Super Rugby final in 2011 winning the last 5 games. Interestingly the margins have been huge with an average of 25 points per game. Arguably the Reds are a lot stronger side and the Crusaders are a bit weaker of a side now though.
Former Wallaby Digby Ioane is expected to lace up for the Crusaders this week and he will prove a handful to some of his former teammates.
I'm picking the Crusaders to lift to another level again this week; they've had two close wins and will want to push on from a solid start this season.
Kings v Stormers
The Kings did well to beat the Sunwolves last week, albeit expected while the Stormers season continues to roll along nicely with a hard fought win against the Jaguares at home.
The Stormers have won all three games against the Kings with an average winning margin of 16 points. They thrashed the Kings at home last year 52-24 and a similar score line would not surprise. The Stormers are building nicely and have won 6 of their last 7 games against all opposition.
I marked the Stormers 20 point favourites which is what the market is at the moment, I'm happy to watch a potential try fest without tipping up anything. No Pick.
Cheetahs v Sunwolves
The Cheetahs held on to beat the Bulls last week by 6 points and deserved the victory after a strong first half performance. Meanwhile the Sunwolves were outplayed in their match against the Southern Kings, though the score line was slightly unflattering due to a late try by the Kings.
These two teams played against each other twice last year with very contrasting games. The Cheetahs came back to clinch a 1 point victory away from home in their first match, while the second game was completely different, a 75 point thrashing to the Cheetahs.
The Sunwolves have never won away from home and it would be the biggest of surprises if they did so this week. This really should be a Cheetahs thrashing once again and possibly a very high scoring game once again. No Pick.
Sharks v Waratahs
This shapes up to be a good match. The Sharks on their way home while the Waratahs have been in Africa for a second week. The Sharks snatched a win last week while the Waratahs were outplayed by the Lions, although a couple of late withdraws affected their build up.
The home side has won the last 5 matches between these two sides with an average of 50 points per game in these matches. The Sharks are a strong and proud home team winning the last 4 games at home and are always tough to beat at home.
I'm picking the Sharks to win by 12 and under in this game, I don't think they'll belt the Waratahs. They'll play a tight game similar to their games this season (and many seasons before!) and prove the better side when the final whistle blows.
Jaguares v Lions
This has the potential to be the clash of the round. The Jaguares are always tough to beat at home while the Lions will want to win this to stay in contention with some of the NZ sides who are also 2-0. I first marked this game Lions 5 point favourites. However the news to come out on Tuesday night was that Elton Jantjies will not be travelling with the squad due to the birth of his baby and Lionel Mapoe is being rested for the trip to Argentina, these are arguably their two best players (particularly backs).
Therefore I think the market is correct now - a pick em game. Both sides beat each other at home last season, although the Lions sent over a 2nd string side in the final round last year (subsequently lost and gave up home field advantage for the final).
I'm happy to watch this game without any tip. No Pick.
RESULTS STAKES ROI Week Nine -5.52 13 -42% Week Eight +6.77 12 56% Week Seven +7.8 9 87% Week Six +15.46 13 119% Week Five +1.61 10 16% Week Four -2.24 8 -28% Week Three -10 10 -100% Week Two +4.9 8 61% Week One -4.15 13.5 -31% Total +14.63 96.5 15%