SUPER RUGBY WEEK 7
Hurricanes v Waratahs
What a game last week with the Hurricanes v Reds, both sides playing great running rugby and it really was a spectacle to watch. The Waratahs were dealt to late in the game by the Crusaders in their match.
The Hurricanes will be without the Savea brothers this week as Ardie is injured and Julian is being rested. The Waratahs get back Bernard Foley which will be a big help for the boys in blue.
The Hurricanes have only lost 3 of the last 20 home games, one of which was to the Waratahs back in 2015. In the last seven games between the two sides they have averaged 54 points per game, very much like a NZ derby type game. The Waratahs have had a terrible defensive record this season conceding on average 33 points per game.
Sunwolves v Bulls
The Sunwolves were given the week off last week which should do them the world of good after being winless this season. The Bulls meanwhile were gallant in defeat against the Chiefs to end their NZ tour winless. They really have struggled this year with their only win being against the Sunwolves a few weeks ago.
The Bulls have won all three games against the Sunwolves to date at an average of 21 points, they only beat them by 13 at home earlier this season though. These two teams average 55 points between them when they play each other. The Bulls have lost all away games this season and surprisingly the Sunwolves having played the same amount of games as the Bulls have outscored the Bulls this season in points.
The Sunwolves have been up and down this season at home but held the Stormers out for much of their last game. I think they can be competitive against the Bulls. Pick 3 Units - Sunwolves +15.5
Highlanders v Blues
Both teams will be desperate to win this to stay in touch with the other leading NZ teams and with the Gordon Hunter trophy to play for it promises to be an epic clash. The Highlanders were on fire last week against the Rebels while the Blues held the Force to gain an important win.
The million dollar man Sonny Bill Williams returns to the bench for the Blues after suffering an injury last year for the NZ Sevens team. Blues also see the return of Steven Luatua and British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland son Bryn will also come off the bench for the Blues.
Some interesting statistics for this clash, the Blues have only won 4 of the last 20 away games, none of these against NZ opposition. The Highlanders have also won their last four home games against the Blues and these last 4 home games for the Highlanders against the Blues have yielded an average of 57 points per game.
Over the last 13 games between the two sides the margin has been by 7 or less 7 times.
This should be a close game, I think the Highlanders will win but not by much. Pick 2 Units - Highlanders 12 and Under
Brumbies v Reds
The Brumbies lead the Australian Conference still and will look to continue their advantage by beating the Reds who hung in for most of the match against the Hurricanes last week.
The Reds have lost their last 11 away games now, those plane rides back must be deathly silent. The Brumbies have won the last 4 games against the Reds and of those games the Brumbies have averaged 35 points to the Reds 15.5 points.
I think the Brumbies will do a comprehensive job again this week. Pick 2 Units - Brumbies 13+
Sharks v Jaguares
The Sharks were so close last week against the Jaguares, leading for most of the match to lose by a single try to the Lions. Meanwhile the Jaguares enjoyed the week off and should benefit from having an extra rest before travelling to South Africa.
These teams played twice last year with the sharks beating the Jaguares by 3 and 4 points respectively. The Sharks have also won their last 6 games, making them one of the harder teams to beat on the road while the Jaguares have only won 2 of 10 away games in their history.
Stormers v Chiefs
This has the potential to be the game of the round. The Chiefs, the best NZ team at the moment and the Stormers potentially the best South African team. The Chiefs looked shaky in the first half against the Bulls last week but eventually got their winning by a decent margin. Meanwhile the Stormers were mightily impressive against the Cheetahs and the -2.5 line was never in doubt of not winning.
The Stormers have won 8 of their last 10 home games. However, only one of those games was against a NZ side - the Chiefs, which they lost (60-21 in last year's playoff). The Chiefs have a good record against the Stormers away from home winning 3 of the last 4 games and an even better record against South African teams not having lost to one in over a year.
This could be a high scoring game, the Stormers are the 2nd best attacking side in the competition after the Hurricanes with an average of 41.5 points per game. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have the 2nd best defensive record only leaking an average of 17 points per game.
I think the Chiefs will win this one, it should be much closer than last years playoff game though. Pick 2 Units - Chiefs to win 12 and under
Force v Southern Kings
Bit of a dull match to end what should be a good round of Super Rugby. Two teams with one win each. The Force were close but not close enough to the Blues last week eventually going down by 9 points. The Southern Kings had the week off after a 23 point belting at home to the Lions the week prior.
These teams have only played once with the Kings winning 22-10 back in 2013. Since their re-introduction last year the Kings have only won one away game, this being against the lowly Sunwolves.
An even more surprising statistic is that it has been almost three years since the Force have beaten a South African side.
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%