SUPER RUGBY WEEK 14
Blues v Chiefs
The Blues season is hanging on a thread and a win here will bring them right back into contention. They lost last week to the Stormers in South Africa and have a much bigger task here with the Chiefs. The Chiefs lost to the Crusaders last week and will be looking to bounce back.
The Chiefs have the wood on the Blues and have won the last 12 games against the Blues including this year winning 41-26. Looking at the teams the Chiefs have the stronger side although they will be without a few players in Stephen Donald and Charlie Ngatai. The Blues have only won 1 of their last 21 games against other NZ opposition.
Average points in the last 4 games between these two sides is 50 points per game, with rain around in Auckland this evening it could be around that mark once again.
I really like the Chiefs in this game, I think they'll bounce back from last week and beat the Blues.
Reds v Force
The Reds had the bye last week and while the Force were hammered by the Highlanders 55-6.
The Force have won 4 of the last 6 against the Reds including the last two matches. However the Force have only won 2 of their last 10 away games in that included an 8 match away losing streak with two wins as the bookends. The Reds have pretty much got their best side they could have on the paddock this week and will be pumped to win this.
The Force are the 2nd worst attacking team in the competition averaging only 17 points per game, while the Reds are the 5th worst defensive side in the competition conceding on average 32 points per game. With these statistics it's unclear whether it will be a low scoring or high scoring game! But looking back at these previous clashes the last 6 games have averaged 40 points per game.
I'm tipping the Reds to win this one comfortably and think they'll win by 13 or more points.
Reds 13+2 at 2.90-2
Sunwolves v Cheetahs
The Sunwolves had the Bye last week while the Cheetahs were decimated 61-7 by a fired up Hurricanes team.
The Sunwolves are on a 5 match losing streak, with their sole win against the Bulls this year. The Cheetahs are on a 9 match losing streak, there last win against the Sunwolves back in March 38-31.
The Cheetahs have beaten the Sunwolves all three matches they've played winning by 1 point, 7 points and 75 points! There has been an average of 80 points per game in the three games played between the two sides and I suspect it will be much the same this time around with these two teams in the bottom three worst defensive sides in the competition.
I think the Sunwolves can upset the Cheetahs in this one. The Cheetahs are in terrible form and would have been battered after their NZ tour.
Highlanders v Waratahs
The Highlanders will be on a high after a very successful tour of South Africa and Australia winning all three games. They are currently on an 8 match winning streak and are one of the form sides in the competition. Meanwhile the Waratahs had a great win on the weekend grinding out the Rebels early and winning comprehensively late in the 2nd half 50-23.
The Highlanders have won the last three games against the Waratahs and haven't lost to an Australian side in over a year. The Waratahs on the other hand have not beaten a NZ side in almost a year.
I'm not too confident in anything in this game so will just enjoy watching the game.
Rebels v Crusaders
One would expect a complete mismatch in this game but he Rebels have an OK record against the Crusaders winning 2 of their last 5 clashes. The Rebels will have to lift however to beat the undefeated side after getting hammered last week to the Waratahs while the Crusaders ground out a nice win against the Chiefs.
Although the Rebels have an OK record against the Crusaders, late last year they were hammered by the boys from the South 85-26. In all honesty that could well happen again. The Crusaders are on fire while the Rebels are battling away near the foot of the table.
The Rebels have the worst attacking record with an average of 15 points per game while the Crusaders are the 2nd best attacking side in the competition with an average of 38 points per game.
I'm pretty confident in a Crusaders victory and a big one at that. Israel Dagg returns for the Crusaders and will be a big attacking weapon for them.
Bulls v Hurricanes
The Bulls are pretty much out of the competition unless a miracle can happen winning the rest of their games with bonus points and the Stormers losing the rest of their games. They were comprehensively beaten by the Lions last week 51-14. The Hurricanes learnt from their tough loss to the Crusaders by backing up and beating the Cheetahs easily.
The Hurricanes have won their last 2 games against the Bulls but had previously lost their last 4 to the Bulls. Those last two wins were only by 4 and 5 points respectively.
The last 6 games between the two sides have averaged a low 41.5 points per game. The Hurricanes have only lost two games this year and they were both away games. The Bulls have lost their last two home games, both to NZ sides in the Highlanders and Crusaders.
Not confident on anything in particular in this game, potentially have a look at the total on Saturday.
NO PICK at this stage.
Sharks v Stormers
Both teams have plenty to play for, a win for the Stormers will guarantee their spot in the playoffs while a win for the Sharks will also almost guarantee them a playoffs spot. The Sharks are a pretty hard team to read this year but they disposed of the Sunwolves in style last week winning 38-17. The Stormers were very strong against the Blues winning 30-22.
The last 6 games played between these two sides is a 3-3 win/loss record for both sides. The Sharks have won 4 out of their last 6 home games to the Stormers and are also yet to lose at home this week, although they did draw to the low Rebels. The Stormers have also lost their last 3 away games, though these were all in NZ to harder teams.
I marked this a pick em game and not confident enough to take any of the teams on.
Jaguares v Brumbies
This game has snooze fest all over it. One team out of form and another team who don't know how to score many points. The Jaguares had a welcome Bye last week after losing to the Force the week prior. The Brumbies held out the Kings 19-10 in a pretty dull game.
The Jaguares and Brumbies have two similar records of recent with both teams managing a sole win out of their last 5 clashes. The Jaguares have been really disappointing of late after starting their season fairly strong. The Brumbies really need to win this and I think they've got a lot more to play for, a win keeping that buffer for them in the Australian conference.
I think the Brumbies will win this one in a tight match, happy to take on the Jaguares here.
Lions v Kings
A total mismatch here though the Kings have been playing well of late. The Lions using their easy draw to their advantage winning their last 9 matches and should add a 10th to that with this fixture. The Lions were ok last week although came up short against the Brumbies.
The Lions have beaten the Kings in 4 of their last 5 matches with their sole loss to the Kings back in 2013 when the Lions weren't that great anyway.
The Last three games the Lions have beaten the Kings by an average of 31 points.
I suspect the Lions will probably rest some players in this game so with that hint of knowledge I'm not prepared to go out on a limb for this game.
RESULTS STAKES ROI Quarter Finals +2.94 9 33% Week Seventeen -1.2 11 -11% Week Sixteen -3.3 9 -37% Week Fifteen +0.52 19.5 3% Week Fourteen -16 16 -100% Week Thirteen +3.81 13.5 28% Week Twelve +2.71 17.5 15% Week Eleven -2.9 11 -26% Week Ten -0.35 14 -3% 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% Futures +5.7 10 57% Total +6.56 217 3%