Hurricanes v Sharks
Although the Hurricanes got off to a slow start against the Rebels last week, they came home strongly putting away the Rebels in their best effort of the season. Meanwhile the Sharks upset (maybe the Blues are just bad?) the Blues with an extremely high scoring match eclipsing 100 points.
The home team in this fixture has won the last 6 matches and this trend should continue. I can’t see the Sharks who I rate the 4th best South African side challenging the best NZ team and arguably the competitions best side in this one.
The Hurricanes have a strong record at home having won 15 of their last 16 matches at home, the weather looks good for tonight in Napier and I think the Hurricanes will do this one easy. The line is quite high however so we’ll stay out of it.
Sunwolves v Waratahs
The Sunwolves had a much needed bye last weekend to shake off their disastrous start to the season, while the Waratahs beat the Brumbies in a close fought contest in Canberra last week.
The Waratahs have got their season back on track with two decent wins against fellow Australian teams the Rebels and Brumbies. No Folau in this game as he is out injured but I don’t think the Waratahs will miss him too badly.
The Sunwolves are yet to beat an Australian side in 6 attempts. They’re struggling this season having conceded on average 44 points per game this season.
I think the Waratahs win this one easily.
Chiefs v Blues
I had high hopes for the Blues this year, I thought they wouldn’t finish last in the NZ conference but that seems extremely likely now. What a disaster they had last week against the Sharks. The Chiefs continue their momentum with a nice victory over the Highlanders.
The Chiefs have a phenomenal record against the Blues having won 12 of their last 13 clashes, the other match was a drawn match. The Chiefs have also won 11 of their last 12 home matches while the Blues have only won 1 of their last 5 away games.
Without Sonny Bill Williams the Blues seem to be struggling in attack, they’re playing too much in the forwards and when the ball is going out to the backs they seem to be disjointed and have no strategy. I thought Stephen Perofeta could potentially be a future All Black but his stocks fell sharply last weekend.
The Chiefs should win this one in a canter, I do slightly fear the bounce back factor that the Blues could bring but I must go with my head and have a play on the Chiefs.
Brumbies v Reds
The Brumbies played well but eventually lost against the Waratahs last week, the injection of David Pocock is massive and he played outstanding last weekend. The Reds had a welcome bye after a little tour of the world and should be fresh for this game.
These teams played back in the earlier rounds with a boring victory to the Reds 18-10 (6 Penalties to the Reds). The Brumbies have won 5 of their last 7 against the Reds, but the Reds have won the last two matches. As already noted the Reds have a horror away record winning only 2 of their last 15 games.
An interesting stat is that in the last three games between these sides played in Canberra the Brumbies have recorded more than 40 points. A telling stat to both the Brumbies home grit and the Reds poor away performances.
I think the Brumbies should win this, the bye wouldn’t have helped the Reds too much as they had been playing quite good footy. The Pocock factor should get the Brumbies over the line and although a slight risk I’m going to choose the Brumbies to win by 13 or more.
Lions v Stormers
This has the ingredients to be the match of the round. In my opinion the two best South African teams. The Lions last week played pretty well against the Crusaders, particularly in the first half losing by 6 points. The Stormers have been shaky of late and they were comprehensively outplayed by the Bulls last week losing by 10 points.
The Lions have beaten the Stormers in their last two clashes by 7 and 13 points respectively. I think the loss to the Jaguares a couple of weeks ago really shook the Lions up and they have worked hard on their defence which showed last week. The Stormers have been up and down all season and their wins this season have been against weaker sides.
The Stormers have lost their last 4 away games and I don’t see them winning this one. I think the line is probably where it should be maybe 1 point too low but I’ll be staying out of this one. We may have a go at the total on the weekend as these teams have a considerably low average in their past few games.
No Play for now.
Jaguares v Crusaders
The Jaguares had a bye last week after upsetting the Lions the week prior. The Crusaders battled against the Lions but won in the end after numerous disallowed tries.
This for me is an absolute stay out game. I really don’t know what to make of it. The Crusaders are deserved favourite but the Jaguares are such a hard team to read and you really don’t know if they’ll bring their A game of D game.
RESULTS STAKES ROI Semi Finals -0.14 2 -7% Quarter Finals -0.28 8 -4% Week Nineteen +4.53 5 91% Week Eighteen -6.15 12 -51% Week Seventeen -3.1 8 -39% Week Sixteen -2.3 8 -29% Week Fifteen +1.1 7.5 15% Week Fourteen -0.38 8 -5% Week Thirteen -3.78 11.5 -33% Week Twelve +1.75 8 22% Week Eleven +9.25 11.5 80% Week Ten +5.5 12.5 44% Week Nine +1.3 11 12% Week Eight +5.84 9 65% Week Seven +5.98 19 31% Week Six +2.64 9 29% Week Five -4.7 9 -52% Week Four -4.4 12 -37% Total +12.66 171 7%