SUPER RUGBY WEEK 15
Sharks v Bulls
The African conferences return to Super Rugby this week after the international window with the first game kicking off on Saturday morning between the Sharks and the Bulls.
The Sharks come into this heavy favourites after the Bulls disastrous season sees them 16th on the table (although they have a game in hand). The Sharks last played the Stormers back at the end of May winning that game 22-10 while the Bulls last game was against the Hurricanes losing by 14 points at home.
The Sharks are undefeated at home this year which includes the draw they had with the Rebels back in April. The Bulls have lost all away games this year including losses to the Sunwolves and Cheetahs.
The last time these two teams played last year it was a 16-16 draw, prior to that the Bulls actually won the 3 previous encounters, all being relatively close games. Hard to look to much on the past with these two teams as the Sharks are considerably better than the Bulls this year.
I think the Sharks can have a big result in this one.
Sharks 13+3 at 2.10-3
Jaguares v Southern Kings
The majority of the Jaguares players have been on international duty for Argentina where they had mixed results against England and Georgia. Most of the Kings players would have rested up for the last month and be fresh for this clash with only a handful involved with South Africa and South Africa A duty.
These teams have played three times with the Jaguares winning two and losing one. The average score in those three games is 72 points per game, however this is largely by the 100 points scored in their first meeting last year.
The Kings have been massive improvers this year, particularly towards the back end of the season. They beat the Waratahs away from home, thrashed the Rebels at home, upset the Sharks and narrowly lost to the Brumbies.
eanwhile the Jaguares season showed massive promise but they've now lost 6 of their last 7 games, with the only win being against the Sunwolves.
I think the Jaguares will win this one but I'm happy to back the Kings at the line.
Cheetahs v Stormers
With the Cheetahs having nothing to play for they might throw the ball around even more than they usually do (if that's possible). The Cheetahs are playing for pride now and probably contracts too with the likelihood of them being pulled from the competition next year.
The Stormers are assured of a playoff spot so I'd suspect them to be just trying to nail key areas of their rugby in preparation for the finals.
The Cheetahs have lost their last 4 home games while the Stormers have lost their last 4 away games. The Stormers do have a favourable record of recent against the Cheetahs winning their last 4 clashes. The Cheetahs have been a disaster on defence this year conceding on average 38 points per game this season and this has the potential to be pretty high scoring. Earlier on in the year the Stormers beat the Cheetahs 53-10.
I'm not particularly keen on anything in this game, with the uncertainty of how the Stormers will choose to play the remaining games of this year (they cannot gain any places on the table) I'm happy to just watch this game.
Lions v Sunwolves
2nd place plays last place, a bit of a mismatch here and the line suggests the Lions should belt the Sunwolves. The Lions have been really impressive this year only dropping one game earlier on in the season and currently on a 10 match winning streak. The Sunwolves have only won 1 game this season but have been rather competitive across a few games during the year.
The Lions have had two big wins of recent beating the Kings by 44 points and the Bulls by 27 points. It will be interesting to see the side named for this game by the Lions as for me I'd be resting as many players as possible after the international window. The last game the Sunwolves played they were belted by the Cheetahs 47-7.
These teams have only played once before with the Lions winning 26-13. The Sunwolves have conceded on average 39 points per game this year while at home this season the Lions have scored on average 42 points per game.
I think the Lions could win this by a lot. They still need points if they want to finish top of the table and bonus points will be exactly that; a bonus.
Blues v Reds
The Blues played well last week and deserved at least the Draw they come up with against the Chiefs, while the Reds were horrid in their loss to the Force and have all but ruined any chance of a playoffs spot. The Blues take this one to Samoa and they’ll be well fancied over there with plenty of Samoan influence in the Blues team.
The Reds have won 4 of the last 6 games against the Blues, including 1 draw so they are somewhat of a bogey team to the Reds. This is a fairly different Reds outfit to the one that holds those last few results however. The Blues have not lost to an Australian side in over 2 years.
Of the New Zealand sides the Reds have played this year they have conceded an average of 34 points per game, losing all three fixtures. The Blues have scored an average of 34.5 points against Australian sides this year.
The Blues should get the job done in this one, while both teams have little or nothing to play for I’d expect an attacking type game. I think the Blues should cover the line in this one.
Crusaders v Highlanders
This should be the game of the round, the battle of the South. The Crusaders continue their unbeaten streak with a comfortable victory against the Rebels last weekend. While the Highlanders easily disposed of the Waratahs.
The Highlanders have a fairly decent record against the Crusaders of late winning 2 of the last 3 games. The Away team has won 5 of the last 7 games for this fixture as well. While the average points in the last three games between these two sides is 54 points per game. They do have some fairly close battles also with the last 4 games all being within 8 points.
The Highlanders always lift for this one and are true rivals to the Crusaders. My record with predicting Crusaders matches is terrible so I think it’s best to stay out of this one, nothing is really screaming value either.
Chiefs v Waratahs
As mentioned the Chiefs drew to the Blues last week while the Waratahs were outplayed by the Highlanders losing by 16 points.
Like the Reds v Blues, the Waratahs have a great record against the Chiefs winning 6 of the last 7 including the last 3 games.
The Chiefs have had a couple of hiccups over the last two weeks with a loss and a draw, but the Waratahs have just been so inconsistent this year. They’ve looked like the best Australian side at times but have also looked one of the worst at times too.
An interesting stat is games played by the Waratahs against NZ opposition this year have averaged 68.5 points per game. I think this has the potential to be high scoring as well. The Waratahs need a bonus point win to stay in touch of their conference so I suspect they’ll be attacking in this game. The Chiefs too will be looking for a bonus point win themselves so expect a few tries in this one.
We might have a crack at the total tomorrow which should be around the 57-58 mark when opening.
Brumbies v Rebels
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Only the heartiest of rugby fans will be tuning into this one. The Brumbies played amazing against the Jaguares last week and deserved the win. Only a miracle will see them lose the Australian conference from here. The Rebels continued their poor season with a 22 point loss to competition leaders the Crusaders.
The Away team has won 3 of the last 4 of these fixtures. The Rebels have only won one game this year, that was against the Brumbies when they defeated them 19-17 in a shock win. This should be a pretty low scoring affair. I can’t see the Brumbies wanting to really play an expansive game as they’ll only be concerned of winning and wrapping up the Australian Conference, they’ll have a fair idea of what they need to do after the Chiefs v Waratahs game.
The average points in the last 4 games between these two sides is a low 36 points per game. With overseas bookmakers going up in the low 50s I think the unders bet is the go. We’ll come back tomorrow once the Australian bookies are up and have a crack at the unders.
Force v Hurricanes
The Force were fantastic last week and really deserved the win against the Reds playing entertaining Rugby. The Hurricanes played well against the Bulls winning by 14 points in South Africa.
The Hurricanes have a great record against the Force winning 9 of 10 matches against the Force. They have an 8 match winning streak against all Australian sides and I don’t think that streak is under threat in this game.
The Hurricanes have beaten the Force by an average of 25 points in the last 4 games. While the Force played well last week they really struggled against the Highlanders a fortnight ago being downed by 49 points. I put the Hurricanes on the same level as the Highlanders so think a similar margin is not out of question.
The Force do welcome back Dane Haylett-Petty which is a huge in, but the Hurricanes also welcome back sensation Nehe Milner Skudder to their squad. I think the Hurricanes can win this in a canter.
RESULTS STAKES ROI Final +3 3 100% Semi Finals -0.77 6.5 -12% 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 +8.79 226.5 4%