The best in the southern hemisphere have brushed off some of the rust and are back for another round of exciting games. Here are my predictions.
How did the round 1 predictions go?
7 from 9, not bad with all the change in the squads.
Crusaders v Blues
Saders are traditionally slow starters and again they last their opening game even if it was close. The Blues looked rejuvenated under Tana and that was off the back of plenty of carrying by the forwards. It’s early days for both teams who had plenty of change in the off-season so it will be a few weeks before we really know where they sit. Even so I’m backing a narrow away win off the back of last week’s results.
Blues by 3
Brumbies v Waratahs
The two big Australian heavy weights have an early meeting. This could be an important result in who finishes top in the conference and so both sides will have looked towards this in preseason. The Brumbies have to be favourites with their big win last weekend. Tats also had a good win but weren’t as ruthless and allowed the Reds to dominate possession for times.
Brumbies by 5
Chiefs v Lions
Chiefs opened with a win on the road over the Saders and the Lions did the same over the Sunwolves. How ever the Chiefs had a much shorter trip after their last game. The Lions are in the middle of a marathon tour. Last year the Lions used their tour to turn their season around. Maybe they will be able to use it to start their season well but you have to think it will take something out of them so I’m backing the home side.
Chiefs by 7
Highlanders v Hurricanes
Another early heavy weight battle except both of these sides stumbled at the first. It’s a repeat of last year’s final except that it’s the reverse fixture in Dunedin. The Landers certainly started the season better but the Blues showed that they can be bullied up front. Their forwards will need to step it up or they will be targeted all season. The Canes got taken a part and will be looking to forget that and restart their season. Still I think the home side will win as do most people.
Highlanders by 5
Reds v Force
The Reds force managed to get possession and territory but few points. The Force also didn’t show much improvement on last season and this should be a battle of the bottom two. The Reds should have enough quality to win even though they have poor coaching. So I’m expecting a low scoring how win.
Reds by 3
Bulls v Rebels
The Rebels are a side on the up and opened the season with a win away at the Force. The Bulls got a spanking by the Stormers who should come out as the top South African side. The Rebels did get their first overseas win last season against the Crusaders. South Africa and the high altitude though are another thing and I think that more than the Bulls will defeat them.
Bulls by 3
Cheetahs v Stormers
The Cheetahs again lost a lot of players in the offseason but managed to push the Jags all the way. The Stormers had a good win over the Bulls and they should be looking to achieve another over the Cheetahs again. I still think that the Cheetahs will be fighting it out to not come last in the conferences so I’m going for an away win.
Stormers by 7
Sharks v Jaguares
The Sharks started with a moral boosting win but it was over the Kings who are arguably the weakest side in the competition. The Jags kicked off their existence winning their first competitive game. However I still think that they need to learn how to travelling fit in rest, training etc… so I think the travel will catchup with them and the Sharks will take a home win.
Sharks by 5
This season I’m competing against @RugbyNumbers algorithmic predictions. Check out his predictions here.