This marks the halfway point of the regular season and already it’s clear who the main runners and riders are. Here are my round 9 predictions.
First here is a link to my round-up of last weekend’s action.
How did your round 8 predictions go?
6 from 7, as I had too much faith in the Rebels.
Here’s my 30 second One Line Predictions, full reasoning below:
Highlanders v Sharks
Landers had a shock loss away in Australia last weekend and that will remove any complacency that they are going to cruise into the playoffs. For the Sharks three losses on the trot is threatening to see their season slip away early. A trip to Dunedin against a hurt Landers with a returning Ben Smith is not what they need. They will get the opportunity to have more ball this weekend as the Landers kick but I still can’t see anything other than a comfortable home win.
Highlanders by 10
Rebels v Cheetahs
The Rebels have the comfort of not having to face a New Zealand team this weekend. They will be very aware that they need to win this game to further their hopes in picking up a wildcard playoff slot for the first time in their history. The Cheetahs picked up they second win last weekend but it was against a tired and dispirited Sunwolves. Whilst that will help their confidence they are facing a true playoff contender this weekend on the road. Another case of a touring South African side losing.
Rebels by 10
Sunwolves v Jaguares
If the Sunwolves are going to pick up a win it will be either this game or next when the host the Force. Coming off the back of a difficult tour to South Africa and a massive defeat they really could have done with the bye this weekend not next. The Jags have also travelled a lot having lost three games in New Zealand in the run up to this. The Jags have looked the better side and if they can get some more balance into their game rather than trying every offload should take this one.
Jaguares by 3
Hurricanes v Chiefs
I underestimated the Canes last week and they went on to win in a sandpit that they called a pitch in Melbourne. It looks like I might do it again this weekend. They are a fine side but after being down to Hamilton to watch the Chiefs it’s hard to go against them. They are a side that can just cut you open in a moment but are also happy to hold on to the ball for periods too. So with a certain lack of confidence I’m going with a narrow away win.
Chiefs by 3
Force v Waratahs
These two sides have only managed three wins between them and they have all been against the Reds. Last season the Force managed the double over the Tahs and with the Tahs looking poor this season perhaps I should have gone for the home win. However I just can’t see how the quality of players the Tahs have won’t shown through and so I’m picking another narrow away win.
Waratahs by 3
Stormers v Reds
The Stormers came into this season as the top team in South Africa and they do sit a top of the pile currently. They have lost to the Sharks and Lions though and their tour doesn’t come until late in the season. So whilst they are still playoff contenders they aren’t showing the form some of us would have expected. The Reds had a moral boosting win against the Landers and have looked much better since their coaching change. However tours need to be planned well in advance and I think they will find this trip too taxing against a Stormers side who haven’t left South Africa yet.
Stormers by 10
Kings v Lions
This one is simple, a bottom to the table side against a playoff contender. A big away win.
Lions by 20
Brumbies v Crusaders
This is one of the classic match ups that Super Rugby has built it’s self on. Again these two sides are looking to be involved at the pointy end of the season and it should be a good clash. The Brumbies will be missing Pocock through suspension still through and have not been clicking these last few weeks. The Saders looked a little tired against the Jags and will be relishing a rest next weekend. I’m going for the away win as the Saders squeeze one more performance before their break as they have looked the better of the two sides.
Crusaders by 5
This season I’m competing with Rugby Numbers, check out his algorithmic predictions.
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