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Highlanders v Crusaders – Crusaders by 3
These 2 sides played out a crazy pre-season game that was 0-26 at halftime with the Highlanders leading but finished 28-26 with the Crusaders winning. Looking at games between these 2 sides over the last couple of years and the Crusaders have been dominant. That “draw” was the cancelled game due to the Christchurch shootings so it’s been a long time between drinks for the Landers.
There are 2 reasons I’ve gone with such a close margin for the Saders. First up it’s early in the season so we need to see how the sides are travelling. Secondly Boa is being very bullish about the Highlanders prospects this season and he tends to be a good judge. It would still be an upset though if they were to win, even at home.
Reds v Rebels – Reds by 10
The Reds came out firing in the opening round against the Tahs! Sure they allowed an early try but after that it was all one way traffic. Pre-season I think everyone had the Brumbies and Reds as 1 and 2 in the competition and nothing we saw in the opening round really changed my views on that.
The Rebels will know that they are going to have a serious game on their hands and even with all their Wallabies I think it’s going to be a tough night at the office for them.
Hurricanes v Blues – Blues by 3
I’m very surprised that the TAB can’t split these 2 sides. Last year the Blues won 2 out of 3 games and are a lot of people’s closest challengers to the Saders. On the other hand I think you’ll find a few prediction tables that have the Canes coming last. It’s a settled Canes side but with real question marks over the 9 and 10 jerseys.
The Blues kicked the most in Super Rugby Aotearoa last season. Will they stick with that style now that Beauden Barrett isn’t going to be in that 15 jersey? Only time is going to tell but it worked well for them last season and I think we’ll see something similar this season. Territory and then using those dangerous backs looks to be the order of the day.
Brumbies v Waratahs – Brumbies by 15
The Brumbies won comfortably last weekend in their opening fixture over in West Australia. At the same time their closest rivals (journey wise at least) were getting hammered by the Reds. It would take a massive turnaround by the Tahs just to be competitive in this game. I can’t see the Brumbies being as dangerous attacking as the Reds were but they will be very well organised. That’s why I’m going for a smaller margin than the Tahs loss last weekend.
Byes: Chiefs and Western Force
Having a bye in the opening round is no help for the Chiefs as it means they have no one to play pre-season warmup games and won’t get a rest mid-season. For the Western Force it allows them sometime to look at what went wrong against the Brumbies and perhaps clean off some of that early season rust.
Record So Far
2 from 2 or 100% so far, a great start but it was only 2 games.