Super Rugby 2014 Predictions: Qualifiers

trophyBrumbies v Chiefs

The Brumbies destroyed fellow play-off hopefuls the Force last week, in a feast of running rugby that saw them finish with seven tries to their name. The Chiefs’ win over the Blues was far less fluent but arguably just as impressive – conditions were horrible but they ground out a win away from home, right when they needed it most.

Looking at how the season has panned out so far, the location of this one could be vital. The Brumbies have lost just once in Canberra in 2014, way back on the opening day of their campaign against the Reds. The Chiefs have just two wins on the road, but they have also drawn twice – suggesting that this one will be close.

The Brumbies beat their visitors this weekend by 18 at Canberra Stadium earlier this season, but as Aaron Cruden said earlier this week – “This is knockout footy” – and this game will likely be much closer than that. I’d still expect the Brumbies to make home advantage count and make it to the semi-finals, however.

SuperBru pick: Brumbies by 5

Sharks v Highlanders

Psychology is a big part of rugby, and the mental battle in this game will be intriguing. The Sharks may well be at home, which is an obvious advantage, but there are two sides to have beaten them in Durban this year – the Stormers and, back in April, the Highlanders, when they produced probably the shock of the year to pump their hosts by 16 points.

All this means the Highlanders will hold no fear arriving in Durban, while the Sharks will approach this with just slightly less confidence than they would if it had been a team they’d beaten already this year.

The hosts impressed in their win over the Stormers last weekend, while the Highlanders went down easily to the Crusaders. The Sharks have the second best defensive record in the league this year, while the Highlanders have the fourth-worst. In the tight encounters that knockout games invariably turn out to be, it is defence that tends to win games, so I’m backing the home side here.

SuperBru pick: Sharks by 6

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

11 thoughts on “Super Rugby 2014 Predictions: Qualifiers

  1. The Brumbies will win this week end as will the Sharks. Last week, if the Blues had taken all their penaties(and remember they were held up two or three times over the line) and of course the Chiefs try was an interecept, the Blues would have won confortably. Yes knockout footy is different, however Brumbies at home, a banker. The Sharks at home should also win comfortably, as long as they are not over confident!

  2. I’m so glad I found this blog. As a relative newcomer to the game it’s an awesome way to keep up with all the goings on. I know this has nothing to do with this actual post, but it’s something I wanted to say

  3. Jamie

    You say; ‘the Highlanders will hold no fear arriving in Durban’. Well I don’t know how you can say that unless you have insider info. Of course the Higlanders must have some trepidation going away to a higher placed team which won well away last week whilst the Higlanders themselves came off with a bit of a hiding.

    The Sharks may well ‘approach this with just slightly less confidence’, but I’d still rather be in their shoes. You add; ‘I’m backing the home side here’.

    And besides a 1 off Higlander win against expectations smacks too much of the 1 swallow syndrome for me, altho personally, I hope lightining does strike twice.

    Additionally you state; ‘In the tight encounters that knockout games invariably turn out to be, it is defence that tends to win games…’. This sounds like a rugby league mantra or a very English saying to me. I mean if you score more points than the oppo, you also sometimes tend to win games.

    1. Don,

      In relation to this:
      “Additionally you state; ‘In the tight encounters that knockout games invariably turn out to be, it is defence that tends to win games…’. This sounds like a rugby league mantra or a very English saying to me. I mean if you score more points than the oppo, you also sometimes tend to win games.”

      Jamie is absolutely spot on, knock-out games more often that not are won by teams with the best defence. That is a fact. You seem to have an opinion that attack wins big rugby matches above all else. Just take a look at every WC final to see that the reality is very different.

      Even the mighty ABs won the last WC 8-7 with one ugly forward try. I know what you’re thinking, how is that possible? You have to score 6 tries, with your wingers both scoring hatricks to win a game of rugby don’t you!?

  4. Jacob

    You can be as sarcy as you like, but by stating; ‘You seem to have an opinion that attack wins big rugby matches…’, is just yr perception of what I’m stating.

    It’s a mind set thing.

    I’ve been over this before, but when a team has ball, it must (usually, unless, say, they’re 50 ahead with 5 to go) score, when it doesn’t, it must stop the oppo from scoring; WC finals notwithstanding.

    Look up Joe Schmidt when he was @ Clermont Auvergne. They’d lost consecutive Top 14 finals & were ‘jinxed’. He told them to forget all that stuff & execute the game plan. In the following yr, 2010, they won the comp. Did similar with Leinster in the H Cup.

    If teams play ‘D’ then that’s how the game turns out, even in a final. If you’d taken the 87 WC final as yr e.g. it would have stood yr view on its head.

    Some WC finals have been tighter than others, e.g., in 03, as you know, it was by 3. In 07 when SA won it, it was reasonably close on the scoreboard, but they were always in control.

    Stats, as also prev mentioned elsewhere, can tell part of a story, but not the whole story, but you’ll likely remain unconvinced. You’re

  5. Jacob

    You can be as sarcy as you like, but by stating ‘You seem to have an opinion that attack wins big rugby matches…’, is just yr perception of what I’m stating.

    What I’m trying to convey is that it’s (WC finals) a mind set (fear based… or confidence) thing.

    I’ve been over this before, but when a team has ball, it must (usually, unless say, they’re 20 ahead with 5 to go) score. When it doesn’t, it must stop the oppo from scoring; WC finals notwithstanding. So a game’s (in theory @ least) a 50/50 thing, surely?

    As an e.g. of mind set, look up Joe Schmidt when he was @ Clermont Auvergne. They’d lost consecutive Top 14 finals & were ‘jinxed’. He told them to forget all that stuff & execute their game plan. In the following yr, 2010, they won the comp. Did similar with Leinster in the H Cup.

    If teams play ‘D’ then that’s how the game turns out, even in a final & if you’d taken the 87 WC final as yr e.g. it would have stood yr view on its head.

    Some WC finals have been tighter than others, e.g., in 03, as you know, it was by 3. In 07 when SA won it, it was reasonably close on the scoreboard, 15–6, but SA were always in control.

    With 7 WCs, @ 4 yr intervals, do the resultant ‘tight’ finals’ scores constitute a definitive trend?
    Stats, as also prev mentioned elsewhere, can tell part of a story, but not the whole story.

    However you’ll likely remain unconvinced, you’re (presumably?) English. Diff mind set IMO.

    Oops! Those words again.

    1. My comments were not meant to sound quite as sarcy as the read to be fair, so apologies there. I was simply trying to highlight the point.

      I see a lot of posts on here from you around the same point – England do not score enough tries, particularly on the wing.

      My point is simple – defence is what wins big matches, not attack, so to rubbish Jamie’s quote is unfair.

      If you look at the majority of WC finals, there are not many tries and the team who defended well came out on top.

      2011 – two tries (both forwards) 2007 – no tries, 2003 – two tries, 1999 – two tries, 1995 – no tries, 1991 – 1 try, 1987 – 4 tries

      Apologies for the boring list – but I’m sure you can see my points. ’87 was the exception, not the rule. And even then, 4 tries is not loads.

      You can argue that that is a small selection of matches – but I think we can agree that WC finals are the most important of knock-out matches, so they are a pretty decent sample by which to decide how the tightest of them play out.

  6. Jacob

    As I said, unlikely to agree.

    Wasn’t (intending to) ‘rubbish/ing’ Jamie, altho his job to respond if interested.

    Regds the England try thing. I mention it so often because it surely IS an issue & incredulously, others here often opine that it doesn’t seem to matter, so long as England are scoring them… from somewhere!?

    You may wish to check out a SH writer/philo/histo called Spiro Zavos. Thought he was Oz, but born in Wellington. Has a diff, interesting take on rugger.

    Anyway, given my views & to say more is to go over the same ol’.

    NH & SH do have diff takes, philo, mind sets. You, it seems, look mainly @ stats & draw more rigid? conclusions, I take them with (in the words of another here) with a pinch.

  7. The stats dont lie. In World Cups otherwise attacking sides and running rugby
    is abandoned in favour of ‘no mistakes’ defence. Let the other side take the chances
    we’ll just tackle them until we win. So great sides like the 2011 ABs become ordinary
    and barely able to beat a poor French side and the rugby becomes more like Gridiron
    ….all scrumdowns and blocking.

    So rather than pay all that money to watch a RWC full of boring defence maybe its time
    to change the scoring to ensure sides dont abandon attacking Rugby inthe last game
    of the competition.

  8. david Mckenzie

    Presumably apart from 1987 then? Besides this has been dealt with. Re-read prev comments.

    Regds; ‘So great sides like the 2011 ABs become ordinary and barely able to beat a poor French side…’ is commentary on a 1 off game. Same ol’ 1 swallow syndrome? Ok, ok so it happened x2 to the ABs, but OTOH The ABs put the Fr out of 2 WC finals. But in any event, these 2 braces of results hardly form a trend.

    But to get back to AB v France game you mention, the French kicked all their goals in the 2nd 1/2 & got 3 bounces that all went their way. And on what basis was that French team ‘ordinary’?

    Shite happens in sport e.g. W Champs Spain v Holland in the recent Soccer WC, or England v Oz in the last Ashes series. Who foresaw those stats? You?

    Methinks you have myopic vision & conditioned thinking.

  9. david Mckenzie

    Conversely, yr idea to ‘change the scoring to ensure sides dont abandon attacking Rugby in the last game of the competition’ has some merit.

    So not all is myopic vision & conditioned thinking.

    How about 8, or double pts for tries? Make for an urgent final?

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