SportGuru fans, after nearly a month off Super Rugby returns with only three rounds remaining until this season’s playoffs are decided. As things stand before Round 16 the Chiefs, Stormers and Brumbies hold the first three spots on the log as Conference Leaders, with the Crusaders, Bulls and Hurricanes making up the Wildcard Spots.
Given that only one point separates the Hurricanes in 6th spot with the Sharks, Highlanders and Reds all right on their heels, the playoff spots are far from decided with some key matches coming up this weekend.
Focusing now however on Round 16, here is all the advice you need for your SportGuru picks:
We get underway on Friday morning with the Highlanders hosting the Chiefs in Dunedin. The Super Rugby leaders had a truly brilliant first leg of this year’s Super Rugby competition, racking up 11 wins out of a possible 13 with six bonus points along the way. Liam Messam, Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden and Sonny Bill Williams might all be in fine form but prop Sona Taumalolo is the top try scorer with 8 for the side.
Although the Highlanders actually started with a win over the Chiefs in Waikato, their season has been a mixed bag with great wins over the Bulls and Crusaders but losses to the Sharks and Stormers. The Chiefs are a much stronger outfit now than they were in Round 1 and will be favourites for this one. Chiefs by 8
The Rebels then host the Reds in Melbourne, looking for revenge after the visitors narrow 11-6 win back at Suncorp in Round 3. With Kurtley Beale back fit the Rebels will be a stronger force but the Reds have turned a corner in what has proved to be a difficult season for the champions, not helped by the fact that their inspirational leader James Horwill is now out for the rest of the season. They should be good enough to win this one though. Reds by 5
Saturday then starts with the Crusaders hosting the Hurricanes in Christchurch as they continue the hunt for top spot in the New Zealand Conference. The Canes have scored more points than anyone else in Super Rugby this season with 438 – 10 tries coming from star full back Andre Taylor who should be part of the All Black squad come The Rugby Championship in August. Winning at Rugby League Park though is probably beyond them. Crusaders by 9
The Force are then in action against the Brumbies in Perth in what should be a relatively one-sided affair as the visitors continue their impressive run at the top of the Australian Conference. Brumbies by 10
South African conference leaders the Stormers then host the troubled Lions in Cape Town, with the visitors under new management after the departure of John Mitchell and Johan Ackermann and Carlos Spencer running the show. Their injury crisis might be easing but this is too much of a challenge too soon. Stormers by 12
Last but not least, the Bulls are at home to the Cheetahs at Loftus and should expect a bonus point win to keep the pressure on the Stormers. Bulls by 16
That’s all for this week, good luck with your SportGuru picks and see you ahead of Round 17.
by Ben Coles