With the Super Rugby season now well underway, here are the picks for Week Three:
It all starts with the Crusaders playing their first game of the season at Rugby League Park against the Chiefs. After a poor performance from the pack against the Highlanders, where the Crusaders were unable to dominate the breakdown, there will have been a huge emphasis on securing turnovers this week in training. Their backs were excellent however, so if they keep scoring tries such as Israel Dagg’s effort last weekend, they should pick up a win.
Prediction: Crusaders by 8
Next the Hurricanes tour continues as they travel to Perth to face the Force. The worst was predicted for Mark Hammett’s side at the start of the season, but winning in Johannesburg will have given them confidence. If Beauden Barrett can keep kicking his goals and the ‘Canes back row can handle David Pocock, then they might return home with two wins out of three on Nathan Sharpe’s 150th Super Rugby cap.
Prediction: Hurricanes by 5
The Brumbies then return after their bye week to face the Cheetahs at home, with Pat McCabe fit again after injury. The visitor’s pack was dreadful against the Bulls last weekend, but bringing Coenie Oosthuizen back in will shore up the scrum and the physical Ashley Johnson should improve matters. After the Brumbies impressed in Round 1, and the Cheetahs struggled last weekend, this should be a home win.
Prediction: Brumbies by 7
The in-form Highlanders then take on the Waratahs at home, when hopefully the stadium clock will be working perfectly! The Waratahs have impressed in both their matches despite losing in Round 1, but the Highlanders’ physicality could edge this one narrowly.
Prediction: Highlanders by 4
The action then moves to Brisbane with the Reds facing a Rebels team who were toothless last weekend. The champions are not quite on top form yet but should kick on against a leaky Melbourne defence.
Prediction: Reds by 18
It’s then over to Durban with the Sharks playing their first match at home against the Lions. The hosts could welcome back Willem Alberts and Odwa Ndungane as they look for their first win of the season, whilst the Lions will be disappointed at the way they let the Hurricanes back into the match last weekend at home.
Prediction: Sharks by 8
Last but not least, the desperate Blues travel to Loftus to take on the Bulls. They should be wary of the damage the 2009 champions inflicted on the Cheetahs last weekend. If the pack led by Jerome Kaino can’t front up to the Bulls power, they could be in for a long afternoon.
Prediction: Bulls by 15
by Ben Coles
This article was also published on Sport24.