Round 6 of Super Rugby was another tough week for SuperBru players – the first four games went the way of the favourites, but then the Force beat the Chiefs, the Lions beat the Reds and the Bulls beat the Sharks to leave people scratching their heads yet again.
This week there are just six games to predict and surely it’s time for Grand Slam Points?
Crusaders v Hurricanes
First up, two under-performing Kiwi sides square up in Christchurch. The Crusaders have won their last two matches but in unconvincing fashion – sneaking past the Stormers by a point and then cutting it fine against the Rebels – whilst the Hurricanes only have one win to their name from four matches. Home advantage and the superior head-to-head record for the Crusaders has me favouring the Canterbury men. Crusaders by 5.
Rebels v Brumbies
The Brumbies have hit some form in recent weeks, beating the more fancied teams like the Hurricanes, Waratahs and Stormers, and deservedly sit top of the Australian conference. The Rebels are at the opposite end of the table, and whilst they’ve made life difficult for visiting teams in Melbourne, you’d expect the Brumbies to come through. Brumbies by 8.
Blues v Highlanders
Another New Zealand derby that’s tough to predict, and where home advantage may be the decisive factor. The Highlanders have won 4 out of the last 5 meetings between the two sides, but the Blues haven’t lost at Eden Park this season and the Dunedin side have not yet won away. Neither have looked particularly convincing, but I’m backing the Aucklanders to win this one. Blues by 7.
Reds v Stormers
Tough times at the Stormers have been well-documented, and they face one final test before returning to South Africa. The Reds have just returned from a difficult tour in which they lost to both the Sharks and the Lions, but will still start as favourites in front of their own fans against the underperfoming Capetonians. Can the Stormers return home with a win? Reds by 3.
Bulls v Chiefs
Only a quarter of SuperBru players anticipated a Bulls win last weekend as people disregarded their excellent record at Loftus. Only 6% predicted the Chiefs defeat to the Force though, and the reigning champions’ first defeat of the season is not what they wanted ahead of a two-match tour in South Africa. It could go either way, but let’s back the Bulls. Bulls by 5.
Sharks v Waratahs
These have been the two standout sides from the opening rounds of the Super Rugby season, but the home side must now cope without Pat Lambie, who was forced off early last week. The Tahs have been scoring tries for fun with three big home wins so far this year, and will fancy a scalp to kick off their tour. Jake White knows a thing or two about the Australian teams though, so I’d expect him to have the answers. Sharks by 5.