We’re already at round 3 of the Super Rugby season and the contenders are already starting to emerge from the pack.
No side has been more impressive than the Stormers so far, shutting out back to back opponents and they now face the Lions this weekend.
As you would expect there’s plenty of reason for optimism in the New Zealand sides while the Brumbies continue to lead the way for the Australian sides.
There are seven games to get through this weekend so here’s who we are backing in our Super Rugby Tips.
The Crusaders don’t lose a whole lot and they lose back to back games even less frequently. You have to like them to bounce back this weekend against just about any side including the Blues, after all, they have won their last 10 against them. There is every chance this game winds up fairly close though, last season the Blues ran the Crusaders all the way to the finish line in Auckland before going down 24-22 and they are every chance of giving them a scare here. I’ll still take the Crusaders to win since it is still the Crusaders but I’ll only take them by 1-12 since that has been the margin in five of their last six away wins.
Let me get this straight, we have a chance to back against the Rebels again… as FAVOURITES?! Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and all that but this is a ten and a half months early Christmas present from the punters having the Rebels as favourites here. I’ll cop to the fact the Tahs have not looked all that good in the first two games, going down to the Crusaders and Blues but you have to grade that first one at least on some sort of curve. With the 0-2 Rebels still trying to find some semblance of competency and cohesion, how can you not take the visitors here, especially since they have won six straight against the Melbourne side.
Of course you like the Chiefs to win this game, how could you not? But with a 20.5 point head start, that’s where you might have to give this one some consideration. A week after playing the Crusaders in a possible Grand Final preview there is a massive hangover potential for the Chiefs and they have taken the Sunwolves somewhat easily in the past. Just last year they were upset by the Japanese side (at home no less) although they will be hoping that this is closer to the 61-10 drubbing they dished out in 2018. The other reason you have to press pause on loading up on the Chiefs is the fact the Sunwolves won their only match of the season… against the Rebels… ok that’s enough for me, Chiefs at the line it is.
How you approach this game comes down to which Hurricanes side you expect to turn up. Will it be something like the side that got blanked by the Stormers 27-0 or the one that pulled off an impressive upset of the Jaguares in Argentina last week. We should be impressed by the Sharks recording back to back wins to start the season but it does come with the warning that those wins were against sides that are expected to struggle. We’ll know a lot more about both of these sides after this game, as a tip I’d leaning towards the Hurricanes but not enough to back them with any confidence.
The Brumbies at home is about as reliable of a bet as you can find at the moment. They have won their last ten games at home and covered in nine of those instances. That being said, a lot of those wins have come against local and South African opponents and the fact that Australian sides always struggle against New Zealand opponents. I’ll still take the Brumbies to win but this could be a real struggle for them and it might wind up turning into a kicking battle rather than a try-fest.
Through two games this season, the Stormers have won both of their games, scored 40 points and conceded a grand total of zero points. No tries, no penalties, not even a pithy drop goal. If the Lions play at a similar standard to what they did against the Reds on the weekend they will have no chance of breaking down the Stormers enough times to have a shot of winning this game. With that in mind I’ll take the Stormers with a 6.5 point handicap with plenty of confidence.
While the Reds have played as well as you would expect them to in their first two games, you can’t mask the fact they have won just one of their last eight games. While Brad Thorn’s side pulled off an impressive win in Argentina two years ago, you can’t back them to repeat that feat with any sort of confidence. After getting run down by the Hurricanes last week, the home side will be eager to bounce back in what should be a battle of attrition between the two forward packs. This is a much tougher task for the Reds than what they had with the Lions last week and while I’m expecting a tight game going into half time, that final 40 minutes should see the Jaguares prove to be too strong. They have gone 8-3 against the spread at home in their last 11 and I like them to win and cover here.