It’s another full weekend of Super Rugby action with three days of games to take in.
There’s a Suncorp Stadium double header with the Sunwolves hosting the Crusaders before the Reds take on the Bulls on Saturday evening and a big clash between the Brumbies and Waratahs on Sunday afternoon.
Overseas the unquestioned match of the round is the battle for top spot in the South African conference between the Sharks and Stormers late Saturday night.
We’ve got our Super Rugby Round 7 Tips ready to go right here!
While this fixture is a battle between first and fourth in the New Zealand Conference, they could wind up swapping places depending on the result of this match (albeit unlikely considering who the Crusaders are playing). The Chiefs decided that one half of play was all they needed to get by the Waratahs last weekend but it will take a full 80 minute effort this weekend as the Hurricanes look to bounce back from their loss to the Blues. Historically these sides have been pretty tough to split with the exception coming last April when the Hurricanes demolished the Chiefs 47-19. The six matches prior to that were decided by 12 points or fewer (including a tie) and we are all set up for a similar outcome here. I’ll give the edge to the Chiefs at home as they build on that second half from last week.
There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it, when you lose to the Rebels, that is going to be held against you. In this case, the Lions are now in the “automatic back against” because of that loss and it’s a good thing because the Blues should towel them up here. In their last three matches they have done an excellent job to defeat the Bulls, Stormers and Bulls all away from home and now they can return home in great shape. The Lions have failed to cover in their last six away games and after their “effort” in Melbourne I’m more than willing to take them on here.
It doesn’t get a whole lot easier for the Sunwolves as their roadshow continues with a home game in Brisbane, three weeks after a 64-5 loss to the Reds at the same venue. The Crusaders had a real battle on their hands against that Reds side last week however that should get rid of any complacency heading into this game. Even if they are only operating at around 60% that should get them by a Sunwolves side that just isn’t good. I’ll happily continue to back against them at the line every week.
This version of the Reds might just be the strangest side in Super Rugby history. There is no doubting the ability that runs through the squad, but the mentality continues to let them down and is a big reason why they are stuck at 1-5, 10 points behind the Brumbies already. Last week’s performance against the Crusaders has me feeling pretty confident that they can defeat the Bulls at home but that line of -7.5 looks to be in that danger zone. I can’t see this being an easy game for the Reds but I also think playing at home should help them get over the line against a fellow one-win side.
Just about every imaginable stat you can find suggests that this will not only be a tight match, but a bloody tough one to pick as well. The Sharks were very impressive backing up from their month long tour with a win at home against a physical Jaguares side and they should be in for a similar type of test from the Stormers here. This one will come down to who gets to dictate the terms of engagement, if the mac truck that is the Sharks backline is allowed to roam free it’s hard to see the Stormers keeping up with them but if the visitors can turn it into a proper scrap at the breakdown, they will be in with a chance. In this instance I’ll back the highest scoring team in the comp to have too much firepower for the best defensive team as they cover a small line.
While I personally won’t be waking up specifically to watch this game, I’ll probably be very eager to see the result & catch the highlights at the earliest possible convenience. The Jaguares have never defeated the Highlanders (in all of two meetings) but with the visitors as weak as they have ever been and on a three match losing streak, the time is now for the Argentine side. It could turn into a bloodbath if the Jaguares get on a roll early and after three weeks on the road they should be in the mood for a strong showing at home.
For the first 40 minutes last week, it sure looked like the Waratahs had finally found their footing this season. Then the Chiefs showed them what a team in full flight really looked like on their way to a 38-0 second half demolition. While I doubt the Brumbies will manage to put 51 on them I have severe doubts this game will be close in any way shape or form. The Waratahs have this wonderful knack of tripping over their own shoelaces and the Brumbies have the ruthless edge to take full advantage of any mistakes the Tahs will make.