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The Hard Numbers - Super Rugby Week 5

By Sam Warlow

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Another week of Super Rugby, another five dollars to throw away on a multi at the TAB.

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RugbyPass Employee of the Month Runner-Up Sam Smith hit on six of his seven picks last week, so I will try and emulate that scintillating form in week five (and no doubt, I too will be let down by the Blues – Sam’s only incorrect pick last week).

My $5 multi will turn into a tidy $81.80 if every game comes off. On to the picks!

Chiefs v Bulls

  • The Chiefs are undefeated in their last four games against the Bulls (W3, D1), turning around a four-game losing streak against them prior to that run.
  • The Chiefs have won their last eight games at home against teams visiting from outside New Zealand, their longest ever winning streak in such fixtures.
  • The Bulls have won only one of their last 12 games in New Zealand, with their last victory coming against the Blues in Round 4, 2013.
  • The Chiefs haven’t lost a scrum on their own feed at home since Round 3 last season, and have finished three of six games since without losing a lineout either.
  • Roelof Smit has won eight turnovers so far this campaign, more than anyother player, all of those have been jackals.

My pick: Chiefs. The Chiefs are heavy favourites at home, paying just $1.08 for a win with the points line set at -17.5. As Sam said last week, “simply put, the Bulls suck shit away from home”.

Highlanders v Crusaders

  • The Crusaders have won nine of their last 11 games against the Highlanders, including each of their last three meetings.
  • The Highlanders have won their last eight games on home turf; the last time they won more in succession at home was a 13-game glut from 2000 to 2002.
  • The Crusaders will be out to avoid consecutive losses in the regular season for the first time since April 2015.
  • The Highlanders have made 15+ offloads in four of their last five games on home turf, making an average of 16 offloads per game in that time.
  • Waisake Naholo has scored eight tries in his last five games against the Crusaders, with each coming in the form of a brace.

My pick: This is easily the game of the round. I’ll pick the Crusaders. They haven’t lost two in a row in three years! The TAB has this game dead even. Might be worth throwing a couple of dollars on a draw?

Brumbies v Sharks

  • Three of the last four games between these teams has seen the away side on the day emerge victorious, including a 27-22 win to the Sharks in their last meeting.
  • The Brumbies haven’t won a home game against a team from outside Australia since Round 14, 2016 (v Sunwolves), losing six such games since.
  • The Sharks have left with competition points from all but one of their last seven games in Australia, picking up four wins and two losing bonus points in that time.
  • The Sharks have made 18 clean breaks per game this season, more than any other side in the competition; only two players have made more clean breaks than Makazole Mapimpi (8) this season, who has played just twice.
  • Only Damian de Allende (55) has made more carries this season than the Brumbies’ Isi Naisarani (48).

My pick: Sharks. Home advantage hasn’t meant anything to this Brumbies side. They’ve got a new combination at 10 and 12. I don’t like it.

Stormers v Blues

  • The Stormers have won five of their last six games against the Blues, with their sole loss in that time coming by a margin of just one point.
  • The Stormers have won nine of their last 10 regular season home games, only losing to fellow South African side the Lions in that time.
  • The Blues will be looking for a second win in South Africa in a single season for the first time since 2008, when they picked up big wins against the Lions (55-10) and Cheetahs (50-26).
  • The Blues have made an average gain of 542m per game this season, nearly 30m per game more than any other squad.oKobus van Dyk has made 29 tackles this campaign, the most of any player who is yet to miss an attempt.

My pick: I’m going to pick the Blues (that means definitely put money on the Stormers). The Blues are favourites at the TAB, but we all remember what happened the last time that was the case. The Stormers have also been battling the flu this week.

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Lions v Sunwolves

  • The Lions have taken wins in each of their previous two games against the Sunwolves, including a 94-7 demolition in their last meeting which stands as the second biggest win in Super Rugby history.
  • The Lions haven’t lost back-to-back Super Rugby games since they opened their 2015 campaign with a string of three defeats.
  • The Sunwolves continue to search for their maiden away win (L16), they’ve conceded 196 points across their last three games on the road.
  • The Sunwolves have the best tackle success rate (87%) of any team so far in 2018.
  • Elton Jantjies has provided five try assists this season, the equal most of any player (with Will Genia), as well as scoring one try of his own.

My pick: Don’t expect any miracles from the Sunwolves this week. The Lions might not put up 94 points this time, but I think they’ll put it to bed pretty early. They’re paying $1.01 and the points line is a comical -33.5.

Jaguares v Reds

  • The Jaguares picked up a 22-8 win in their only previous meeting with the Reds.
  • The Argentine squad have won four of their previous six games against Australian opposition, including each of their last three.
  • The Queensland side have won just one of their last 20 games outside Australia, conceding an average of 35 points per game in that span.
  • The Reds have gained just 350m per game this season, fewer than any other team.
  • Emiliano Boffelli has scored four tries in his last four games overall for the Jaguares, as well has having scored four tries in his last four games at home for the Argentinian outfit.

My pick: Jaguares. Always put up a fight at home. The Reds don’t do too well outside of Australia, I don’t think this game will change that.

Waratahs v Rebels

  • The Waratahs have won 11 of their previous 13 meetings between these teams, managing to pick up a losing bonus point in their only two losses to the Rebels.
  • The Waratahs have scored only five first-half tries across their last six games, failing to find the whitewash in the opening stanza twice in that time.
  • The Rebels will be looking for back-to-back wins away from home for the first time since Round 6, 2016, which included a 21-17 win over the ‘Tahs.
  • The Waratahs are the only team yet to miss an attempt at goal; theHighlanders (92%) are the only other team with a goal kicking accuracy above 90%.
  • Sefanaia Naivalu has an average gain of 16m per carry this season, the most of any player in the competition to have made at least 10 carries.

My pick: Rebels. The only upset I’ve picked this round – they’re paying $1.97. I would love to see the Rebels win four on the trot to start the season after they won just one game last year. The Waratahs have been absolutely uninspiring through the first four weeks.

Thanks to Opta for providing all of the facts and statistics.

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