Rugby Pass stats guru Paul Neazor weighs up this weekend’s round of Super Rugby matches and reveals his tips.
Like a true tipping mastermind, Paul bounced back from a horrible Round 11 to record a creditable 7/8 correct picks in Round 12. The only blot on his record was the unpickable 17-17 draw played out between the Sunwolves and Stormers. His overall season record now stands at 70/93 for a solid 75%. Here’s what Round 13 has in store.
Crusaders vs Waratahs
Although this one will be given the big build-up in Australia, I can’t see why it should be particularly difficult for the Crusaders. They can cover all the Waratahs strengths with power of their own, they can make the play faster than any of the Waratahs’ recent opponents, and they are most certainly a step up in class from the outfits the Sydneysiders have been facing recently (who have mainly come from South Africa). Add in the fact they’ll be filthy about getting a belting down at Dunedin, that they will know their place at the top of the ladder is at some risk, that it’s a special night for Wyatt Crockett (who sets a new record for most Super rugby matches for one team) and Andy Ellis (150th Crusaders match, including 149 in Super rugby) and that they simply like thumping the Waratahs, and I can see a decent margin for the home side at the end of it all.
Pick: Crusaders (13 and over)
Reds vs Sunwolves
Let’s be honest: neither side is much chop, both have been losing rather a lot lately and the Reds, unlike a number of the Sunwolves’ other opponents, cannot afford to take them even a bit lightly. But you can forget that draw against the Stormers, who were bloody awful. This game is against an opponent who won’t be swanning about in an interesting and new city, and it won’t be played on an undersized field – and do not underestimate the importance of that. The Reds can rely on their set piece, and they do actually have a few backs who will find holes out wide. Despite their poor record this season, I see no reason why the home side shouldn’t win and win well.
Pick: Reds (13 and over)
Chiefs vs Rebels
This match is in the same boat as several others this weekend: one team should win comfortably if they pay attention. Since the Chiefs (who are that side) have had two weeks to puke about losing to the Highlanders, and the Rebels are now battling in matches against real playoff candidates instead of running off a series of wins against sub-par opposition, there’s no reason why the Chiefs shouldn’t take control early and pile up the points.
Pick: Chiefs (13 and over)
Force vs Blues
As usual, a match at Perth is an unpleasant part of the trip home from South Africa. The Force is comprised of a gnarly bunch of sods who will push everything to the limit, slow the game down absolutely as much as they are allowed to, kill the ball, drive the opposition nutty and, quite possibly, get away with it. Simply on talent the Blues are better but you may not believe that if you watched the whole performance at Johannesburg, which was bad at the start, bad in the middle and bad at the end. The good news is that the Force are not the Lions. The bad news is that they’re still a pain in the butt. But the Blues should eventually find a way to win.
Pick: Blues (12 and under)
Lions vs Jaguares
In Johannesburg this game should be a no-brainer: the Lions, on last week’s showing, are just getting into full stride and they looked pretty damned good. The Jaguares had yet another of those games they should have won but didn’t, and for the same reasons as before: dropped ball, an uncertainty over how to go about winning, missed goal kicks and too many penalties. Any or all those things will kill them against the Lions. Throw in pending suspensions for two leading forwards in Agustin Creevy and Leonardo Senatore, and this could be a miserable old afternoon for the Jaguares.
Pick: Lions (13 and over)
Sharks vs Kings
I see no need to be too expansive about this prediction: the Sharks will win, and win easily, because they tackle everything in sight, kick their goals, don’t give anything away free and they’re miserable sods who have a chip on every shoulder. The Kings have none of the aforementioned qualities.
Pick: Sharks (13 and over)
Bulls vs Stormers
The Bulls, for all their good early record, compiled it against the competition nobodies. More recently they’ve run into a few somebodies and hit a wall as a result. They have scored 14 points in a fortnight including just the one try, have given up 54, and not convinced anyone that those numbers do them a disservice. The Stormers got out of Singapore with a lucky draw – the Sunwolves should have put them away with five minutes to play, but didn’t – and they won’t be in the mood for any charity since they’ve also lost top spot in the combined South African conferences. If the Stormers win this one they will just about put the South Africa 1 conference to bed. It won’t be pretty or imaginative, but they are good enough and should manage to complete the task.
Pick: Stormers (12 and under)
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