Super Rugby Oracle: All the picks for Round 15
Our Super Rugby stats guru offers his tips for the weekend’s games.
Just 5/9 correct picks for the Oracle last week in what was the worst tipping round of the year. The season record now stands at 82/112, dropping to 73%. Will the last round before the international break bring better luck?
Blues vs Reds (Apia)
The first Super Rugby match to be played in Apia is going to be an interesting event. It marks the first time the Apia Park lights will be used for a big game, and how the locals react to a Friday night game will be of keen interest to the money men in both countries. Samoa, for all its attractions as a rugby nation, is not a cheap venue to get to and the stadium is a lot smaller than the one at Suva, so several things other than rugby will be under the microscope. The Blues should win comfortably, although the pitch is a little narrower than they’re used to and therefore more up-the-guts footy may be required.
Crusaders vs Highlanders (Christchurch)
Somebody’s long winning streak has to come to an end in Christchurch on Saturday afternoon. There is so much to look forward to in this match but I suspect it will be decided in the front fives; the Highlanders’ never-say-die attitude is thoroughly admirable but I’m not sure it can match the all-All Blacks set the Crusaders can field. Everything else is about even, so I’ll go for the home team by five to ten points here. I’m really looking forward to this one.
Chiefs vs Waratahs (Hamilton)
Unless something really strange happens, the Chiefs will win this match comfortably. The Waratahs haven’t been flash all season and, while they played for a few minutes of each half at Dunedin, they couldn’t crack the Highlanders until it was too late in the second spell. That’s after making fewer mistakes than in any other game all season. The Chiefs were under the pump all night at Eden Park but a couple of moments of brilliance got them off the hook and forced a draw that the run of play said was not an option for them. Better goal-kicking would help, but it shouldn’t be necessary to secure this win.
Brumbies vs Rebels (Canberra)
Given the respective standings of these teams, the fact the Brumbies have everything to gain and that the Rebels season is over, one should be quite comfortable picking the visitors, even on the back of a round-the-world trip, to win handsomely. If Stephen Larkham actually lets them get on with playing rugby rather than playing for a 5m maul, they should do it easily. If they turn it into a forward grind, it could be one of the least watchable matches of the season. But unless the world spins off its axis, the result should be predictably in favour of the Brumbies.
Force vs Hurricanes (Perth)
Only the fact this match is being played at Perth prevents me from predicting a wide margin for the Hurricanes – and that’s giving the Force credit for a strong display at Brisbane. No matter how well they played, and they were accurate, you have to factor in that they were playing the Reds. The Hurricanes will be looking for a better start than they made at Pretoria, when Egon Seconds could only see their errors for the first quarter, but even so they were good enough to win going away. I expect the Hurricanes to win easily.
This is a split round, with the South African teams making up their fixtures on 1 July.
In brief: Blues / Crusaders / Chiefs / Brumbies / Hurricanes
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