We’re into week 7 of and our first trans-tasman matchup of the season with conference leaders the Rebels hosting the Hurricanes in Melbourne. Can the they end Australia’s 31 game losing streak? And who to pick for this week’s multi-bet? Let’s take a look at all the key stats ahead of the weekend.

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Chiefs v Highlanders

  • The Chiefs ran out to a 24-15 win in their last start against the Highlanders, snapping a six-game losing streak against them in which they had scored 20+ points in a game only once.
  • The Highlanders have won their last two away games against the Chiefs and will be searching for a third-straight win in such fixtures for the first time.
  • The Chiefs have won six of their last seven regular season games, and have scored 102 points across their last two fixtures.
  • The Highlanders have lost their last three away games, the last time they lost more in a row was a four-game drought to round out their 2014 campaign.
  • Waisake Naholo has crossed for six tries in his last five games against the Chiefs, making at least three clean breaks in each of his last four games against them.

My Pick: Chiefs. There’s probably not going to be much in this one so I’m backing the men from the Waikato to scrape through with home advantage.

Rebels v Hurricanes

  • The Hurricanes have won their last five games against the Rebels, winning by an average margin of 33 points per game in that time.
  • The Rebels have won their last three games on the bounce at home; however, the last time they won at home against New Zealand opposition was in Round 13, 2015 (L5 since).
  • The Hurricanes have won eight of their last nine games in Australia, including their last five; it is their longest ever winning streak in the country.
  • The Hurricanes have won nine turnovers per game this season, the equal most of any team in the competition alongside the Queensland Reds.
  • Jack Maddocks has been directly involved in seven tries this season (5 tries, 2 assists), more than any other player.

My pick: Hurricanes. Whilst the Rebels appear to be having a good start to the season, they are yet to face opposition of any great stature. I predict that Australia’s lack of success against New Zealand sides will continue deep into 2018.

Blues v Sharks

  • The Blues picked up a 23-18 win in their last meeting with the Sharks, a victory which saw them snap a 10-game losing streak against the Durban side.
  • The Sharks have won four of their last five away games against the Blues, though each of those five fixtures has been decided by a margin of no greater than seven points.
  • Each of the Blues’ last three games at home has been decided by a margin of fewer than seven points, with the Auckland side earning a win, draw, and loss in that span.
  • The Blues have won their last four games at home against South African opposition, with their last loss in such a fixture coming back in Round 4, 2015.
  • Akira and Rieko Ioane have each crossed for at least one try in both of the Blues’ last two games; in fact, Akira Ioane has scored five tries in his last four games for the club.

My pick: Blues. Though I’ve previously said I’d never pick the Blues to win a match ever again, I simply can’t overlook the struggles SA teams have on the road in NZ. I predict a 6th loss from 7 games for the Durbanites.

Brumbies v Waratahs

  • The Brumbies have won their last three games against the Waratahs, and will be searching for a fourth consecutive win against them for the first time in Super Rugby.
  • The Brumbies have won 19 of their last 23 Australian derbies on home turf, including each of their last six by an average margin of 20 points.
  • After a 51-27 win against the Rebels in Round 5, the Waratahs will be searching for back-to-back wins in Super Rugby for the first time since Rounds 14-15, 2016.
  • The Brumbies have conceded just eight clean breaks per game this season, fewer than any other team.
  • Israel Folau has made 12 offloads this campaign, the most of any player and more than twice as many as any Brumbies’ player (Lachlan McCaffrey – 5).

My pick: Waratahs. I don’t know why I’ve picked the Waratahs here. This one is tough to pick and will be even tougher to watch. I’m definitely not going to watch this game.

Bulls v Stomers

  • The Stormers have won six of their last seven games against the Bulls, restricting them to fewer than seven first-half points in all but one of those games.
  • The Bulls have won only one of their last seven games on home turf (L6).
  • The Stormers have won seven of their last nine South African derbies, including each of their last two and an eight-point win over the Bulls in their most recent such fixture.
  • Not only have the Bulls (15) won the most lineouts per game of any team this season, but they’ve done so at a competition-high success rate of 94%.
  • Damian de Allende (73) has made four more carries this season than any other player.

My pick: Stormers. They’re probably due a win now that they’re safely back in Africa.

Lions v Crusaders

  • The Crusaders have won eight of their last nine games against the Lions, including last season’s Final. The Lions haven’t beaten the Crusaders in a regular season clash since February 2007.
  • The Lions have won 18 of their last 20 games on home turf, failing to pick up competition points only once in that time.
  • The Crusaders have won six of their last seven games in South Africa, including each of their last three; never before have they won four on the bounce in the country.
  • The Crusaders have finished two of their last three games against the Lions without losing a lineout on their own throw.
  • Marvin Orie won a round-high nine lineouts in Round 6, the most by a Lions’ player in a single game this season.

My pick: Crusaders. I think the only question mark here is whether the free-falling Lions can even get close.

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Thanks to Opta for providing the statistics.

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