04 March 2020, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld
Super Rugby Predictions – Round 6
The Sharks face a tough homecoming test in the form of the Jaguares on Saturday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
After a terrific tour, the men from Durban will be determined to push on in this vital South African Conference clash.
The Highveld teams are also in action on Saturday and will seek to produce better showings after coming up empty last weekend. The Lions are up first against the Melbourne Rebels in their second tour match, while the winless Bulls will close out the weekend’s Super Rugby offering when they host the Highlanders.
Here’s how we see things playing out in Round Six:ALSO READ: SA SUPER RUGBY TEAM OF THE WEEK – ROUND 5
ALSO READ: UNFORGETTABLE SUPER RUGBY MOMEMTS – 25 YEARS Despite being spared the wooden spoon by the Bulls for the time being, the Sunwolves (15.50) are arguably at their lowest-ever point having leaked 60 points and endured embarrassing hidings by the Reds (64-5) and Hurricanes (62-15) in their last two games. The only ‘advantage’ they would’ve had this week, playing at home, has been lost due to the risks associated with the coronavirus, which has seen the match moved to Wollongong, where it’ll now be the curtain-raiser for the Waratahs-Chiefs clash. The possibility of rain could stem the bleeding somewhat, but it’ll be another thumping.Prediction: Brumbies by 29.
Total Points scored: 39
Suggested BET: Brumbies -28.5 at 90
BET: SUPER RUGBYThere’s a men against boys feel to this fixture. The Crusaders (0.02) are grizzled campaigners, while the Reds (13.75) are a youthful side full of babyfaces. The hosts are set to dominate the all-important gainline battle, and there’s nothing more dangerous than a ‘Saders side with front foot ball. The Reds will have to hope to score some opportunistic tries to try to offset the inevitable defensive difficulties they’ll run into, but even that will only get them so far. Bank on the classy and rested Crusaders to cruise home.Prediction: Crusaders by 21.
Total Points scored: 45.
Suggested BET: Crusaders -17.5 at 0.40
BET: SUPER RUGBYThe Chiefs (0.30) had a week off to deconstruct their shock loss to the Brumbies, their first of the Warren Gatland era, and will be bullish to get back to winning ways. They’ve vowed to kick the habit of poor starts, which was highlighted in the disappointing defeat, which came after they trailed 19-0 at the break. The Waratahs (2.85), in contrast, picked up their first win of the season against the Lions last weekend, which will give them confidence that they can emulate the Brumbies’ ambush. They don’t have the forward pack, though, to apply the type of pressure the men from Canberra put on the Chiefs, which coupled with their shaky defence, will see them falter.Prediction: Chiefs by 15.
Total Points scored: 51.
Suggested BET: Chiefs -14.5 at 1.70
BET: SUPER RUGBYThe Blues (2.15) enjoyed a fairy-tale South African safari, edging the Bulls and stunning the log-leading Stormers, but they’ll be feeling the physicality of those bruising battles along with the jetlag from the trip back to the Land of the Long White Cloud. Still, the upset of the previously unbeaten Stormers last weekend showed they can beat any team on any given day. Their struggles against New Zealand sides are well documented. They’ve dropped nine straight to the ‘Canes (0.40), their last win over the Wellington outfit dating back to 2014 when they triumphed 37-24 in Auckland. The Blues battle to keep up with the pace for the full 80 and will likely be left behind again by a Hurricanes team who are starting to hit their straps.Prediction: Hurricanes by 10.
Total Points scored: 55.
Suggested BET: Hurricanes -6.5 at 0.90
BET: SUPER RUGBYThe Lions (2.00) have a flawless record against the Rebels (0.40), winning all five fixtures between the sides, two of which were played in Melbourne. That run looks set to come to a halt on Saturday. After last weekend, the opening quarter of this contest is set to be crucial.
The Rebels raced into a 21-0 lead against the Highlanders while the Lions leaked three tries during this period in their loss to the Waratahs. The men from Johannesburg fought back valiantly but their slow start was too much to overcome, so they, like the Chiefs, will put a premium on getting off to a better start against the more dangerous Rebels.
High on confidence after their historic win over the Highlanders in New Zealand, the Rebels will likely be too much to handle for the struggling Lions. Both teams like to throw the ball around, so it should be an entertaining encounter, but the Rebels have an edge when it comes to structure, which will be critical in what should be a free-flowing game. The Lions still run themselves into trouble and their pack and set pieces have struggled, so we see them dropping their maiden loss to the men from Melbourne.Prediction: Rebels by 7.
Total Points scored: 49.
Suggested BET: Rebels -6.5 at 0.90
BET: SUPER RUGBYThis will arguably be the Sharks’ (0.55) toughest test to date as their terrific three-wins-from-four Australasian tour and travel back to Durban will take a toll. The Jaguares (1.65), meanwhile, are settled in South Africa and having managed their personnel well, resting their stars in the loss to the Stormers and unleashing them in the win over the Bulls last weekend, they’ll undoubtedly be the fresher side. A heroes’ welcome could provide the necessary boost for the Sharks to man up physically against the aggressive Argentinians, who’ll target the set pieces to grind out a win.
The Bulls game was a giveaway of exactly what the Sharks can expect. The Jaguares found space at the back with clever chips, and this is set to be one of their primary weapons against the Durbanites and their rush defence. The tactic could backfire, however, if their execution isn’t spot-on as the Sharks have emerged as one of the most lethal counter-attacking teams this season.
The notorious Durban humidity will be a factor. Territory will trump possession and Curwin Bosch, with his big boot, will be crucial in this regard. The Jaguares have a solid kicking game, but the Sharks have more strings to their bow with Bosch and Louis Schreuder as halfback partners and Andre Esterhuizen and Aphelele Fassi as left-foot options.
Considering this, and Bosch’s great form off the tee, we believe the Sharks will seal a narrow win.Prediction: Sharks by 4.
Total Points scored: 40.
Suggested BET: Sharks to win at 0.55
BET: SUPER RUGBYTwo beleaguered teams desperate to turn their fortunes around. The Bulls (0.60) remain rooted to the bottom of the log as the only winless team following their 39-24 loss to the Jaguares at the weekend. A third consecutive defeat at Loftus, and fifth straight, could be the final straw for coach Pote Human. The gameplan, dating back to the golden era led by Victor Matfield and Fourie du Preez, simply isn’t working and they either don’t have or refuse to go to plan B.
The Highlanders (1.50) are 1-4, their solitary win coming in the dying moments against the Brumbies in Canberra. Being upset in their backyard by the Rebels last weekend will serve as extra motivation in their return to Loftus, where they’ve won more than they’ve lost (6-5-1) and tasted victory on their last two visits – 29-28 in 2018 and 17-10 the previous year. They’ve shown much more promise than the Bulls and are certainly the more dangerous attacking team, so they should come away with the win.Prediction: Highlanders by 10.
Total Points scored: 52.
Suggested BET: Highlanders to win at 1.50