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We analyse the upcoming Super Rugby round.

20 March 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld


All four South African franchises will be in action on what will be a super Saturday of note as Super Rugby rolls on this weekend.

The Stormers and Lions kick-off their tours in Wellington and Singapore respectively, with a clash between the Waratahs and Crusaders sandwiched in between, while the Bulls and Sharks return to take on the Chiefs and Rebels respectively.

Book-ending Round Six is the New Zealand derby between the Blues and Highlanders on Friday and the all-Aussie affair between the Reds and Brumbies on Sunday.

Neither side were in action last week, with the Blues having a bye and the scheduled clash between the Highlanders and Crusaders being cancelled following the deadly terrorist attacks in Christchurch. The teams will therefore be champing at the bit, which should make for an exciting encounter.

The ‘Landers, on 12 points, are three behind the Hurricanes in third place in the New Zealand Conference, and have to win to stay in touch with the ‘Canes, who have a home game on Saturday. The Blues are fourth in the conference on six points, and picked up their first win of the season against the Sunwolves prior to their week off.

The Highlanders have lost their last two on the road (24-19 to the Rebels and 25-22 to the Hurricanes), but they are more well-rounded than the Blues. I’m backing them to reverse their fortunes in Auckland.

Prediction: Highlanders by 3. (Suggested BET – Highlanders 1-12)

The Stormers will be determined to ride the wave of momentum from their hat-trick of victories to a win in Wellington to start their tour on a high. The Cape franchise have gotten better with each passing week, relying heavily on their Springbok-laden pack and defence to get them over the line.

The Hurricanes had their winning momentum halted by a 23-all draw with the bottom-of-the-table Chiefs, so they’ll be fully focused on the task at hand. The Bulls were able to carve up the Capetonians and while their defence has held up since, the ‘Canes are a different attacking threat altogether.

Prediction: Hurricanes by 14. (Suggested BET – Hurricanes -12.5)

In what state of mind will the Crusaders be after last Friday’s horrific massacre in Christchurch? That’s the big question. Will they be emotional? How emotional? Will it have a positive or negative impact on their performance? One expects a champion side like the Crusaders to be able to remain professional, and not playing in their home town will certainly help the players psychologically, but they’re only human and one wouldn’t blame them if the tragedy does affect the tournament’s last remaining unbeaten team.

The Waratahs aren’t the force they once were, as the Brumbies underlined last week. They’re 2-2, with their wins coming against the Sunwolves (31-30) and Reds (28-17). They’ll sniff an opportunity of an upset, but even a possibly subpar ‘Saders should have enough to trump the ‘Tahs.

Prediction: Crusaders by 9. (Suggested BET – Crusaders )

An interesting dynamic as the victims of one comeback come up against the orchestrators of another. Only the Sharks, back in Round One, have been able to put up the type of scoreline (45-10) expected from a match involving the Sunwolves. The Super Rugby minnows have shown tremendous heart and skills to match at times. They could easily have been unbeaten at home this year, but the lack of 80-minute performances instead led to heart-breaking losses to the Waratahs (31-30) and Reds (34-31).

The Lions have been guilty of the same crime, but are riding high after coming good and completing a remarkable turnaround in the second half against the Rebels last week. The Johannesburg side have been hit with a string of injuries ahead of this clash, but I still expect the trend of home losses to continue for the Sunwolves.

Prediction: Lions by 5. (Suggested BET – Lions 1-12)

A fresh Bulls outfit will welcome a buoyed Chiefs side to Loftus. The visitors made major strides to draw with the Hurricanes last week, hardly a desirable result, but a lot better than the four consecutive losses that preceded it. It was their best performance of the season, which will give them some hope of breaking their duck this weekend.

Unfortunately for them, they’re running into one of the form sides of the competition in the South African Conference leaders, who’ve had a week to recover after winning three of their four fixtures by a landslide. A fully switched on Chiefs team could trouble the hosts, but the Bulls should march on in Pretoria.

Prediction: Bulls by 8. (Suggested BET – Bulls)

Like the Bulls, the Sharks are coming off a bye, which for the Durban side was an opportunity to reset after back-to-back losses to the Lions and Bulls. The Rebels are the hosts’ first Aussie opposition in this year’s competition and a tricky challenge to negotiate as they top the Australian Conference.

The men from Melbourne imploded spectacularly in Johannesburg last week, throwing away a 33-5 lead to surrender their unbeaten streak. The Lions managed to punish the serial offenders in a way the Brumbies could not the previous week, which seems to be the key to beating the ill-disciplined outfit.

They’ll no doubt bring the ‘full arm’ count down in Durban, but conceding strategic penalties with the goal of minimising damage appear to be part of their game plan. In Robert du Preez, the Sharks have a sharpshooter who can keep the scoreboard ticking over, however, they’ve turned down several kicks at goal in pursuit of tries up to now, with little reward.

It’ll be interesting to see if they stick to that tactic or shift to the more sensible approach of taking the points if and when they’re on offer. The hosts have the pack to dominate up front and will right the ship against the Rebels.

Prediction: Sharks by 5. (Suggested BET – Rebels +9.5)

The Reds registered their first win of the season in some fashion in Tokyo last week. The 34-31 comeback victory over the Sunwolves would have been a big confidence-booster and character-builder for the young team. That said, they remain a work in progress, while the Brumbies are a more settled side. The Rebels may have their number, but the Brumbies appear to be the next best Australian team this year, and this derby ought to reflect that.

Prediction: Brumbies by 4. (Suggested BET – Brumbies -2.5)

BET: Super Rugby 2019

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Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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