This weekend’s Super Rugby fixtures provided the most entertainment yet. With major movement on the conference and overall log due to some interesting results, things really are heating up in Super 15 rugby!
Blues 34 – 15 Crusaders
A Blues side with new found passion and a much improved coaching staff hosted the Crusaders on Friday to start things off. The Crusaders had a stern challenge ahead of them coming off poor preseason results and lacking Super Rugby match fitness having had byes in round 1 and 2.
Our prediction: “Warning, upset meter on high. We won’t be investing any money on the ‘Saders at the current pricing.” [Fortunately we won some $ betting on the Blues to win at 17/10]
The Blues outclassed the Crusaders in every facet of play other than goalkicking and well well deserved of their 19 point victory margin which included a bonus point for their fourth try with more than 20 minutes to spare!
Waratahs 31 – 26 Rebels
The Waratahs hosted the Rebels in the second of this weekend’s matches. Both sides were coming off a round two loss against Australian opposition and this match was to prove a nail in the conference coffin for the defeated.
Our preditction: “The handicap may be overzealous (and possibly value on the Rebels’ side). The price of 2/11 is not worth taking on the Tahs in our view even though they are deserved favourites. It is likely the result will be closer than the bookmakers expect.” [Fortunately our bet on the Rebels with a 10 point head-start came in, more $!]
This fixture proved a very even match-up with both sides enjoying the lead on a few occasions. The Rebels fell asleep on their lead early into the second half allowing the Waratahs to make a comeback so substantial that the game was now out of their reach.
Reds 18 – 12 Hurricanes
Round two victors the Reds hosted the Hurricanes (the whipping boys of the Blues’) in what was always going to be an entertaining spectacle.
Our prediction: “Upset meter is on high if the predicted rain does bucket down. We wouldn’t take the 4/11 on the Reds with that possibility in mind. Should be a close match which can go either way.”
The pitch played out to be slippery but not sloshy. The action proved a match for both sides to lose as scoring opportunities abounded in this very unstructured spectacle. The Hurricanes finished strongest squandering several try scoring opportunities in the last 10 minutes. Unconvincing in form terms for both sides with the Reds taking the honours at the end of the day and congrats must go to those that had more confidence in the Reds as we felt it a match to lay rather than play.
Chiefs 45 – 3 Cheetahs
The Chiefs who have certainly stolen the Crusaders’ title as being titans of New Zealand rugby hosted the Cheetahs in the first of Saturday’s matches.
Our prediction: “Its going to be a long and unpleasant day for the Cheetahs in Hamilton. This Chiefs side, even with a number of injuries to their squad whilst resting further players, are too good not to put the Cheetahs to the sword. The Cheetahs will do well to come within 2 scores and we prefer the minus H.C. to the plus. Chiefs by a lot!” [Fortunately our bet on the Chiefs to win my more than 15 points came in comfortably, more $!]
An incredibly brutal result as the Chiefs’ class enabled them to capitalize on rare scoring opportunities to thrash the Cheetahs even being outplayed for the first 60 minutes of the match! The Cheetahs should hold their heads high. Were it not for poor goal kicking they could well have remained in contention which would have prevented the meltdown that transpired in the last 20 minutes. Few sides this season will dominate the Chiefs as the Cheetahs did.
Bulls 36 – 26 Force
The red-hot Bulls hosted a Force side desperate to win respect after succumbing to the Kings by 22 – 10 in round two in what will go down as one of the upsets of the tournament.
Our prediction: “There appears to be a new found hunger and belief in the Bulls camp. Not good news for bottom of the table Force who also must do battle on Loftus Versfeld, a proven sinking ground for many visiting sides. The Bulls should have this match in the bag but possibly by a lower margin than most may expect (+- 13 points).” [Fortunately our bet on the Force with a 15 point head-start came in with 5 points to spare, more $!]
A match that started off as a shock to most onlookers as the Force led and took control with the Bulls losing all shape and composure. The Force led well into the second half and it was only in the final quarter that the Bulls comfortably got on top avoiding a massive upset. We must query referee Jason Jaftha’s interpretation of a maul as we found that he failed to call “use it” on close to ten occasions where the mauling team had either stopped, gone sideways or backwards in possession. An edge of the seat spectacle!
Sharks 12 – 6 Stormers
Two South African heavyweights went to battle in the final spectacle of round 3. Pressure was on tournament favourites the Stormers to get something out of the match having lost to the Bulls in round 2.
Our prediction: “The Sharks will have to improve from last weekend’s performance to front it with the Stormers on Saturday. We however do not enjoy the Jean de Villiers; Damian de Allende combination as they are both players that enjoy to cut back inside and take contact. For this reason alone, tries will be few and far between for the Stormers, yet again, this year. Sharks to win in a close match where the attack of the centre pairings prove the difference between the two sides.” [Fortunately our bet on the Sharks to win came through, more $!]
In an incredibly physical match the Sharks edged their way home on penalties. It proved to be a display of defence of the highest-order and to be fair the the Stormers, they had a massive shot at winning the match through their excellent play. Both sides were evenly matched for the first 60 minutes apart from at the scrums where the Sharks were superior. It was only in the last half an hour of the game where the sharks gained some attacking momentum. Up until that point it was truly either side’s match to win. A rock-solid performance from both teams. Against weaker opposition they both should get home comfortably.