SuperBru S15 Round 9 preview
Cape Town - SuperBru fans, all hail the Chiefs who are now top of the Super Rugby standings for the first time this year! Despite some crucial injuries in the early stages of the season, the Waikato outfit now lead the way following their crucial away win against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend.
Teams: Super Rugby Round 9
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Their ascent came at the hands of the Stormers, who suffered their first defeat of the season away in Christchurch against the Crusaders, bringing to an end their impressive six game winning streak and forcing them to drop to second. A heavy win for the Brumbies saw them continue what has been an impressive campaign so far, taking apart a poor Melbourne Rebels side thanks to five tries including two from second rower Scott Fardy.
The problems continued however for the league’s bottom two sides, with the Blues and Lions both failing to pick up important victories over the Sharks and Bulls respectively at home. With their confidence at rock bottom, they need a victory soon if they are to be able to save their seasons.
The final result of the weekend came in Perth where the Waratahs snatched a dramatic victory against the Western Force, a couple of late penalties from Berrick Barnes preventing what appeared to be an impressive Force comeback.
Now though our attention turns to Round 9, so here is all the advice you need to get your SuperBru picks spot on:
We begin this week on Friday morning in Dunedin, with the Highlanders looking to get back to winning ways against the suffering Blues. The home side’s first loss at the Forsyth Barr Stadium this season came against the Stormers back in Round 7, which given their bye week in Round 8 means that the Highlanders have now dropped out of the top three spots on the log. Injuries have caused them to bring in Mike Delany and Hale T-Pole as cover, which is essential given Colin Slade is out for the season. The Blues though are facing worse problems. Pat Lam’s team threw the game away last weekend by conceding two soft tries early on against the Sharks. Although they rallied to finish within six points, their confidence is at a real low. With that, it’s difficult given their current problems to see them picking up an away victory. Highlanders by 8.
Next on Friday we’re in Brisbane to see the Reds take on the Stormers. A nightmare four weeks for the champions came to an end with victory over the Brumbies in Round 7, so now having had an extra week to get their walking wounded fit again they will be in better shape. Mike Harris returns at inside centre, whilst Jean de Villiers and Andries Bekker are out for the visitors. That said, a home win seems unlikely. Stormers by 5.
First up on Saturday we have a New Zealand derby in Wellington with the Hurricanes taking on the Crusaders. Tom Taylor was outstanding with his haul of 31 points for the visitors last week over the Stormers, so the battle between him and Beauden Barrett should be a cracker. Crusaders by 7.
The Waratahs then host the Melbourne Rebels in Sydney looking to follow up their win over the Western Force. Some of the tackling from the Rebels last weekend was unacceptable, so if they play like that again away to the 'Tahs, this could be a heavy scoreline. Waratahs by 12.
Next we cross the Indian Ocean to see the Sharks finally return home from tour to face the table-topping Chiefs. It feels as though the Sharks have been away forever, but this won’t be an easy homecoming against the league’s form side. John Plumtree has spoken this week about his team needing to put in an excellent all-round performance, but this might prove beyond them. Chiefs by 6.
Last but not least we travel north to Pretoria, where the Bulls host Jake White’s Brumbies. The comforts of playing at home have played a big part in the Australian side’s rise up the log, but travelling to South Africa is the true test of a great team and after the hammering the Reds received here earlier in the season, they will be wary. Bulls by 9.
That’s all for this week, best of luck with all your SuperBru picks and see you ahead of Round 10.
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