Cape Town - Round 2 proved slightly more predictable than the
aberration that was the opening weekend of Super Rugby, with the community
average for correct picks sitting at a respectable 4.2/7.
Will this weekend
follow suit, or will it be another round chock full of upsets? Read on to find
out our thoughts.
Click HERE to challenge the Sport24 'experts' on SuperBru!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27
Highlanders v Reds, Dunedin - 08:35
The Highlanders started their season in disappointing
fashion, losing at home to a Crusaders side who entered the game on the back of
a home loss to the Rebels. Now that they have shaken off the rust (the men from
Otago had a bye in round one), they will be looking to bounce back, but face
somewhat of a bogey team in the shape of the Reds. The men from Queensland have
won the last four meetings between these two sides, and after a necessary, if
not wholly convincing, win over the Force last weekend, they'll arrive with a
bit of confidence.
The last time these two met in Dunedin, the Reds won a 34-33
thriller. It's tough to see there being so many points this time, and I can see
the Highlanders upping their game to get off the mark for the season.
Prediction: Highlanders by 5
Force v Hurricanes, Perth - 13:00
The 'Canes continue their desperately difficult start to the
season with their third game on the bounce on the road. This time they take on
a Western Force side who themselves are only playing their first game at home,
and welcome back the talismanic figure Nick 'Honey Badger' Cummins, although
whether he will be ready to play this weekend, we will have to see. The Canes
have shown impressive doggedness to tough out two wins in South Africa - one
suspects this will be a more open game, which would traditionally play to their
While it's always tempting to back the home team, so
impressive have the men from Wellington been on the road so far, that it's very
difficult to look past them making it three from three. They've also not lost
to the Force since 2007.
Prediction: Hurricanes by 6
Cheetahs v Blues, Bloemfontein - 19:10
The Cheetahs were supposed to struggle this season, so goes
the pre-season narrative, except no-body seemed to tell them that going into
the first weekend. They stunned everyone to claim a bonus point win in Durban,
and it's almost a shame they had a bye last weekend as they would have wanted
to carry on that momentum. The Blues have looked out of sorts in their opening
two encounters, and the vicious brand of rugby they played against the Stormers
last weekend was not well received, culminating in a fairly early red card for
Hayden Triggs. When the South Africans are condemning you for being too
aggressive on the rugby pitch, it's probably time to tone it down.
A home win looks the most likely outcome here.
Prediction: Cheetahs by
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28
Chiefs v Crusaders, Hamilton - 08:35
The Chiefs have eased into the season nicely, negotiating a
pair of potentially difficult games well to find themselves two wins from two
games. It doesn't get much easier with the arrival of the Crusaders this
weekend, who stepped up their game last weekend to defeat the Highlanders
despite an insipid opening weekend loss to the Rebels. This is a rivalry that
hasn't really been dominated by either side in recent times, although last
season each team won away from home.
After their respective starts, that trend is likely to end
Prediction: Chiefs by 6
Rebels v Brumbies, Melbourne - 10:40
After their opening weekend heroics in Christchurch, the
Rebels were brought back down to earth in round two by the Waratahs, who were
simply too classy for them. The Brumbies pushed the Chiefs all the way in
Dunedin and looked like they were about to pull off a brilliant win, only to
concede a last minute penalty which Aaron Cruden duly slotted to hand them the
defeat. They will have to ensure their discipline is better this week, with
Mike Harris in fine form from the tee for the Melbourne franchise.
The Rebels won this game last year, but this season the
Brumbies look like the real deal, playing an attractive brand of rugby and
executing it well. It is exactly the kind of game they need to win if they are
to push for the title.
Prediction: Brumbies by 9
Bulls v Sharks, Pretoria - 17:05
So the Bulls have lost two games in a row at Loftus Versfeld
for the first time since 2008. They had a season to forget that year, finishing
in 10th position on the log (although they were still the third best South
African franchise). The Sharks reverted to a more power-based game last weekend
to overcome the Lions in unpleasant conditions, and will arrive with confidence
in Pretoria. Statistically speaking, it is unlikely that the Bulls will lose
three in a row at home - but then their form has been so average that it is
hard to see them winning, either.
All of which makes this one rather tough to call. I'm going
for an away win - just.
Prediction: Sharks by 3
Lions v Stormers, Johannesburg - 19:10
The Stormers made a bit of a meal of getting past a 14-man
Blues side last weekend, failing to pick up a bonus point when they really
should have done so. Still, they are two from two and sitting pretty at the top
of the log, so I doubt any of their fans will really be losing too much sleep.
The Lions have started poorly, without a point to their name after two rounds -
the only side that can boast that unfortunate claim. They have, however, beaten
the Stormers on the last two occasions that the men from Cape Town have visited
Ellis Park, so this is far from a foregone conclusion.
The Stormers have made a sufficiently good start to the
season to suggest that they should be able to reverse a poor recent record in
Prediction: Stormers by 8
Click HERE to follow Jamie Hosie on Twitter