Preview: SuperBru Super Rugby Week 3
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FRIDAY, MARCH 12
Blues v Hurricanes, Auckland - 08:35
Much will depend on what team Blues coach Tana Umaga decides
to pick. He bizarrely chose to make several changes between rounds one and two,
and was duly punished as the Crusaders proved too powerful. If he restores the
team that beat the Highlanders in round one - and crucially the brilliant
half-back pairing of Bryn Hall and Ihaia West - then the Blues should have
enough to beat a Hurricanes side still searching for its first win.
Prediction: Blues by 5
Force v Brumbies, Perth - 13:05
The Force have won this fixture just once in the last nine
instalments of it, and given the way that the Brumbies have started the season,
that trend doesn't look like changing this weekend. The men from Canberra were
ruthless in the way that they picked apart the Waratahs, and although the Force
did enough to beat the woeful Reds in round two, this represents an entirely
different - and likely insurmountable - challenge for them.
Prediction: Brumbies by 15
SATURDAY, MARCH 13
Highlanders v Lions, Dunedin - 08:35
The Lions can't win two games in New Zealand in a row, can
they? They were utterly brilliant against the Chiefs, playing some exhilarating
rugby that ultimately was too good even for a Kiwi side. Whatever element of
surprise they had for that game will have evaporated when they arrive in
Dunedin, however. The Highlanders will not take them for granted, especially as
they are coming off the back of a really narrow win themselves. As good as the
Lions were last weekend, I can't see them doing it two weeks in a row on the
Prediction: Highlanders by 3
Rebels v Reds, Melbourne - 10:45
The Reds actually had dominance up front against the Force
but are so woefully inept in all other areas at the moment that they still
didn't even come close to winning. They have since binned their head coach
Richard Graham, although whether it will make much difference, only time will
tell. One suspects they are in for a long, troublesome season. The Rebels
showed great heart to fight back against the Bulls and deny them a bonus point
under the new rules - but the way they went so far behind, so quickly, was of
real worry. Back at home, against a much less disciplined Reds side, they
should win comfortably.
Prediction: Rebels by 12
Sunwolves v Cheetahs, Singapore - 12:55
This will represent one of the Sunwolves' best chances at
getting a win this season, and given how competitive they were in their opening
fixture against the Lions, it is far from outside the realms of possibility.
The Cheetahs have played some lovely rugby in the opening two rounds, but have
also shipped 54 points - their defence must tighten up. Given they will not be
put under the same forward pressure by the Sunwolves as they have been so far,
I'd expect their free-running backs to have some time and space to express
themselves - and to get the win.
Prediction: Cheetahs by 9
Kings v Chiefs, Port Elizabeth - 15:05
The Chiefs' loss to the Lions was a real setback for the
pre-season bookies' favourites, but they handily have a nice soft landing this
week in the form of the Kings. The men from Port Elizabeth were predictably
abject in their only outing thus far, and with another week of preparation
under their belts will hope to tighten up in what is gruellingly tough opening
few weeks for the newbies.
Prediction: Chiefs by 28
Stormers v Sharks, Cape Town - 17:15
For two sides that have traditionally had little between
them in terms of quality, the last three instalments of this fixture have been
remarkably one sided: Sharks by 22, Stormers by 16, Sharks by 24. Given both
have started the new season at an electric pace - not a loss between them - you
can expect this one to be a lot tighter. Both are looking to expand their game
and have played some lovely stuff thus far, but as always the game will be won
up front. The Stormers just about look to have the edge there, and allied with
their home advantage, they must be slight favourites.
Prediction: Stormers by 6
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