If, like me, are you feeling a little down about your SuperBru predictions this year, I have some good news – you are not alone … Mark Hutchinson on The Rugby Blog points out some interesting stats that might make you feel a little better …
The number of correct SuperBru match predictions over the first three rounds this year is the lowest it has ever been, and on average, only 58.7% of rugby fans can accurately predict the outcome of each fixture.
Average % of correct SuperBru predictions:
Indicating clearly that results are becoming harder to predict and that the tournament is becoming more and more competitive. Gone are the days in which one or two teams from each country, such as the Bulls, Crusaders and the Reds, were so dominant – the data suggests that the gulf in quality between the top and bottom teams has been reduced and matches are more tightly contested as a result.
The average winning margin in Rounds 1 to 3 this year has been just over 8 points, compared to over 12 points last year and nearly 15 the year before – and even this season’s 8-point average is skewed by the Bulls’ thrashing of the Cheetahs in Round 2.
My 57.14% strike rate is still a little below average, so take the following predictions seriously at your peril …
Chiefs v Brumbies, Tauranga – 08:35
Referee: Ian Smith (Australia)
Assistant referees: Vinny Munro (New Zealand), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
Head to head: Played 17, Chiefs 5, Brumbies 11, Drawn 1
Last match: Brumbies 28 – 20 Chiefs @ Canberra (2011 SR Wk1)
I am not convinced by the move of Kahui to wing as he and SBW were gelling nicely, but I am getting more and more convinced by this Chiefs side as a unit by the second. I am loving the fact that they can scrum, and scrum properly. Brodie Retallick is on fire, Tawera Kerr-Barlow is the form scrummy, and Schoolboy Cruden is doing the business. This against a side who beat the Cheetahs at home with a lot of help from either an inept or cheating ref.
My prediction: Chiefs by 18
Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Richard Kahui, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tim Nanai-Williams, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Arizona Taumalolo.
Bench: 16 Marcel Cummings-Toone, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Kane Thompson, 19 Scott Waldrom, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Maritino Nemani.
Brumbies: 15. Jesse Mogg, 14. Pat McCabe, 13. Andrew Smith, 12. Joseph Tomane, 11. Henry Speight, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Ian Prior, 8. Ben Mowen (Captain), 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Peter Kimlin, 4. Leon Power, 3. Dan Palmer, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Ben Alexander
Bench: 16. Anthony Hegarty, 17. Ruaidhri Murphy, 18. Sam Carter, 19. Ita Vaea, 20. Nic White, 21. Zack Holmes, 22. Cam Crawford
Stormers v Blues, Cape Town – 19:10
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Head to head: Played 14, Stormers 6, Blues 8
Last match: Blues 26 – 28 Stormers @ Auckland (2011 SR Wk14)
The Stormers are a tough, never say die team with a good “Gees” going. Peter Grant will add to the team, perhaps giving that crack centre pairing of De Villiers and De Jongh a little more ball. Etzebeth is a Bok in the making and the front row are going a long way to dispelling the notion that they cannot scrum. But they still do not have a fetcher, are playing Vermeulen out of position, and are up against the Braid brothers, two fetchers of note. I think they will struggle at the breakdown, these days such in influential part of the game. And they have a Kiwi ref at the helm!
My prediction: Blues by 7
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Bench: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Gerhard van den Heever
Blues: 15 Lachie Munro, 14 David Raikuna, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tom McCartney.
Bench: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Brad Mika, 19 Peter Saili, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Hadleigh Parkes, 22 Ben Lam.
SATURDAY, MARCH 17
Hurricanes v Highlanders, Wellington – 08:35
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Keith Brown, Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Richard Kelly (New Zealand)
Head to head: Played 17, Hurricanes 10, Highlanders 7
Last match: Highlanders 13 – 6 Hurricanes @ Invercargill (2011 SR Wk13)
A bit of a lottery this one. Really think it could go either way. One thing is for sure, this will be a game worth watching. I have been burnt by not backing the MacIntosh / Thompson clan too many times not to back them, but I would not be surprised to see the Canes win this, especially at home.
My prediction: Highlanders by 4
Hurricanes: 15. André Taylor, 14. Cory Jane, 13. Conrad Smith (Captain), 12. Tim Bateman, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. TJ Perenara, 8. Victor Vito, 7. Jack Lam, 6. Faifili Levave, 5. Jason Eaton, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2. Dane Coles, 1. Ben May
Bench: 16. Motu Matu’u, 17. Michael Bent, 18. James Broadhurst, 19. Brad Shields, 20. Chris Eaton, 21. Dan Kirkpatrick, 22. Charlie Ngatai
Highlanders: 15. Ben R Smith, 14. Kade Poki, 13. Tamati Ellison, 12. Phil Burleigh, 11. Hosea Gear, 10. Colin Slade, 9. Jimmy Cowan, 8. Nasi Manu, 7. John Hardie, 6. Adam Thomson, 5. Nick Crosswell, 4. Josh Bekhuis, 3. Ma’afu Fia, 2. Andrew Hore, 1. Jamie MacKintosh (Captain)
Bench: 16. Jason Rutledge, 17. Bronson Murray, 18. Culum Retallick, 19. James Haskell, 20. Aaron Smith, 21. Chris Noakes, 22. Buxton Popoalii
Waratahs v Force, Sydney – 10:40
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Angus Gardner (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
Head to head: Played 7, Waratahs 5, Force 1, Drawn 1
Last match: Waratahs 20 – Force 15 @ Sydney (2011 SR Wk12)
My prediction: Waratahs by 14 in a snoreathon of note
Waratahs: 15 Bernard Foley, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Daniel Halangahu (captain), 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Tevita Metuisela, 7 Jono Jenkins, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Bench: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Chris Alcock, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Tom Carter
Force: 15 David Harvey, 14 Samu Wara, 13 Will Tupou, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 James Stannard, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Matt Hodgson, 7 David Pocock (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Bench: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Phoenix Battye, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Justin Turner, 21 Ben Seymour, 22 Winston Stanley.
Sharks v Reds, Durban – 17:05
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mark Lawrence (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Head to head: Played 13, Sharks 5, Reds 8
Last match: Sharks 30 – 28 Reds @ Durban (2010 SR Wk8)
The Sharks eventually got their first win of the season last week, and are hoping it will be the catalyst for better things to come, but my word, their game against the Lions was no spectacle. The Reds might have travelled round the world, but they have picked salty sea dog Van Humphries at lock and are giving Samo and Robinson a run in the loose trio, which is clever selecting. Harris is deadly with the boot while Shipperley and Iaone are as exciting as they come out wide. Tough one to call to be honest …
My prediction: Reds by 3
Sharks: Riaan Viljoen, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Tim Whitehead, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel (capt), Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Anton Bresler, Steven Sykes, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Dale Chadwick.
Bench: Craig Burden, Wiehahn Herbst, Jandre Marais, Jacques Botes, Frederic Michalak, Meyer Bosman, Louis Ludik.
Reds: 15 Rod Davies, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Ben Lucas, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Van Humphries, 4 James Horwill (c), 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Greg Holmes.
Bench: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Jake Schatz, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Luke Morahan.
SUNDAY, MARCH 18
Rebels v Cheetahs, Melbourne – 07:10
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Steve Lesczcynski (Australia)
Head to head: Played 1, Cheetahs 1, Rebels 0
Last match: Cheetahs 41 – 21 Rebels @ Bloemfontein (2011 SR Wk14)
The Cheetahs are playing some fantastic rugby at the moment, and were robbed of victory against the Brumbies last week by an inept reffing performance. They are still making errors at crucial times and Goosen, while an exceptional talent and definite future Bok, does make the odd bad call with regard to the crucial “Kick or pass” choice. Andries Strauss is back, Coenie is loving running with the ball. BUT, and this is a big BUT, this prediction was made before Cipriani had to pull out, and O’Connor at flyhalf makes this Rebels side a lot stronger …
My prediction: Cheetahs by 5
Rebels: 15. Julian Huxley, 14. Lachlan Mitchell, 13. Mark Gerrard, 12. Lloyd Johansson, 11. Cooper Vuna, 10. James O`Connor, 9. Richard Kingi, 8. Gareth Delve (Captain), 7. Tom Chamberlain, 6. Tim Davidson, 5. Hugh Pyle, 4. Luke Jones, 3. Laurie Weeks, 2. Adam Freier, 1. Nic Henderson
Bench: 16. Ged Robinson, 17. Rodney Blake, 18. Alister Campbell, 19. Jarrod Saffy, 20. Nick Phipps, 21. Daniel Cipriani, 22. James Hilgendorf
Cheetahs: 15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Cameron Jacobs, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Andries Strauss, 11. Willie Le Roux, 10. Johan Goosen, 9. Tewis de Bruyn, 8. Philip Van der Walt, 7. Davon Raubenheimer, 6. Heinrich Brussow, 5. Izak van der Westhuizen, 4. George Earle, 3. WP Nel, 2. Adriaan Strauss (Captain), 1. Coenie Oosthuizen
Bench: 16. Hercu Liebenberg, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Justin Downey, 19. Ashley Johnson, 20. Piet van Zyl, 21. Sias Ebersohn, 22. Rayno Benjamin
I do love Sunday morning rugby … And throw in the fact that there are only six games this weekend, and it all seems a lot more manageable … I will be out near Worcester for the Put It In The Bucket swim in the Breede river, so will be hoping the Cheetahs put me in a good mood before easing into the soup to take on Cameron van der Burgh! I am MC’ing an old boys dinner on Friday night so will be missing the Stormers game, and will probably take in the Sharks game at the Worcestor golf course after hacking my way through the desert out there … Hope both the Sharks and Stormers prove me wrong …