Chiefs vs Lions
The Lions might not have the big name players or financial resources like the bigger unions, but they play like there is no tomorrow. Ever since the Lions got re-instated to Super Rugby after their relegation in 2013 they have been improving year upon year. The franchise who was once a guaranteed bonus point for opposition teams is now a squad which opposition teams approach very cautiously. With their physical nature of play, lead by inspirational skipper Warren Whiteley, and their ability move the ball through the hands makes the Lions a very dangerous team.
The Lions will face the Chiefs in a round 2 fixture played at Waikato. Both teams are coming off a win from round 1 which should make this fixture very interesting.
The Lions opened their Super Rugby campaign against the Sunwolves with a 13-point win, coach Johan Ackermann will have mixed feelings about his team’s performance. While some aspects of the Lions play worked very well other areas were sorely lacking which they will need to improve should they have any chance against a very good Chiefs team coming off a round 1 win against the Crusaders.
While we admire the Lions ability to play an expansive game, willing to take the ball through the hands at every opportunity they get, we feel they are sometimes trying just a little too hard as was clearly shown in the Sunwolves match.
Remarkably the Lions only made 8 kicks in play, in their round 1 fixture, fewer than any other team in the competition! This emphasizes the above point, there is a time to run it and a time to kick it, kicks in play can be a great attacking weapon but one gets the feeling that their gameplan is “drilled” into them just a little too hard.
Lions coach, Johan Ackermann, needs to realize, they should first do the hard work upfront before they start spreading the ball. The Sunwolves made use of a rush defense which resulted in the outside backs getting the ball in a standing position.
With that being said the Lions did manage to score some very good tries and they especially thrived on turnover ball. If the Lions forwards can compete with the Chiefs and manage to poach a few balls, the Lions will no doubt run in a few tries.
Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies will play a pivotal role in the Lions Super Rugby campaign. While Jantjies was not terrible last week his goal kicking left much to be desired. In a match against the Chiefs where you don’t get many opportunities to put points on the board, his goalkicking will need to improve drastically if the Lions have any hope of winning this match.
Like the Lions the Chiefs gave the impression that they were a little rusty in some areas of their play, however as the match progressed they started to look sharper and sharper. Statistically, the Chiefs absolutely dominated the match, had the Chiefs been a little more clinical in some areas they could very well have run in another couple of tries.
Even though the Chiefs weren’t at their best last week they still managed to run in 4 tries which speak volumes about their offense. The Chiefs made 128 carries for 553 meters, that is almost 5-meteres per carry!
Perhaps the statistic which Chiefs coach Dave Rennie will be most pleased about is the number of defenders beaten and a number of offloads. The Chiefs manage to beat 23 defenders while offloading the ball 20-times.
Again praise needs to go to the Chiefs offense, it’s rather scary to think a team which did not perform at their best managed to put those stats on the board against the Crusaders away from home!
A worrying aspect for the Chiefs, however, is the number of turnovers they conceded, the Chiefs conceded no less than 20 turnovers which is a massive number, it is certainly something they wouldn’t want to repeat against a Lions team which thrives on turnover ball.
In terms of set pieces the Chiefs were solid, only giving away 1 scrum penalty against a very good Crusaders scrum. The Lions scrum was superb against the Sunwolves last week so the Chiefs front row will yet again need to be at their best for their round 2 encounter against the Lions.
Super Rugby Predictions Round 2 Chiefs vs Lions:
While the Lions are a very good team, the fact is they simply don’t have the firepower to compete with the Chiefs. Expect a brutal onslaught from the Lions in the first 20-minutes after which the Chiefs will take control of the game. Chiefs by 15 points
What The Bookmakers are Saying:
The bookies, not surprisingly agree with our prediction, the Chiefs are on offer at odds of @1.12 from Coral Australia while the Lions are on offer at a whopping @6.00 for a straight win. The handicap has been set at +/- 15-points, which can go either way in our opinion.Bet £5 with Coral & Get £20 Free
Highlanders vs Hurricanes
The second match of Saturday’s double header features a repeat of last year’s Super Rugby final when the Highlanders takes on the Hurricanes. Both teams are entering this match coming off a loss in their opening fixtures. While the Highlanders can take some positives away from their loss against the Blues, there is absolutely nothing to be positive about for the Hurricanes after being humiliated against the Brumbies.
The team at rugby betting were optimistic about the Hurricanes, bookmakers were optimistic about the Hurricanes having them as early favorites to win the New-Zealand conference. However, since the Hurricanes loss against the Brumbies their stock dropped faster than a falling knife.
With that being said one should be very cautious to write the Hurricanes off in this round 2 fixture, as we see it, things can go two ways for the Hurricanes in this match.
The Hurricanes worked very hard over the past several years to improve their rugby, they are now a proud franchise having continuously improved in the past 3-years, so much so, that they were favoured to win last year’s Super Rugby final.
After their round 1 humiliation, the Canes will be out to salvage their pride. Add some revenge to the mix, for last year’s Super Rugby final loss to the Highlanders, and you can expect a very competitive Hurricanes team playing out of their skin.
That’s one scenario! The other scenario is, that last week’s humiliation may have done more damage than we think. A Super Rugby finalist, being early favourites to win the New-Zealand Super Rugby franchise in 2016, losing by 40+ points is a sign that something is desperately wrong with the team.
Yes, every team has its bad days but being destroyed with 42-points is not exactly a bad day, it is a humiliation.
Want to know why the Hurricanes got thumped? Just look at the match statistics, they had more carries than the Brumbies for more metres, however, they only managed to make 3-clean breaks compared to the Brumbies 12. However, that is not what caused the loss, the primary reason for the Hurricanes loss is the number of turnovers conceded. Yes, folks, the Hurricanes conceded no less than 31 turnovers (wow). It is no secret that turnovers often leads to tries thus, it is not surprising that the Brumbies managed to run in 7 tries.
Conceding that many turnovers is a sign that the Hurricanes are struggling up front, which they are since they got absolutely destroyed by Stephen Morre & Co in round 1. While the Highlanders are not quite as physical as the Brumbies upfront they still field a very good forward pack and will no doubt look to, employ exactly the same gameplan as the Brumbies, targeting the Hurricanes upfront.
Despite losing their opening fixture, the Highlanders had a superb opening match, had it not been for some very good tactical substitutions by Blues coach Tana Umaga they (the Highlanders) may very well have emerged victorious.
While it is always hard to say there are positives to take away from a loss, there are some real positive signs in the Highlanders camp.
The back 3 of the Highlanders, in Ben Smith, Matt Faddes and Patrick Osborne were absolutely superb. Not only fielding every highball to perfection but starting a counter attack from it. The way Ben Smith manages to get metres after contact is simply outstanding.
Furthermore, the Highlanders played with continuity, keeping the ball alive and controlling their attack superbly well.
Aside from the above, further reasons to be optimistic for Highlanders coach, Jamie Joseph, is the way Aaron Smith and rookie flyhalf Lima Sopoaga performed. With an All Black flyhalf jersey up for grabs this year Sopoaga will definitely want to add his name to the mix, and if he can consistently do what he did last week against the Blues he will have a strong claim to the All Black 10 jersey.
Super Rugby Predictions Round 2 Highlanders vs Hurricanes:
While we believe the Hurricanes will make a bounce back after their round 1 loss, and will certainly be much more competitive there is a saying which goes, never change a winning bet. The Hurricanes is certainly not a winning bet at the moment, in our opinion. There lies a lot of hard work in front of them if they want to repeat what they did last year and we simply can’t see them emerging victorious against a very strong Highlanders side. Highlanders by 8-points
What The Bookies Are Saying:
Not surprisingly the bookmakers are favouring the Highlanders in their round 2 clash against the Hurricanes, although not by much. William Hill Australia has the Highlanders on offer @1.57, which presents good value in our opinion while the Hurricanes are rather short at odds of @2.50.
The Handicap has been set at +/-4 points which we will jump onBet With William Hill & Receive a £20 Bonus
Reds vs Western Force
Not an awful lot to write about here, both these teams were disastrous in their opening fixtures especially the Reds. It is unbelievable how the Reds just went on a downward spiral ever since they won their maiden Super Rugby title. The Reds will now face the Western Force in their round 2 Super Rugby fixture, a team which has not presented any real threat perhaps with the exception of last year.
We believe ultimately this game will come down to which team makes the fewest mistakes, as it has been careless and unnecessary mistakes which have hampered these two teams in the past several seasons.
Looking at the Reds lineup a team once packed with Australian internationals are now mostly made up of rookies and provincial players, which perhaps played a part in their regression over the past several years. With that being said a lot of criticism needs to go towards the Reds management which failed to bring new up and coming talent through the ranks.
The Reds were woeful on attack last weekend perfectly emphasised by the statistics of last week’s match, they only managed to score 1-try despite having 40 more carries than the Waratahs, they also carried for 66 metres less than the Waratahs in their round 1 fixture despite having 40 more carries.
On defence, the Reds missed a whopping 28 tackles, or more specifically 26% of all their tackles, something a team simply can’t do if they want to be competitive at this level.
Looking at the above it is clear the Reds is a team struggling on both sides of the ball.
The Force were slightly better than the Reds last week, despite playing a slightly weaker opposition in the Rebels (taking nothing away from the Rebels, however, as they have been improving year after year)
All statistics were pretty much even across the board in the Force’s opening fixture, yet it was their lack of attacking, or rather finishing which ultimately cost them the game. The Force only managed to score 1 try against the Rebels 3.
When comparing the Reds and Force on paper there is not an awful lot to choose between these two teams.
Super Rugby Predictions Reds vs Western Force:
Despite this being a home fixture for the Reds, one astonishing statistic is that the Reds only managed to win the Force once since 2012, yes you read that right, quite remarkably, in 6 fixtures against the Force the Reds lost 5. To rub salt in the wound for Reds fans the matches they lost, they lost big, with an average losing margin of more than 10-points.
With not a lot to choose between these two teams on paper, and given the Force’s success at the Suncorp stadium we will pick the Force to win this one by 8-points
What the bookmakers are saying:
The Worlds largest sportsbook BET365 disagrees with our prediction having the Reds as favourites on odds as short as @1.44, not good value in our opinion. The Force are on offer at very generous odds of @2.66.
The Handicap has been set at +/-6-points which is the best value bet in our opinion.
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