Fresh off a credible 7 from 9 last week, I’m feeling pretty bullish about my chances in round 3. Let’s see how the games might pan out.
Chiefs v Hurricanes (Friday 08h35)
The game of the round, I reckon, as the two currently-unbeaten pace-setters in the competition square off in Hamilton. The Canes have run up huge victories against soft opposition in the opening weeks, while the Chiefs have had to do it the hard way, but have nevertheless recorded impressive bonus-point victories against Kiwi opposition. You can probably tell from that opening that I’m leaning away from the smart money here. I think the Canes have picked up regulation wins against the tournament chaff and have yet to be tested in any way. The Chiefs are at home and are already battle-hardened, so I’m expecting the steely Mooloo Men to withstand the frantic Canes and pick up the points. Chiefs by 5.
Brumbies v Force (Friday 10h45)
Hell, this is unlikely to be much entertainment. The Force surprised in beating the Reds in Perth last week and were also credible in their loss to the Waratahs in Round 1. The Brumbies don’t apepar to have all that much going for them this season either, so this should be dull. Expect the Brumbies to win it by 6 or so.
Blues v Highlanders (Saturday 08h35)
Another classic between two Kiwi teams that suffered losses last week. The Blues came badly unstuck in Hamilton after being written up as contenders in week 1, while the Highlanders tried manfully to overcome some early injuries, but ultimately fell to the Crusaders in the closing minutes. On paper, I’d say the Blues look better (especially since the Highlanders are missing Ben Smith, a key strike weapon) but I somehow just can’t see the South Islanders, who won the competition just two years ago, starting the season with three losses. I’m backing the Landers to find a way here, so it’s Highlanders by 4 points.
Reds v Crusaders (Saturday 10h45)
No real contest here, I’m afraid. Like the Sharks did in round 1, the ‘Saders may find the Brisbane stickiness something of a leveller in the opening period, but they will recover as they do and will finish strongly -far too strongly for this ageing Reds side to live with. Crusaders by a handy 10 points.
Kings v Stormers (Saturday 15h05)
I don’t think this is going to be quite as easy as many would have you think – simply because I remember the Stomrers battling to overcome the Kings in the past. That said, the injury curse is already taking hold down in the Bay and even a decidedly weaker Stormers team should have too much for these plucky Kings. Stormers by 15.
Cheetahs v Sunwolves (Saturday 17h15)
This should be fun to watch, especially if you enjoy watching the Cheetahs score tries. Last year they scored 92 points against the hapless Japanese side and I feel like this year’s Cheetahs crop are even better. This is going to be slaughter and I’d expect the Cheetahs to win by 60 or more. Yes, that much.
Sharks v Waratahs (Saturday 19h30)
160+ passes apiece in the Durban humidity? Add that to things like seeing Elvis and income tax being abolished…. not going to happen, folks. No, I’m afraid this game is most likely going to be a bit less “all action” than what we saw from the Sharks in Canberra, which may actually result in a more comfortable victory as a result. The Lions threw caution (and defence) out of the window and outscored the ‘Tahs by eight tries to five. The Sharks are not yet able to win that way and I for one hope they don’t try to. This Waratahs team, I feel, will be even more vulnerable to the direct approach and I expect that the Sharks pack will have just too much for them without the backs needing to do anything flashy. In other words, I think we’ll grind out a win here, but it will be an important win all the same. Sharks by 8.
Jaguares v Lions (Saturday 21h40)
Johan Ackermann doesn’t learn and for the second year running, he’s heading to Buenos Aires with an under-strength team. The Jaguares are again ill-disciplined, but boast a solid team and will be buoyed by home support. I’m expecting them to turn the tables on a Lions team yet to really find their mojo this year. Jaguares ganar con 7 puntos, o más!Tweet