# Time for predictions – Blues, Brumbies, Bulls

Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :Admin on 18 Apr 2012 at 14:39

I’d like to start a segment where you help me to predict the outcome of this year’s Super Rugby log. The Sharks, the Cheetahs and the Force have played exactly half of their games and the rest of the teams each have one bye and have 9 games left to play. I thought this was as good a time as any to call half-time on this year’s competition and look at what has transpired and what we think that means for the rest of the competition. I’ll take it team by team.

Before we start, have a look at the  spreadsheet that I am using to compress all the results, fixtures and predictions for this year into one page, I also saved it in a PDF. The cool thing about this spreadsheet is that I inserted formulas into the cells that updates the logs when I change results or predicted results. So each week I can update results and immediately see how this reflects on my predictions. I can also change my predictions at any time if I feel a team is performing better or worse than I initially thought, like the Chiefs and Highlanders who have surprised us this season.

I’ll give you a quick idea of how the spreadsheet works. (It all might sound a little too much but it’s really simple if you take the time to read my directions. If you don’t want to use it, skip over this part and go directly to the team analyses and predictions).

It is meant to work like a graph. Each team is listed on the left, top to bottom. Rows represents the teams and columns represent “played against”. The “example” will give you a clear idea of how to read the spreadsheet.

Click on example and see directions:

• Firstly, teams and log positions.
• Then the bye weeks are clearly indicated.
• The most important graphic is the third one – the game block. You have two rows in the game blocks, this is for the two local derbies. Three thing are indicated in this block:  Week, Result and Log points.
• The Blues will not be playing against the Cheetahs this year, this is indicated by leaving their game block blank.
• Blue is win. Red is lose. White is Home. Black is Away. Dark is actual result. Light is predicted result.
• Then there is the Current log & the Weekly log.

This seems like a lot, but it’s actually a lot of fun when you start to use it, because every time you change the results and log points in the game blocks your log points of each week and the final week changes and each week that goes by you get a better idea who the front runners will be.

So lets have a look at the teams:

Blues 14th

After seven games the Blues have two victories. One unlikely victory against the Bulls at Loftus and one victory against the bye. That’s how they do it, is it not? It has really been a horrible season for the Auckland team after their first game looked so promising. I thought that very first game against the Crusaders was one of the best games I’ve watched this season, I was even a little impressed with referee Chris Pollock and the one point difference in the final score. It was an impressive match to watch, but it feels like it has just gone all downhill from there for the Blues. They got that one victory against the Bulls and all their losses (aside from the Rebels) was against some of the inform teams this season but I just don’t see the Blues winning much more in 2012.

The Blues have nine games remaining and even if you give the 14th placed team a victory in each of those games they will still only end with 47 and a possible 56 if they win every game with bonus points. That 56 will be right at the edge of what teams will need to get into the top 6 this year. This will mean that the Blues will have to play 9 perfect games for just a chance to make the playoffs. You can never say never and I’m sure this is what the Blues will be aiming at, starting with an away victory against the Highlanders, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

They still have to play:

Highlanders, Reds, Hurricanes, Lions, Crusaders, Highlanders, Chiefs, Force, Brumbies and have one more bye.

At most I will give them four more victories against the Lions, Force, the Highlanders (at home) and maybe the Brumbies. This will leave them on 29 log points in the final week and place them 13th at the competitions end.

Brumbies 3rd (7th)

Their world cup winning coach Jake White, certainly had an impact on them. They are now the top Australian team even though this year especially this does not mean much since that effectively places them 7th on the points log. If they continue winning against their Aussie competitors that may not even matter since this will be enough to give them a home semi-final. Their comeback is not proven and complete though as only one of their victories was against top of the log opposition and that team was the Highlanders, another team that is desperately trying to prove themselves as more than just making up the numbers. They would want to consolidate their victory against the Rebels this weekend with another win as that is something they have not managed all season. Their first two victories were technically consecutive but on either side of their bye in week 2 came in week 5 and 8. Their constructive play and exciting running has been reasonably impressive and it will be interesting to see if they can build on a good season start.

They still have 5 games left to play in their struggling conference and if they can manage a win from each of those and another one against the struggling Lions they could be looking at 58 log points before any bonus points. Add a possible 6 winning and three losing bonus points and the Brumbies are looking at a very realistic shot at the top 6 this year. That is if they can continue their form and teams like the Reds and Waratahs continue with their struggles. It seems unlikely that they will take 5 from 5 in the rest of their local derbies though but still they would feel like they are in with a realistic chance.

They still have to play:

Bulls, Lions, Waratahs, Hurricanes, Reds, Rebels, Force, Waratahs, Blues and have one more bye.

Realistically, I see them falling short in at least 2 game – the Bulls and the Hurricanes. That gives them 6 more victories, adding the bye and a few bonus points that leaves them on 52 and probably just short of the top 6 in 7th place.

Bulls 4th

Once again the Bulls have proven that they are a force to be reckoned with. There were those that believed that the loss of experienced players to overseas contracts and retirement would stunt the Bulls but aside from one slip-up against the Blues and a narrow loss, which could have gone either way, the Bulls has been quite dominant. They brushed aside the poor injury riddled 2011 champions in the process. Their victory against the Sharks in their opening game was unconvincing, no one expected them to lose against the Cheetahs or the Lions and the Reds have been struggling this season. Their win against the Crusaders can be seen as the one step in the first half of the competition that indicates that the Bulls will feature strongly in this year’s competition again.

The Bulls still have a couple of games left that will be hard to predict, especially because there has been some uncertainty around their strength this season. Local derbies against the Sharks and the Stormers, away games against the Highlanders and Chiefs and even the two games against the Australian conference’s Brumbies at home and the Waratahs on tour could be close encounters. Even if they lose 3 or 4 of these games they could still be looking at 56 log points, which would indicate that the Bulls have done enough in the first half of the season to set up a top 6 spot for themselves.

They still have to play:

Brumbies, Rebels, Waratahs, Highlanders, Chiefs, Stormers, Cheetahs, Sharks, Lions and have one more bye.

I’ve predicted three more losses, against the Highlanders on the dreaded third game of the tour and two tough local derbies against the Sharks at Kings Park and the Stormers at Loftus. Make that three close losses with bonus points and the Bulls will be placed 4th on the log with 60 log points.