SuperBru S15 Round 3 preview

2012-03-07 11:57 Cape Town - Super Rugby fans, hopefully you have recovered from the pulsating action in Round 2, where there were definitely some surprise results!

Teams: Super Rugby Round 3

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It all started in Waikato, where despite an awful number of injuries, the Chiefs completely hammered a disappointing Blues side. Two outstanding performances from Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Robbie Robinson saw the home team run in four tries. Next the Rebels were torn apart by the Waratahs in their first match of the season, with the hyped up midfield combination of Danny Cipriani and James O’Connor unable to shine as the pack struggled. Tom Carter’s double brought him some redemption after the criticism he’d received the week before. Finally on Friday, the touring Hurricanes snatched a late win in Johannesburg thanks to Beauden Barrett’s 79th minute penalty against the Lions, leaving those who had backed the home side cursing their luck.

On Saturday, a late try from Hosea Gear and crucial conversion from Lima Sopoaga saw the Highlanders go two from two against the Crusaders, the comical timing fiasco with the stadium clock at the end not causing any damage to the result. The Reds then had to fight off a spirited comeback from David Pocock’s Western Force, Radike Samo running in a 60 metre interception score in their second win.

The Bulls then produced the performance of the weekend, putting 50 points on the Cheetahs and running in six tries including a blinder from Zane Kirchner. The round finished up in Cape Town, with the returning Peter Grant slotting over a penalty with four minutes to go for the Stormers to grab the win against the Sharks.

Safe to say there were a few unexpected results from Round 2, but moving on, here are my SuperBru predictions for the coming weekend:

It all starts with the Crusaders playing their first game of the season at Rugby League Park against the Chiefs. After a poor performance from the pack against the Highlanders, where the Crusaders were unable to dominate the breakdown, there will have been a huge emphasis on securing turnovers this week in training. Their backs were excellent however, so if they keep scoring tries such as Israel Dagg’s effort last weekend, they should pick up an 8-point win.

Next the Hurricanes tour continues as they travel to Perth to face the Force. The worst was predicted for Mark Hammett’s side at the start of the season, but winning in Johannesburg will have given them confidence. If Beauden Barrett can keep kicking his goals and the 'Canes back row can handle David Pocock, then they might return home with two wins out of three on Nathan Sharpe’s 150th Super Rugby cap. Hurricanes by 5.

The Brumbies then return after their bye week to face the Cheetahs at home, with Pat McCabe fit again after injury. The visitor’s pack was dreadful against the Bulls last weekend, but bringing Coenie Oosthuizen back in will shore up the scrum and the physical Ashley Johnson should improve matters. After the Brumbies impressed in Round 1, and the Cheetahs struggled last weekend, this should be a home win by 7 points.

The in-form Highlanders then take on the Waratahs at home, when hopefully the stadium clock will be working perfectly! The Waratahs have impressed in both their matches despite losing in Round 1, but the Highlanders’ physicality could edge this one narrowly by 4 points.

The action then moves to Brisbane with the Reds facing a Rebels team who were toothless last weekend. The champions are not quite on top form yet but should kick on against a leaky Melbourne defence. Reds by 18.

It’s then over to Durban with the Sharks playing their first match at home against the Lions. The hosts could welcome back Willem Alberts and Odwa Ndungane as they look for their first win of the season, whilst the Lions will be disappointed at the way they let the Hurricanes back into the match last weekend at home. Sharks by 8.

Last but not least, the desperate Blues travel to Loftus to take on the Bulls. They should be wary of the damage the three-time former champions inflicted on the Cheetahs last weekend. If the pack led by Jerome Kaino can’t front up to the Bulls power, they could be in for a long afternoon. Bulls by 15.

That’s all for this week, with plenty of home wins on the cards. Best of luck with your SuperBru predictions!

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