Super Rugby 2019: The run home

Author
Nigel Yalden,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 May 2019, 11:41AM
The Crusaders should find themselves top of the table once the regular season wraps up. (Photo / Photosport)
The Crusaders should find themselves top of the table once the regular season wraps up. (Photo / Photosport)

Super Rugby 2019: The run home

Author
Nigel Yalden,
Publish Date
Thu, 23 May 2019, 11:41AM

With four rounds remaining in Super Rugby, Radio Sport Rugby Editor Nigel Yalden makes his predictions for how every team in the competition will fare over the final month of the regular season.

Crusaders

Current Position: NZ Conference Leaders; 1st overall

Points: 49 (Won 9 Drawn 2 Lost 1)

NB Round 5 game with Highlanders not played; points shared

Maximum Possible Points: 64

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Saturday 25 May vs. Blues @ Christchurch
  • Week 16: Saturday 1 June vs. Chiefs @ Suva
  • Week 17: Saturday 8 June vs. Rebels @ Christchurch
  • Week 18: BYE

Prediction

The defending champs circle the wagons, win their last three games to finish top of the table and the NZ Conference then put their feet and wait for week 1 of the playoffs to roll around.

 

BULLS

Current Position: RSA Conference Leaders; 2nd overall

Points: 32 (Won 7 Lost 5)

Maximum Possible Points: 52

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Friday 24 May vs. Brumbies @ Canberra
  • Week 16: Friday 31 May vs. Blues @ Auckland
  • Week 17: Friday 7 June vs. Highlanders @ Dunedin
  • Week 18: Saturday 15 June vs. Lions @ Pretoria

Prediction

The men from Pretoria endure a tough end to their month away from home, losing three straight to the Brumbies, Blues and Highlanders, before returning home to be inspired to victory by a fit again Handre Pollard in a “win-and-you’re-in” contest with the Lions.

 

BRUMBIES

Current Position: AUS Conference Leaders; 3rd overall

Points: 29 (Won 6 Lost 6)

Maximum Possible Points: 44

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Friday 24 May vs. Bulls @ Canberra
  • Week 16: Saturday 1 June vs. Sunwolves @ Tokyo
  • Week 17: Saturday 8 June vs. Waratahs @ Sydney
  • Week 18: Saturday 15 June vs. Reds @ Canberra

Prediction

They beat the Bulls & Sunwolves then claim a vital bonus point in a close loss to the Waratahs before they smashed the Reds at home to claim the Australian conference title

 

HURRICANES

Current Position: Wildcard 1; 2nd in NZ Conference

Points: 40 (Won 9 Drawn 1 Lost 3)

Maximum Possible Points: 55

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: BYE
  • Week 16: Saturday 1 June vs. Sharks @ Durban
  • Week 17: Saturday 8 June vs. Lions @ Johannesburg
  • Week 18: Saturday 15 June vs. Blues @ Wellington

Prediction

The Canes beat the Lions, despite a massively one sided penalty count against them a week after claiming a losing bonus against the Sharks.  They return to the cosy confines of Westpac Stadium and put on a show to destroy the Blues thus holding onto the first Wildcard position and the home quarter-final that comes with it.

 

JAGUARES

Current Position: Wildcard 2; 2nd in RSA Conference

Points: 32 (Won 7 Lost 5)

Maximum Possible Points: 52

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Saturday 25 May vs. Waratahs @ Sydney
  • Week 16: Saturday 1 June vs. Reds @ Brisbane
  • Week 17: Saturday 8 June vs. Sharks @ Buenos Aires
  • Week 18: Friday 14 June vs. Sunwolves @ Buenos Aires

Prediction

Agustin Creevy and the lads win out; claiming both Aussie scalps before returning home to win a mammoth battle with the Sharks then completely level the Sunwolves to claim the South African conference title, much to the chagrin of those in the Republic 

 

LIONS

Current Position: Wildcard 3; 3rd in RSA Conference

Points: 30 (Won 7 Lost 5)

Maximum Possible Points: 50

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Saturday 25 May vs. Sharks @ Durban
  • Week 16: Saturday 1 June vs. Stormers @ Johannesburg
  • Week 17: Saturday 8 June vs. Hurricanes @ Johannesburg
  • Week 18: Saturday 15 June vs Bulls @ Pretoria

Prediction

The Lions only win in the last month will be against the Stormers at home.  They’ll lose a classic contest in Durban this weekend; get downed by the touring Hurricanes a week later before being bumped out of a wildcard spot by a Bulls side inspired by the return of first five Handre Pollard

 

SHARKS

Current Position: Wildcard 4; 4th in RSA Conference

Points: 29 (Won 5 Drawn 1 Loss 6)

Maximum Possible Points: 49

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Saturday 25 May vs. Lions @ Durban
  • Week 16: Saturday 1 June vs. Hurricanes @ Durban
  • Week 17: Saturday 8 June vs. Jaguares @ Buenos Aires
  • Week 18: Saturday 15 June vs. Stormers @ Cape Town

Prediction

The Sharks start the final month by winning two epic contests against the Lions and Hurricanes, before losing an equally titanic struggle against the Jaguares.  Those three matches take their toll in the final week when they drop a tight one to the Stormers away but hold onto the final wildcard spot to earn a trip to Christchurch for week one of the playoffs.

 

HIGHLANDERS

Current Position: Wildcard 5

Points: 29 (Won 5 Drawn 1 Lost 6)

  1. Round 5 game with Crusaders not played; points shared

Maximum Possible Points: 44

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Saturday 25 May vs. Stormers @ Cape Town
  • Week 16: BYE
  • Week 17: Friday 7 June vs. Bulls @ Dunedin
  • Week 18: Friday 14 June vs. Waratahs @ Invercargill

Prediction

I’m backing the team I picked to win the NZ Conference at the start of the season to prove to me why I made that call.  They beat the Stormers this weekend, rest up then stick it to the travel weary Bulls and the erratic Waratahs to secure a playoff date with the Hurricanes in Wellington … giddy up!

 

REBELS

Current Position: 9th overall; 2nd in AUS Conference

Points: 29 (Won 6 Lost 6)

Maximum Possible Points: 49

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Saturday 25 May vs. Sunwolves @ Tokyo
  • Week 16: Friday 31 May vs. Waratahs @ Melbourne
  • Week 17: Saturday 8 June vs. Crusaders @ Christchurch
  • Week 18: Friday 14 June vs. Chiefs @ Melbourne

Prediction

The Rebels win an entertaining contest in Tokyo this weekend before edging the Tahs in a torrid contest a week later.  After being pumped by the Crusaders, they deliver a desperate performance to beat the Chiefs to earn a wildcard spot, setting up an all Australian quarter final battle against Conference winning Brumbies.

 

WARATAHS

Current Position: 10th overall; 3rd in AUS Conference

Points: 26 (Won 5 Lost 7)

Maximum Possible Points: 46

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Saturday 25 May vs. Jaguares @ Sydney
  • Week 16: Friday 31 May vs. Rebels @ Melbourne
  • Week 17: Saturday 8 June vs. Brumbies @ Sydney
  • Week 18: Friday 14 June vs. Highlanders @ Invercargill

Prediction

The last month sees Daryl Gibson’s group score just the one win, that being a hard fought victory over the Brumbies.  They lose to brutal battles to the Jaguares and Rebels then struggle in the Deep South against the Highlanders

 

BLUES

Current Position: 11th overall; 4th in NZ Conference

Points: 26 (Won 5 Lost 7)

Maximum Possible Points: 46

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Saturday 25 May vs. Crusaders @ Christchurch
  • Week 16: Friday 31 May vs. Bulls @ Auckland
  • Week 17: Friday 7 June vs. Reds @ Brisbane
  • Week 18: Sat 15 June vs. Hurricanes @ Wellington

Prediction

After a tough outing against the Crusaders, the Blues keep hope playoff dreams alive with wins over the Bulls and Reds, only to have them dash by a rampage Hurricanes in the final week of the regular season.

 

STORMERS

Current Position: 12th overall; 5th in RSA Conference

Points: 26 (Won 5 Drawn 1 Lost 6)

Maximum Possible Points: 46

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Saturday 25 May vs. Highlanders @ Cape Town
  • Week 16: Saturday 1 June vs Lions @ Johannesburg
  • Week 17: Saturday 8 June vs. Sunwolves @ Cape Town
  • Week 18: Saturday 15 June vs. Sharks @ Cape Town

Prediction

The Stormers will come up short of a playoff spot.  After back to back losses to the Highlanders and Lions, they beat the Sunwolves then finish the season off in style by rolling the Sharks

 

REDS

Current Position: 13th overall; 4th in AUS Conference

Points: 23 (Won 5 Lost 7)

Maximum Possible Points: 43

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Friday 24 May vs. Chiefs @ Hamilton
  • Week 16: Saturday 1 June vs. Jaguares @ Brisbane
  • Week 17: Friday 7 June vs. Blues @ Brisbane
  • Week 18: Saturday 15 June vs. Brumbies @ Canberra

Prediction

While they are competitive in all of their remaining contests, the Reds lose all four games to finish their season.  However their efforts will show that this group under Coach Brad Thorn is going to be a significant player in Super Rugby over the next three seasons.

 

CHIEFS

Current Position: 14th

Points: 23 (Won 4 Drawn 2 Lost 7)

Maximum Possible Points: 38

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Friday 24 May vs. Reds @ Hamilton
  • Week 16: Saturday 1 June vs. Crusaders @ Suva
  • Week 17: BYE
  • Week 18: Friday 14 June vs. Rebels @ Melbourne

Prediction

They keep the faint playoff fire burning by beating the Reds before the Crusaders extinguish it in Suva a week later. After the bye week they head to Melbourne, losing a freewheeling game of footy, gaining a consolation point for their endeavours on the night.

 

SUNWOLVES

Current Position: 15th overall; 5th in AUS Conference

Points: 12 (Won 2, Lost 12)

Maximum Possible Points: 32

Remaining Games:

  • Week 15: Saturday 25 May vs. Rebels @ Tokyo
  • Week 16: Saturday 1 June vs. Brumbies @ Tokyo
  • Week 17: Saturday 8 June vs. Stormers @ Cape Town
  • Week 18: Friday 14 June vs. Jaguares @ Buenos Aires

Prediction

Everyone’s second favourite team will give us glimpses of why we like seeing them do well, even though we know their Super Rugby fake is sealed.  They push the Rebels and Brumbies before enduring a tough fortnight on the road against the Stormers and Jaguares.

So based on these predictions, week one of the Super Rugby playoffs would look like this:

  • (1) Crusaders vs. (WC5) Sharks @ Christchurch
  • (WC1) Hurricanes vs. (WC2) Highlanders @ Wellington
  • (2) Jaguares vs. (WC4) Bulls @ Buenos Aires
  • (3) Brumbies vs (WC3) Rebels @ Canberra

 

NIGEL YALDEN IS RUGBY EDITOR FOR RADIO SPORT & NEWSTALK ZB

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