Super Rugby 2012: 4 Teams Guaranteed to Lose in Round 4
Put simply, last week belonged to the New Zealand teams.
After opening as favourites, the Hurricanes demonstrated why on their way to blowing up the score to 46-19 against the Force.
Despite losing Lima Sopoaga, the Highlanders managed to grind out the Waratahs by 18-17. I was surprised by how confident they played and the score could have been higher.
Breakout of the week went to Gareth Anscombe as the Blues almost put 30 on the Bulls.
For Round 3 I went two from four, for a total of eight from 12.
How will this week look?
Yes, they're unbeaten so far.
But if we're being honest, scraping past the Force and leaving it (very) late against the Cheetahs doesn't inspire any faith in me.
They head to Hamilton to take on a Chiefs outfit buoyed from beating the Crusaders and the Blues in consecutive games.
Most of the Chiefs' tries this season have been hard-worked 'forwards tries', and anything the Brumbies' back-line attempts will be overshadowed by a more talented Chiefs' arsenal.
Expect the Chiefs to win, and win comfortably.
Last week the Blues unveiled a future star to the world.
Those of us who have been following Gareth Anscombe's progress in the Colts or New Zealand's ITM Cup could have told you that it was merely a matter of time.
This week, however, he will be a marked man against an even tougher opponent.
To make matters worse, the Blues will be without Rene Ranger, leaving Ma'a Nonu most of the offensive work against the league's best defence.
That, combined with Jerome Kaino's absence for most of the remaining season gives the Blues a serious uphill battle against one of the title contenders this year.
So far this season, the Force have been bad.
I could probably find 15 guys on the street who could put up a better effort than what we've seen this year.
Nathan Sharpe is clearly in the twilight of his career and, barring a game-changing effort from David Pocock, the Waratahs' pack should largely control possession and their backs have enough class to score when they need to.
Mike Harris has been solid this season, but the Reds look like a team that misses creative maestro Quade Cooper (on attack at any rate).
This weekend they face a tougher prospect than a rusty Waratahs or underwhelming Rebels side.
The Sharks should be comfortably the better side of the two as their own season begins to pick up some much needed momentum.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!