Super Rugby 2012: 4 Teams Guaranteed to Lose in Round 9
Last week the Crusaders continued their upward trend and are finally beginning to send their ship towards a playoff berth.
What's more impressive is that they managed it against the solid yet not outstanding Stormers, who earned their first bonus point of the season.
The Reds had a beautifully timed bye and will see two of their first-fives return from injury next week.
I was right in three of my predictions, bringing my total to 23 from 32. Read on to find out what will happen this week before it happens.
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The Blues really have made themselves the eighth mystery of the modern world this season.
Injuries haven't helped, but they're on a run of four losses and the locker room has faced needless issues like racist taunts from a minority of fans (shame on you if you're reading this) and media arguments about Piri Weepu's weight.
That kind of thing doesn't bode well if you're a Blues fan.
Heading to Dunedin against the Highlanders won't make things any easier for a team that's getting to the point where they just want the season to end.
Interestingly enough, the Blues are 1-6 against the spread this season, which tells me that they're (somehow) the most overrated team in the competition.
Julian Lomu - the next (current really) big thing
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Like I said in the intro slide, the Crusaders are a team on the increase.
The Hurricanes have yet to win in Wellington and are beginning to lose a little bit of the consistency that gave them a start to the season to defy critics.
They'll make a good game of it against the Crusaders this weekend, but the men in red will be too clinical—after all they are the ones the Hurricanes are striving to be like this season.
On a brighter note for Wellington fans, the young Hurricanes should learn a lot from this fixture, so in the longer term this result is possibly for the best.
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The Rebels were absolutely belted last week by the Brumbies.
While I don't think the same margin of victory will happen in Sydney this weekend, they will still slip to 0-3 away from home.
The Waratahs need this win to work themselves back into playoff contention, and with the much better team on paper I can't see them repeating their effort against the Force from earlier in the year.
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Even the staunchest critics have to admit that the Brumbies have had a superb start to a season in which they were expected to compete with the Lions for last place.
They now head to South Africa after thrashing the Rebels and will be fighting to hang onto their mantle at the top of the Australian conference.
But to add a bit of perspective on their season, I have a few points:
- All their good results have come at home.
- The Bulls are 3-1 at home, that one being a freak loss to the Blues.
- The Bulls have been quietly achieving themselves under the shadow of the Stormers' success and are now, in fact, in a position to plan their own coup.
- They're going to tail off at some point. A couple of bad results in the republic could kick-start that.
The Bulls will be too good this week and will keep the pressure on the Stormers for that top spot.
Believe me, I really wanted to put the Stormers on this slide. The Reds are rested and the Crusaders gave out a blueprint of how to beat them last week.