6 Bold Predictions for Super Rugby Round 8
This week’s predictions are packing their bags and putting their money on the travelling teams in Round 8.
If there is one thing about this competition that's predictable, it's that it's unpredictable.
We have already seen the Force beat the champions, the Bulls upset the Sharks and the inconsistent Rebels shock the in-form Brumbies.
This week, we’re backing the teams away from home, with six bold predictions of wins for the men collecting the air miles in this latest round of competition.
1. Chiefs to Beat the Cheetahs
The men from Waikato recovered from a 16-point deficit to pull a draw out of the fire last week against the Bulls.
They scored five tries against the Pretoria outfit, who are certainly a stronger side than the team the Chiefs face this week.
The Cheetahs are back home after a miserable tour of Australia and New Zealand, but they couldn’t have asked for tougher visitors to Bloemfontein than Liam Messam and his two-time championship winners.
Chiefs to win, and win big.
2. Blues Will Batter Brumbies
The Brumbies were not expecting their winning run to come to an end in Melbourne of all places, where the Rebels put on their first proper 80-minute performance of the season.
They are back on home turf in Round 8 but facing a Blues team finding its feet.
Jerome Kaino and Ma’a Nonu have added steel and experience to the side, while their younger players are growing in confidence.
3. Crusaders Will Crush Lions
The Crusaders field three of the four Whitelock brothers in their pack as they travel to face the Lions.
They are part of a much-changed line-up fielded by coach Todd Blackadder following defeat to the Hurricanes.
With Kieran Read missing due to a head injury, Ryan Crotty will captain the side. Meanwhile, the team will field two players making their first starts in the tournament in Kieron Fonotia at centre and Nemani Nadolo on the wing.
Such upheaval suggests the travelling men from Canterbury will suffer another defeat in Johannesburg against a Lions side going well with the trusty boot of Marnitz Boshoff piling up the points.
However, with a pack powered by Sam, George and Luke Whitelock, they could catch the Lions cold as they come back into action following a bye week.
4. Rebels Will Rock Highlanders
No one was expecting the Melbourne Rebels to beat the Brumbies last week. However, a solid defensive display and clinical kicking from full-back Jason Woodward made it a consummate performance from Tony McGahan’s men.
They meet another inconsistent side in the Highlanders this week.
The men from New Zealand’s South Island have already been turned over at home by the other unfancied Australian franchise, the Western Force, and were beaten well last week by the Blues.
The Rebels will travel to Dunedin with restored confidence from their victory last week, and they will make it back-to-back wins.
5. Force Will Rip Reds Apart
The Western Force had their feet up last week after back-to-back wins over New Zealand franchises, which came after a thumping win over the Rebels.
Their confidence is high and they will be relishing a trip to Queensland.
The Reds still have a number of injury concerns despite a win over the Stormers last week, while the Force welcome back No. 8 Ben McCalman and have former Red Luke Morahan returning to his old stomping ground for the first time.
Momentum seems to be with the Force, and they can make it four on the bounce at the Suncorp.
6. Waratahs Sink the Stormers
Despite a heavy loss last week to the Sharks, the Waratahs will fancy themselves against a Stormers side sitting just off the bottom of the table.
Israel Folau is still out with a bruised throat and there are injury worries elsewhere for the Sydney men, with No. 8 Wycliff Palu missing and young wing Alofa Alofa out.
The Waratahs have the depth and quality to cope with those losses, though, especially against a poor Stormers outfit who have lost four on the road.
An away win will get the Tahs’ campaign back on track after last week’s battering.
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