Super Rugby Round 11 Preview Guide 2014

Super Rugby Round 10 was relatively easy with three obvious picks and five out of six home teams winning.  We won’t mention the Crusaders and Rebels throwing the spanner in the works of most tipsters and denying them a Grand Slam Bonus Point, will Super Rugby Round 11 be any easier?  Super Rugby Round 11 celebrates ANZAC Day with three trans-tasman battles (one isn’t technically on ANZAC Day).  All three matches provide teams with the opportunity to get some valuable points in the mad scramble for the finals.

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In other matches, the Highlanders have the intimidating task of playing the Sharks, while the Force will try to get back on the wagon against the Bulls in Perth and finally the struggling Cheetahs host the battling Stormers in a match that could potentially be for the wooden spoon in the South African conference.  Given how there is usually one to two upsets each round it is going to be another difficult round, some these matches won’t be as easy as most people think, with the travel factor often tripping people up.  There is definitely a pick home team look to Super Rugby Round 11, although the lack of obvious picks this round will keep tipsters on their toes and split them fifty fifty.

Managers playing www.testrugby.com need to be weary as the Crusaders, Lions and Rebels have the bye, while there is still a few weeks until managers get a new allotment of trades.  With so many teams having byes, it is worth looking long term and selecting players you can get several weeks of games out of.  It is also worth buying some players like Scott Higginbotham, Sam Whitelock, Jason Woodward, Kieran Read and even Marnie Boshoff after the lock of the round.

For Super Rugby Round 11 Team Lists go to

http://www.superrugbytips.com/p/super-rugby-2013.html

Blues vs Waratahs

Super Rugby Round 11 starts in Auckland on ANZAC Day with the first of three trans-tasman battles as the Blues host the Waratahs.  Can the Blues win in the post Benji Marshall era?  The up and down Blues are sitting at the bottom of the New Zealand conference, while the Waratahs are sitting fourth overall and second in the Australian conference after a promising start to the 2014 season.

Both teams had contrasting weeks in Super Rugby Round 10 with the Waratahs grinding out a win over the Bulls, while the Blues were stunned by the Hurricanes.

The Blues has an experienced look to it with players like Ma’a Nonu, Keven Mealamu, Francis Saili and Tom Donnelly.  Luke Braid starts in a rejigged loose forward trio, while Steven Luatua will start off the bench.  Simon Hickey will wear the Number 10 jersey.  This Blues team has too many big names not to be a threat in Super Rugby with Frank Halai back on the right wing in a star studded team.

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The Waratahs are still missing some outside backs like Alofa Alofa and Peter Betham while Wycliff Palu starts from the bench again.

This game shapes as a close match between these two teams between these teams who both love to spin the ball wide.  Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau are the main threats for the Waratahs.  Players like Maá Nonu, Francis Saili and Charles Piutau could cause headaches for the Waratahs defence, if the big experienced Blues forward pack can gain some ascendency.

Plenty will depend on which Blues team shows up and if they can put the Benji Marshall saga behind them.  They have a star studded team and are playing at home where they are unbeaten in 2014, so I am picking them to win, but it will be close and the Waratahs of 2014 are a tough proposition than previous seasons.

My pick – Blues

Players to buy – www.testrugby.com – The Blues loose forwards are good points scoring players Peter Saili, Luke Braid and Jerome Kaino have a strong look about them.  Don’t forget, Luatua has been benched.  It will be interesting to see how the All Blacks midfield of Ma’a Nonu and Francis Saili go in the Blues midfield, while Charles Piutau and Frank Halai are usually good points producers.

The Blues traditionally give up points to the tight forwards in the opposition, so for the Waratahs, the massive Will Skelton, Kane Douglas and Tatafu Polota-Nau are worth a shot. Israel Folau is a machine while Kurtley Beale is also a great option

Brumbies vs Chiefs

The second trans-tasman battle in Super Rugby Round 11 is a beauty with a repeat of the Super Rugby 2013 final, but this time it is being played at the Brumbies home ground in Canberra.  This is a battle between the top team in the New Zealand conference versus the top team in the Australian conference.

Both teams had contrasting weeks in Super Rugby Round 10 with the Chiefs losing to the Crusaders, while the Brumbies had the bye.  It is difficult to know how Round 10 will affect both teams.

The Chiefs have plenty of injury worries, but have still managed to cobble together an impressive starting team, and an exciting if not a little inexperienced bench for this game.

The Brumbies are yet to be named, but watch for Christian Lealiifano to start in the midfield, while the Brumbies will be wearing a special ANZAC Day commemorative strip.

Recent form and the home advantage point to a Brumbies win, but only just.

My pick – Brumbies

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Players to watch:  The Brumbies haven’t been named yet, but watch for Christian Lealiifano returning from injury, while Ben Mowen, Stephen Moore, Pat McCabe, Robbie Coleman and Jesse Mogg have been productive so far in www.testrugby.com .

For the Chiefs, their back three have the ability to score some big points, while Liam Messam starting at Number Eight and Brodie Retallick at lock are two consistent performers.  Gareth Anscombe is also worth consideration although he may not be as dominant from first five eighth without the extra space he used to get at fullback.

Sharks vs Highlanders

The Sharks have another home game which they must win if they are to build enough of a buffer before hitting the road.  The Highlanders have a young side who are sitting just outside the Top Six and will enjoy the experience of taking on the big Sharks forward pack.

The Sharks should dominate up front with Bismarck du Plessis leading the forward pack, although it will be interesting to see how Tim Swiel goes in the Number 10 jersey.  The Sharks were far from convincing against the Cheetahs in Super Rugby Round 10.

The Highlanders are coming off the bye and will hit the road refreshed after beating the Bulls in Dunedin.  They have two All Blacks in Aaron and Ben Smith while young stars like Shane Christie, Gareth Evans and Malakai Fekitoa are flourishing in their first full Super Rugby campaigns.

My pick: Sharks

Players to watch – www.testrugby.com – The Sharks disappointed the scorers despite playing the lowly Cheetahs.  Bismarck du Plessis, Lwazi Mvovo, Franc Steyn, Jean Deysel and Marcell Coetzee are good scorers while, lock Stephan Lewies could be a cheap option if he is named to start.

The Highlanders haven’t been named but assuming bargains like Shane Christie, Joe Wheeler and Malakai Fekitoa are playing then they can help get you below the salary cap.  More established stars like Nasi Manu and Ben Smith have also been performing well.

Hurricanes vs Reds

The third trans-tasman battle sees the inform Hurricanes playing the out of form Reds.  How the Reds bounce back from the bye will be important in this one against the Hurricanes who are a team with a great deal of attacking potential and used this to beat the Blues easily in Super Rugby Round 10.

The Reds are losing ground on the leaders and only sit off the bottom of the Australian conference on points differential above the Rebels on 16 points.  The Hurricanes are one point out of the Top Six and would definitely overtake the Crusaders with a win against the Reds since they have a bye in Round 10.

The Hurricanes have the best attack in Super Rugby 2014 with 232 points including 26 tries.

Current form and their ability to score tries and win most of their games at home points to a Hurricanes win.

My pick: Hurricanes

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Players to watch – Neither team has been named so check the team lists before making any selections in www.testrugby.com – For the Hurricanes, Beauden Barrett is a stud, while Julian Savea, Alapati Leiua and Conrad Smith are always looking likely to score tries.  Their forwards like Dane Coles, Jeremy Thrush and James Broadbent have been scoring some good points.

The Reds have a sprinkling of www.testrugby.com stars.  Quade Cooper, James Horwill and whoever starts at hooker are usually good.

Force vs Bulls

The Force will be hurting after losing their five game winning streak against the Rebels and will enjoy being back at home to face the Bulls. Previously this game would be the Bulls game to lose, but the Force have improved in 2014, while the Bulls are no longer the force they were in the 2000s.

The Bulls were humbled by the Waratahs last week, but showed that they can physically dominate their opponents despite not being able to beat them on the scoreboard.

The Force will do it tough in this match against the big Bulls pack although the Bulls seem to lack the finish to make their opponents pay.

The Bulls will rely heavily on their pack and the kicking of Jacques-Louis Potgieter and their experienced locking duo with Victor Matfield playing a lot for a guy who wasn’t going to play at all on tour!

The Force sit in sixth spot on the Super Rugby 2014 table while the Bulls are ninth.

My pick – Force

Players to watch – www.testrugby.com – The Force have some true fantasy studs in Nathan Charles, Matt Hodgson, Ben McCalman and Nick the Honey Badger Cummins.  Their team hasn’t been named yet, so double check before making any selections.

Players like Victor Matfield and Jacques-Louis Potgieter are two of the better point scorers for the Bulls.  Jan Serfontein and Jacques du Plessis are also good value.

Cheetahs vs Stormers

What happens when you put the team with the worst attack against the team with the worst defence?  Does this balance itself out?  The Cheetahs host the Stormers in what should be an interesting match which will separate the tipsters.

These two teams are sitting at the bottom of the table and so a win here is vital for pride.

This match will probably only be one for the loyal fans to endure, but it will be interesting to see if the Cheetahs can finally grab another home win or if the Stormers can grab an away win?

In some ways this will be a case of which team wants to lose less.  Both of these teams have been so disappointing in 2014 and much more was expected of them this season.

The Stormers have handed a start to winger Devon Williams, while Peter Grant moves to the Number 10 jersey.  Schalk Burger is on the bench.

The Cheetahs have switched Hennie Daniller and Willie Le Roux around, while another talking point is the move of Boom Prinsloo to Number Eight allowing Heinrich Brussouw and Jean Cook to start on the flanks.

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This match is genuinely difficult to pick and will separate the punters.  The Stormers won last week, while the Cheetahs showed some fight against the Sharks.

We are going for the Cheetahs to win at home.  It is going to be close.

My pick- Cheetahs

Players to watch: For the Cheetahs, Boom Prinsloo is starting at Number Eight and will get more opportunities there.  Heinrich Brussouw, Adriaan Strauss and Willie Le Roux are other good performers.

The Stormers have some bargains. Damian de Allende, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr are bargains for the Stormers while Deon Fourie, Jaco Taute and Duane Vermeulen are consistent scorers.  Devon Williams gets his first start.

Who are you picking to win Super 15 Rugby Round 11 matches? 

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