The Highlanders provided the main talking point of Super Rugby Round 11 with their comfortable upset victory over the Sharks in Durban. This result denied most tipsters the opportunity to get a Grand Slam Point as just under three percent of SuperBru tipsters picked that result. There were some other testing results too with the Blues and Cheetahs picking up victories at home over better ranked opponents. These results really split the punters, with more people tipping their opponents to win these two games. The Hurricanes, Brumbies and Force picked up more predicted home wins to give most tipsters some confidence after the weekend.
The margins in Super Rugby Round 11, also challenged many tipsters including myself. Even if you were good enough to pick the Highlanders, the margin of 16 points was larger than anticipated. The Cheetahs, Brumbies and Hurricanes also picked up victories by more than 13 points which made tipping difficult for those wanting to gain maximum points.
Ten points to note from Super Rugby Round 11
1) Are the Sharks really going to challenge for the Super Rugby 2014 title without a quality first five eighth and a team that struggles to score tries?
2) Interestingly, it is the Highlanders, Hurricanes, Blues and Crusaders in good form despite Chiefs coach Dave Rennie being the only New Zealand Super Rugby coach to not be under pressure in recent seasons.
3) Are the Brumbies the real deal in Super Rugby 2014?
4) Can the defending champions Chiefs side bounce back from a horror run with injuries and results to defend their title again in Super Rugby 2014?
5) Has backs coach Tony Brown finally got this Highlanders team attacking far better than they have in ages? Is Malakai Fekitoa an All Black in waiting (that try was amazing)? Does having too many All Blacks in your Super Rugby team hinder rather than help your chances?
6) Why are the Hurricanes having their best season in years under coach Mark Hammett, just as he is leaving?
7) Are older international players like Keven Mealamu, Jerome Kaino, Maá Nonu and Cory Jane judging their run for inclusion in Steve Hansen’s All Blacks team, to perfection? The older players are starting to hit their straps.
8) Is the New Zealand conference now the strongest conference in the competition? One look at the table suggests that the difference between the top and bottom sides of the New Zealand conference is far less than any other conference, with the bottom placed Blues team in 9th place overall.
9) The South African conference is in trouble with the Sharks yet to hit the road, while the teams ranked second to fifth in their conference are officially ranked 10th to 15th overall. The Bulls in 10th spot have played more games than anyone else. The Lions haven’t toured either.
In the Super Rugby Tips conference, only the strongest survive. The Chosen One who writes this is now in the Top 10 and was only denied a Grand Slam Bonus Point by his own team, the Highlanders. The margins were tough as he only secured one margin point for being within five points of the correct margin. There were some agonisingly close calls in Super Rugby Round 11.
10) What do you think of the refereeing in Super Rugby Round 11? The Chiefs felt ripped off by two of the Brumbies tries they believe were scored by forward passes, while the Highlanders were let off the hook when Lwazi Mvovo had a try disallowed which was a generous call for the visitors. It may have been the turning point in the match.
How did you go in Super Rugby Round 11? Which teams impressed you? What do you think of the ten points?