Super Rugby Round 13 was relatively easy with five matches being obvious picks for tipsters, while only four home teams win which goes against recent history. The Highlanders have cost some tipsters twice in two weeks after being involved in an upset the week before too and they almost let one slip in Round 12, while the Force threw the spanner in the works with an away win over the Cheetahs.
Super Rugby Round 14 features only six matches with the Blues, Chiefs and Bulls getting a chance to put the feet up. The Crusaders vs Sharks is probably the most crucial match of the round, while the Hurricanes vs Highlanders could have massive ramifications for the New Zealand conference. There are some other interesting matches which will feature three higher ranked away teams playing three lower ranked home teams, potentially causing some headaches for tipsters. The other match has the Waratahs hosting the Lions.
The probability of plenty of home wins continues in Super Rugby Round 14, although there are some games where the better ranked team is on the road making it difficult to know if the home advantage will get the lower placed team across the line. This happens when the Reds, Cheetahs and Stormers host better ranked teams. The Waratahs are the hottest favourites in Super Rugby Round 14.
Managers playing www.testrugby.com need to be weary as the Blues, Chiefs and Bulls have the bye this round and this means selling some players. Israel Folau has just come off the bye and the Waratahs host the Lions, so he is a great option if he is playing.
For Super Rugby Round 14 Team Lists go to
Hurricanes vs Highlanders
Both the Hurricanes and Highlanders won last week and so will bring some confidence into this match.
The Hurricanes have made two changes with Tim Bateman starting in the midfield replacing the inform Alapati Leiua in an interesting move. All Blacks hooker Dane Coles is injured and will miss this game.
This game is crucial with both teams on the edge of the Top Six and plenty of derby matches to come. These add an extra edge to matches with a victory not only securing competition points, but also denying the opposition that opportunity.
Both teams go into this match with 30 competition points and positioned in sixth and seventh, but the home advantage is crucial in these local derby matches.
The Highlanders have some injuries and will probably go into this game without Wellington player Lima Sopoaga which is a shame given how he knows how to play in the conditions at the Westpac Stadium.
The Hurricanes have more stars than the Highlanders, but the Chiefs have shown that you don’t need to have all the best players to produce good results in Super Rugby.
My pick – Hurricanes
Players to watch – www.testrugby.com
For the Hurricanes watch for Julian Savea, Jeremy Thrush, Motu Matu’u, Jeremy Thrush, Beauden Barrett and Corey Jane.
For the Highlanders, watch for some bargains like Malakai Fekitoa and Joe Wheeler while Ben Smith and Nasi Manu are good options in this game. Lima Sopoaga is still in doubt. The Highlanders haven’t been named yet.
Crusaders vs Sharks
The Crusaders and Sharks meet each other in a battle between two of the top two teams overall in Super Rugby 2014.
The Sharks were far from impressive last week against the Brumbies, but are really missing Patrick Lambie and could struggle in Christchurch this week.
The Crusaders demolished the Reds last week and are in great form which will cause some headaches for the visitors who have never won in Christchurch before.
The Crusaders should win, watch for a rugged forward battle between two of the best packs in the competition. The margin could blow out as the Sharks are struggling to score tries while the Crusaders have developed the ability to unlock defences now and score tries.
My pick – Crusaders
Players to watch: www.testrugby.com The Crusaders were on fire last week and watch for Sam Whitelock, Colin Slade, Nemani Nadolo and Ryan Crotty.
The Sharks have some powerful players but the team hasn’t been named yet, but watch for Bismarck du Plessis and Jean Deysel.
Reds vs Rebels
Both teams are coming off disappointing losses when the Reds host the Rebels. These two teams are battling it out to avoid the wooden spoon in the Australian conference. What has happened to the Reds? They were thrashed by the Crusaders last week, while the Rebels lost at home to the Hurricanes.
The Reds will be hitting the tackling bags this week following their performance last week. This game shapes as a tight game with neither team setting the world on fire in 2014.
My pick: Reds
Players to watch – www.testrugby.com – Neither team has been named yet.
For the Reds, Quade Cooper, James Horwill and Anthony Faingaa.
For the Rebels, watch for Scott Higginbotham, while Tamati Ellison, Jason Woodward and Luke Jones are excellent value.
Stormers vs Force
The Stormers have plenty of injury concerns for their match against the Force. They have been disappointing in 2014 and will have to do without some of their regular starting lineup including Jean de Villiers.
The Force have been the darlings of Super Rugby 2014 and after beating the Cheetahs last week, could well repeat the dose this week in Cape Town.
This match will divide some tipsters. It is difficult to win both games in South Africa as the Highlanders found out. The Force could well and truly cement themselves into the Top Six with a win in this match.
The home teams will win most matches in Super Rugby Round 14, will this be any different?
In the toughest game of Super Rugby Round 14, we are picking the Force.
My pick – Force
Players to watch – www.testrugby.com
For the Stormers, Deon Fourie, Jaco Taute, Damien de Allende.
The Force haven’t been named yet with Nick Cummins, Nathan Charles, Matt Hodgson and Ben McCalman their best players in 2014.
Cheetahs vs Brumbies
The Brumbies have been impressive in 2014, but that doesn’t mean that they will automatically beat the Cheetahs when they meet in Bloemfontein.
These away fixtures for better ranked teams against lesser ranked teams usually have a potential banana skin feel about them. Do you think the Cheetahs can cause the Brumbies to slip up?
The Brumbies silenced the Sharks last week, while the Cheetahs were beaten by the Force by a similar margin.
Surely the Brumbies have too much class for the Cheetahs who have been disappointing, but are also capable if they display some 2013 form.
My pick – Brumbies
Players to watch: www.testrugby.com
The Cheetahs have some great high scoring players because they usually play in open style games. Their main problem is their defence. Watch for Heinrich Brussouw, Johan Goosen, Willie Le Roux, Adriaan Strauss and Boom Prinsloo.
The Brumbies side hasn’t been named but they have some good value players with Christian Lealiifano, Robbie Coleman, Jesse Mogg, Ben Mowen and Stephen Moore some good players.
Waratahs vs Lions
The Waratahs come off the bye and will most likely provide the Lions with a headache when they meet in the last game of the round.
The last time there was a day game in Australia, the Crusaders posted half a century against the Reds thanks to nice dry conditions.
The Lions have faded after a strong start as the lesser teams struggle to have the depth required to be competitive in Super Rugby. The Waratahs will be disappointed if they don’t score four tries and beat the Lions easily, although they won’t want to fall into the same trap that the Highlanders almost did last week after getting off to a strong start.
My pick – Waratahs
Players to watch – www.testrugby.com
Neither team has been named.
For the Waratahs, you must back their big points scorers like Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley and Tatafu Polatu-Nau.
The Lions will rely on their loose forwards Derrick Minnie, Warren Whiteley and Jaco Kriel. They will have to make plenty of tackles.
Who are you picking to win Super 15 Rugby Round 14 matches?