Super 15 Rugby Round 16 Preview and Team Guide

Super Rugby Round 15 is over and done with most of results going according to plan although some of the margins were much bigger than anticipated. It could be worth going big with some of your margins!

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Only four out of seven home teams won which goes against recent history too.  The Hurricanes ruined it for tipsters with their massive win over the Chiefs which was only picked by 25 percent of tipsters.

Super Rugby Round 16 looks similar for tipsters.  The high number of difficult to pick games is a potentially dangerous one for teams and tipsters alike with all matches featuring at least one team in finals contention.  This means that this round could go amazingly right for some tipsters and horribly wrong for others.

Super Rugby Round 16 features seven matches with the Cheetahs having the bye.

There are some tough games to pick, with four local derbies causing potential banana skins for the better ranked teams.  The Brumbies and Sharks will be tired after travelling and could trip up this week, while the Blues could spoil things with a win over the Hurricanes.

Super Rugby 2014 is so tight with the Brumbies and Chiefs going from leading their respective conferences to being outside the Top Six just by losing last week.  There is only four points separating second from eighth and third from ninth.  It is that tight!

There are some other tough matches to pick with the Crusaders and Chiefs hosting the two top Australian teams while the Highlanders may have to work to beat the Reds in Brisbane. It is tough to pick these types of matches as the home ground advantage is a great leveller.

Managers playing www.testrugby.com need to avoid picking any more South African players as they all have the bye in Round 17 which isn’t for a month.

There are some big points’ scorers around the traps of Super Rugby 2014 with players like Nemani Nadolo, Colin Slade, Julian Savea and Israel Folau posing some headaches for managers.

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Crusaders vs Force

The Crusaders return home after their controversial win over the Highlanders to face the high flying Force in Christchurch.

Both of these teams are inside the Top Six in third and fourth respectively, but a win is crucial, not only to gain points, but also stop the opposition getting points.

Neither team was convincing in their Round 15 wins, but they both showed determination to get across the line, although Nick Cummins might want to forget about kicking the ball from inside his own in-goal area again!

In a good sign for the Crusaders, All Blacks star Kieran Read returns, although it will be interesting to see how he goes following his head issues.  Coach Todd Blackadder has kept his faith in his young front-rowers again, while it is also good to see some Crusaders backs showing some form with Israel Dagg, Colin Slade and Nemani Nadolo impressing against the Highlanders.

The Force have punched above their weight in 2014 and I personally would love to see them or the Highlanders make the Top Six to show what a good team without too many star players can achieve with a high work ethic.

The Crusaders should be too strong up-front for the Force and have too many good players for the gutsy Perth side.

The margin is a tricky one because there have been some big margins recently and this has the potential to balloon out a little.

My pick – Crusaders

Players to watch – www.testrugby.com

The Crusaders tight five players could be worth buying since the Highlanders usually give away plenty of www.testrugby.com points.  Watch for Sam Whitelock, Kieran Read, the mercurial Colin Slade, Nemani Nadolo and Israel Dagg.

The Force get excellent value out of Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson, Nathan Charles and Nick Cummins.

Reds vs Highlanders

The Reds have been forced into being spoilers in 2014 after a substandard season.  It is a role reversal of fortunes in 2014 for these two teams with the Reds being one of the main contenders in recent years, while the Highlanders have been mid-table at best.

The Brisbane based side will be coming refreshed off the bye and will be wanting to give halfback Will Genia the ultimate present for his 100th match.  They are blooding some young players in this game with an eye to future seasons. Ben Lucas starts in Quade Cooper’s Number 10 jersey.

The Highlanders are yet to name their squad, but they will be hurting after last week’s heart-breaking loss to the Crusaders.  If the Highlanders are going to be contenders rather than pretenders in 2014, they need to win this match, because their last three matches are against the Chiefs, Waratahs and Crusaders.

My pick Highlanders

Players to watch – The Highlanders haven’t been named, but watch for Ben Smith, Malakai Fekitoa and Lima Sopoaga in the backs and Shane Christie, Nasi Manu and Joe Wheeler in the forwards.

Reds: Mike Harris, James Horwill, James Hanson.

Chiefs vs Waratahs

This is the match between two of the sides picked to feature in the Super Rugby finals series.  The Waratahs have got a second wind this season and look impressive, while the Chiefs also got their second win before being completely humiliated by the Hurricanes.  They will be looking to bounce back after that loss.

The Chiefs welcome back Aaron Cruden who is set to do battle with the impressive Bernard Foley.

The Chiefs will be hurting and now that they are outside the Top Six they will be desperate for a win against the top Australian team.  This is a tough one to pick, but while the Waratahs have won away in Australia, it is a different story for them in New Zealand.

The Chiefs must win to have a shot at finishing on the top of the Super Rugby and New Zealand Conference ladder.  The Chiefs are on 35 points, but could finish the weekend on top of the New Zealand conference if results go their way.  The Waratahs have a chance to stretch their lead at the top of the New Zealand conference.

My pick – Chiefs

Players to watch – www.testrugby.com

Neither team has been named, so double check!

For the Chiefs, Aaron Cruden is worth picking if he is starting.  Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick and Tim Nanai-Williams are some good points’ producers.  The Chiefs haven’t been named yet.

The Waratahs have been named and watch for Bernard Foley, Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Michael Hooper and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

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Blues vs Hurricanes

The Blues chances have all but gone for Super Rugby 2014 after they lost to the Sharks, while the Hurricanes emphatically stayed in contention after demolishing the defending champion Chiefs combination last week.

The Blues sit adrift of the Top Six in Super Rugby in 10th position, while the Hurricanes are in sixth position, but have played more games than all of their New Zealand conference rivals.  A win is vital to the Canes chances.

The Blues have an impressive forward pack with All Blacks galore and plenty of experience, while their backline will rely on Ma’a Nonu to lead an exciting but inexperienced backline.

The Blues love playing at Eden Park, and will be hurting after losing to the Sharks.  The jury is still out on whether the Hurricanes can back-up their big win last week with a repeat performance.

My pick – Blues

Players to watch: www.testrugby.com The Blues have some exciting players, but their experienced players like Keven Mealamu, Jerome Kaino and Ma’a Nonu are their players to watch.  Simon Hickey is a good value goal-kicker.

The Hurricanes have some amazing attacking flair, although they will miss Andre Taylor.  Julian Savea, Dane Coles, Victor Vito, Jeremy Thrush, Cory Jane and Beauden Barrett always looking to score tries.

Brumbies vs Rebels

Both teams are coming off heavy defeats in Super Rugby Round 15 with the Brumbies going down to the Bulls while the Rebels lost to the Waratahs.

The Brumbies lost both games in South Africa and now sit outside the Top Six.

A week is a long time, and it will be interesting to see how the trip from South Africa affects the Brumbies.  Some great teams have struggled after being on tour, so it will be interesting to see how the Brumbies go against the Rebels.

This match could be closer than anticipated depending on the fatigue factor.  The Brumbies have a great home record, while the Rebels have a lousy away record in 2014.

It is difficult to tell if the Rebels lack of depth in their squad is starting to hurt them.

My pick: Brumbies.

Players to watch – www.testrugby.com –

For the Brumbies, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen and Henry Speight are good options for the Brumbies.

For the Rebels, watch for Scott Higginbotham, while Tamati Ellison, Jason Woodward and Luke Jones are excellent value.

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Lions vs Bulls

The Bulls are finishing Super Rugby 2014 strongly and should be too strong for the hapless Lions.

The Lions finished a winless tour to Australasia without much reward, and will have the Bulls waiting for them on their return.  This is a massive local derby!

The Bulls have flourished with Victor Matfield masterminding a return to form of this young team.  Jacques-Louis Potgieter’s clash with Marnitz Boshoff will be crucial in determining if the Bulls can climb into the Top Six from their ninth position.  The visitors have plenty to play for!

My pick – Bulls

Players to watch: www.testrugby.com

The Bulls will rely on Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Victor Matfield and the bargain priced Jacques du Plessis, Jan Serfontein and Callie Visagie.  Remember, the Bulls won’t play in Super Rugby Round 17.

The Lions loose forwards are honest toilers with Marnitz Boshoff looking to rekindle his early season form.

Sharks vs Stormers

The Sharks are in a strong position following a dominant display this season and an ultimately successful tour to Australasia and they return to meet the Stormers who have been impressive in recent weeks, including a huge win over the Cheetahs.

The Stormers will miss the experienced Jean de Villiers who is out for a while, although they are bringing good form into this match against a team which could be vulnerable after their long trip home from New Zealand.

The Stormers seem to have found their mojo, although it is too late in the season and they seem to play much better at home.  Sharks have the home advantage for this match, and despite being tired, they should still get across the line, although it might be closer than expected.

A win for the Stormers would be appreciated by the other teams in the competition as it would give other teams a chance to catch the Sharks at the top of the table.

My pick – Sharks

Players to watch – www.testrugby.com – Remember the South African teams have a bye in Round 17, so it is risky buying a player from these teams this week.  Neither of these teams have been named yet.

The Sharks have Bismarck du Plessis and Francois Steyn.

For the Stormers, Deon Fourie, Jaco Taute and Duane Vermeulen are good scorers while Damien de Allende, Nizaam Carr and Ruan Botha are bargains.

Who are you picking to win Super 15 Rugby Round 16 matches? 

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