Ciamol previews Round 7 of the 2015 Super 15 Rugby season and selects his favourite bets of the weekend.
Highlanders vs Stormers
Following their home defeat to the Hurricanes last weekend, this is a must win match for the Highlanders or else they will face a very tough uphill battle to make the playoffs. Before that loss, they had three successive wins, which saw them defeat strong opposition including the Waratahs and Chiefs. There are two changes to last weekend’s side and one of them sees James Lentjes making his super rugby debut for the Highlanders at openside flanker.
The Stormers started the tournament with four straight wins before they lost to the Chiefs in Round 5. They had a bye last weekend, which has allowed them to travel across to New Zealand to start their overseas tour. History is on their side this weekend as in the last four season they’ve won every match after a bye week. They are however without Dwayne Vermeulen this weekend, as he’s being rested as part of the national agreement, which is a big blow to their chances.
Without a doubt, the Highlanders were unlucky against the Hurricanes last weekend, but the Stormers are hoping for a hattrick of wins in Dunedin and the bye will surely help for the South African side. I’m backing the visitors to take the win but will go for the 1-12 as there is a bit of value with such a close match expected.
Prediction: Stormers by 3 Points.
Waratahs vs Blues
The Waratahs produced what was their best performance of the season last weekend, which saw a dramatic return to form against the Brumbies. The accuracy they had been lacking so far this season was finally there. This was combined with some aggressive defence and good execution to secure a solid win. Sekope Kepu and Israel Folau were two players that shone above the others in last weeks win and they will both need another big game to ensure the Waratahs can maintain their strong home record.
The Blues continue to be the same as usual, a great looking side on paper with a backline that can tear any side to ribbons. Unfortunately when it comes to the field, that blistering attack can’t outweigh their poor defence and lack of execution. They had a bye last weekend and will be looking to make a fresh start after losing their first five matches. Charlie Faumuina will be a key player for the Blues this weekend. He needs to lead the Blues forward pack to counteract what is certain to be a physical display from the Tah’s if they have any chance of turning their season around this weekend.
Last weekends win was a much needed result for the Tahs and they will be looking to build on that effort while maintaining their dominant home record, where they’ve lost just twice in the last two years. The only positive the Blues can take away from their season so far this year is that they have yet to be blown away, with their biggest defeat being by 11 points. Despite this I don’t rate their chances at all this weekend and the pressure is going to continue to mount on the head coach John Kirwin.
Prediction: Waratahs by 15 Points.