In this new feature, Superbru goes head to head with SA Rugby magazine to see who will come out on top on Superbru during the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
SA Rugby mag staged a late comeback as Round 1 ended in a 3-3 draw in their head-to-head pool with Superbru.
Here are this week’s fixtures:
Highlanders vs Sharks
The Sharks have been South Africa’s best travellers in Super Rugby and a victory in their opening match against the Vodacom Bulls gives some confidence for their match against the Highlanders. I did not back them to beat the Bulls, but they did get over the line in the end. The Highlanders play their first game of the season, and I can see them doing what the Sharks did and open their campaign with a win. Highlanders by 10.
It must be frustrating to be the team that starts the season with a bye, but we’ll see the Highlanders in action for the first time on Friday. They have lost several experienced players such as Ben Smith and Waisake Naholo, but there is some excitement about the young squad assembled in Dunedin. The Sharks started the season with a win over the Bulls last weekend, and they have a good record against the Highlanders, winning three of the last four matches including their most recent visit in 2016. The Highlanders were beaten by both the Waratahs and Crusaders in pre-season, but after all the home wins in round 1, I’m backing the home side here. Highlanders by 8
Brumbies vs Rebels
I was not one of the lucky ones to pick the Sunwolves’ upset victory over the Rebels last week and my fantasy team also suffered because I expected a big one for the team from Melbourne.
The Brumbies staged a fightback to defeat the Reds, and I reckon they will claim a comfortable win over the Rebels, who will still be hurting after last week’s loss. Brumbies by 12
How good were the Sunwolves last weekend? Or how bad were the Rebels? The Melbourne team have won four in a row against the Brumbies, but they were soundly beaten in Japan last weekend, and logic says they can’t follow that up with a win in Canberra over the favourites in the Aussie conference. Super Rugby is not always logical, but … Brumbies by 13
Chiefs vs Crusaders
This could possibly be the match of the weekend. The Chiefs clawed their way back to claim victory in Auckland while the Crusaders comfortably defeated the Waratahs. This one might be closer than expected, but I am backing the Crusaders to make it two from two. Crusaders by 8
This should be an entertaining match, and we’ll be awaiting team news to see whether Damian McKenzie can shake off the niggle that made him withdraw from the Chiefs lineup last weekend. Having picked the Chiefs in round 1, I was delighted to see them come from behind to beat the Blues, but a better team would have seen them off and I think the Crusaders have the edge here. Crusaders by 4
Waratahs vs Blues
The Blues will be hurting after giving away a healthy lead against the Chiefs in round 1. Will they be able to bounce back against a Waratahs team that did not look too bad against the Crusaders? I think both benches will be key in this one. It’s a coin toss for me, and when it comes to that, I always lean towards the home side. Waratahs by 5
There were encouraging signs for the Blues last weekend, before succumbing to the Chiefs’ comeback in the second half, and there is plenty of quality across their squad. They have won the last four in a row against the Waratahs, but while it’s usually sensible to pick New Zealand teams to beat Australian teams, the Blues are struggling with some injuries, including to star man Rieko Ioane, and I’m beginning to think the Waratahs could win. However, bear in mind that this match is in Newcastle rather than Sydney, so home advantage is somewhat diminished, and also that I don’t think the Tahs are very good, so I’m backing the Blues. Blues by 4
Lions vs Reds
The Lions were comprehensively outplayed by the Jaguares in the final game of round 1 while the Reds narrowly lost to the Brumbies. Altitude will be key in this one, and that is why the Lions will get their first win of the season. Lions by 12
This match will test the stamina of both teams, playing at altitude having travelled halfway around the world to get there. The Lions were well beaten in Buenos Aires last weekend, while the Reds were better than expected against the Brumbies. Yet, you have to pick the home team here and they could run away with it in the final quarter. Lions by 16
Stormers vs Bulls
How good were the men from Cape Town last weekend? The pack completely dominated the Hurricanes and the backline pounced on any mistake the Hurricanes made. The Bulls, on the other hand, were woeful against the Sharks. In saying that, they were still in the game with four minutes to go. The Bulls haven’t won at Newlands since 2011, and their one-dimensional attack won’t change that on Saturday. Stormers by 9
It was a very impressive outing for the Stormers last weekend – keeping the Hurricanes scoreless – and they’ll start as firm favourites for this one against the Bulls. Siya Kolisi is out for six weeks, but there’s enough cover for the Stormers to cope without him, and their Super Rugby record against the Bulls at home is very strong – you have to go back to 2011 to find the most recent Bulls win at Newlands. Stormers by 11
Jaguares vs Hurricanes
The Jaguares got their season off to the perfect start against the Lions while the Hurricanes got pummeled by the Stormers. Only one outcome in this one. Jaguares by 13
It’s a tough schedule to kick off the season for the Hurricanes, with the Superbru Insights telling me that they have travelled 18,185km already – and they are yet to score a point. Having put nearly 40 points on a strong Lions side last weekend, you have to back the Jaguares here as well. Jaguares by 13