Opinionated Rugby Commentary - by Fans for Fans
Spill what you really think about events in the rugby world.
Super Rugby Round 17 Preview - Who Are You Picking 13 views
04 June 2015 by The Swede Eaters
Here is your fantasy rugby and picking guide for Super Rugby Round 17.
For Super Rugby fans, it is make or break time with only two regular season rounds left. Now is the time to make a move in that tipping conference and that is where we can help.
Super 15 Rugby Round 1 2015 left a lot of people red faced with most tipsters picking between two and three winners out of seven games. Things have got more predictable since then with Round 11 and 15 featuring no upsets, just when some people desperate to make up points got sick of losing out when picking the favourites and went for the upsets!
The average winning margin in Super Rugby Round 16 was approximately 16 points, for the second week running, meaning that the overall average is now 11.9 points. Expect margins to keep increasing in Round 17, as the depth of some teams is tested.
Last round, three out of seven teams that lost matches did so by seven points or less, meaning that in nearly half of games (48 out of 106) the winning margin has been between 1 and 7 points.
Over 50 percent of games have been won by the home team in 2015 with 64 home wins from 106 games. Will the overall statistic of 71 percent of home wins set in 2014 be matched? It is hard to know if it is simply because of the draw or if this trend looks set to continue. Although less home referees may also have something to do with this
To make things more challenging for tipsters, national selectors have demanded that international players get rested. This makes it difficult to know how teams will go and how that will affect the form of a team. The Highlanders for example, rested all of their All Blacks at once and paid the price, hardly firing a shot against the Brumbies. This week there will be plenty of this with the Highlanders three All Blacks missing, along with Ma’a Nonu and Handre Pollard. There will also be other teams out of the running, giving their players to their National Under 20 side, so watch for the cleanout from sides like the Bues.
While some of the margins were bigger, Super Rugby Round 16 gave us no upsets, with there usually being two upsets per round on average. This was an exception, rather than a rule, but ruined the hopes of those sitting at the bottom of your conference who picked a few upsets. Mind you, with there usually being a few upsets per round, it is well worth tipping it! Especially if you are trying to catch up.
Statistics from Super Rugby tipping competition SuperBru shows us that one third of all matches up until the end of Round 10 ended in upset results, while half of all results end in either upsets or those matches that fifty fifty. This means that for tipsters, don't be afraid to pick at least one upset per round, probably two.
So, don't be so conservative when making your picks and if you have a hunch about an upset, pick it!
In SuperBru you get one point for picking the winner, half a point for getting within 5 points of the winning margin (assuming you picked the winner) and another point for being the closest. The other benefit of picking an upset is that there will be less competition for being the closest to the result. Even if you get the margin completely wrong, if you are the only person that picked a team then you will get the bonus point.
There is no point picking upsets in every game as the most upsets in any round was Round 1 with five upsets from seven games, but this is relatively rare.
If you get the wrong winner then chances are there will be lots of different people who pick up the margin and bonus point for being the closest that everyone else gets a little rather than one person getting a lot.
Let's use Super Rugby Round 10 as an example. If you picked every game to end in an upset then you would have had the opportunity to win 2.5 points x 7 games which is an amazing week, 17.5 points. If you picked the Chiefs to win over the Crusaders and the three other upsets then your maximum points would be 4 x 2.5 which is 10 points. If you picked the favourites to win you would have had a maximum of 3 x 2.5 = 7.5 points and you would have a lower chance of getting the bonus points as more others would have picked the winner.
This theory of picking the upsets in every game depends on who is playing. For example in one round there might be plenty of evenly matched teams and so there really is no upset as no one is surprised if either team wins.
But if there are rounds where one team is a clear favourite then it is worth sniffing out an upset.
The other assumption is that less others sniff an upset than pick the favourite. The more people who pick an upset, the less the chances are of you getting bonus points.
In summary, picking upsets in every game is probably not a good long-term solution but is a good move if there is a round with plenty of potential upsets or that you have a hunch.
Depending on the size of your pool and how many others pick upsets then if there are more than two upsets then it is probably profitable to pick every game as an upset. If there are two or less, then you probably lose more than you gain. The problem is that towards the end of the competition, people who are towards the bottom of the conference will go for the upsets and steal some potential points off you!
So are you an upsets tipster or do you play it safe in Super Rugby tipping?
Super Rugby Round 16 looks to have a few potential banana skins, but about half the games look predictable, with the potential for some unexpected results in four games, which strategy are you going to use?
Welcome to the penultimate round of Super Rugby with plenty of local derbies and games which impact on the Top Six. There also might be the odd blowout as the lesser teams start to struggle.
The match of the round varies depending on which side of the bread your butter is on. Some would claim the top two New Zealand teams, the Hurricanes and Highlanders match is the feature game of the round, but both teams are well and truly in the Top Six, while the Stormers vs Lions could actually have the most ramifications for deciding the South African conference. Call me biased, but the Hurricanes vs Highlanders is my match of the round. It is mathematically possible for the Highlanders to win the Super Rugby title, but they will struggle without their All Blacks.
The Sharks have the bye in Super Rugby Round 17, which will delay the pain for their fans for a week.
It is interesting that if Super Rugby positions were solely decided on points, rather than requiring the top team from each conference to reach the top three, then the Hurricanes, Chiefs and Highlanders would be gold, silver and bronze at the moment. The best likely finish for these teams is 1st, 4th and 6th, which mathematically could see the chance of two New Zealand teams making the final, although the format makes this difficult to achieve as it would require an away win overseas.
We think that 50 points will ensure teams a place in the Top Six, while the winner of the Highlanders will take a big step towards hosting a qualifying game with around 54 points likely to be enough to finish fourth.
For extra statistical information subscribe to our newsletters
In 2012, 69 out of 120 regular season games were won by the home team, this increased in 2013 with 77 out of 120 and in the year 2014, 85 out of 120 games were won by the home team (71 percent). It seems to be getting harder to win away, with 51 away wins in 2012, 40 away wins in 2013 and only 33 away wins in 2014.
The average winning margin has been increasing, from 10.89 points in 2012 to 12.85 points in 2014. The most common winning margin in 2014 was 3 points, in 2013 it was 7 points while in 2012 it was 5 and 6 points. Margins of 1, 7 and 8 points are also popular, while in 2014 a margin of 16 points was very popular, which shows why the average winning margin is increasing.
This is an excerpt from The Ultimate Rugby Tipping Guide 2015 ebook.
For those playing fantasy rugby game www.testrugby.com, we are also naming players to watch. You can also join the Super Rugby Tips conference at SuperBru. It is difficult to afford a team if playing salary cap fantasy rugby, so you may have to buy bargains, but there are enough new players in Super Rugby 2015 to give you some options. 2015 seems tough to fill a squad without going over budget. The key is to sell players who have the bye straight away and buy them back early.
For managers playing fantasy rugby game www.testrugby.com there are some problems.
Firstly, with limited trades you have to allow for international players being rested.
Managers have to look long-term with some teams yet to have their second bye.
There are plenty of injuries too, so it is important to check the Super Rugby team lists.
If you run out of trades then you have to minimise the damage with locks probably the lowest scoring position to have a non player in. Also if you are keeping players who have the bye or are injured, make sure you keep the cheapest players as their values will drop less and they won’t take up as much of the salary cap. In some games like www.testrugby.com you can buy trades if you are desperate.
The good news is that the two team bye rounds are over, but managers need to start conserving trades for the finals. Annoyingly because of the format, the top two teams have the bye in the first round of the finals, so sometimes picking players from the Hurricanes may not be great long term strategies!
For Super Rugby Round 17 team lists click here
It is also worth checking the Super 15 Rugby Team of the Competition so far here
And the Super Rugby Statistical leaders here
Hurricanes vs Highlanders
The Hurricanes need a win, to guarantee their top spot on the ladder, and are favourites against the Highlanders in Napier.
The Highlanders will face the top team, without their All Blacks, with Malakai Fekitoa, Aaron Smith and Ben Smith. The last time they fielded a team in the same manner was against the Brumbies, and they were comfortably beaten.
These two teams have a history of close matches, although Napier is hardly the Cake Tin in Wellington, this could help the Highlanders.
In team news, ironically it will be Hawkes Bay hooker Ash Dixon’s debut as captain for the visiting Highlanders as one of six changes, many of which were inforced. Unfortunately for the Highlanders, Patrick Osborne is out injured.
For the Hurricanes, the big talking point is the return of Beauden Barrett, although he won’t be goalkicking, so don’t sell him yet fantasy rugby managers. Nonu is also being rested, while we see the return of Victor Vito, with Blade Thomson moving to blindside flanker.
The Hurricanes were soundly beaten by the Crusaders last week, but given their stars will come out to play for this game, while the Highlanders will probably miss the direction of their All Blacks who are not playing, they are clear favourites to win.
For managers, Beauden Barrett will start, but James Marshall will kick goals.
The Highlanders bring the form to this game, while the Hurricanes bring the big names. This is almost a state of origin, with so many players from the Highlanders coming from the Hurricanes franchise region.
Players to watch:
For the Hurricanes – Ardie Savea, Blade Thomson (bargain), Nehe Milner-Skudder (bargain), James Marshall (bargain), Dane Coles, Julian Savea.
Highlanders: Waisake Naholo, Elliot Dixon, Richard Buckman, Lima Sopoaga.
My pick: Hurricanes
Rebels vs Bulls
The Bulls had a rough start to their New Zealand tour, losing to the Blues and Chiefs, so it could be tough for the visiting Pretorian based team, given their relatively poor record on tour.
While the Rebels have faded a little in recent weeks, but it all depends on who makes the cut.
Both teams are in midtable positions and with Handre Pollard sitting this match out, this could be the chance for the Rebels to finally beat the Bulls for the first time.
We think the home advantage and the Handre Pollard factor will give this game to the Rebels, but only just.
Players to watch:
Rebels (not named yet): Sean McMahon, Scott Higginbotham, Pat Leafa, Luke Jones.
Bulls: Adriaan Strauss, Pierre Spies, Victor Matfield.
Our pick: Rebels
Blues vs Crusaders
The Blues appear to have given up in 2015, while the Crusaders still have a mathematical chance of making the finals and it showed last week when they beat the top of the table Hurricanes.
This week, the Crusaders have a strong squad for this match and should beat the Blues comfortably. The Blues have almost conceded, by letting their best player in recent weeks Akiro Ioane go to play in the Under 20 Rugby World Cup, while they will also be missing other players through injury or being dropped. The starting teams are chalk and cheese when you compare the calibre of the Crusaders.
The Blues are at least getting a chance to see some young players given a rare start.
If you play fantasy rugby, then stock up on the likes of Nemani Nadolo, Robbie Fruean and Dan Carter.
Players to watch:
Blues: George Moala, Ihaia West, James Parsons.
Crusaders: Nemani Nadolo, Dan Carter, Robbie Fruean, Jordan Taufua.
My pick: Crusaders
Force vs Brumbies
The Force appear to have run out of steam following two heavy defeats and will struggle against the Brumbies. The Force are at the bottom of the table and have little to play for now, while some of the bottom teams are struggling with player depth issues too.
The Brumbies did just enough to beat the Bulls last week, but should still win comfortably in Perth. They are in sixth spot, but could catch both the Chiefs and Waratahs who have got the speed wobbles at the moment.
We think this could be one of the games that helps to increase the average winning margin. So expect the Brumbies to win well.
Sam Carter is out injured which is a blow for the Brumbies.
Players to watch: (yet to be named) Force – Steve Mafi, Nathan Charles, Ben McCalman, Dane Haylett-Petty.
Brumbies: (yet to be named) David Pocock, Christian Lealiifano, Tevita Kuridrani, Henry Speight, Ita Vaea, Stephen Moore.
My pick: Brumbies
Reds vs Chiefs
This game is so crucial to the Top Six aspirations of the Chiefs who probably still need one more win to confirm a spot. The trouble is that they have got the speed wobbles through a series of injuries which has seen them without their All Blacks stars Aaron Cruden, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick and Sonny Bill Williams among other players. Plenty will depend on who can take the field for them in a patched up squad in Brisbane. The team has just been named and they welcome back Brodie Retallick, Liam Messam and Tom Marshall to their team which will give them some much needed inspiration after crashing so badly in Invercargill against the Highlanders.
The Reds welcomed back Quade Cooper last week with a big win in Perth. The hosts this week are reduced to the role of spoilers and they could do their fellow Australian teams a favour by beating the Chiefs. Mind you, given how deep the interstate rivalry is in Australia, maybe that won’t be an incentive.
Players to watch
Chiefs: Marty McKenzie, Brodie Retallick, Charlie Ngatai, Sam Cane, Hika Elliot, Michael Leitch.
Reds (yet to be named) Quade Cooper, Liam Gill, Samu Kerevi, James Hanson.
My pick: Chiefs
Cheetahs vs Waratahs
The Cheetahs have made several changes to their team in an attempt to stem the flow as their defence is a mess in 2015. They seem to have given up for 2015, with nothing left to play for with heavy defeats over the last three weeks.
The Waratahs need a win to retain their spot at the top of the Australian conference and in the top three. They will be without their banned trio for this game, but should be too strong for the Cheetahs.
This is a day game which could be high scoring.
Players to watch :
Cheetahs: Boom Prinsloo.
Waratahs: Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Micheal Hooper, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Taqele Naivaravora.
Our pick: Waratahs
Stormers vs Lions
The Stormers are in a battle with the Lions to win the South African conference and confirm a home finals game. The Lions must win to make the Top Six, while the Stormers can still make it, even if they drop this game.
It will be tough for the Lions to win at sea-level, away from their fortress. The Stormers have an impressive home record in 2015, which they should retain despite the intentions of some great Lions players this season like Jaco Kriel, Elton Jantjies and Warren Whiteley.
Players to watch: Stormers (not named yet): Duane Vermeulen, Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds.
Lions : (yet to be named) Warren Whiteley, Elton Jantjies, Warwick Tecklenburg, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert.
My pick: Stormers
Who are you picking to win Super Rugby Round 17 games?