It is that time of the week again when 'Orrible Punt sits in the Planet Rugby hot-seat to give his calls. Get ready for some Super Rugby.
It is that time of the week again when 'Orrible Punt sits down in the Planet Rugby hot-seat to give you his calls. We give you some Super Rugby.
Remember you can contact Russ with all your comments and questions on Twitter – @rpetty80.
Blues vs Highlanders
The Blues may have lost their last three games but the last time the Highlanders tasted victory was in Auckland, back in Round 13 last season. It's been eight straight defeats since. They have in fact won their last two clashes with the Blues but only 2/10 away clashes against Sir John Kirwan's team all-time, by an average score of 20-33. The hosts have won eight of the last eleven meetings between the teams at all venues while the visitors have trailed at half-time in 7/8 games since the sides last met and in nine of their last ten away fixtures. They have also gone down in their last five New Zealand derbies. There is a high chance of a very open game with two sides more than happy to run from deep and both having a habit of coughing up the ball at crucial moments. Dominance in possession and territory surely has to pay off for the Highlanders soon, but prefer to back the Blues by 1-12.
Brumbies vs Kings
The Brumbies have won five of their six games this season by an average score of 27-15. They've outscored Australian opposition in the second-half by at least fourteen points so far but been outscored themselves in the last three matches after the break by South African teams. The Brumbies have also won 35/40 games on their own patch against South African opposition. The Kings have trailed at the break in all five games while the Brumbies have led at that stage in their three home games. The Australian conference leaders have scored seven of their sixteen tries in the twenty minutes before the break whereas the Kings have conceded seven of nineteen in same period. Take the -11 half-time handicap for the hosts.
Sharks vs Crusaders
Going back to the start of the 2006 season, the Sharks have won 14/17 home games against New Zealand opposition by an average of 27-17. The Crusaders hold superiority in the head-to-head record though, winning fourteen of the last sixteen meetings. The Sharks scored 72 points combined in their first four games and then 64 against the Rebels in Round 5. Bar 2009, this particular clash has been relatively high scoring and the last four contests were decided by less than five points. The tries may well come between the 21-60 minute mark with the hosts scoring 12/13 then so far and the visitors 14/18. Looking at their last six away matches, the Crusaders have beaten the Chiefs and Stormers yet lost to the Rebels and Blues so calling their road games correctly has proved tough. They won last week without Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Israel Dagg and Owen Franks (for the majority of the game). That is some achievement, but having lost Corey Flynn as well now, I can't see them backing it up against a rested Sharks outfit that surely won't lose as much ball on their own set-piece as the Stormers did. I'm happy to back the home win here.
Hosea Gear has three tries in five matches, Robbie Coleman three in six and Israel Folau two in six – an anytime scorer treble for those player is 21.8 while a Rene Ranger / Ben Mowen / TJ Perenara treble is 61.2. It's 13.3 that all six home teams pick up a win this weekend and 6.0 for Highlanders +12 / Sharks +4 / Hurricanes -3 and Cheetahs +8.
I would be looking at 1-12 home winning margins for the Rugby5 options this week.