Planet Rugby

Predictions: Super Rugby 2013

15th February 2013 06:46

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Ma a Nonu at a Highlanders pre season game

New Highlander: Ma'a Nonu

It is that time of the week again when 'Orrible Punt sits down in the Planet Rugby hot-seat to give you his calls. Brace yourself for some Super Rugby.

Remember you can contact Russ with all your comments and questions on Twitter - @rpetty80.

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New Zealand Conference

The Highlanders have recruited well - bringing in Brad Thorn, Tony Woodcock, Ma'a Nonu and I'm a fan of the 7.0 for them to top their conference. The past two years they have started strongly, winning 7/9 matches but then faded. With six home fixtures in the first nine games and four matches against conference rivals, they have the chance to build up momentum. Looking at their non-conference ties, they have an average success rate of 77% against that opposition in the specific fixtures (compared to 63% for the Crusaders and 54% for the Chiefs). They are unlikely to move too far away from their abrasive, grinding style but there has been talk of perhaps approaching the breakdown with a bit more subtlety and reducing the number of penalties conceded there. If they get off to their usual quick start then the price appeals and there is the option of opposing them after their Round 10 game against the Kings if you think they are going to slump late on, as in the last two seasons.

Australia Conference

The Brumbies capitalised on both the Reds injury issues and general shambles at the Waratahs last season, but just fell short of a play-off spot. Critics may point at those factors and that their wins came against sides ranked eighth or below as reasons to oppose, but I am taking the 3.3 price for a conference win. The Lions tour is going to have an effect on the Australian group and the Brumbies may end up being less hit than their rivals. They only had three players represented in the last Australian squad compared to thirteen Waratahs and eight from the Reds. They weren't beaten by more than seven points by a top six side in 2012 and an already resilient team has been improved by David Pocock and some South African grunt. Unlike the other contenders they don't have a new coach settling in, or the distractions that Quade Cooper / Israel Folau may bring so they are our picks in Australia.

South Africa Conference

If you like the Bulls, I'd back them after their away tour, so from Round 7. They've only won 3/36 away games against their non-conference opposition in Rounds 3-6 so their price should increase before their run of home games. Unlike last season, the Sharks start with 4/6 home games and I can see them being popular with punters, but I'm breaking a habit of avoiding the favourite and backing the Stormers at 2.5. They finished seven points clear last season, despite only collecting two bonus points (the average was eight in 2012 with the Sharks, Bulls both picked up eleven) and it may be that their new signings and lessons learnt from a successful Western Province Currie Cup campaign brings a more attacking intent. A run-in that sees them play the Kings twice should build plenty of momentum.

Grand Final Winner

The pattern for league success of winning your home games, picking up points on the road and collecting bonus points is pretty well established now in most competitions. Super Rugby has the added intricacies of the conference system and how friendly the fixture compiler is. There is yet to be a Final winner that finished lower than second and while over a period of time the extended play-off system may change that, I'd still be happier backing a team that is more likely to secure a home semi-final than an outsider. The Stormers have finished in the top two in the last three seasons so have the pedigree. If you look at their matches against the other bookies favourites - they play the Chiefs, Crusaders, Brumbies and Reds at home and swerve the Highlanders completely so the price of 8.0 suits.

Other

The tempting 2.0 for the Kings to finish bottom that was on offer back in August is long gone and a best of 1.29 is available now. As a reference - the Rebels have conceded 570 and 520 points in their short existence and had far better preparation than the new South African side. It's a short 1.25 for the Kings to concede over 500 points and 3.0 for them to leak more than 585. That and the 3.0 for them to lose every match will no doubt be taken up. A treble of Stormers, Highlanders and Brumbies to win their conferences is up at a tempting 42.0.

Top try-scorer

Based on the last two seasons, it's going to take nine or ten tries to take the top scorer crown. I like the idea of looking at a South African side to produce the top scorer as they each get two clashes with the Kings. Since 2007, there has been a Bulls player in the top two scorers each year. Bjorn Basson was prolific in 2011 and 2012 and deserves attention at 21.0, while Lwazi Mvovo at 26.0 and a bigger call of Raymond Rhule at 41.0 may also appeal for e/w value. In the other conferences, Dom Shipperley and Henry Speight at 41.0, Frank Halai at 26.0 and Andre Taylor at 21.0 may give a good run for your money.

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Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne vs Montpellier20:45
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle vs Toulouse14:45
Lyon vs Brive18:30
Oyonnax vs Stade Francais18:30
Castres vs Bay Of Plenty18:30
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon20:45
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Currie Cup
Friday , August 29
Pumas vs SharksPumas vs Sharks Preview
Saturday , August 30
Griquas vs Cheetahs15:00
Blue Bulls vs Western Province17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Lions19:10
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ITM Cup
Friday , August 29
Wellington vs ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Preview
Saturday , August 30
Counties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay14:35
Southland vs Otago17:35
North Harbour vs Waikato19:35
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs Tasman16:35
Wednesday, September 3
Manawatu vs Bay Of Plenty19:35
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Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
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Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
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Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle
Montpellier 20 - 17 GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Report
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Currie Cup
Blue Bulls 30 - 25 Eastern Province KingsBlue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 27 - 14 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
Sharks 19 - 16 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
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ITM Cup
Northland 35 - 5 WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Report
Counties Manukau 29 - 25 OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Report
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Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse 35 - 6 CastresToulouse vs Castres Report
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Currie Cup
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
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ITM Cup
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
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4Harlequins00
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