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Super Rugby 2012 Round 1 Picks and Tips 3 views
23 February 2012 by The Swede Eaters
Scotty Donaldson looks at Round 1 picks and tips for punters!
Super Rugby is back with the Super 15 competition kicking off on Friday night in New Zealand. A feature of the competition this weekend is the amazing local derby matches which happen all weekend. One glance at the Super Rugby Round 1 teams that have been named already is a reminder of the high calibre of the competition. Teams will need plenty of depth as the competition has 18 rounds of matches before the finals. Each team gets two byes and it will be an interesting juggling act for team managers to juggle players and still get the good results. This post is for anyone playing fantasy pick the player or results competition.
Super Rugby Round 1 teams can be viewed here
Game 1 - Blues vs Crusaders
These two teams look to be the strongest New Zealand sides and therefore two of the contenders for the Super Rugby 2012 title. The Crusaders have named a strong team even without their stars like Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. They boast a team featuring quality players like Kieran Read, Israel Dagg, and the Franks (one on the bench) and Whitelock brothers. Their fortunes will based on the effort of Tyler Bleyendaal who will have a huge responsibilty as Dan Carter's replacement.
The Blues have boosted their squad this season with Piri Weepu and he will start on an experienced bench. They have their own stars in Keven Mealamu, Jerome Kaino and Isaia Toeava. Plenty will depend on their first five too with the enigmatic Michael Hobbs taking the reins ahead of Weepu and the promising Gareth Anscombe.
Players to buy - Keven Mealamu, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read, Robbie Fruean, Sam Whitelock, Rene Ranger.
Bargains - David Raikuna, Michael Hobbs, Tyler Bleyendaal, Tom Marshall
My pick - Crusaders by 3.
Game 2 - Brumbies vs Force
The Brumbies are a shadow of their title winning days of Gregan, Larkham and co, but former Springboks coach Jake White will be looking to whip the home team into a competitive team this season. Neither of these two teams will be in title contention, yet this one will be a dog fight. The Brumbies are tough to beat at home with their front row looking particularly strong with Ben Alexander and Stephen Moore at the helm. The Force have a great loose forward trio led by David Pocock and Ben McCalman. I am picking Nathan Sharpe's leadership to get the Force home in a tight match.
My pick - Force by 2.
Players to Buy - Nathan Sharpe, Stephen Moore, David Pocock, Ita Vaea, Peter Kimlin,
Bargains - Leon Power, Andrew Smith, Henry Speight, Nick Cummins, Ben McCalman.
Game 3 - Bulls vs Sharks
This is the big game from South Africa in Round 1. The battle of the first fives will be massive with the steady Morne Steyn facing off against the next cab off the ranks Patrick Lambie. There will be plenty of other massive matchups in this one with Pierre Spies vs Ryan Kankowski, Chiliboy Ralepelle vs Bismarck du Plessis and the battle of the halfbacks with Francois Hougaard vs Frenchman Frederic Michalak. The Bulls should win at home, although it will be interesting to see how they miss some of their experienced players from the past like Fourie du Preez, Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha. The Sharks will take them on upfront and there could be fireworks!
My pick - Bulls by 1
Players to buy - Francois Hougaard, Bismarck du Plessis, Morne Steyn, JP Pieterson.
Bargains - Johann Sadie, Flip van der Meeuw, Juandre Kruger, Francois Venter, Anton Bresler.
Game 4 - Chiefs vs Highlanders
The Chiefs have gained some impressive acquistions in the offseason with Aaron Cruden and Sonny Bill Williams ready to test the Highlanders backline depth. The Highlanders who have themselves gained some quality players like Andrew Hore, Hosea Gear and Tamati Ellison thanks to the Hurricanes fallout, have been struggling with injuries. If this game was played with both teams at full strength then the Highlanders would have more of a chance, but at this early stage with their problems in the midfield, then it is the wrong time to play Sonny Bill Williams and Richard Kahui. There are some real bargains in this match, but remember, neither of these teams will probably be challenging for the title long term. Highlanders are yet to be named.
My pick - Chiefs by 3.
Players to buy - Sonny Bill Williams, Aaron Cruden, Liam Messam, Andrew Hore, Adam Thomson.
Bargains - Brodie Retallick, Fritz Lee, Sam Cane, John Hardie, Cullum Retallick, Lima Sopoaga (if playing).
Game 5 - Waratahs vs Reds
The rivalry between the Waratahs and Reds is intense. These are the top two Australian sides and this looks set to be a dogfight. The Waratahs have bought exciting South African halfback Sarel Pretorius and his battle with Wallaby Will Genia will be worth the price of admission alone. The Reds have yet to name their team for this match, but it will be hard to know how well they will cope without Quade Cooper's spark. This is offset by the loss of Berrick Barnes from the Waratahs. The Waratahs look to have the grunt, but do they have the firepower out wide?
My pick - Waratahs by 3
Players to buy - Tatafu Polota-Nau, Sarel Pretorius, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Radike Samo, Digby Ioane, Saia Faingaa.
Bargain - Chris Alcock, Dave Dennis, Tom Kingston, Brackin Karauria-Henry, Mike Harris. Check starting lineups for the Reds.
Game 6 - Stormers vs Hurricanes
The Hurricanes have a tough assignment in Round 1 travelling to South Africa and taking on the strong Stormers team. The Hurricanes lost plenty of players over summer and so it will be interesting to see how the new breed plus a few stars can handle the hotbed of Cape Town. The Hurricanes haven't been named yet. The Stormers have plenty of pace and have named Bryan Habana at centre. This is a strong Stormers side who will be tough to beat. Stack your team with Stormers this week since they should win well.
My pick - Stormers by 13.
Players to watch - Conrad Smith, Victor Vito, Cory Jane, Tiaan Liebenberg, Andries Bekker
Bargains - Nick Koster, Eben Etzebeth, Gary van Aswegen, Dane Coles.
Game 7 - Lions vs Cheetahs
The final game of Round 1 is a local grudge match between the Lions and the Cheetahs. The Lions take in some great form to this match and a win in this match is compulsory if either of these teams are going to avoid being the bottom South African team in the conference. It sounds harsh, but the South African teams look strong and unfortunately, the Lions and Cheetahs have been average in recent seasons. There are plenty of bargain priced players in this match.
My pick - Lions by 7 points
Players to watch - Adriaan Strauss, Wickus Van Heerden, Lionel Mapoe.
Bargains - Izak van der Westhuizen, Lappies Labuschagné/Philip van der Walt, Andries Ferreira, Johan Goosen.
Who are you picking to win Round 1 Super Rugby 2012?
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Super Rugby, Round 1