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by Rugby4Cast / 11th February 2019

Super Rugby Round 1: Match preview

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Podcaster /Journalist

Are you a podcaster or a journalist? Would you like more information on tournaments week by week to fill your column and show?

Here at Rugby4Cast, we aim to provide a slightly more stats based approach to matches and look closely at the histories, rankings and form heading in to matches.
We have also built a machine learning algorithm that looks at all these factors to give a prediction for score and likely outcome. We currently provide predictions for all major club and international matches, which really seems to rile people up. Especially if their team is predicted to lose.
To learn more about how this is done, see here. Let us know if you have any questions. And please, let us know just how angry you are on all the various social media platforms.
So, without further ado, here are the Algorithm’s predictions for Super Rugby round 1.

Chiefs v Highlanders

The season begins on Friday 15th Feb in the heart of the Waikato, New Zealand with the Chiefs welcoming what looks like an experienced Highlanders side with only 7 new caps.
Historically, it’s generally been pretty even between the two sizes. However, the Chiefs have found a bit of an edge in the last three games, can the Highlanders stop the rot?

Marty Banks will once again play Super Rugby for the Highlanders in 2019. Banks, who played for the Highlanders between 2015-2017, will help the ‘Landers depth alongside current first fives Josh Ioane and Bryn Gatland (son of Wales coach Warren Gatland).

Brumbies v Rebels

The second game is an all Australian affair with the Brumbies v Rebels lining up in GIO Stadium, Canberra. With Christian Lealiifano returning for a full Super Rugby season from Pro14 side Ulster – who also battled and survived leukaemia – the Brumbies have a fantastic new addition to their centre pairing.
Below are the most recent matches between the two sides in Canberra.

Blues v Crusaders OUR ONE TO WATCH

This game is the one we are particularly looking forward to, with the Crusaders traveling to Eden Park, Auckland to play the Blues. Given the Blues recent woes and the Crusaders domination, you might be surprised that this is our pick, but look beneath the surface and you will see that there are few things to watch out for in this game.G
Essentially, this match has some exciting positional match ups that could have New Zealand selectors interested, particularly with the World Cup around the corner.
For example, the Blues centre pairing of Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu line up against the Crusaders’ Ryan Crotty and Jack Goodhue. All Black ‘super’ prop Karl Tu’inukuafe is also set to play in his maiden Super Rugby season for the Blues. Can he continue his stellar form from last year?
Here are the stats between these two sides, fairly heavy towards the 2018 champions, but the Blues have had some big victories in the past.

Will the 9 time and reigning Super Rugby champions be too much for the 3 time former champions (last winning the competition back in 2003). Probably, but let us know your thoughts.

Waratahs v Hurricanes

This game will be the first cross conference match-up and could be an another interesting contest. The Hurricanes coaching staff have had a bit of a shake up recently with John Plumtree becoming head coach, and the ‘king’ Carlos Spencer returning as assistant coach.

However the ‘Tahs have had their own out of season movements with Karmichael Hunt swapping states from the Queensland Reds. Also coming into the camp is former Tonga rugby league international John Folau (older brother to Wallaby star Israel Folau).
Fairly even between both sides in their history with the Hurricanes coming out on top. Amazingly, there is only a total of 3 points difference overall in all matches played, with the total points difference 554 – 551, just in favour of the Hurricanes.

Sunwolves v Sharks.

The Sunwolves have a new coach in former All Black Tony Brown and, with the RWC this year in Japan they will be a team out to prove their worth. However, finishing last last year with just 3 wins and 13 losses, they will need to improve quickly against a strong Sharks side travelling from South Africa.
We had a look at previous records against these two sides.

Clearly the Sharks have had the upper hand, but with the Sunwolves improving and under a new head coach could we see their first win against the South African franchise?

Bulls v Stormers.

The Bulls have another new coach with Gerhard Human replacing John Mitchell. Daan Human also joins as a scrum coach from Pro14 side, the Cheetahs on a ‘shared’ basis. The Bulls have finished 15th and 12th in the previous two years, the Bulls might be hoping, with a bit of luck, for a push for to the playoffs this year.
We have taken a look at previous games in preparation for this ‘Super Hero’ showdown.

Both teams winning 6 out of 10 games last season, and will be keen to hit the ground running and get off to a good start this year. The Bulls will certainly have their hands full.

Jaguares v Lions

The Lions have made the final for the last three years so this might be too much for the Argentinian outfit. The Jaguares will be keen to build on what was their best ever season in 2018 though, where they racked up 9 wins and made the playoffs for the first time.

The Jaguares have a notable absence in Nicolas Sanchez however, with the No. 10 moving to France to join Stade Francais. Will one player make a difference? Will the Jaguares home advantage give them the edge over the Lions?
We will find out in the last game of round 1 … enjoy!
What do you think? What are your predictions? Think you can do better? Join our Superbru pool and prove it!
 
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