For Super Rugby fans, the competition is at the three quarter stage with 15 rounds giving tipsters an opportunity to get a gauge on the form horses for 2015. Now is the time to make a move in that tipping conference and that is where we 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 15 was 16.3 points, the highest all seasonmeaning that the overall average is now 11.6 points, while the most popular margins are 1,2,5, 7 and 12. Expect margins to keep increasing as the depth of some teams is tested.
Last round only one out of seven teams that lost matches did so by seven points or less, meaning that in nearly half of games (45 out of 99) 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 58 home wins from 99 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.
Super Rugby Round 15 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.
Super Rugby 2015 round 16
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?
The match of the round varies depending on which side of the bread your butter is on. Some would claim the Waratahs vs Lions and Brumbies vs Bulls are huge games with the two Australian teams looking to stay in the Top Six, while the two South African teams are just outside the Top Six.
Call me biased, but the Highlanders vs Chiefs is my match of the round. The Chiefs have more injury concerns and are playing away from home, but the Highlanders have just returned from their tour. This game is in Invercargill.
The winner of this game would gain a significant shot at finishing fourth and hosting a qualifying final, so there is plenty on the line. Both of these New Zealand teams should make the finals, with a win and some bonus points probably enough to get them across the line.
The Blues have the bye in Super Rugby Round 16, which will delay the pain for Blues 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 Chiefs vs Highlanders game will take a big step towards hosting a qualifying game with around 54 points likely to be enough to finish fourth.
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.
The Hurricanes are the top dogs in Super Rugby 2015 after beating the Blues easily last week, while the injury depleted Crusaders are mathematically still in the hunt for the Top Six.
The Hurricanes have already got one hand on the New Zealand conference title. They won’t be daunted by a trip to Nelson to play the Crusaders
The Crusaders will welcome back Robbie Fruean, but the main talking point is the absence of six All Blacks including Colin Slade, Ryan Crotty, Sam Whitelock, Joe Moody, Israel Dagg and Kieran Read.
This does have a silver lining, with Dan Carter moving into first five eighth which will see the master up against the apprentice in Otere Black who impressed against the Blues.
The Hurricanes have a good recent record against the Crusaders and are in much better form, but surely given that they still have a mathematical chance of making the finals, the Crusaders won’t give up as easily as they have in some games this season.
The Hurricanes have improved their bench while moving Blade Thomson to Number Eight. They seem to have developed a culture where there is competition for places, which is healthy.
Some interesting match ups this week mainly see master vs apprentice scenarios including Nemani Nadolo’s power vs hot stepping Nehe Milner-Skudder, Otere Black vs Dan Carter, Richie McCaw vs Ardie Savea, James Broadhurst vs Luke Romano which could be the battle for a locking spot in the All Blacks.
This game is in Nelson, where the Crusaders don’t have a great record, but history between these teams suggests a 12 and under scoreline, although the Hurricanes haven’t been this good before and the Crusaders haven’t been without so many great players and missed the playoffs since 2001, so things could change.
These two teams have scored the most points this season, so expect a decently high score!
Players to watch
Crusaders: Dan Carter, Nemani Nadolo, Jordan Taufua.
Hurricanes: Otere Black, Ardie Savea, Blade Thomson (bargain), Ma’a Nonu, Nehe Milner-Skudder (bargain), James Marshall (bargain), Dane Coles.
My pick: Hurricanes
The Bulls had a rough start to their New Zealand tour, losing to the Blues and Chiefs, so Friday night could be tough for the visiting Pretorian based team, given their relatively poor record on tour.
The Bulls will be hit hard by the loss of Jan Serfontein and Victor Matfield for this match, while the Brumbies are almost at full strength, although utility Robbie Coleman will start in the midfield with Matt Toomua out injured. Christian Lealiifano will start in the Number 10 jersey. The Brumbies should win this match, although despite having a good home record against the Bulls, the Brumbies have at times struggled to put the Bulls away.
The Brumbies are in sixth, while the Bulls sit in eighth spot. This game is crucial as far as either winning the conference or simply gaining a wildcard in the Top Six goes.
Expect the Brumbies to be too tough. Despite some recent tight tussles in Canberra, the Bulls have been struggling recently and despite coming off the bye, the Brumbies should be too strong.
Players to watch
Brumbies: Christian Lealiifano, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Ita Vaea, Stephen Moore, Scott Fardy, Rory Arnold, David Pocock.
Bulls: Adriaan Strauss, Handre Pollard, Pierre Spies.
Our pick: Brumbies
These teams are both out of contention now, although while this is disappointing for the Sharks, the Rebels have probably exceeded expectations.
The Sharks look a shadow of their former selves, especially without Pat Lambie running the cutter, but Bismarck du Plessis is standing up and his team will take confidence from beating the Reds last week. They will miss Marcell Coetzee who has been impressive this season.
The Rebels have some good players who have impressed in fantasy rugby type competitions like Sean McMahon, Pat Leafa, Luke Jones, Mike Harris and Mitch Inman, but it looks like the wheels could be falling off the cart.
Mind you, the Rebels have a horrible record in South Africa.
Players to watch
Rebels (yet to be named): Sean McMahon, Pat Leafa, Mike Harris, Luke Jones, Mitch Inman.
Sharks: Bismarck du Plessis, Lwazi Mvovo, Ryan Kankowski.
My pick: Sharks
This game is so crucial to the Top Six aspirations of both of these teams. They should both make the playoffs, but the winner could well grab that 4th place wildcard spot, enabling them to host a qualifying game.
The Chiefs have had their fair share of injuries, but coach Dave Rennie does have a habit of getting the best out of his players. The Chiefs haven’t been named yet, but they are still struggling at lock and second five eighth. Even so, they have a proud record both in Invercargill (where this game is being played) and against the Highlanders in recent seasons.
It will be interesting to see how the Highlanders cope with the travel back from South Africa via Perth. Invercargill will be a harsh reality, but there will be three Stags in the starting lineup in Elliot Dixon, John Hardie and Lima Sopoaga. The Highlanders are still missing Nasi Manu at Number Eight, but they still have their All Blacks contingent onboard for this game.
It will be interesting to see if Stags captain and local hero Jamie Mackintosh gets a run for the Chiefs!
We are picking the Chiefs to tip over the Highlanders, but this is a tough call.
We like the look of Damian McKenzie in the Number 10 jersey.
Players to watch
Highlanders: Lima Sopoaga, Ben Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Elliot Dixon, Patrick Osborne.
Chiefs (yet to be named): Damian McKenzie, Tom Marshall, Hosea Gear, Charlie Ngatai, Sam Cane, Hika Elliot.
My pick: Chiefs
This battle for the wooden spoon both overall and in the Australian conference could be an interesting watch. Both of these teams suffered disappointing defeats last week.
Indeed, the Force are 15th and stonecold motherless last, but they can’t be taken for granted as the Waratahs found out. They are also somewhat a bogey team for the Reds in Perth.
The Reds have problems with internal fighting, the coach Richard Graham must be struggling to hold onto his job, while Justin Bieber in disguise James O’Connor doesn’t seem to be order of the day with team-mates and it showed with that horrible kick last week which let the Sharks score an important try.
Both of these teams haven’t been named yet, but we are going for the Force to win at home and also because of their good record against the Reds in Perth.
Players to watch (both sides yet to be named)
Force: Steve Mafi, Nathan Charles, Ben McCalman, Dane Haylett-Petty.
Reds: Samu Kerevi, James Hanson, Liam Gill.
My pick: Force
The Lions have improved after a sloppy start to sit within reaching distance of the Top Six, but can they beat the Australian conference leading Waratahs?
This game will be close, but remembering that the Brumbies won in Johannesburg, probably showed the blueprint to the Waratahs.
The Waratahs have a good record in Johannesburg while the Lions lost their last home game, although they beat the Cheetahs away last week.
It will be interesting to see how the altitude affects the Waratahs.
Players to watch:
Lions (yet to be named): Warren Whiteley, Elton Jantjies, Warwick Tecklenburg, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert.
Waratahs (yet to be named): Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Micheal Hooper, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Taqele Naivaravora.
Our pick: Waratahs
The Stormers are in a battle with the Bulls to win the South African conference and confirm a home finals game even if they won’t have the third highest points and besides, there may only be one South African team in the finals at this rate! The hosts will be hell bent on revenge following a disappointing recent defeat in Bloemfontein.
Even with a mainly home game run in to the finals, the Stormers have stumbled in recent weeks. Expect them to beat the Cheetahs who seem to have lost hope for the rest of the season.
The Stormers hold a two point lead at the top of the South African conference.
They will have to score more tries in this game since they are equal bottom try scoring team in the competition with 24 tries and only one four try bonus point. They do have the ideal opportunity at home against the Cheetahs who have the worst defence in the competition being the first team in 2015 to let in 400 points.
Players to watch:
Stormers (not named yet): Duane Vermeulen, Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds.
Cheetahs: Boom Prinsloo, Carl Wegner.
My pick: Stormers
Who are you picking to win Super Rugby Round 16 games?