Whether you are a tipster or fantasy league manager, the ever reliable Scott Donaldson is at hand with advice. This season is proving challenging for our fantasy managers but richly entertaining for spectators.
Super Rugby Round 8 went largely as predicted, but here are 10 Things We Learnt from Super Rugby Round 8.
1) The home advantage is becoming more of a factor, with six out of seven teams winning at home in Round 8.
2) The Lions cost many punters a 100 percent record with their late win over the Bulls. This was the only upset in Super Rugby Round 8 with wins for the Hurricanes, Brumbies and Chiefs being the most predictable.
3) The Crusaders' 42 point win over the Sharks was a backlash over their disappointment from their loss to the Bulls the previous week. The Crusaders have a good record in South Africa and rarely walk away from the trip empty handed.
Super Rugby Round 8
Hurricanes 25-20 Stormers
Rebels 23-15 Reds
Chiefs 23-16 Blues
Brumbies 20-3 Cheetahs
Sharks 10-52 Crusaders
Lions 22-18 Bulls
They even only had 12 players on the field at one stage. It begs the question - is it better to have 12 players on the field at one stage, but get back to 15 players or have 14 players on the field for a large part of the game?
4) The average winning margin in Super Rugby Round 8 was 13.8 points taking the overall Super Rugby 2015 margin to 12.3 points. The Crusaders and to a lesser extent, the Brumbies were largely to blame for the larger than normal margin this round.
The other four matches had winning margins of eight points or less. This was surprising in the Hurricanes and Chiefs victories over lower ranked opponents.
5) What has happened to the South African teams? One look at the Super Rugby standings makes for interesting reading. The Bulls are the top South African team on 19 points, but they only sit in third position because of the system which dictates that the top team from each conference must be in the top three.
This unusual concept to maintain interest in all three conferences leaves the poor New Zealand teams like the Chiefs, Highlanders and Crusaders one spot lower than they should be. The Chiefs sit in fourth position on 28 points! The Waratahs who are the defending champions sit a distant eighth spot on 18 points although like the Highlanders, they have only played six games. The top two South African teams, the Bulls and Sharks are yet to leave their home country too!
6) Super Rugby 2015 is proving to be difficult for fantasy rugby managers. Not only has the triple byes for Rounds 8 and 9 dealt a savage blow with six teams sitting out one game, but the international players mainly from the Springboks being rested has caused major problems.
Those banking on the likes of Pat Lambie, Handre Pollard and Duane Vermeulen have been disappointed.
7) For fantasy rugby managers looking to go into damage control after running out of trades, the best advice is to pick and choose which positions to have absent players in. Lock is generally the lowest scoring position. The other good thing to do in games like www.testrugby.com is to make sure you keep your lowest value players, for two reasons. Firstly, they won't drop in value as much and the won't eat into your salary cap, allowing you to still have some buying power in other positions. It is also advisable to have some starting goal kickers.
8) While the Lions ruined the party for many tipsters, you have to take your hat off to the team many people had written off after a poor start to the season. They won three on the road in Australia and New Zealand and then returned home to beat the Bulls. They love doing it in close matches.
9) It looks like the mighty Crusaders have woken up and ominously sit in sixth position on the ladder. It is time to start buying their players now in fantasy rugby games, although the Slade and Carter conundrum is something to be watch out for!
10) Talking points summary: Super Rugby is a marathon, not a sprint. It needs to be looked at holistically. The curious nature of the bye is an interesting one when the Chiefs get their first bye after the Waratahs and Highlanders have had their second bye.
Teams don't want to be peaking in the early rounds either. The home teams are now starting to win more games, while whoever gets points in tipping competitions through default picks are very lucky! Finally, should the tournament require that South Africa is gifted a top three position despite the Bulls actually being in sixth position on the ladder?
What did you make of Super Rugby Round 8?