Monday, April 20, 2009

The Run To the Super 14 Playoffs

With 4 rounds to go, 4 Kiwi teams won on the weekend, with the 5th only losing to a fellow Kiwi team. The slow starting NZ teams are now well in the hunt with the Chiefs in a historic table topping position. Currently the Chiefs, Sharks, Bulls and Hurricanes are in the top 4 with the bottom 2 of those teams having the tougher run home.

So, I've been thinking: who will make it and who will miss out. With my Virtual Super 14 season in tatters (thanks to the very suspect Jimungo interface and the odd forgetfulness :)) I thought I'd put my energy into a top 4 prediction. To be fair, its anyone's as the race turns on some critical fixtures that will be make or break.

The first of these is next week - Blues v Chiefs - the stellar performing Chiefs meet the flagging Bulls - soundly spanked in NZ, they redeemed themselves against the dearly departed Waratahs, only to hit the bye on their return to SA. Theyt may be pleased about that after a sapping tour, but NZ teams traditionally perform better in week 2 in SA. So look to the Chiefs to be too good in taking a 3 try win.

The following week in round 12 is a real humdinger - Hurricanes v Blues - its almost too hard to call. I'm picking the Canes to benefit from home advantage for a close win with the Blues picking up a bonus point. Some delicious match ups all over the park - Nonu v Toeava; David Smith v Joe R and some good battles ahead in the loosies as well as the front row.

In a horror run home for the Canes they meet the Chiefs the following week. While the Chiefs may struggle after 3 weeks in SA, you'd have to pick them injuries permitting. A make or break game for the Canes almost certainly.

In the final week, 2 match ups, probably only one is a genuine game of the round and that is Sharks v Bulls. The Sharks to win and the Bulls to drop out of the top 4. As a Blues fan the Blues v Crusaders game will be a great way to end the season and will likely determine whether the Blues scrape in to the top 4. I'm picking the Blues but the Crusaders young guns are improving, just too late to make the top 4 themselves?

So the top 4? Well here it is:


But, if I get it all right to the last round and the Blues lose to the Crusaders, the Crusaders will go through. And if the Canes lose to the Blues they'll be right on the edge as well. So watch for those 2 games in particular. I'm picking the Bulls to sink from sight - to make it they're going to have to beat teams 1 and 2 in the run home - a daunting task. I'm also not picking NSW to win another game - they may yet surprise. All this to say there is every chance we'll have 2 teams in the finals and possibly 3 - now I wouldn't have picked that in the early rounds!


Rhett said...

The new Jimungo site does indeed suck big time. But I can't let you completely blame that... I'm noticing a pattern emerging year on year Mr Jones. Pattern = I spank your butt. I even missed a week myself! I was in second but had a horror round this past weekend and am back in the middle of my pack.

However much like the S14 itself it's very tightly contested.

It's funny that these past few years the big-wigs have been arguing over how to make the Super 14 better, when the answer was easy all along: get rid of Robbie Deans!

BJ said...

A pattern? I can only recall the last competition (Air NZ Cup) which I prevailed in at least against those brave enough to compete with for this year, I haven't been playing Super 14 for must have noticed the pattern: 0 points every week and assumed you were beating me - sorry for misleading you :)

Rhett said...

The Air NZ Cup!? So you're one of the three people who watch it?

You're right I didn't notice you had stopped playing Virtual S14. I just didn't notice that much of a difference in your weekly score. ;-) Oh well, I will have to console myself with having beaten you, what, three years running?

BJ said...

Well you and every other person on my mates list...I'm not sure all of them will feel the same pleasure...but hey each to their own...

Rhett said...

I make sure to take pleasure in the simpler things in life. :-)

BJ said...

Well some less than awesome work by the Blues against the hapless Reds and some good work by the Bulls means my predictions don't even get past week 1! The Bulls to survive. Hurricanes and Chiefs to carry NZ's honour into the semis. No Aussie teams. Now there's a shame.

Rhett said...

Yeah, and my virtual rugby score is dwindling!

BJ said...

So I was miles off! A Chiefs v Bulls final should be a goodie with the Crusaders showing that the Bulls can be beaten. Meantime, Jacob and Neta are both ahead of Rhett as the Virtual Super 14 comes to an end. Its close though - who will blink, pick the upset and maybe crash to a terrible defeat?

Rhett said...

You can't win them all!

On my list there are more than just Jacob and Neta ahead of me. This is my worst performance since I started playing this game 4 years ago.

But it's offset by the fact that my boys made it to the final. Lauaki is playing well, eh?

Frank said...

Go the Chiefs!!!!!!!

Frank said...