Super Rugby Predictions - Round 8

Super Rugby Predictions - Round 8

We are reaching the midway point of the current Super Rugby series and already the clear contenders are starting to emerge. Rugby pundit Brenden Nel makes his Round 8 picks.

Brenden Nel

He had the Bulls on the positive side of the ledger last week, but they stumped him, as did the Stormers, who stretched their unbeaten run with a home win over the Chiefs - a decent return of 5/7.

With a massive local derby on Saturday between the Stormers and the Lions at Newlands, again there will be no clean sweep for South African teams this week.

The Stormers-Lions match is a punters nightmare and really tough to call. Kick-off at Newlands is at 17h15 Saturday afternoon.

The Capetonians remain unbeaten this season and must start as favourites in front of their Newlands faithful.

The Lions remain a dangerous force and it is no secret that wily outgoing coach Johan Ackermann is intent on going all the way this year.

Other than home ground advantage to the Stormers, nothing separates these two formidable teams and it will probably boil down to who wants it the most.

One can detect the doubt in Brenden's voice when he is put on the spot to make a call on the Bulls-Jaguares clash at Loftus Versveld on Saturday evening (19h30 kick-off).

He placed his faith in the Pretoria boys last week in Tokyo and we watched in hhorror as they slipped on a Japanese banana peel.

Clearly the Bulls are in a bad space, that we cannot deny, and coach Nollis Marais is under mounting pressure from all quarters to pull a rabbit out of the hat and turn their season around.

Brenden would under normal circumstances admittedly go with the Bulls to beat the Jaguares at their Loftus stronghold, but this week he has his doubts.

And based on form, who can blame him. One win in six starts isn't exactly a confidence-stirring statistic is it?

Brenden's pessimistic side comes out again this week -- he doesn't see an Easter bunny popping out of the hat for the home side and has his money on the Argentinian side.

The cloud hanging over the Cheetahs' Super Rugby future could also scupper their chances of beating the Chiefs in Bloemfontein on Saturday (15H05 kick-off).

The Cheetahs may be refreshed off a bye week, but had their confidence shattered by that massive 53-10 hiding by the Stormers at Newlands a fortnight ago and one can't help feeling that the Chiefs, off a defeat to the selfsame Stormers, will bounce back and win.

But never discount how a survival fight can also galvanise a team and the Cheetahs may just bare their claws against the New Zealanders.

The basement SA franchise, the Kings, will take a good deal of confidence out of their encouraging performance against the Force last week when they visit the ailing Reds in Brisbane.

Brenden likes to gamble once in awhile and he has been bold in predicting that the Kings may just grab a win over the Reds this weekend (Saturday 07h05 SA time).

With the restructuring of Super Rugby in 2018, the Kings have an axe hanging over their heads and hopefully player uncertainty and this being potentially their final season as a franchise,

won't impact on their play.

The Sunwolves are on a high following their victory over the Bulls last time out, but their bubble will in all likelihood be burst when they face the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday -- Kick-off at 09h35 SA time.

There's an interesting New Zealand derby between the Blues and the Hurricanes in Auckland on Saturday (09h35 SA time) which is worth a place on the couch to watch.

An entertaining clash in prospect, but despite showing encouraging signs of improving since their victory over the Bulls, the Blues are not quite the finished product and shouldn't trouble the defending champions.

The Rebels are also in uncertain territory as the Australian Rugby Union debate which Aussie franchise faces the Super Rugby chop.

They host the Brumbies, who are by far and away the best Aussie side right now. One can't really look much beyond the Canberra side in terms of venturing a prediction.

Here are all Brenden Nel's predictions for the week:

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