Cape Town - Super Rugby 2016 heads into Week 2 after a fairly predictable opening round. What's in store this weekend?
FRIDAY, MARCH 4
Crusaders v Blues, Christchurch - 08:35
The Blues burst out of the blocks with a well deserved win over last season's champions the Highlanders in round one, and back that up with a stiff test in Christchurch. The Crusaders underwhelmed on opening weekend as they were downed at home by the Chiefs. They don't look like they've quite settled into the post-McCaw/Carter era just yet, and this could be another sobering occasion for the former heavyweights.
Prediction: Blues by 2
Brumbies v Waratahs, Canberra - 10:45
What a game this could be. The Brumbies roared out of the blocks to put a half century on last season's finalists the Hurricanes last weekend, while the Waratahs dispatched the Reds with ease. The Australian conference will be between these two and both look strong enough already to say with some certainty that they will have a tilt at the title. The Waratahs' pack will provide a sterner test than the Hurricanes' powder-puff unit did, but home advantage should still swing it in the Brumbies' favour.
Prediction: Brumbies by 9
SATURDAY, MARCH 5
Chiefs v Lions, Waikato - 06:15
Another two sides that won on opening weekend come together in round two as the Lions look for another win on the road. They impressed in dispatches against the Sunwolves, but will need to seriously up their game if they are to beat a Chiefs side that pounced on the Crusaders in round one. These two did not meet last year but you have to go all the way back to 2008 for the last time the Lions won this fixture.
Prediction: Chiefs by 10
Highlanders v Hurricanes, Dunedin - 08:35
After their spanking at the hands of the Brumbies, the last thing the Canes would have wanted is a trip to the reigning champions. The good news is that the Highlanders' pack is nowhere near as fearsome as the Brumbies, and they should be able to play the wider, freer game that they generally enjoy. The Highlanders will also be smarting from an opening round loss, and although the Canes did win here last season, I can see a repeat of the result in last year's final.
Prediction: Highlanders by 6
Reds v Force, Brisbane - 10:45
Neither side covered themselves in glory on opening weekend, which makes this one very difficult to call. The Reds did the damage twice over the Force last season though, and that, coupled with home advantage, makes them just about favourites.
Prediction: Reds by 3
Bulls v Rebels, Pretoria - 15:00
The Rebels were one of the teams that caught people out on opening weekend - they, along with the Blues, were the prime GSP-killers in the first round. Many Australian commentators have been backing them for a good year, so can they make it two from two in Pretoria? The Rebels have never won at Loftus, and while they do look like they might have quite a good season, the Bulls' record at their lofty home speaks for itself - they should have enough to grind out a win.
Prediction: Bulls by 2
Cheetahs v Stormers, Bloemfontein - 17:10
The Stormers opened their campaign with a mightily impressive win over the Bulls, while it may take some time for the Cheetahs to get over the fact that they threw away a 21 point lead against the Jaguares. Their defence will certainly need to tighten up, as the Stormers will look to grind them down then punch holes when they are tired - as they certainly looked in week one. An away win.
Prediction: Stormers by 9
Sharks v Jaguares, Durban - 19:20
The Sharks romped to a win over the Kings in round one but that tells us very little about them - this will be a much sterner test. The Jaguares deserve great credit for turning around a huge deficit in their first game of Super Rugby, but they will find the Sharks' defence far less accommodating. The home side will make sure this is more of an attritional affair and could bring the Argentinian side back down to earth with a bump.
Prediction: Sharks by 5