Super 14 2008 analysis

Half of the Super 14 regular season is already gone, and it is due time to make some analysis.

First of all, the Crusaders are clearly the team to beat. Only the Sharks have performed with the consistency of the Canterbury franchise, and nevertheless, the Crusaders look stronger at this point of the competition.

Second, New Zealand franchises are all strong except the Highlanders. Blues, Hurricanes and even Chiefs can upset every team at any field. On the other hand, South Africa teams are performing horribly. Stormers are the only other team besides the Sharks that has shown anything while the Bulls are still to prove they are the defending champions and it is 7 rounds gone already.

Let's take a look to these statistics:
  • NZ franchises have a winning rate of 0,61
  • AUS franchises have a winning rate of 0,5
  • SA franchises have a winning rate of 0,36
  • NZ teams average 19,8 points at this stage of the competition, 3 points per game (That is ahead of the Hurricanes who are 4th).
  • AUS teams average 15,8 points at this stage of the competition, 2,4 points per game (That is ahead of the Brumbies, who are 9th)
  • SA teams average 13 points at this stage of the competition, 1,97 points per game (That is ahead of the Reds, who are 10th)

In plain words, the kiwis are performing really well, the aussies are performing quite average but the real news is how badly this first half of the regular season has gone for SA franchises. Be it the ELVs or be it the Matfields and Montgomeries abroad, but they need to improve.

The second half of the competition looks interesting. The regular season champion position seems to be for the Crusaders unless the Sharks can beat theam at Christchurch. Hurricanes and Blues seem the strongest teams to fill the remaining two playoff positions, but Stormers, Chiefs Force and Waratahs are close behind.

Unlike many journalists I don't consider Brett's and Carter's injuries are going to seriourly harm Crusaders potential. Deans is wise and his team will cope with them.

I would like to take a few minutes to speak about the Blues. The Blues are really the team of the tournament. They may have lost two games but in their game one finds many amusing things. First, the brilliancy of their backs, a delightful combination of talent and experience, youth and wisdom. Second, the best first five in the competition; Sorry Carter, but Nick Evans is currently playing awfully good. I will say it again: Carter is more gifted, but Evans puts his all in every game and that makes the difference. Third, John Afoa and the scrum. They have shown they are the best in every game except perhaps against the Sharks.

Finally mi top 4 for the rest of the regular season: Crusaders, Sharks, Blues and Hurricanes. No surprises here :-)


Anonymous said...

Spot on!

I'll still say Nucifora cannot compete with Deans at this stage of the tournament. The Sharks can't hold on. The fourth spot is up for grabs. Anybody please but the Australians!

sesenta y cuatro said...

Hm... the australians are not performing that bad. I will risk to say that both Force and 'tahs are doing pretty well.
The Sharks are a very competitive team, and this gives them an edge against almost anyone. Perhaps even against the Crusaders, come the time of a final game Sharks-Crusaders.