2018-02-20 by Liam Del Carme
Lions v Jaguares
The Lions have a chequered record against the Jaguares. At Ellis Park at least, they have a winning record over the visitors but they’ve had to engage them in arm wrestle on both occasions.The Jaguares played with much enterprise when opportunity presented itself at Newlands last weekend but they didn’t display enough substance upfront. They struggled at scrum time against the Stormers and the pressure is unlikely to relent in that area. The Lions put the Sharks’ scrum through the wringer and they are likely to exploit the same pressure point this weekend. Last season the Lions won narrowly 24-21 but this time they should win by 12 points or more, largely because of the tourists’ poor discipline.
Ireland v Wales
Ireland made a fighting start to the Six Nations but Wales no have some catching up to do. They ran England close and were perhaps unlucky not to have come closer to a win at Twickenham. Against England’s organised defence, their attack was blunt and Ireland are unlikely to be any more generous.
Ireland have suffered a few untimely injuries and they will need no reminding of their poor recent record against Wales. Wales have left Dublin unbeaten on their last two visits and have lost just one of their last five matches against Ireland. Wales won convincingly last year in Cardiff but this one will go down to the wire.
Bulls v Hurricanes
The Bulls haven’t beaten the Hurricanes since 2013. In the three matches since, the Hurricanes have won their last two encounters at Loftus. The Bulls however have entered a new era under Kiwi coach John Mitchell and their challenge will be renewed and full of vigour. The hosts are likely to play a fast paced game, especially at Loftus this season and visiting teams to the Highveld may find it hard to keep up. The Hurricanes may be the first team to discover that, but that is dependent on whether the Bulls have made a full transition. Also bear in mind, it is likely to be wet at Loftus.
Scotland v England
Scotland haven’t beaten England since their 15-9 win in Edinburgh in 2008. They were able to force a draw at the same ground two years later but for the rest it has been all England. Last year England romped home 61-21 at Twickenham scoring seven tries in the process.Scotland earned a morale boosting victory over the ill-disciplined France last weekend. Whether that has nudged them sufficiently in the right direction is unlikely. England should win this close contest.
Ospreys v Cheetahs
The Cheetahs have lost two in a row but fortunately for them they are up against opponents who have won just once in their last five clashes. The Ospreys struggled to beat the lowly Southern Kings and they are again to be weakened by international call ups.The Cheetahs, predictably found the going tough against the Warriors but they have a genuine opportunity to secure an away win against the Ospreys.