Fantasy Rugby: Weather has minor role in round two

By Dr Stats

Backs dominated scoring in last weekend’s sodden round

Argentina's Nicolas Sanchez (front) was the star of round one. Photo / AP
Argentina's Nicolas Sanchez (front) was the star of round one. Photo / AP

The second round of Dream Team Fantasy Rugby Championship kicks off tomorrow night with weather set to play a more minor role in proceedings than last weekend.

The competition's opening round was a clinic in fantasy management with the major lesson learned being that weather can make all the difference to your selections.

Despite the statistics and many, including my own, predictions of big games for South African and New Zealand backs, wet weather came to the party to spoil those hopes.

Instead, first-fives and back-rowers dominated the fantasy score sheets as the kicking game and defence around the ruck became the focus for play in both fixtures.

This week the weather looks unlikely to intercede to such a great degree with fine or cloudy days forecast in Auckland and in Salta, Argentina. With that in mind, I expect a more balanced spread of points between the various positions on the field, with centres and wings playing a bigger part this weekend.

Argentine first five-eighth Nicolas Sanchez ($100,200) was the fantasy star of round one and I expect him to stay as a relevant option for the whole tournament.

The South African first-five situation is worth avoiding for now as Handre Pollard ($61,500) and Morne Steyn ($203,300) played one half of the game each and cancelled out any fantasy worth they might have had.

I'm expecting and hoping for a much more open game between the All Blacks and Wallabies at Eden Park and this may be where to find your backline points. Conrad Smith ($131,900) returns to the starting XV and is a strong buy while Julian Savea ($146,500) and Ben Smith ($160,700) are also solid options.

In the Australian side, Israel Folau ($181,300) could easily break out with a big game while Adam Ashley-Cooper ($100,200) has the tools to post a decent score as well.

In team news, the All Blacks have made three changes to their starting XV with Conrad Smith's return the most obvious. Smith will be partnered with Ryan Crotty ($61,500) in the midfield with Malakai Fekitoa ($99,900) dropping to the bench.

The other major change sees Liam Messam ($113,600) come into the starting XV for Jerome Kaino ($73,000).

The Springboks have also made three changes to their squad to face Argentina. Tendai Mtawarira ($61,500), Bakkies Botha ($73,000) and Marcell Coetzee ($73,000) have all been benched with two of their replacements presenting themselves as great plays on Sunday morning.

Eben Etzebeth ($141,000) and Juan Smith ($73,000) are both buys for me this week.

Remember to follow all your fantasy players' performances as they happen in our brand new live match centre feature within the Fantasy Rugby Championship game.

Top Pick
Israel Folau

Value Pick
Juan Smith

On the bench
Ma'a Nonu (New Zealand - out one match)
Jerome Kaino (New Zealand - out two - four matches)
Malakai Fekitoa (New Zealand - benched)
Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa - benched)
Bakkies Botha (South Africa - benched)
Marcell Coetzee (South Africa - benched)

• Listen to Radio Sport every Thursday after 6pm to hear Dr Stats chat with D'Arcy Waldegrave about the latest fantasy news and advice.

- NZ Herald

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