Super Rugby swings back into action after the International break and we take a look at the weekend’s fixtures from a betting angle.
Lets start with an upright betting update where the Crusaders are the firm favourites at even money ahead of the Hurricanes at 28/10 there is a big gap in the betting with another New Zealand side the Highlanders at 10/1, South African side the Lions priced at 11/1, the Chiefs and Waratahs trading at 14/1 the pair. The only other team which is under 50/1 is the Jaguares priced at 22/1 – click here for outright and conference betting
The Blues get things going on Friday morning South African time, when they host the Reds in Auckland. They have been incredibly poor at home this season losing all 7 games including their only one against Australian opposition where they lost 20-10 to the Rebels in Round 16. Their opponents, the Reds, have lost their last 4 matches in a row and their only game New Zealand sides on the road this season was a 38-34 loss to the Hurricanes. The handicap has been set at Blues (-10.5) and while they certainly have the talent in the squad to beat the handicap I just can’t be backing it with any confidence and I will just have a small interest in the Blues winning by under 12.5 points.
The Rebels are very much in the thick of things as far as the Australian Conference race goes and they are just a point behind the Waratahs heading into the home stretch. They won their last 3 games before the break and in Australian derbies at home this season have beaten both the Brumbies and the Reds by comfortable margins. The Waratahs won their last away match in Brisbane beating the Reds 52-41 before the break and their other Australian derby on the road was a 24-17 defeat of the Brumbies. The Waratahs have had the better of the Rebels in Melbourne of late winning their last 3 matches here. Bookmakers have priced this as a fairly tight game with the Waratahs narrow favourites and given their record in Australian derbies this season I am happy to back the Rebels straight up here at 13/10.
The Highlanders and the Chiefs get us going with a mouth-watering New Zealand derby on Saturday morning and both of these teams are firmly in playoff contention still. The Highlanders have been formidable at home this season winning all 6 matches, including derby wins over the Hurricanes, the Crusaders and the Blues. They face a Chiefs side which sits 4th on the New Zealand Conference but has more points than the Waratahs who lead the Australian Conference. The Chiefs have won 4 and lost 3 of their 7 away games this season. This will be the Chief’s 4th New Zealand derby on the road having lost to the Hurricanes and Crusaders and beaten the Blues. This should be a cracking game to watch by I give the Highlanders a clear edge and I am backing them to extend their strong home record by winning this game by 5 points or more. Note: I had originally thought this game was taking place in Dunedin but it is in fact in Fiji so is not really a home game for the Highlanders.
The Brumbies looked destined to miss the playoffs and they face a tough return to action when they welcome the Hurricanes. The Brumbies have won 3 and lost 4 of their home matches this season, the only game against New Zealand opposition a 13 point loss to the Crusaders. The Hurricanes limped into the break losing against the Crusaders and the Highlanders on the road and prior to that they had 10 successive victories. Their only match against Australian opposition away from home was a convincing 50-19 over the Rebels in Round 7 and last time these sides met in Canberra was an eliminator in 2017 with the Hurricanes winning 35-16. Nothing too much jumps out at me from a betting perspective in this game but I do like the price about the Hurricanes to score first and win the match which is currently priced at even money.
The Sunwolves have won their last 2 home matches against the Stormers and the Reds and bar the odd exception they have been very competitive this season. They face a Bulls side that has shown improvement this year but still sits bottom of the South African log and seemly out of playoff contention. The Bulls away record has been poor with 5 defeats and just 1 victory and in their last away start they were well beaten by the Jaguares by 30 points in Argentina. Sunwolves have hosted the Bulls twice and both games were tight affairs with the Sunwolves winning by a point in 2017 and the Bulls by 3 points in 2016. The Sunwolves have arrived on the handicap more often than not this season but I think the Bulls will be able to gain some ascendency up front and I am backing the visitors to win by 8 points or more.
Saturday night sees the Jaguares at home to the Stormers and having won their last 6 matches before the International break, including 4 in New Zealand, it will be interesting to see how the Jaguares players return with most of them having played for Argentina who were very disappointing in the mid-year Internationals. This will be their 4th home match against a South African side this season and they have won the previous 3. Stormers have once again had a disappointing season and lost their last 3 matches before their International break. Their away record has been awful with 7 defeats in 7 starts and in their only previous visit to Argentina they beat the Jaguares 13-8 in 2016. I find it hard to believe that the disappointing International campaign will not have taken something out of the Jaguares players and I am going to go for the Stormers win the game at 22/10.
The Sharks v Lions match will be covered in its own preview.
Blues v Reds– click here to bet
Blues win by under 12.5 points at 17/10
Rebels v Waratahs – click here to bet
Rebels win at 13/10.
Highlanders v Chiefs – click here to bet
Handicap, Highlanders (-4.5) at 9/10
Brumbies v Hurricanes – click here to bet
Score first/Full time, Hurricanes score first and win at even money
Sunwolves v Bulls – click here to bet
Handicap, Bulls (-7.5) at 9/10
Jaguares v Stormers – click here to bet
Stormers win at 22/10
Note: Prices correct at the time of posting but are subject to change