Bledisloe Cup 3 + NRC Final + Currie Cup Final Preview

The southern hemisphere international Test season concludes on Saturday when New Zealand host Australia in Auckland. Directly after the match from Eden Park, the third season of the National Rugby Championship (NRC) in Australia concludes with a fascinating matchup between the New South Wales Country Eagles and the Perth Spirit in Tamworth. The weekend finishes up with the Currie Cup final between the Cheetahs and the Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Once these matches are wrapped up, our attentional will turn to Europe with the Spring tour on our doorstep. The four Rugby Championship teams have some important tussles with their European counterparts and we will get the latest answer to the age old question of how big the quality gap is between northern and southern hemisphere rugby? Don’t forget to follow me (@S15_TheProfits) for game coverage, expert insight or just for a chat and fingers are crossed for another fascinating weekend of rugby.

Best Bet 1: Australia +10.5 First Half Handicap (vs New Zealand) @ $1.90 – Sportsbet
Best Bet 2: Perth Spirit +6.5 (vs NSW Country Eagles) @ $1.91 – Bet365
Best Bet 3: Cheetahs -7.5 (vs Blue Bulls) @ $1.90 – Sportsbet

*Additional plays may be added on twitter once all markets have been released

New Zealand ($1.06) vs Australia ($9.00)

The final Test match of the Southern Hemisphere rugby calendar takes place on Saturday night at the spiritual home of rugby, Eden Park. New Zealand host Australia in the third Bledisloe Cup match of the season and although it is a dead rubber, the All Blacks are playing to break the tier-one world record of 17 consecutive wins. A couple of weeks ago, the All Blacks wrapped up the Rugby Championship trophy with a comprehensive and complete 57-15 victory over the Springboks in Durban. Australia also produced a gutsy 33-21 win over Argentina at Twickenham in London.

New Zealand (2016): WWWWWWWWW

Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Matt Todd, Kieran Read (Captain), TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea, Ryan Crotty, Anton Lienert-Brown, Israel Dagg, Ben Smith

Substitutes: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumauina, Liam Squire, Ardie Savea, Tawera Kerr Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa

Probable Australia (2016): LLLLLWWLW

Scott Sio, Stephen Moore (Captain), Sekope Kepu, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, David Pocock, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Sefa Naivalu, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Dane Haylett-Petty, Israel Folau

Substitutes: James Hanson, Tom Robertson, Alan Alaalatoa, Kane Douglas, Sean McMahon, Nick Frisby, Quade Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani

Note: At the time of writing, the team had not been released.


Two weeks ago, the All Blacks thrashed their biggest rivals, the Springboks, in a record score line. In doing so, the All Blacks became the first team to clean sweep The Rugby Championship and win each match with a bonus point. Adding to this, the All Blacks managed to cross the chalk on 38 occasions this tournament, which scarily enough is more tries then the other three nations combined. But as the old adage goes, defence wins championships and the the All Blacks only conceded five tries across the six matches. It’s hard to find a weakness with this current crop of All Blacks because even when their best players are substituted out, the reserves and the fringe squad members find a way to step up.

The Wallabies have only managed three victories from nine matches this season. A number of their stalwarts now play overseas so Michael Cheika has done some experimenting and blooded some youth. There are some positive signs surrounding camp Wallaby, but inconsistency has been their biggest issue this season. The way in which Michael Cheika toys with the media suggests to me that he is having a real hard time getting his team to believe that they can actually beat the All Blacks, especially in their own back yard.

With the importance of the clash and the tier-one world record on the line, it comes as no surprise that Steven Hanson has made just the one change to his formidable starting line-up, with a further three changes on the bench. The forward pack that has laid the platform upfront all season remains unchanged, with the front three of Joe Moody, Dane Coles and Owen Franks solid selections in the front row. Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock continue to lead the way for second rowers around the world and Matt Todd gets another opportunity at openside flanker alongside Jerome Kaino and captain Kieran Read. Aaron Smith still remains on the outer after his recent indiscretions, but TJ Perenara has performed admirably both for the All Blacks and the Hurricanes and he lines up inside someone he is very familiar with in Beauden Barrett. The only change to the team sees Julian ‘the bus’ Savea replace the impressive Waisake Naholo. On the bench, Taylor, Crockett, Faumauina, Squire and Savea have been on the fringes all season, but Aaron Cruden and Malakai Fekitoa return.

At the time of writing, Michael Cheika has yet to name his team, once again deciding to toy with the media and their opposition. I personally wouldn’t expect too many changes from the team that beat Argentina, however, I feel as if he is going to revert back to his tried and tested back row of Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper and David Pocock at number eight. Nick Phipps will slot into halfback with Will Genia now back overseas in the Top 14 (France), but I do expect Bernard Foley to go back to flyhalf, with Reece Hodge and Samu Kerevi instilled as the young centre pairing. The rest of the back line should remain unchanged, but time will tell.

This week, the Wallabies have one of the toughest tasks in world sport on their hands – beating the All Blacks at Eden Park. The last time the Wallabies beat the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland was in 1986 – 30 long years ago. The All Blacks have won 15 Test matches in a row on four occasions, but never been able to reach 18, with Australia stopping them on three occasions (one loss and two draws). Unfortunately for Wallabies fans, this New Zealand team is a class above the rest at the moment and what better way to break the record at a ground they haven’t lost at since 1994 (vs France), the spiritual home of rugby. I expect the Wallabies will be in the match at half time, but as the All Blacks have done all season, they will break away in the second half.

Predicted result: New Zealand to win @ $1.06 – William Hill

Best Bet 1: Australia +10.5 First Half Handicap (vs New Zealand) @ $1.90 – Sportsbet 

NRC: New South Wales Country Eagles ($1.41) vs Perth Spirit ($2.75)

A new winner will be crowned in the third edition of the National Rugby Championship this week, when the New South Wales Country Eagles host the Perth Spirit in Tamworth. The Eagles ended the regular season as minor premiers having only lost one of their seven matches and the Perth Spirit finished in third place after only losing two games. The teams clashed less than a month ago with the Eagles victorious by a score line of 48-24. However, when you delve deeper into the stats, it was a much more even contest and Perth had their chances.

NSW Country Eagles (2016): WWWWWLWW

Paddy Ryan, Folau Fainga’a, Sam Needs, Rohan O’Reegan, Tim Buchanan, Sam Figg, Rowan Perry, Sam Ward, Jake Gordon, Andrew Deegan, Alex Newsome, Kyle Godwin, Dave Horwitz, Reece Robinson, Andrew Kellaway

Substitutes: Luke Holmes, Jed Gillespie, Cam Betham, Ryan McCauley, Tom Cusack, Mark Baldwin, Tayler Adams, Tom Hill

Perth Spirit (2016): WLWWLWWW

Pek Cowan, Heath Tessmann, Jermaine Ainsley, Kieran Stringer, Onehunga Havilli, Ross Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick, Brynard Stander, Ryan Louwrens, Jono Lance, Semisi Masirewa, Ben Tapuai, Billy Meakes, Marcel Brache, Luke Morahan

Substitutes: Anaru Rangi, Laione Mulikihaamea, Shambeckler Vui, Grayson Knapp, Kane Koteka, Michael Ruru, Ian Prior, Eric Vasukicakau


The Eagles are a young squad that have gelled nicely this season. They are strong up front and fair well at the set piece in the scrums and at lineout time. Without Waratahs hooker Tolu Latu and the recently capped Wallaby, Tom Robertson in their lineup, they will be under extreme pressure. They do have a balanced and quick back row and the form halfback of the competition, Jake Gordon marshals his troops around with great vision. However, their attacking flair in the back line has been their competitive advantage this season. The NSW Country Eagles have made more metres (4,548) and scored more tries (44) than any other team in the competition. Andrew Deegan is a young flyhalf that is coming through the ranks and Kyle Godwin (playing against his old team) has formed a dangerous partnership with Dave Horwitz in the centres. Alex Newsome has electric pace and Reece Robinson and Andrew Kellaway have been fixtures in the Waratahs setup for the past two seasons.
The Perth Spirit are one of the teams that you would expect to do well in this competition because they don’t have many members in the Wallabies squad and the majority of them play together all year round in Super Rugby. The inclusion of Jono Lance for Perth is a huge boost, especially after being named by many pundits as the player of the tournament. In saying that, halfback Ian Prior has done a good job to fill in, in his absence. Lance has the experienced Ben Tapuai and Bill Meakes, a player that will make a real name for himself in Super Rugby next season, outside of him and I feel that they can contain the Eagles. Semisi Masirewa, Marcel Brache and Luke Morahan are an extremely dangerous back three and the Eagles will need to make sure that their kicking game is on point or they will get punished. Likewise with the Spirit, aimless kicking will be disastrous with the attacking talent on show.

This is going to be a cracking match and one in which a lot of points are scored. I do believe that Perth have the forward pack to dominate the set piece and the breakdown components to disrupt the high-tempo that the Eagles like to play the game at. I think it is going to be tight and a moment of brilliance could well be the difference. Under the guidance of Jono Lance, I expect Perth to be crowned NRC Champions for 2016 and at the very least, cover the handicap.

Predicted result: Perth Spirit to win @ $2.75 – William Hill

Best Bet 2: Perth Spirit +6.5 (vs NSW Country Eagles) @ $1.91 – Bet365 

Currie Cup: Central Cheetahs ($1.37) vs Blue Bulls ($3.16)

The Currie Cup Final takes place on Saturday night in Bloemfontein where the Cheetahs host the Bulls for ultimate provincial glory in South Africa. The Cheetahs head into the Final unbeaten from nine matches this season and last week they easily disposed of the Lions 55-17, who were last year’s Champions and such a success story in Super Rugby. The Blue Bulls finished second on the log with six wins and two losses and they are lucky to be in the final after Piet van Zyl fortuitously scored a last-gasp try against Western Province in the other semi-final. What makes this match more exciting is that the Cheetahs haven’t been able to hold up the Currie Cup since 2007, whereas the Bulls haven’t faired much better, last winning in 2009.

Cheetahs (2016): WWWWWWWW

Charles Marais, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Aranos Coetzee, Justin Basson, Reniel Hugo, Paul Schoeman, Uzair Cassiem, Niell Jordan, Shaun Venter, Niel Marais, Raymond Rhule, Nico Lee, Francois Venter (captain), Sergeal Petersen, Clayton Blommetjies

Reserves: Jacques du Toit, Ox Nche, Armandt Koster, Henco Venter, Tian Meyer, Fred Zeilinga, Rayno Benjamin, Conrad van Vuuren

Blue Bulls (2016): WLWLWWWWW

Lizo Gqoboka, Jaco Visagie, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jason Jenkins, Marvin Orie, Roelof Smit, Jannes Kirsten, Arno Botha (captain), Rudy Paige, Tian Schoeman, Jamba Ulengo, Burger Odendaal, Dries Swanepoel, Travis Ismaiel, Ulrich Beyers

Reserves: Bandise Maku, Martin Dreyer, Pierre Schoeman, Nic de Jager, Hanro Liebenberg, Piet van Zyl, Joshua Stander, Bjorn Basson


It’s hard to back against a team that has a perfect record this season. Currie Cup success looks like it is fairly straightforward to predict. The teams that have had the least amount of Springboks in their squad over the past two years have had the ‘undefeated’ result. This is further reiterated by the fact that the Bulls are without RG Snyman, a player who has provided them with real go-forward this season. The way in which the Cheetahs dismantled a Lions outfit that has achieved so much success over the past 12 months is simply too hard to ignore and playing at home, I expect the home side to pick up the chocolates against a battle-hardened Bulls outfit.

Predicted result: Cheetahs to win @ $1.37 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 3: Cheetahs -7.5 (vs Blue Bulls) @ $1.90 – Sportsbet



Glenn has followed rugby union for 19 years and has expert knowledge on the game freely committing to over 500 viewing hours a year. Having played with and against some current Super Rugby players and International superstars, he understands the game, the players and the laws inside out. Having been born in South Africa, spent time in New Zealand and currently living in Australia, Glenn lives and breathes rugby. With so many different tournaments happening around the world simultaneously and the addition of Rugby Sevens to the Olympic program, there are always plenty of healthy betting options available. An obsession, a passion, call it what you will, Glenn enjoys sharing his insight, opinions and predictions with anyone who wants to listen.

Leave a Reply