Super Rugby 2018 – Round 3 Preview

Best Bet 1: Rebels -7.5 (vs Sunwolves) @ $1.93 – Bet365 (early twitter play)
Best Bet 2: Crusaders -16.5 (vs Stormers)@ $1.90 – William Hill (early twitter play)
Best Bet 3: Brumbies/Lions/Hurricanes @ $2.14 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)

BLUES ($1.75) VS CHIEFS ($2.05)

Week three of Super Rugby kicks off at the spiritual home of rugby, Eden Park, where the Blues host the Chiefs in Auckland. The Blues dropped their opening fixture of the season to the Highlanders (34-41) in a thriller last weekend and the Chiefs were also off the mark, outclassed by the reigning Super Rugby Champions, the Crusaders (23-45) in Christchurch. The Blues have a horrible record against the Chiefs in recent times, having not won since 2011, a stretch of 12 matches. In saying that, they did get close last year, securing a 16-16 draw in miserable Auckland conditions.


Despite not picking up the win against the Highlanders, the Blues scrum was strong, they were patient in attack and their performance was littered with moments of individual brilliance from Akira Ioane, Sonny-Bill Williams, Matt Duffie and Rieko Ioane. Coach Tana Umaga has made four changes this week with Sonny-Bill Williams a notable omission through injury, but Patrick Tuipulotu, Jimmy Tupou are back in the starting team and Jerome Kaino finds himself on the bench to add some real starch to the pack. Lanky flyer, Melani Nanai has also been preferred at fullback over Michael Collins signalling the Blues intent.

The Chiefs have had a horror start to the season on the injury front with Tim Nanai-Williams (season), Charlie Ngatai (two weeks) and Dominic Bird all unavailable after last week’s loss. There were still a number of positives that Colin Cooper would’ve taken out that match as the Chiefs set piece was stable and they dominated the stats lines offensively and defensively, but just conceded too many turnovers that were unsurprisingly punished. As a result of the injury crisis, coach Cooper has made our changes bringing in lock Michael Allardice, experienced flanker Liam Messam, winger Sean Wainui and Shaun Stevenson shifts to fullback to cover Ngatai.

The last time the Blues played at Eden Park was their famous 22-16 victory over the touring British & Irish Lions last season. However, the Blues have now gone 12 games without a win against New Zealand opposition, their longest ever drought against their countrymen. This is a really difficult match to call and I certainly won’t be placing a wager on this match, however, I feel that the Blues experience might give them the edge against an injury-ravaged Chiefs outfit en route to what has become a very rare victory.

Predicted result: Blues to win @ $1.75 – Sportsbet

REDS ($2.60) VS BRUMBIES ($1.50)

Super Rugby returns to Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday night for a match between the Reds and the Brumbies. A 14-man and at times 13-man Reds side was hammered 19-45 by the Rebels in Melbourne in round two, whereas, the Brumbies left Tokyo with a 32-25 victory over a gutsy Sunwolves outfit. Last season, the Reds ended a five match losing streak to the Brumbies, however, they have a very poor record overall in Brisbane with the Brumbies winning nine of the 13 matches played.


In 2017, the Reds were the most ill-disciplined team in Super Rugby, collecting 13 yellow cards and one red card in their 15 matches. This year hasn’t started any better as the Reds will be without both Scott Higginbotham (three weeks) and Lukhan Tui (three weeks) after their reckless tackles against the Rebels, robbing the Queenslanders of experience and physicality. Their replacements of Liam Wright and Kane Douglas aren’t the worst, but it is their bench that becomes even weaker and something that will cause them problems – a real issue for Brad Thorn. Their set-piece was strong against the Rebels and it will need to reach those heights again if they are to cause the Brumbies problems who are traditionally a very strong set-piece team.

The Brumbies were lucky to escape Tokyo with a win and were guilty of bit of early season complacency. They made a whopping 19 turnovers and missed almost 25% of their tackles. In the end, their class prevailed, but last week will be a stark reminder to them that there are no easy games in Super Rugby. The 37-year old Josh Mann-Rea, Christian Leali’ifano and Isi Naisarani were the Brumbies best in Tokyo, but as a whole, they really looked undercooked and off the mark. I expect them to be much better this week.

The Reds and the Brumbies were the two most underwhelming Australian sides in round one and another loss here could spell disaster for their 2018 season outlook, particularly for the Reds. The Queenslanders will be buoyed by the home fans at Suncorp Stadium, but I foresee their shallow depth, lack of experience and almost non-existent leadership costing them against a side that is very much the opposite.

Predicted result: Brumbies to win @ $1.50 – Sportsbet

SUNWOLVES ($3.20) VS REBELS ($1.35)

The Sunwolves will play their second match in as many weeks at the Prince Chichibu Stadium in Tokyo, this time against the Melbourne-based Rebels. The Japanese team were on the verge of causing an upset last weekend against the Brumbies, however, they fell short 25-32 in front of an exuberant local crowd. The Rebels got their season off to the perfect start with a 45-19 win over a Reds team that had to play most of the match with 14 men. The Sunwolves and the Rebels have clashed on one occasion previously in 2016 in a match that saw the Rebels comfortable victors 35-9 in Tokyo.


The Jamie Joseph-coached Sunwolves came within a whisker of taking down the ‘best’ team in their Conference last week, but couldn’t capitalise when it really mattered. Australian lock Sam Wykes and South African imports Lappies Labuschagne and Willie Britz led a very physical and combative forward charge, while the Tongan-born Hosean Taumaki (two tries) and Samoan-born Timothy Lafaele (one try) caused havoc for the Brumbies offence. It is clear that assistant Coach Tony Brown is going to employ a rush defence this season, so teams will need to find a way to counteract this, but their attack looked sharp and they looked very match fit, courtesy of the Top League season recently finishing.

The Rebels got their new era underway with a victory that saw them score more tries (7) and more points (45) than ever before. There were a number of outstanding performers for the Rebels against the Reds, but none more so than Wallabies halfback Will Genia. He controlled the game brilliantly and stamped his authority on a dominant first-up performance. It was also great to see fullback Dane Haylett-Petty back in action, a player I believe is going to have a big season, especially with the class that surrounds him. Rebels coach Dave Wessels has named an unchanged line-up for this clash and we’ll get a real gauge this week of where the Rebels are really at.

The Rebels would’ve learned a lot from watching the Sunwolves take on the Brumbies last weekend and will be taking this game very seriously. Despite a strong performance last week by the locals, I can’t see them repeating that performance after a team that is confident and looking to secure their first ever 2-0 start to a season. I would be surprised if the Sunwolves kept this within double-digits.

Predicted result: Rebels to win @ $1.35 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 1: Rebels -7.5 (vs Sunwolves) @ $1.93 – Bet365 (early twitter play)


The Crusaders and the Stormers will lock horns at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday afternoon. The Crusaders got their season off to the best possible start with an emphatic 45-23 victory over the Chiefs last weekend. On the other hand, the Stormers suffered their first loss of the season, with a injury-time try denying them a draw against the Waratahs in Sydney.


One performance into the season and the Crusaders are many pundits favourites to retain the Super Rugby title. Typically in the past, the Crusaders have been notorious for getting off to a slow start, but it was anything but that against the Chiefs. The experience and leadership of Sam Whitelock in the pack and Ryan Crotty in the midfield was telling and the Crusaders broke the Chiefs down in a very calculated manner, forcing them to chance their arm late in the match, which is inevitably what cost them.

The Stormers will be extremely disappointed after leaving Sydney with a losing bonus point because it was their game to win. Reserve hooker Dean Muir lost two lineouts and played a part in conceding a tighthead late in the match allowing the Tahs a game-winning opportunity, which they duly took. Their pack and in particular their front row, has shown their true ability in the first two weeks, dominating the set piece and showcasing their brute strength in open play, but their back line lacked a bit of direction, especially when Damian Willemse left the game. They will miss Willemse this week in the flyhalf channel (corked calf), with Dillyn Leyds preferred at stand-off. Although Leyds is great on attack, his defensive ability is suspect and I expect the Crusaders to send a number of their big ball carriers careering towards him.

The Crusaders have a dominant record over the Stormers winning the last six played and all 10 fixtures in Christchurch. The Stormers had a golden opportunity to bag rare overseas points in Sydney, but the Crusaders won’t afford them that luxury in Christchurch. I can’t see anything but a handsome Crusaders victory in this one further showcasing how strong the systems are in Canterbury rugby.

Predicted result: Crusaders to win @ $1.11 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 2: Crusaders -16.5 (vs Stormers)@ $1.90 – William Hill (early twitter play)

SHARKS ($1.44) VS WARATAHS ($2.80)

The Sharks return from the bye to play their first match at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday night against the Waratahs. The Waratahs will arrive in the Republic one from one after Ned Hanigan’s injury-time winner against the Stormers last weekend in Sydney. The Sharks won this corresponding fixture last season and are on a three-match win streak against the Waratahs in Durban.


Don’t expect this to be a pretty game given the humidity that exists in Durban at this time of the year. When the ball is like a cake of soap, scrums factor heavily and the Sharks certainly have the edge here. The Stormers showed last week how to beat the Waratahs, by targeting them up front and pinning them down in their half with their lack of solid exit kickers. The Tahs were awful on the road last year and although I expect them to be a better team this year (and how can they not with the quality they have in their back line)m but I think they may fade late in this match to give the Sharks a narrow victory. I say that with little confidence though as this match really could go either way.

Predicted result: Sharks to win @ $1.44 – Sportsbet

BULLS ($3.75) VS LIONS ($1.27)

The Bulls and the Lions will clash in the traditional trans-Jukskei derby at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night. Both teams enter this match undefeated with the Bulls putting on a gutsy display to beat the Hurricanes and the Lions ran in seven tries to easily dispose of the Jaguares last weekend in Johannesburg. The Lions have won four of the last five matches played against the Bulls, including both last year, but they have struggled only winning one of their last eight matches in the nation’s capital (Pretoria).


The Bulls breakout performance against the Hurricanes was spearheaded by their two locks, RG Snyman and Lood de Jager, who were allowed to run rampant at times and good game management by Handre Pollard at ten. Their fitness and improved skillset had John Mitchell’s fingerprints all over it and the locals will be ecstatic at the growth this team has made in just a few short months. Mitchell was in charge of starting the Lions upward trends a few years ago when he and Carlos Spencer were in charge in Johannesburg, so he will be very aware of how to exploit them. Whether his players can do the job on the field is another question.

The Lions have been unchallenged as the best team in the Republic over the past few years and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down this season. Their set piece remains a real weapon and their forwards are all players who are willing to do the stuff stuff, embodied by players like Andries Ferrera and Kwagga Smith. In the back line, Lions winger Apiwhe Dyanti looks to be a star of the future securing his second man-of-the-match award in his second Super Rugby appearance. Not only did he score two tries (3 this season), but he also setup another one, beat 11 defenders and racked up a huge 155 running metres on five clean line breaks. His early performances will no doubt have caught the eye of new Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.

The Lions have been forced into making a few changes this week, whereas, the Bulls have stuck with their winning formula. I was impressed with the way the Bulls went about their business last week, but they are coming up against one of the best teams in the competition and one that will be very aware of what threats they bring to the table this season. The Bulls will continue to play with belief in front of what is hopefully a bigger Loftus crowd, but the Lions structures, depth and cohesion should see them record a double-digit win.

Predicted result: Lions to win @ $1.27 – Sportsbet


The final match of the round comes to us from the Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires, where the Jaguares taken on the Hurricanes. The Jaguares continue to be a huge disappointment having lost both of their matches to start the season and the Hurricanes will be looking to notch their first victory after being upset by the Bulls last weekend in Pretoria (19-21). The only match between these two teams occurred in 2016, where the Hurricanes notched up a 40-22 victory in Wellington.


As far as I’m concerned, I don’t know if the Jaguares’ place in the competition is justified. I understand the financial gains that they bring and their potential, however, their attitude, discipline and effort simply isn’t up to scratch. I harp on about it each week how they have a Test-match laden squad, but their results are just shocking. They score some brilliant tries at times, but when the bounce of the ball stops going their way or one of their mass-culprits commits an act of foul play or gives away a silly penalty, they just seem to give up. I’m hoping now that they are back at home things change as Buenos Aires is a notoriously difficult place to play, but coach Mario Ledesma really does have his hands full with trying to turn this franchise around.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd was quoted as saying ‘In the period of time that I have been coaching, I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a game where we have prepared so well and delivered so little,’ in reference to their performance against the Bulls. He then went on to discuss how this was the worst result of his four-year tenure with the ‘Canes. Ominous signs for the Jaguares this week who are in line to feel the full wrath of the visitors, led by the return of Beauden Barrett and his brother, Jordie.

Both teams will be equally affected by jet-lag having had to travel from South Africa and the attacking threats both team possess should make this a high-scoring and entertaining game. When the referee does blow his final whistle though, I do expect the Hurricanes to be ahead on the scoreboard and by a fairly comfortable margin.

Predicted result: Hurricanes to win @ $1.17 – 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.

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