Super Rugby 2018 – Round 8 Preview

Best Bet 1: Waratahs -15.5 (vs Sunwolves) @ $1.90 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 2: Chiefs -9.5 @ $1.90 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 3: Brumbies vs Reds – Total Points Under (waiting for markets to be released)

HURRICANES ($1.05) VS SHARKS ($10.00)

Week eight sees Super Rugby venture to McLean Park in Napier where the Hurricanes will host the Sharks. The Hurricanes belted the Rebels 50-19 last weekend in Melbourne to cement themselves at the top of the New Zealand Conference. The Sharks also earned their first overseas victory of the season with a thumping 63-40 victory over the Blues in Auckland in a highly entertaining match. The last time these two teams faced each other was in an elimination match in Wellington in 2016, with the home side shutting out the visitors 41-0.

Prediction:

The Hurricanes are on a real tear at the moment and that was evident with how easily they disposed Australia’s best team last week. Their tempo catches teams off guard and their accuracy in everything they do, especially in counterattack is the reason why I have picked them to win the tournament in 2018. Lesser known players like Chris Eves, Ben May and Gareth Evans had storming games last week and TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett continue to prove why they are the best provincial halves pairing in the world. Special mention must go to Ben Lam, the tournament’s leading try-scorer after bagging four in Melbourne. There is chatter that an All Blacks call up may be on the cards this season and he certainly wouldn’t look out-of-place in the national jersey.

The Sharks performance against the Blues was what many pundits had thought the Durban-based outfit could produce on a consistent basis in 2018. Jean-Luc du Preez produced a herculean effort that would almost lock him in for the Springboks in June and his brother Robert racked up an outrageous 38 points on the back of a try and 12/12 off the boot, which hasn’t been done since Gavin Lawless of the Sharks scored 50 points against the Blues in 1997. Curwin Bosch had an exceptional game at fullback and Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus no doubt took notice, despite still needing some work on his defence.

The Hurricanes head into this match as heavy favourites and understandably so, but the line is too big for me to take in this game given how well the Sharks attack was last week. If I was forced to pick, I would back the Sharks +22.5.

Predicted result: Hurricanes to win @ $1.05 – Sportsbet

SUNWOLVES ($6.00) VS WARATAHS ($1.13)

Saturday’s action kicks of at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo where the Sunwolves welcome the Waratahs. The Sunwolves return from the bye in desperate need of a win after dropping their first four matches. The Waratahs will head north with some added confidence having beaten the Brumbies 24-17 last weekend in Canberra. The last and only time these two played was in 2016, where the Waratahs thumped the Sunwolves 57-12 at this venue.

Prediction:

The Sunwolves have won three of their 34 matches since joining the competition in 2016. They’ve had their ups, but mainly downs and just when it seemed that Jamie Joseph’s troops were on an upwards trend, they were hammered by 50 points by the Chiefs in front of their own passionate fans. Additionally, Joseph has resorted to a team that has more overseas players than homegrown talent, which doesn’t bode well for the future of the franchise. This week they come up against a Waratahs outfit that will be seeking a bonus point victory and all signs are pointing towards that occurring. The ‘Tahs still have a lot to work to do and the loss of Israel Folau will be felt, but Taqele ‘Big T’ Naiyaravoro has been in ominous form and will more than likely make life very difficult for the Sunwolves by crossing the chalk at least once in Tokyo.

Predicted result: Waratahs to win @ $1.13 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 1: Waratahs -15.5 (vs Sunwolves) @ $1.90 – Sportsbet

Chiefs ($1.36) VS Blues ($3.18)

The only all-New Zealand derby sees the Chiefs host the Blues on Saturday afternoon at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton. The Chiefs surprised me last week but did an excellent job in defeating the Highlanders 27-22 in captain Sam Cane’s 100th game. On the other hand, the Blues were absolutely embarrassed in Auckland, conceding 63 points against a Sharks side lacking in confidence. Just over a month ago, the Chiefs beat the Blues 27-21 in Auckland and they have won their last six home matches against the men from Auckland dating back to 2012.

Prediction:

The Chiefs have done an exceptional job to cope with the amount of injuries they have suffered from. They continue to stand up each week with Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Anton Lienert-Brown and young outside back Solomona Alaimalo all having outstanding starts to the season. In recent weeks, I have continually questioned Damien McKenzie’s move to flyhalf, however, last week against the Highlanders, he scored 12 points (5/5 kicking), carried the ball 14 times, beating 14 defenders (a Super Rugby record) and making three line breaks. He also chipped in with ten tackles in another man-of-the-match performance. Turning my attention to the Blues, Pat Lam, John Kirwan and now Tana Umaga have all had the same fate when it comes to coaching the Blues and more poor performances could see Umaga’s position in jeopardy before the season is out. Their loss to the Sharks last weekend was unacceptable to say the least, but what better way to regain some form and confidence than to defeat their biggest rivals, the Chiefs. Patrick Tuipulotu was at his rampaging best, but they lack the tight five and control to trouble any of the top-ranked teams.

The Chiefs are yet to lose at home this season and they have the longest unbeaten streak in Super Rugby having won 13 straight matches against the Blues. I can’t see this Blues team causing the upset this weekend, but expect lots of points.

Predicted result: Chiefs to win @ $1.36 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 2: Chiefs -9.5 @ $1.90 – Sportsbet

BRUMBIES ($1.60) VS REDS ($2.35)

The Brumbies and the Reds go head-to-head at GIO Stadium in Canberra on Saturday night. David Pocock’s return to Australian rugby was spoiled last weekend when the Waratahs handed the home team a 17-24 loss. The Reds return from the bye having won three of their first five matches, however, they did lose their last match to the Stormers two weeks ago in Cape Town. The Reds beat the Brumbies 18-10 earlier this season in Brisbane in what was one of the competition’s worst matches of the season, but the home team has one the last three matches played in Canberra.

Prediction:

The Brumbies (9 points) and the Reds (13 points) are in need of a victory in this match or they risk falling further behind both the Waratahs (14 points) and the Rebels (20 points). Both teams have struggled offensively sitting in 14th (12 tries) and 15th (10 tries) in points scored, but they have been strong in defence with the Reds topping the tackle success metric (85.8%) and the Brumbies sitting just behind them in 3rd having made 85.2% of their tackles. Both teams possess a solid scrum and line-out, so it will be interesting to see who gets the ascendency early on in the match. Brumbies flanker David Pocock was exceptional in his first game back and didn’t skip a beat and he has the X-factor that could very well be the difference at the breakdown on Saturday. I can make arguments for both teams to win this match, but the Brumbies rarely lose two matches at home in a row, so I’ll tip them to get the narrow win. I say this with very little confidence though as the Reds have been the better team so far this season. From a betting standpoint, this match has ‘unders’ written all over it and don’t expect this one to be a spectacle as these two often produce some of the worst matches on record.

Predicted result: Brumbies to win @ $1.60 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 3: Brumbies vs Reds – Total Points Under (waiting for markets to be released)

LIONS ($1.40) VS STORMERS ($3.00)

The Lions and the Stormers clash at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday night in what could be deemed as a must-win game for both sides. The Lions were gallant in their 8-14 loss to the Crusaders last week, whereas, the Stormers poor away record was once again highlighted in their 23-33 loss to the Bulls. The Lions have won the last two games against the Stormers, but the visitors have actually won eight of the 12 matches played in Jo’burg.

Prediction:

This is a top of the table clash in the South African Conference, but the Lions have looked anything but dominant losing their past two matches and the Stormers have struggled their way to this point. The Lions possess a strong pack with Malcolm Marx and Franco Mostert at the forefront of everything good they do and they have scored more tries than any other team in the competition (they have also played an additional match). The Stormers have also been strong in attack dominating the carries (847) and clean breaks stats (97) and have had one of the more stable platforms at scrum time in the league. Given how attack-focussed both of these teams have been, this should be an entertaining fixture and one that could be a turning point for either team. Moreover, the Lions have been the premier outfit in South Africa for a number of seasons and I expect them to flex their muscles this weekend with a narrow win.

Predicted result: Lions to win @ $1.40 – Sportsbet

JAGUARES ($5.75) VS CRUSADERS ($1.14)

The final match of the round sees the Jaguares play their fifth match at the Jose Amalfitani Stadium in succession, this time against the reigning Champions, the Crusaders. The Jaguares return from their bye after beating the Lions in their last fixture, the same team the Crusaders defeated 14-8 last weekend in Johannesburg. This will only be the second clash between these two, with the Crusaders winning the 2016 fixture in Christchurch, 32-15.

Prediction:

Don’t let the scoreboard fool you, the Crusaders completely outplayed the Lions last weekend in Johannesburg and should’ve won that match by 20-30 points. They had three tries disallowed and their finishing cost them having dominated both possession and territory. This week they come up against the most inconsistent team in Super Rugby. The Jaguares are a much stronger proposition on their home turf with wins over the Waratahs and the Lions, however, they have also dropped matches in Buenos Aires this season to the Hurricanes and the Reds, two teams with strong packs. Much like their Test team, the Jaguares are a team that lift when they play New Zealand opposition and although they may match the physicality of the visitors, the Crusaders should be able to win this one by double-digits, especially given that the Hurricanes won by a margin of 25 points.

Predicted result: Crusaders to win @ $1.14 – Sportsbet

Author

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Glenn

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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