Super Rugby Round 14 – 2017

Best Bet 1: Chiefs/Reds @ $2.35 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 2: Hurricanes -14.5 (vs Bulls) @ $1.91 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)

BLUES ($2.40) VS CHIEFS ($1.57)

The penultimate round of Super Rugby before the International Test match break commences sees the Blues host the Chiefs at Eden Park in Auckland. One would assume the Blues chances of qualifying are all but over after they went down to the Stormers 22 – 30 last week in Cape Town. The Chiefs still remain in the title hunt despite falling short, 24 – 31 to the unbeaten Crusaders in Suva (Fiji). The Chiefs have won the last 11 matches against the Blues, including a 41 – 26 victory in Hamilton earlier this season.

Blues: WLLLWWLLWWWL
Chiefs: WWWWBWLWWWWW

Prediction:

With the Blues loss to the Stormers last week in Cape Town, they effectively went from playoff hopefuls to playoff spoilers. They have more than enough class and brute strength in their pack with the likes of Charlie Faumauina up front, lock Patrick Tuipulotu, Steven Luatua, Blake Gibson and Akira Ioane in the back row. Augustine Pulu and Piers Francis are stable in the halves and SBW and George Moala are a potent centre pairing. Rieko Ioane, Matt Duffie and Michael Collins are a young, but dangerous back three combination. However, they just haven’t been able to put it together, especially away from home this season. Additionally, their bench lacks the punch to really change games in the ‘championship’ minutes. They are still a year or two away from really making a fist of it in this competition, but they still have provided more than enough thrills this season.

This is an important match for the Chiefs given that they are tied in second place with the Hurricanes on 43 competition points. They have only lost two matches this whole season, but to be fair, they haven’t hit their straps all season except for a couple early season victories over the Highlanders, Blues and Hurricanes. With the All Blacks hosting the Lions next month, it is time for some of their players to stand up with potential selection/demotion on the cards. The Blues are at a disadvantage given that they have had to travel all the way back from Cape Town, and coupled with the fact that they are 0-5 against New Zealand opposition this season, I’m leaning towards the Chiefs in a high-scoring game.

Predicted result: Chiefs to win @ $1.57 – Sportsbet

REDS ($1.40) VS FORCE ($3.00)

The first of six matches on Saturday comes to us from the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo, where the Sunwolves host the Cheetahs. Both teams suffered heavy losses last weekend with the Sunwolves going down to the Sharks (17 – 38) and the Cheetahs were thrashed by 54 points by the Hurricanes in Wellington. The Cheetahs have won all three matches played against the Sunwolves with all matches surpassing 62 total points.

Reds: LLLLLBWLLLLBL
Force: LWWLLLBLLLLLL

Prediction:

This will be another one of those matches that fails to attract the viewership outside of the stadium itself. The Sunwolves only have managed the one victory this year against the Bulls in Tokyo, whereas the Cheetahs are on a mean streak of nine consecutive losses. Over the last month, they have conceded an average of 52.5 points per game, albeit to the more clinical and successful New Zealand teams. The Sunwolves have shown that they can play some exceptional rugby in patches and the Cheetahs ‘attack from anywhere’ mindset wins them over fans week-to-week, but unfortunately, doesn’t pay the bills. If the weather can remain clear, I expect this to be a high-scoring fixture with the Cheetahs physicality proving to be the difference in a rare, but narrow win.

Predicted result: Reds to win @ $1.40 – Sportsbet

SUNWOLVES ($2.10) VS CHEETAHS ($1.75)

The first of six matches on Saturday comes to us from the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo, where the Sunwolves host the Cheetahs. Both teams suffered heavy losses last weekend with the Sunwolves going down to the Sharks (17 – 38) and the Cheetahs were thrashed by 54 points by the Hurricanes in Wellington. The Cheetahs have won all three matches played against the Sunwolves with all matches surpassing 62 total points.

Sunwolves: LLLLLBWLLLLBL
Cheetahs: LWWLLLBLLLLLL

Prediction:

This will be another one of those matches that fails to attract the viewership outside of the stadium itself. The Sunwolves only have managed the one victory this year against the Bulls in Tokyo, whereas the Cheetahs are on an unhealthy streak of nine consecutive losses. Over the last month, they have conceded an average of 52.5 points per game, albeit to the more clinical and successful New Zealand teams. The Sunwolves have shown that they can play some exceptional rugby in patches and the Cheetahs ‘attack from anywhere’ mindset wins them over fans week-to-week, but unfortunately, doesn’t pay the bills. If the weather can remain clear, I expect this to be a high-scoring fixture with the Cheetahs physicality proving to be the difference in a rare, but narrow win.

Predicted result: Cheetahs to win @ $1.75 – Sportsbet

HIGHLANDERS ($1.11) VS WARATAHS ($6.50)

The Highlanders host the Waratahs in the second match of the day at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday evening. The Highlanders extended their unbeaten run to eight consecutive matches after trouncing the Western Force by 49 points in Perth. The Waratahs have also found form at the right time of the season, this time beating the Rebels, 50 – 23 in Sydney. The Highlanders have won the last three games in this fixture and the last three matches played in the Otago region.

Highlanders: LLWLWWWBWWWWW
Waratahs: WLLLWLLBLWLBW

Prediction:

This is a match I am really excited about. The Highlanders have been on a tear and the Waratahs seem to finally have found their attacking mojo. In fact, in Sydney on Sunday was the first half-century scored by the Waratahs at home since 2010 and the most points ever scored against Australian opposition. The Highlanders sit fourth and the ‘Tahs second in their respective conferences, despite the Highlanders having more than double (41) the amount of competition points in comparison to the ‘Tahs (19).

The Highlanders are in a good position this week bringing back number eight Luke Whitelock, halfback Aaron Smith, winger Waisake Naholo and the extremely talented Ben Smith. The fullback will equal Anton Leonard’s Highlanders appearance record with 127. Lima Sopoaga remains on the bench and should see at least forty minutes of action under the roof. Darryl Gibson has named an unchanged Waratahs line-up, which makes sense after their improved performance last week. Dean Mumm has also announced his retirement at the end of the season the ‘Tahs will want to send him off on a good note.

I wouldn’t be completely surprised if the Waratahs won this match or kept within the handicap, but they just haven’t been consistent enough this season and the ‘Tahs probably aren’t the team to end the Highlanders winning streak. The Waratahs discipline and tackling were both areas of concern last week and if they are slightly off their game, the men from Dunedin will punish them. I expect the home team to win this by double digits in a high-scoring contest, so the overs might be the play once markets are released.

Predicted result: Highlanders to win @ $1.11 – Sportsbet

REBELS ($12.00) VS CRUSADERS ($1.03)

Saturday night Super Rugby action returns to AAMI Park in Melbourne where the Rebels host the table-topping Crusaders. The Rebels suffered their ninth loss of the season, this time at the hands of the Waratahs (23 – 50). The Crusaders kept their unbeaten season alive with an impressive 30 – 22 win over the Chiefs in Suva (Fiji), on the back of a Richie Mo’unga kicking masterclass. The Rebels will be looking to avenge last year’s loss that saw the Crusaders put them to the sword 26 – 85, but the scoreline this week probably won’t be too far off a repeat.

Rebels: LLBLLLBWLLLL
Crusaders: WWWWWWBWWWWWW

Prediction:

The Rebels season went from bad to worse last weekend. Losing skipper Reece Hodge to concussion early on in the match paved the way to another loss and there is now, even more, uncertainty hanging over their heads around their survival in this competition long-term. They have wrestled with a huge injury ward all season, with Tony McGahan stating that they have been without 17-20 players on average per week. Either way, they never have had the depth or the star power to make a real fist of things in this competition. Unfortunately for them, they come up against a Crusaders team that has a dominance very similar to that of the squad that went on to win seven Super Rugby titles. After this match, the Crusaders play the Highlanders at home and the Hurricanes away. The Lions are certainly hot on their heels seeking home field advantage so five competition points in Melbourne is a must. Despite making a few changes, they will be far too strong for the Rebels and should win this by more than 30.

Predicted result: Crusaders to win @ $1.11 – Sportsbet

BULLS ($6.00) VS HURRICANES ($1.13)

The first of three matches from South Africa takes places at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, where the Bulls host the Hurricanes. The Bulls were completely outclassed in the local derby last weekend against the Lions, going down 14 – 51. The Hurricanes were equally as impressive as the Lions, hammering the Cheetahs 61 – 7 in Wellington. The Hurricanes are on a two-game winning straight over the Bulls (2014 + 2015), which included the last match that was played in Pretoria, the season the Highlanders became Champions.

Bulls: LLBWLLLWWBLLL
Hurricanes: WWLWBWWWWBWLW

Prediction:

This is a match that really stood out to me when looking over the odds this week. The bookies continue to give the Bulls a chance, despite having been beaten this year by the Cheetahs (6), Sunwolves (1), Blues (24), Crusaders (36), Highlanders (7 – in the wet) and last weekend the Lions (37). There are discussions that ex-All Blacks coach John Mitchell might be called in to replace Nollis Marais, but either way, something needs to happen to repair the state of the union. They simply don’t have the belief, skills or fitness to compete with the high-achievers in this competition. Unfortunately for them, the Hurricanes are what I deem to be high-achievers. They are the reigning champions and are on a mission to finish as high up on the competition ladder as possible to negate the travel factor. Despite leaving not being able to call upon Dane Coles (concussion), Matt Proctor (concussion) and Nehe Milner-Skudder for the majority of the season, they are within a few tries of breaking the season try-scoring record, which was set by the Lions last season. The travel factor must be considered, but the weather is due to be perfect for running rugby and the Hurricanes will put at least 40 points on the Bulls this weekend and the home team simply doesn’t have the structures, patience or X-factor to score enough points to cover the line.

Predicted result: Hurricanes to win @ $1.13 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 2: Hurricanes -14.5 (vs Bulls) @ $1.91 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)

SHARKS ($1.70) VS STORMERS ($2.20)

The Sharks host the Stormers in a classic South African coastal derby at Kings Park on Saturday night. An understrength Sharks outfit scored two late tries to break the Sunwolves spirits last weekend in Singapore and the Stormers outmuscled a very good, but ill-disciplined Blues outfit, 30 – 22 in Cape Town. The Sharks have won the last two matches against the Stormers and at the Shark Tank, they have won six of the last eight, dating back to 2006.

Sharks: LWWWWLWBDWWLW
Stormers: WWWBWWWLLLLBW

Prediction:

There is no doubt about it that the Stormers are going to finish at the top of Africa 1 and the Sharks are going to secure the wildcard in Africa 2, thus qualifying for the Super Rugby playoffs. There is also no question that the Sharks have been playing better rugby over the past month, but the way in which the Stormers manhandled the Blues packed will have them slightly concerned. I see both teams as having strong packs, but weak back lines. The battle of the set piece and the contest at the breakdown will ultimately determine the result of this match. It’s a hard match to call either way, but I am going to support the visitors who will be willing to end their losing streak to the Sharks. Grab the extra 2.5 points if you are going to have a play though.

Predicted result: Stormers to win a close one @ $2.20 – Sportsbet

JAGUARES ($1.57) VS BRUMBIES ($2.40)

The Jagaures and the Brumbies will clash on Sunday morning at the Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires. The Jaguares are coming fresh off their bye, but their last match saw go down to the Force at the same venue two weeks ago. The Brumbies will be looking to finish their overseas tour with another victory, having beaten a spirited Kings outfit, 19 – 10. This will be the first match played between these two teams.

Jaguares: WLWWWBLLLLWLB
Brumbies: LLWWLBWLLLBLW

Prediction:

This is a real difficult match to call given the form lines of both teams heading into this matchup. The Jaguares have faded over the past month of the competition, as have the Brumbies apart from a sketchy win over the Kings last week. The Jaguares adopt a very loose style of play, where the Brumbies look to get their forwards heavily involved in the game and grind their opposition down. Despite having one of the best flyhalves ever to play the game in Stephen Larkham as their coach, the Brumbies offensive efficiency has really suffered. This match is definitely a clash of styles and I’d prefer just to stay away from it entirely.

Predicted result: Decision to be made once teams are released

LIONS ($1.04) VS KINGS ($11.00)

The final match of the round is a rare Sunday fixture at Ellis Park in Johannesburg between the Lions and the Kings. The Lions were special in their bonus point win over the Bulls (51 – 14) last weekend, whereas, the Brumbies snapped the Kings three-match winning streak in Port Elizabeth. The Lions have played the Kings on three occasions, winning by margins of 35, 36 and 23 points respectively.

Lions: WWLWWBWWWWWW
Kings: LWLLLBLLWWBWL

Prediction:

The Lions have now won their last 10 matches at Ellis Park, dating all the way back to the middle of last season. They are a formidable beast that I can only see being tamed by a New Zealand team (Hurricanes, Chiefs, Crusaders). With only three matches to go after this one (Kings, Sunwolves, Sharks), the Lions will be aiming for five competition points from each match to really put pressure on the Crusaders who currently sit three competition points above them on the overall log. The Kings have been the surprise packet of 2017, playing a great brand of rugby and as a result, enticing fans back to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. There are a handful of players who would more than likely make other provinces in the country, but as it showed last week, they struggled against a more structured team. The Lions will be licking their lips against a Kings outfit that now has the wind out of their sails and will be pushing for yet another convincing win, something I think they will manage quite easily.

Predicted result: Lions to win comfortably @ $1.04 – 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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