Super Rugby Round 7 – 2017

Friday Plays:

Best Bet 1: Waratahs + 19.5 (vs Hurricanes) @ $1.90 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)

Saturday Plays:

Best Bet 2: Bulls -16.5 (vs Sunwolves) @ $1.92 – Tab.co.nz (early twitter play)

Best Bet 3: Chiefs -3.5 (vs Stormers) @ $1.82 – Tab.co.nz (early twitter play)

Hurricanes ($1.08) VS Waratahs ($7.00)

Round seven of Super Rugby gets underway on Friday afternoon when the reigning Champion Hurricanes host the Waratahs at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. The Hurricanes secured a 32 – 15 bonus-point win over a gutsy Reds outfit in Brisbane on Saturday and the Waratahs were equally as determined, before falling short 22 – 41 to the Crusaders in Sydney.

Hurricanes: WWLWBW
Waratahs: WLLLWL

Prediction:

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd has made three key changes to his team to face the Waratahs this week. Captain Dane Coles is still being rested to recover from a bruised knee and one of the players of the tournament so far, Ardie Savea misses this week due to a calf strain and is replaced by former Cantabrian back rower Reed Prinsep. Julian Savea has had his best start to a Super Rugby season in years, but misses out this week to Wes Goosen. Cory Jane also returns on the right wing to replace the tournament’s leading try-scorer Vince Aso.

Darryl Gibson has made two changes to his forward pack this week bringing in Paddy Ryan for the concussed Tom Robertson and Michael Wells starts at number eight in place of Jed Holloway. In the backline, Bernard Foley returns from a concussion, Rob Horne returns to outside centre shifting Israel Folau to fullback, which in turn moves Cameron Clarke to the wing. The other wing position is filled by Taqele ‘Big T’ Naiyaravoro, a player with Lomu-esk power, but general work rate and turning to retrieve kicks hasn’t always been his strong points.

I’m surprised the line is as high as it currently is. Sure, the Waratahs have struggled this season and haven’t hit their full stride just yet, but the Hurricanes are missing three of their best players in captain Coles, Ardie Savea and Julian Savea. Add to that, Beauden Barrett is nursing a rib injury and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a late withdrawal. Recent history has been tight between these two teams, however, the Hurricanes did win the clash in Sydney last year (28 – 17).  In saying that, the Waratahs will take confidence out of winning three of the four matches played in Wellington. The Hurricanes still have the depth to get the victory, but don’t be surprised if the Waratahs are well in this match and use it as a springboard for more complete performances in the coming rounds.

Predicted result: Hurricanes to win @ $1.08 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 1: Waratahs + 19.5 (vs Hurricanes) @ $1.90 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)

sunwolves ($5.50) VS bulls ($1.13)

The first of five matches on Saturday comes to us from the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo where the winless Sunwolves take on the Bulls. The Sunwolves return from their bye round this weekend sitting in second-last place in the competition. The Bulls haven’t been much better this season and that was compounded with a 12 – 28-point loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Sunwolves: LLLLLB
Bulls: LLBWLL

Prediction:

Sunwolves coach Filo Tiatia has been forced to make several changes to his team this week. The ‘Wolves will be out with Captain and flanker Ed Quirk and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi ruled out with injury and number eight Willie Britz has briefly returned to South Africa for personal reasons. The Sunwolves and the Bulls have met on three previous occasions with the South Africans winning all three encounters. The most recent being, the match that was held in round four that saw the Bulls beat the Sunwolves 34 – 21 at Loftus, despite having to play most the second half with 14 men.

The Bulls put together one of their more impressive halves of rugby last week against the Chiefs, at least from a defensive standpoint, heading into the sheds 9 – 3 up. The big forwards ended up running out of steam and the squad has been hit with four more injuries this week (John Roy Jenkinson, Ruan Steenkamp, Arno Botha and Piet van Zyl). The Sunwolves will enjoy the fact that they are back at home, something they haven’t done since their round one disaster against the Hurricanes. If the Bulls can maintain their discipline, they should gain ascendancy up front, which will allow Rudy Paige and Tiaan Schoeman to dictate proceedings. It should be another open encounter with defensive weaknesses rife in both camps, but the Bulls should have too much in Tokyo’s cooler conditions.

Predicted result: Bulls to win @ $1.13 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 2: Bulls -16.5 (vs Sunwolves) @ $1.92 – Tab.co.nz (early twitter play)

highlanders ($1.41) VS blues ($2.73)

The only Kiwi derby of the weekend takes place at the Forsyth-Barr Stadium in Dunedin where the Highlanders take on the Blues. The Highlanders put together one of their more complete performances of the season in last week’s 51 – 12 victory over the Rebels. The Blues were also victorious over the Force, however, their 24 – 15 victory was much harder to come by.

Highlanders: LLWLWW
Blues: WLLLWW

Prediction:

Highlanders coach Tony Brown has brought back some of his big guns this week for his team’s confrontation with the Blues. Props Daniel Lienert-Brown and Siosuia Halanukonuka return to the front row with Alex Ainley packing down at lock. In the back row, Elliott Dixon returns, as does Liam Squire after four weeks on the sidelines. Captain Ben Smith looks set to start at fullback as well after being a late withdrawal last week.

Blues coach Tana Umaga has named a strong line-up to face the Highlanders. Scott Scrafton comes into the second row to replace Patrick Tuipulotu and Blake Gibson returns to openside flanker after a week’s rest. Steven Luatua also comes back into the starting 15 after serving his suspension. In the backs, Rieko Ioane will partner the in-form George Moala in the centres after a solid display off the bench. Sonny-Bill Williams is also a notable inclusion on the bench and looks set to get his first game time since rupturing his Achilles at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Blues have only won one match against New Zealand opposition from their last 20 attempts – a damning statistic. To make matters worse, the Blues haven’t won in Dunedin since 2011. The Blues found a way to lose ugly to the Highlanders just a month ago in Auckland, spilling the ball over the try line after the final hooter. They will be seeking redemption this week, but you can’t have too much confidence in the Blues ability this season, given how hot and cold they have been. I’ll go with the home team in an exciting match.

Predicted result: Highlanders win @ $1.41 – Sportsbet

brumbies ($1.31) VS reds ($3.16)

The Australian conference leaders, the Brumbies welcome the struggling Reds to GIO Stadium in Canberra on Saturday night. The Brumbies will be rejuvenated after a week off and they come up against a Reds outfit that has circumnavigated the globe in recent weeks and one that for 60 minute challenged the reigning Champions, before going down 19 in Brisbane last weekend.

Brumbies: LLWLLB
Reds: WLLLLL

Prediction:

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has named Scott Fardy as captain for this with Sam Carter getting a rest. Towering Wallabies lock gets replaces Carter. Wallabies prop Scott Sio also gets his first start of the season in place of Nic Mayhew. In the backline, former Reds flyer Tom Banks has been selected on the left wing. Jarrad Butler also finds himself on the bench in what could be his first match of the season and 50th game for the Brumbies.

Reds coach Nick Stiles has made three changes to his side to face the Brumbies this weekend. Loosehead prop Sef Fa’agase returns to the front row shifting Sam Talakai to tighthead prop. The only other change sees former Bronco Lachlan Maranta start at fullback in place of Karmichael Hunt, who has been ruled out through concussion. Hooker Andrew Ready and half back Nick Frisby have been sent back to club rugby for disciplinary. Ready has been in solid form though, but Frisby has been off the mark this season. With Kerevi, Nabuli, Kuridrani and Maranta occupying the outside back positions, it will be clearly evident to the Brumbies that they lack any genuine kickers. Expect the men from Canberra to look to dominate territory by peppering the visitor’s corners. This will allow the Brumbies to play at the right end of the field and use what should be a more dominant set-piece and general discipline to their advantage. It will be an arm-wrestle, but the Brumbies should have too much in their own backyard, against a Reds team that is struggling to find their identity – still. History is also on the locals side, with the Brumbies are currently riding a four-match win streak over the Reds with the last three coming by more than 13 points. They have also won 12 of the 15 matches played in Canberra.

Predicted result: Brumbies to win @ $1.31 – Sportsbet

sharks ($1.39) VS jaguares ($2.90)

The Sharks return to Kings Park in Durban on Saturday night to face the in-form Jaguares. The Sharks looked like beating the in-form Lions most of the way last week, before a last-gasp try saw them go down 29 – 34 in a thriller in Johannesburg. The Jaguares had the week off in round six, having beaten the Reds the week prior 22 – 8 in Buenos Aires.

Sharks: LWWWWL
Jaguares: WLWWWB

Prediction:

This will be the first of two crucial clashes between the Sharks and the Jaguares this season. Last year, the Sharks won both encounters, 19 – 15 in Durban and 25 – 22 in Buenos Aires. The Sharks have named an industrious pack with the du Preez brothers set to carry and tackle all night. The young halves pairing of Cobus Reinach and Curwin Bosch could flourish with a number of threats outside of them. The Jaguares have also announced a strong line-up and the fact that they had their bye last week will have allowed them to acclimatise to Cape Town. The Sharks four game win streak was broken last weekend against the Lions and although I think it will be a tight game, I get the feeling that the Jaguares are going to be there or thereabouts come the Angus Gardner’s final whistle. Consider the Jaguares at the line.

Predicted result: Sharks to win @ $1.39 – Sportsbet

stormers ($2.38) VS chiefs ($1.57)

The final match on Saturday is a match-of-the-round candidate with the Stormers taking on the Chiefs at Newlands Stadium in Canberra. Last weekend, the Stormers blew away the hapless Cheetahs 53 – 10 in Cape Town keeping their unbeaten run alive. The Chiefs were involved in a scrappy battle with the Bulls in Hamilton, however, their class prevailed in a 28 – 12 victory.

Stormers: WWWBWW
Chiefs: WWWWBW

Prediction:

This is a clash between the two undefeated heavyweights. Dating back to 2014, the Chiefs have won the last three matches against the Stormers and four of the last six matches played at Newlands. Many will remember the Chiefs visit last season in the quarter-final where they ran in eight tries to three in a 60 – 21 romping. The Stormers won’t be used to the speed of the Chiefs game and like last year, I see them being caught off-guard. The Stormers have started to advance their attacking aspects, but it is going to take more than a handful of games to implement a new mindset, especially with the amount of injuries they have had. I see them trying to push the pass more often than not when they are put under pressure. It will be an extremely physical match, but if the Chiefs backs get any front foot ball, they should score enough points to win a vital match on the road, especially with James Lowe and Damien McKenzie in the form they are in.

Predicted result: Chiefs win @ $1.57 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 3: Chiefs -3.5 (vs Stormers) @ $1.82 – Tab.co.nz (early twitter play)

force ($1.09) VS kings ($6.75)

For the second time in two weeks, Super Rugby Sunday returns with a match between the ‘strugglers’, the Force and the Kings at nib Stadium in Perth. The Force were spirited in their 15 – 24 loss to the Blues, but unfortunately spirited is never going to be enough in this competition. The Kings had the week off and will be looking for their first victory since beating the Sunwolves in week two.

Force: LWLBLL
Kings: LWLLLB

Prediction:

The Force and the Kings have locked horns on just the one occasion, last season in Port Elizabeth which saw the visitors pick up an unimpressive 22 – 10 win. The loss of halfback Ryan Louwrens for the season for the Force is a huge blow. is physicality and direction caught more senior eyes of Australian coaches this season, especially with Nick Phipps and Nick Frisby really struggling. Ben McCalman is due back for the Force and this is a game where I can see Jono Lance doing a good job at pulling the strings. It’s been a few weeks since the Kings have put on a decent display and although their hopes might be higher than usual in Perth, they simply don’t have the cattle against a Force team that is fighting to stay in the competition. You could also make that argument for the Kings, but let’s be realistic, they have long overstayed their welcome.

Predicted result:  Force to win @ $1.09 – 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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