The wait is finally over as Super Rugby returns this weekend with a small teaser featuring two Australian local derbies. As a result of the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia starting in June, this week’s teams begin their campaigns earlier than their South African and New Zealand counterparts. 125 games remain of the highest quality of club rugby in the world, so without further ado let’s have a look at the matchups. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@S15_TheProfits) for game coverage, expert insight or just for a chat.
Rebels ($1.32) versus Force ($3.40)
The Super Rugby season kicks off in Melbourne on Friday with the leadership depleted Western Force facing their stiff rivals, the Melbourne Rebels. In the short history between two of the newest Australian rugby teams, the games have been tight with a total of five points separating these teams and the Rebels holding superiority with three wins in the four encounters they have played. In tight matches, you need your captain to stand up and to make the right calls at the right time. This is where the Force will feel their offseason losses (David Pocock and Nathan Sharpe) more so than their opponents. The late withdrawal of their inspirational captain Matt Hodgson further reiterates their lack of leadership on the field. Their strength still remains in the back row and Wallabies Ben McCalman and Richard Brown (bench) will need to stand up and control the tackle zone.
Much of the Rebels hope this season will rest on the shoulders of new recruit, Scott Higginbotham, Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor. These X factor players feature regularly on the international scene and will entertain the crowds, both home and away with raw talent and enterprising play. It must be said that the Rebels overall position this year will really be dependent on these three players remaining injury-free. With a number of emerging players including Scott Fuglistaller (Flanker), who will create a few turnovers on the deck, and Hugh Pyle a towering lock in the lineouts, the Rebels have all the ingredients to play an attacking brand of rugby. This was evident in their recent trial matches, although they will need to tighten up their defence, especially against the stronger teams.
Although it isn’t quite the heavyweight clash that we would’ve all preferred for the season opener, I still expect a few tries to be scored in front of a lively Melbourne crowd. When the referee blows the final whistle, the Rebels should be victorious by more than a try and the Force will look to next week to rebuild against tournament newcomers, the Eastern Province Kings. In my opinion, that match could very well be crucial in deciding the holders of the dreaded wooden spoon at the end of the season.
Predicted result: Rebels to hit the ground running and win ($1.32 – Sporsbet)
Best Bet: Rebels to cover the line and win by 7 or more (Rebels -6 @ 1.85 Sportsbet)
Next Bet: Rebels to lead at half time/full time (Double result @ $1.62 – Sportsbet)
Brumbies ($1.57) versus Reds ($2.40)
The match of the round sees the two best Australian teams (on last season’s form) square off for bragging rights in Canberra. In what almost looks like an early Wallabies trial for the British & Irish Lions campaign in the winter, the mini battles will be fierce and bodies will be put on the line. The Reds have fond memories of Canberra as their last trip there they managed to scrape a win by a solitary point in a low scoring match.
This year I think the tables might turn. After a breakthrough season in 2012, once again the Brumbies are looking promising. Super coach Jake White used last year to implement new structures and plans and they look primed to kick on in 2013. Bolstered by the acquisition of David Pocock, a player that would arguably make a world fifteen team and another year of experience for the youngsters in the squad, the turnstiles will be busy at Canberra Stadium.
The Reds will miss the mercurial Will Genia and the grunt and leadership offered by James Horwill, but they won’t have to wait for too much longer for their return. Quade Cooper is always in the news and there is no doubt he will make a name for himself in this game. At schoolboy level, David Pocock played inside centre, with Quade at fly-half, with the Wallaby number seven often masking Quade’s defensive frailties, so no doubt there will be some big ball runners coming down that channel. The front row clash will be immense and the battle of the back rows could well decide the game, but my focus will be on the way the two tens (Quade Cooper and Matt Toomua) control the game. I expect there to be parity in the forwards and I just hope we see two teams striving for the four-try bonus point, even this early on in the competition. At the end of the day, it is a derby and neither side will want to start with a loss. The teams are evenly matched, but the Reds have a slight edge on paper, so if you are looking for value, choose the Reds, but I see the winning team prevailing by a small margin (1-12).
I have found it difficult to split these teams all week, so in week one I am going to have to go with the home field advantage factor for the head to head market. I can make arguments for both teams to win and I am looking forward to an enthralling encounter. Either way, it shouldn’t be a blow out.
Predicted result: Brumbies to scrape it ($1.57 – Sportsbet)
Best Bet: I am going to stay away from this one but if you can’t help yourself, go Reds +3.5 @ $1.90 – Sportsbet
Glenn Paton has followed rugby union for 15 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.
Specialities: Super Rugby, 6 Nations, Rugby Championship, International Tests, Currie Cup, ITM Cup, Rugby Sevens
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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