Super Rugby Round 13 – 2017

Best Bet 1: Brumbies -4.5 (vs Kings) @ $1.95 – Sportsbet

CHIEFS ($2.20) VS CRUSADERS ($1.67)

The 13th round of Super Rugby kicks off at ANZ Stadium in Suva (Fiji) on Friday afternoon with a match between the Chiefs and the Crusaders. This will be the second time a Super Rugby game has been played in Suva and it is great initiative by Sanzaar. The Chiefs, who currently sit second in the New Zealand conference will be fresh after having the week off, whereas, the Crusaders cemented there spot at the top of the competition with a clinical 20 – 12 win over the Hurricanes in Christchurch. The Chiefs are currently on a four-game win streak against the Crusaders and have won eight of the last 11 fixtures played.

Chiefs: WWWWBWLWWWW
Crusaders: WWWWWWBWWWWW

Prediction:

Unfortunately, the weather has been pretty putrid in Suva all week which could really rob the fans of some exciting running rugby. In the wet, it generally comes down to the power and precision of the forward pack, coupled with the accuracy of the kicker in general play and at goals. The Crusaders showed last week that their pack is nothing to mess with, but they will be without lock Scott Barrett this week. His omission is offset by the return of captain Sam Whitelock who has now served his two-week suspension. The pack is a strong one and the backline has been marshalled very well by Richie Mo’unga with youngsters like Jack Goodhue, George Bridge and David Havili really finding their feet this season.

Looking at the Chiefs, I would argue that at the moment, the Chiefs have a stronger pack than what the Hurricanes offered last week with the likes of Kane Hames, Dominic Bird, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane and Michael Leitch all selected for this match. They know they are going to be targeted up front and Hames and Laulala should provide some stability in the front row, and Brodie Retallick should do a good job in ensuring the Chiefs maintain good ball on their own line-out. Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Aaron Cruden have been solid all season and there is a lot of X-Factor in their backline with James Lowe, Tim Nanai-Williams and Damien McKenzie forming the back three.

There is no way that you can ignore how well the Crusaders are going at present. The youngsters are shining under the senior leadership team’s guidance and they continue to knock over every challenge in front of them. Similarly to last week, this is another All Blacks trial. The Chiefs are going to look to niggle the Crusaders. This match is really shaping up to be a classic New Zealand derby. I can’t confidently say who I think will win either way, but I am going to side with the Chiefs who are fresh off their bye and will be more desperate for the victory.

Predicted result: Chiefs to win @ $2.20 – Sportsbet

STORMERS ($1.90) VS BLUES ($1.90)

The second match of round 13 comes to us from Newlands in Cape Town where the Stormers host the Blues. The Stormers started the competition winning their first six matches, however, they have now lost their last four after a woeful tour of New Zealand. The Blues have now won three in a row after easily taking care of the Cheetahs (50 – 32) last weekend at Eden Park. The Stormers and the Blues haven’t played each other since 2015, but the hosts have won four of the last five matches played, including the last two in Cape Town.

Stormers: WWWBWWWLLLLB
Blues: WLLLWWLLWWW

Prediction:

This is match between two teams who are on very different trajectories. The Stormers started the season with six wins on the trot, before a loss to the Lions and three ordinary performances in New Zealand. The Blues took a while to get going this year, but as their injured players start to filter back in, they find themselves on a three-match win streak. The Stormers have been boosted by the inclusions of Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Seabelo Senatla, however, they have a massive problem at Flyhalf, with Dillyn Leyds forced to fill-in for the injured trio of Robert du Preez, Jean-Luc du Plessis and Kurt Coleman. The Blues welcome back Sonny Bill Williams, who is a huge crowd favourite in Cape Town and Melani Nanai has justified his place at fullback over Michael Collins after some solid performances over the last couple of weeks.

The Stormers are a different team at Newlands, but you have to question whether or not their confidence is shot having lost to three New Zealand teams in a row. The Blues need all the points the can get at the moment, as they currently sit at the bottom of the New Zealand Conference, five competition points behind the Highlanders. I believe the Blues have found their consistency that plagued them earlier on in the season and I can see them poaching a rare win in Cape Town on Friday night, even though they have only won one of their last nine in the Republic. I expect it to be another high-scoring game.

Predicted result: Blues to win @ $1.90 – Sportsbet

HURRICANES ($1.03) VS CHEETAHS ($12.00)

The first of six Super Rugby matches on Saturday sees the Hurricanes host the Cheetahs at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. The ‘Canes were brought back down to earth last week after a forwards-dominant display by the Crusaders in Christchurch which saw the ‘Wellingtonians’ lose 12 – 20. The Cheetahs were gutsy in their first match in New Zealand this season, however, they still fell 18 points short of the Blues in Auckland. The Hurricanes and the Cheetahs haven’t clashed since 2014, and it was two years earlier that the home team last lost to the men from the Free State.

Hurricanes: WWLWBWWWWBWL
Cheetahs: LWWLLLBLLLLL

Prediction:

What better team for the Hurricanes to face to get their attacking mojo back after being held try-less last week by the Crusaders for the first time in three years. The Hurricanes pack were outplayed in the set pieces and at the breakdown and the Crusaders suffocating defence really nullified the two Barretts, Beauden and Jordie. Despite being on the back foot, promising centre Ngani Laumape targeted Richie Mo’unga all night and made three clean linebreaks, in a very Ma’a Nonu manner, taking his season tally to a competition-high, 25. Coach Chris Boyd has opted to bench Jordie this week, moving Beauden to fullback with Otere Black to wear the number ten jersey. The more space Beauden has, the more dangerous he is, so any aimless kicking by the Cheetahs will more often than not be punished.

Looking at the Cheetahs, their defence continues to haunt them. They missed 25 tackles and as good as winger Raymond Rhule is on attack, he needs to learn to make his hits stick – his tackle success percentage is the worst in the competition. They enjoy a rolling maul with the Namibian International, Torsten van Jaarsveld’s low centre of gravity hard to stop close to the line (this week it will be Elandre Huggett who scored two tries against the Blues) and show the willingness to attacking from anywhere. To be fair though, the Cheetahs have lost eight in a row and I have no doubt that they will suffer their ninth this weekend in Wellington, in another high-scoring contest. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Hurricanes post well in excess of 50 points in this one, especially if they get the dominance up front.

Predicted result: Hurricanes to thump the Cheetahs  @ $1.03 – Sportsbet

FORCE ($4.75) VS HIGHLANDERS ($1.20)

The first of six Super Rugby matches on Saturday sees the Hurricanes host the Cheetahs at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. The ‘Canes were brought back down to earth last week after a forwards-dominant display by the Crusaders in Christchurch which saw the ‘Wellingtonians’ lose 12 – 20. The Cheetahs were gutsy in their first match in New Zealand this season, however, they still fell 18 points short of the Blues in Auckland. The Hurricanes and the Cheetahs haven’t clashed since 2014, and it was two years earlier that the home team last lost to the men from the Free State.

Force: LWLBLLWBLLLW
Highlanders: LLWLWWWBWWWW

Prediction:

The Western Force are calling last week’s win in Argentina over the Jaguars, the best victory in their clubs 12 history. It was the Force’s (and any Australian team) first overseas win all season. It took two tries in the final fifteen minutes to break the deadlock and this will no doubt have given Force fans something to smile about after a tumultuous few months. Their fans will turn out in numbers this week, with a potential New Zealand scalp in the Highlanders coming to town. The visitors haven’t been in the best form of late, but they have still shown more than enough class to win the last seven on the trot (a sign of a good team). The loss of Waisake Naholo (suspension) is a blow to the visitors, but Lima Sopoaga is due to get a run off the bench after missing most the season through injury. He will need to find his feet quickly with Richie Mo’unga of the Crusaders now potentially ahead of him in the pecking order. Aaron Smith has also been shifted to the bench with Kane Hammington set to wear the number nine jersey. The Force will be dogged and gritty and welcome back some of their better players, but they have had a heavy week of travel coming back from Buenos Aires. I just can’t see them beating the Highlanders who have the Blues hot on their heels.

Predicted result:  Highlanders to win @ $1.20 – Sportsbet

SUNWOLVES ($4.75) VS SHARKS ($1.20)

Super Rugby returns to the National Stadium in Singapore on Saturday night for a match between the Sunwolves and the Sharks. The Sunwolves had the week off in round 12, whereas, the Sharks lost their first ever match to the Kings, going down 32 – 25 at the death in a high-paced match in Port Elizabeth. The only matches between these two clubs saw the Sharks prevail 40 – 29 last year in Durban.

Sunwolves: LLLLLBWLLLLB
Sharks: LWWWWLWBDWWL

Prediction:

The Sunwolves will be licking their lips at the proposition of winning only the second match of their season this weekend against a weakened Sharks line-up. Their attacking shape has been excellent lately, with their first-phase try against the Jaguars a couple weeks ago executed to absolute perfection. Defence continues to be their downfall, but if they can gain parity upfront they will certainly be in with a shot. This will be aided by the return of former captain and hooker, Shota Horie.

Last week, the Sharks were guilty of not respecting their opponents and thinking they could simply turn up to play and get the result, when in fact, the Kings wanted it a hell of a lot more. The Sharks were forced to jump on the plane on Sunday morning and have focused their attention to this week’s match, a must-win game. The Sharks have been rocked with three more injuries to their backline with Patrick Lambie (concussion), Jeremy Ward (broken nose) and Rhyno Smith (pectoral tear) all ruled out. Consequently, they will field a largely inexperienced backline so I expect players in the pack like the Chilliboy Ralapelle, captain Philip van der Walt and the two du Perez brothers to lead from the front. There will also be a lot of pressure on halfback Cobus Reinach who will be forced to marshal the backline. There is a bit of rain around Singapore on Saturday, which will ensure that the conditions are extremely muggy, even though it looks likely that the roof will be closed. The Sharks have the edge in the pack and although their backline might not set the world on fire, they should have enough physicality and class to secure a narrow win (1-12).

Predicted result:  Sharks to win narrowly @ $1.20 – Sportsbet

LIONS ($1.14) VS BULLS ($5.75)

The Lions and the Bulls will clash in a classic South African derby at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday night. The Lions return home having achieved 14/15 competition points on their Australasian sojourn, last week edging the Brumbies 13 – 6 in Canberra. The Bulls put up a spirited performance in dire conditions in Pretoria, before a late defensive lapse saw them go down 10 – 17. A period from 2006 – 2014 saw the Blues beat the Lions on 10 consecutive occasions, however, the latter have now won three of the last four, including the last two in Jo’burg.

Lions: WWLWWBWWWWW
Bulls: LLBWLLLWWBLL

Prediction:

It looks like the Lions are in a shootout with the Crusaders at the moment to see who gets the all-important rights of potentially hosting the Super Rugby Final. In saying that, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves because Super Rugby seems to throw up a big upset every other week. The Lions will be confident though having toured Australasia with great success and the Bulls have been well off their game and needed help from the Gods last week with the rain to level things out. The Lions defensive system is what is most impressive to me and they have been relatively lucky this season with injuries (or lack thereof). A highly underrated player in their pack is lock Franco Mostert. He is a defensive workhorse and now has 10 lineout steals to his name, five more than the next best in the competition. The Bulls have enough quality in their team, but they just don’t seem to have the belief in themselves like they once did. There are several promising youngsters in their ranks like Lizo Gqoboka, Jason Jenkins, Jannes Kirsten and co., but they are just struggling to consistently put together a complete performance. No doubt the Bulls will put up a fight for 40 minutes to an hour, but the Lions are too consistent and have too many weapons in their arsenal to overpower the Bulls, one-dimensional game at present.

Predicted result: Lions to win by double digits @ $1.14 – Sportsbet

KINGS ($2.45) VS BRUMBIES ($1.55)

The penultimate match in Round 13 comes to us from the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, where the Kings host the Brumbies. The Kings will be gunning for their fourth consecutive victory (a club record) this week, after upsetting the Sharks 35 – 32 in a thriller last weekend. Having lost to the Lions (6 – 13) in Canberra, the Brumbies need this result with their position at the top of the Australian conference now on shaky ground. The only match between these two teams occurred in Canberra in 2013, a match which saw both teams locked at 28 apiece after 80 minutes.

Kings: LWLLLBLLWWBW
Brumbies: LLWWLBWLLLBL

Prediction:

The Kings have certainly been the surprise packet this season. Although their future is still in doubt and the fact that they have had to select from a pool of Super Rugby discards, they have now won four matches. To put that into perspective, that is more wins than the Bulls, Cheetahs, Sunwolves and the entire Australian conference and they have scored 40 more points (289) than the highest scoring Australian team, the Waratahs (249). Coach Deon Davids will be proud of his troops with four of them being called up to a Springbok camp this week. However, he will be without future Springbok flanker Chris Kloete and the lightning fast fullback, Coyi Banda, for this encounter, which I think will stifle their game at the breakdown and their potency on attack.

The Brumbies have now lost four matches in a row and need this win more so than anyone this weekend to hold the buffer over the rest of the Australian teams. Players like Sam Carter, Rory Arnold and Scott Fardy need to stand-up in the pack with the Wallabies squad due to be selected at the end of the month. Their defence has been suffocating this season and although they haven’t been scoring too many points themselves, they haven’t always needed to. Joe Powell and Wharenui Hawera have done a good job in the halves and Henry Speight has been as explosive as dynamite on the wing. I expect the Brumbies to break out of their shackles this weekend with Stephen Larkham giving them a license to thrill and I can see the Brumbies winning this by a couple of tries.

Predicted result: Brumbies to win @ $1.55 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 1: Brumbies -4.5 (vs Kings) @ $1.95 – Sportsbet

WARATAHS ($1.17) VS REBELS ($5.00)

The Waratahs host the Rebels in a Sunday afternoon battle at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. The Waratahs will be fresh after their bye and will be looking to improve on their 33 – 40 loss against the Blues in Round 11, a match in which they scored all of their points in the second half. The Rebels have now suffered their eighth loss of the season after the Reds snatched a late 29 – 24 victory in Melbourne. The Waratahs hold a dominant 10 – 2 record over the Rebels, however, the Rebels did manage to bag their first ever victory in Sydney last season, with a 21-17 victory.

Waratahs: WLLLWLLBLWLB
Rebels: LLBLLLBWLLL

Prediction:

The Waratahs, and unbelievably the Rebels are still in contention to make the playoffs based on the current formatting rules. Both teams have played some pretty rancid rugby in 2017, despite having more than enough talent on each roster (mainly the Waratahs). Looking at the run home for each team the Waratahs face the Highlanders (away), Chiefs (away), Jaguares (home), and Force (away), which spells danger for the Sydney-siders. The Rebels face Crusaders (home), Brumbies (away), Force (away) and Jaguares (home), which makes their playoff aspirations almost impossible in my eyes. The Rebels are by far a better team at home as they have only scored two away tries all season and averaged 7.5 points per game. The return of Sean McMahon and Lopeti Timani are big inclusions for the visitors, but I think the experience of the Waratahs should get them over the line at home by a 1-12 margin.

Predicted result:  Waratah to win @ $1.17 – 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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