Super Rugby Round 8 – 2017

Saturday Plays:

Best Bet 1: Hurricanes -4.5 (vs Blues) @ $1.91 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)

Best Bet 2: Chiefs -11.5 (vs Cheetahs) @ $1.87 – Tab.co.nz (early twitter play)

Best Bet 3: Lions +3.5  (vs Stormers) @ $1.91 – Sportsbet

crusaders ($1.00) VS sunwolves ($52.00)

The eighth round of Super Rugby gets underway on Good Friday with a match between the Crusaders and the Sunwolves at AMI Stadium in Christchurch. The Crusaders return from their bye as one of only two undefeated teams left in the competition. The Sunwolves will also be thrilled from winning their first match of the season, stunning the Bulls 21 – 20 in Tokyo. This will be the first time the Sunwolves have travelled to New Zealand and the first time they have played the Crusaders.

Crusaders: WWWWWWB
Sunwolves: LLLLLBW

Prediction:

The Crusaders welcome back some of their big guns (including Kieran Read, Richie Mo’unga and Seta Tamanivalu) from injury this week and although the Sunwolves will play with endeavour and look to throw the ball around, the Crusaders have shown this season that they can dominate both up front and out wide and it’s going to be a sad New Zealand debut for the visitors. I expect the home team to win by anywhere between 30-50 points, even despite the wet weather expected early on Friday. Congratulations must also must go to Crusaders prop Wyatt Crockett, who will be playing his 186th match, overtaking Kevin Mealamu as the most capped Super Rugby of all time.

Predicted result: Crusaders to win @ $1.00 – Sportsbet

Reds ($1.12) VS Kings ($5.90)

Saturday’s action kicks off at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane with a match between the Queensland Reds and the Kings. The Reds were left embarrassed in Canberra last weekend by the Brumbies, going down 10-41 in a one-sided affair in the nation’s capital. The Kings put together a gallant performance against the Force before going down 41 – 46 in a thriller in Perth. This will be the first and most likely the last time that the Reds and the Kings have played each other.

Reds: WLLLLLL
Kings: LWLLLBL

Prediction:

The Reds have been nothing short of disgraceful this season. With so much hype created in the offseason around the signing of key, experienced individuals, one win from seven games is simply inexcusable. The Kings have been fighting above their weight this season and they had some good patches in their narrow loss to the Force last week. It is clear they rely heavily on certain individuals to keep them in the game (flanker Chris Cloete, flyhalf Lionel Cronje and their speedy outside backs). Next week the Reds have the bye, so they will be putting everything into this performance, especially in front of their home crowd. This might be the round that they click, but they’ll need to start by tightening up their defence as they are currently leaking 31 points per game. I actually expect the Reds to win this one and win it comfortably on a great Saturday afternoon at Suncorp Stadium.

Predicted result: Reds to win @ $1.12 – Sportsbet

BLUES ($3.18) VS HURRICANES ($1.33)

One of the matches of the round takes place at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday evening between the Blues and the Hurricanes. The Blues suffered their second loss to the Highlanders (20 – 26) this season and their fourth overall to New Zealand opposition this season. The Hurricanes blew the Waratahs away in Wellington 38 – 28, after a first-half masterclass put the result beyond doubt. The Hurricanes are currently riding a four-game win streak over the Blues dating back to the 2015 season and the Hurricanes have won 6/10 matches played in Auckland.

Blues: WLLLWWL
Hurricanes: WWLWBWW

Prediction:

The Blues squandered a lead to the Highlanders last week, but they still managed to play some decent rugby. Players like Charlie Faumauina, Blake Gibson, Augustine Pulu and Matt Duffie have been at the forefront of everything good the Blues have done in 2017. The return of Sonny-Bill Williams, even without his sponsors names on his jersey, will add some starch and more ingenuity to the backline, but consistency across 80 minutes is what they have lacked.

On the other hand, the Hurricanes have shown that their systems are so strong, they can rotate players in and out and their discretion and still beat other teams. Dane Coles is still on the sidelines, but Beauden Barrett has been given the green light to play after he picked up a red card last week. The centre pairing of Ngani Laumape and Matt Proctor are dominating everyone they come up against, but Proctor’s absence this week moves the tournamnet’s top try-scorer Vince Aso into the centres, and their confrontation with SBW and Rieko Ioane will be worth the price of admission alone. It will be an enterprising fixture in Auckland, but the Blues have only won one of the last 21 matches against New Zealand opposition and coming up against the reigning champs, you have to back the Hurricanes to get the points.

Predicted result: Hurricanes to win @ $1.33 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 1: Hurricanes -4.5 (vs Blues) @ $1.91 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)

rebels ($4.00) VS brumbies ($1.28)

The Rebels and the Brumbies face off at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Saturday night in an all-Australia derby. The Rebels return from their second bye of the season, still winless and rooted to the bottom of the competition ladder. The Brumbies will be brimming with confidence having easily dispatched the Reds in Canberra last weekend, solidifying themselves at the top of the Australia Conference. This will be the first of two matches played between these two this season. The Brumbies have won three of the last four and eight of the last 11.

Rebels: LLBLLLB
Brumbies: LLWLLBW

Prediction:

The Rebels will enjoy being at home and their fans should turn out for them given the uncertainty of the club’s future. The Rebels have a number of attacking threats in their team and the booming boot of Reece Hodge, but their defence has seen them leak an average of 47 points per game. The Brumbies have surprised many this season without a number of their seasoned veterans who have moved on, but I can’t see them getting overhauled by a desperate Rebels outfit, who are really missing the leadership and dynamism of Sean McMahon. In fact, it might not be until round 10 until the Rebels get a victory (against the Kings in South Africa).

Predicted result: Brumbies to win @ $1.28 – Sportsbet

cheetahs ($5.60) VS chiefs ($1.12)

The Cheetahs and the Chiefs kick off the first of three matches from South Africa on Saturday night at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein. The Cheetahs return from a well-deserved rest and come up against a Chiefs team that experienced their first loss of the season at the hands of the Stormers last weekend. Incredibly, the Cheetahs have never beaten the Chiefs from their night encounters, but there have been three draws (2007, 2010, 2014).

Cheetahs: LWWLLLB
Chiefs: WWWWBWL

Prediction:

There is a lot of conjecture around the Cheetah’s future in Super Rugby at the moment. What is unfortunate is that they are actually the reigning Currie Cup Champions in South Africa and their schools in the region provide some of the most talented rugby players in the country, however, they just don’t have the finances to keep them local. It is looking likely that they will end up merging with the Lions to form the Cats, as they once did from 1998-2005. They have shown this season that the can score points, but their defensive lapses have really cost them in games and that won’t be any different this weekend against a Chiefs outfit that will not be leaving Bloemfontein without the full five competition points.

Predicted result: Chiefs to win comfortably @ $1.12 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 2: Chiefs -11.5 (vs Cheetahs) @ $1.87 – Tab.co.nz (early twitter play)

STORMERS ($1.61) VS lions ($2.31)

The match of the round sees the Stormers and the Lions clash at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town late on Saturday night. The Stormers remained undefeated with a classy 34 – 26 victory over the previously undefeated Chiefs of New Zealand. The Lions also had the weekend off, but still find themselves at the top of the Africa 1 Conference. The Lions won the clash last year (29 – 22) in Johannesburg, but the visitors haven’t won in Cape Town since 2001, another incredible statistic.

Stormers: WWWBWWW
Lions: WWLWWB

Prediction:

All eyes will be on this matchup to see which of these South African teams is going to get early bragging rights in the Republic. The Stormers produced one of their best performances in recent memory last week despite having the take the field with one of their primary enforcers in Pieter-Steph du Toit and a much-weakened backline. They fought fire with fire and the halves pairing of Dewaldt Duvenage and Robert du Preez were excellent, especially with the latter’s faultless kicking performance. The Lions will have enjoyed the week off and would’ve studied the Stormers closely ahead of this match up. They will need to control the set piece and will need to find a way to combat the Stormers back row trio of Wiese (potentially injured), Kolisi and Notshe, something I believe Kriel, Ackermann and Whiteley can handle. Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies need to have big games to show that they can handle the more pressured occasions and Rohan Janse van Rensburg, in my opinion, is one of the standout inside centres (alongside the Hurricanes, Ngani Laumape) and could teach Daniel du Plessis and EW Viljoen a lesson. After this weekend, the Stormers play the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Highlanders in New Zealand, so you would expect them to drop at least a couple of those (or all three), placing higher importance on this match. Early reports from Cape Town suggest that there are injury clouds hanging over quite a few of their players, so I am going to side with a fresher Lions outfit.

Predicted result: Lions to win @ $2.31 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 3: Lions +3.5  (vs Stormers) @ $1.91 – Sportsbet

Bulls ($2.08) VS Jaguares ($1.77)

The final match of the round pits the Bulls against the Jaguares in what promises to be a physical tussle at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. The Bulls have had their worst start to a Super Rugby campaign in 15 years, this time losing to the Sunwolves in Tokyo. The Jaguares also fell short against the Sharks in a low-scoring, but extremely confrontational battle. Last year’s clash saw the Jaguares beat the Bulls 29 – 11 in Buenos Aires.

Bulls: LLBWLLL
Jaguares: WLWWWBL

Prediction:

One thing I know about this match is that there are going to be some big hits. The Bulls are really struggling after a hyped-up preseason and the Jaguares are showing the form many expected they would’ve last season. Everything about this match will be done with intensity and physicality. The Bulls loss to the Sunwolves was very reminiscent of the Japanese beating the Springboks at the RWC in 2015. Their one-dimensional game plan failed to work on the back of a poor performance by flyhalf Tian Schoeman. It will be the only the second time the Bulls are back at home this season, with the last one being a narrow win over the travelling Sunwolves.

The Jaguares are in the hotly contested Africa 2 conference and they currently sit behind the Sharks and the Lions, albeit by only a small margin. Their consistency and physicality have been their biggest strengths this year and they seem to be handling the travel requirements with greater ease this season. What is still surprising is the Jaguares have given away eight yellow cards in six games, two more than any other team in the competition. This is something that they are going to have to tidy up if they want to feature in the business end of the competition. I expect this match to be physical, yet high-scoring with both teams looking to run each other off their feet. For me, you just simply can’t back the Bulls at the moment, even on the Highveld.

Predicted result: Jaguares to win @ $1.77 – 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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