The following are previews with betting tips for Round 3 of the 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa season.
To take advantage of odds before they possibly shorten, these previews are published before the team sheets are announced. Those who are more risk averse may prefer to wait for the squad lists before wagering.
Saturday, 27 June
Blues vs. Highlanders
View a detailed form guide for Blues vs. Highlanders
The Blues enter this clash on a six-game winning streak after they defeated the Hurricanes 30-20 and the Chiefs 24-12 in Super Rugby Aotearoa. The win against the Chiefs broke a losing streak in Hamilton that stretched back to 2011, so the Blues well and truly appear to have turned a corner after being off the pace for years. All the more impressive was the fact that the Blues kept the hosts tryless. For much of the game they didn’t have much of the ball, but the Blues capitalised on the Chiefs’ handling errors and they dominated the breakdown to win numerous turnovers. The one area for improvement is discipline, with the Blues picking up 8 penalties to 1 by the 24th minute mark. If they can tidy that up they will be genuine title contenders.
Prior to their bye last week the Highlanders upset the Chiefs 28-27 in Dunedin thanks to a late drop goal. They made good use of the rolling maul which was involved in the build up to two of their tries and they managed to secure the win despite picking up two yellow cards. One caveat to the victory is they took on an under-strength Chiefs side that had an arduous game-day travel schedule that commenced with a 6:30 AM bus ride to Auckland before flying down to Dunedin. Prior to that clash the Highlanders had been on a 1-5 run.
Betting: the Highlanders have won just two of their six games in 2020, which isn’t a surprise given the huge exodus of talent during the off-season. The talent-laden Blues are trending strongly in the opposite direction. I would back the Blues in the head-to-head at 1.32 (Sportsbet). Those odds might not last. At the time of writing every other bookmaker was offering 1.25.
Sunday, 28 June
Crusaders vs. Chiefs
View a detailed form guide for Crusaders vs. Chiefs
The Crusaders got their campaign off to the best possible start with a bonus-point 39-25 win over the Hurricanes. They outscored the hosts by 5 tries to 1 and did their trademark pull away 12 minutes from the end after the scores were level on 25 points. The only reason the Hurricanes were still in the contest at that point was the Crusaders’ ill-discipline as they struggled to adjust to the new laws at the breakdown.
The Chiefs fell 12-24 at home to the Blues at home in wet conditions last week to slide to 0-2 in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition. They failed to cross the tryline as the Chiefs capitalised on the Blues’ ill-discipline. The Chiefs lacked in creativity, however. They made too many handling errors and conceded too many turnovers to trouble the visitors. The game would have been much more lopsided had the Blues been more disciplined. In team news, loose forward Luke Jacobson has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a hand injury. The Chiefs hope to have All Blacks captain Sam Cane back after he missed the opening two rounds with a back issue.
Betting: the Crusaders have won 10 of their last 11, including their last 5 straight, while the Chiefs have lost 4 of their last 5. If Same Cane returns it will give the Chiefs a lift, but I don’t see it being enough to topple the Crusaders, who have now had a game under their belt to adjust to the new breakdown rules. I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.30 (Sportsbet). Again, those odds might not last. At the time of writing most bookmakers were offering 1.25. Four of the last five Crusaders’ home wins over the Chiefs were by 13+ points, so for those looking for more risk I would back the Crusaders 13+ at 2.20 (bet365).
Best Bet of the Round
Blues in the head-to-head at 1.32 (Sportsbet)