The following are previews with betting tips for Super Rugby AU Round 7 and Aotearoa Round 10.
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.
Due to the covid outbreak in Auckland, the Blues vs. Crusaders fixture has been cancelled and the Highlanders vs. Hurricanes fixture will take place in front of an empty stadium at an earlier time of 1:05 PM AEST.
Friday, 14 August
Force vs. Waratahs
View a detailed form guide for Force vs. Waratahs
Prior to their bye last week the Force fell 25-20 to the Reds in extra time in Sydney after the scores were 20-all at full-time. The Perth side is now 0-4 for the season and has come off second best from the 40-minute onward in all four games as their poorer conditioning and shallower bench has hurt them. While the Force were expected to pick up the wooden spoon this campaign, they have been surprisingly competitive in their return to Super Rugby. Three of their four defeats have come by 9 points or less and two came by 6 points or fewer.
The Waratahs broke a two-game losing streak by thrashing the Reds 45-12 in Sydney last week. The damage was done in the first half as the hosts went into halftime up 38-0. The win continues the Waratahs’ strong record against their Queensland rivals. It was a strong reversal of form after the Waratahs fell 10-29 to the Rebels the week before. It was the type of performance that makes you wonder why they haven’t played near that level prior.
Betting: the Force remain winless but they have been competitive in three of their four defeats. The Waratahs enter this fixture on the back of a morale-boosting performance but there’s no escaping the fact that they’ve lost 10 of their last 13 games. Complacency might be an issue. I’m mindful that the Rebels secured an impressive victory over the Waratahs a few weeks ago and then just squeaked past the Force a week later. If I were to bet on this fixture I would take the Waratahs in the head-to-head at 1.35 (bet365). Those looking for more risk should consider the Force/Waratahs HT/FT selection at 6.75 (Unibet).
Saturday, 15 August
Highlanders vs. Hurricanes
View a detailed form guide for Highlanders vs. Hurricanes
The Highlanders led at halftime before suffering a customary late surge from the Crusaders to fall 22-32 in Christchurch last week. The game mimicked their Round 4 clash when the Highlanders were competitive for the first 60 minutes before falling away in the final quarter. They covered the 17.5 line with ease but that will be of no consolation to the side that is now 2-5 for the season. The Highlanders are guaranteed to finish 4th in the competition and will be playing purely for pride this week.
The Hurricanes defeated the Chiefs 31-18 last week to move to 5-2 in the competition. Their superior confidence showed as the visitors were once again competitive without managing to win. The victory extends the Hurricanes’ winning streak to five games. The Highlanders couldn’t upset the Crusaders last week, so the Hurricanes will be playing for 2nd place in the standings.
Betting: the Hurricanes have won 6 of their last 7 against the Highlanders and they bring 5-1 form into this clash compared to 1-5 for the hosts. I would back the Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.68 (Sportsbet). The Hurricanes’ last three wins over the Highlanders were all by 6 points or fewer so for those looking for more risk I would back the Hurricanes 1-12 at 2.80 (bet365, Sportsbet).
Reds vs. Rebels
View a detailed form guide for Reds vs. Rebels
The Reds slumped to a 12-45 defeat to the Waratahs in Sydney last week, with the game sewn up before halftime. The Waratahs led 38-0 at the break after the Reds failed to match the intensity of the hosts and were astonishingly porous in defence. The Reds did win the second half 12-7 thanks to a try after the siren, but that was of little consolation given how much better the Reds had performed the week before. The defeat extends the Reds’ awful away form against domestic competition. They have not won a domestic fixture away from home since 2017. After a 2-1-0 start to the competition the Reds have gone 0-2 and now languish in 4th place in the standings. To have any chance of beating the Rebels this week the Reds desperately need to improve on their lineout, which lost five throws in the first half alone against the Waratahs.
The Rebels broke a seven-game winning streak for the Brumbies with a dominant 30-12 win in Sydney last week. The heavy scoreline was made all the more impressive by the fact that the game was won in wet conditions. The Rebels have recovered from a poor AU season start to win their last three games. They are now within 4 points of the competition-leading Brumbies, who have a bye this week.
Betting: I’m expecting a big reaction from the Reds after last week’s poor first half performance, yet they’ve only won 2 of their last 8 against the Rebels. But which Reds side will show up? I’m going to side with the visitors given their superior head-to-head record in recent years. I would back the Rebels in the head-to-head at 2.20 (Sportsbet).
Sunday, 16 August
Blues vs. Crusaders – CANCELLED
Prior to their bye last week the Blues defeated the Highlanders 32-21 in Dunedin to move to 5-2 for the season. Crucially they picked up a bonus point courtesy of outscoring the hosts five tries to two. It also snapped a seven-game losing streak in Dunedin. They will be pleased with the defensive effort that frustrated the hosts who dominated possession in the final 20 minutes.
The Crusaders secured the Aotearoa title with a hard-fought 32-22 win over the Highlanders in Christchurch. They started as 17.5 favourites but they had to come from behind to secure the victory. From a neutral’s perspective it’s a shame they did win that clash otherwise this fixture could have been a title-decider.
Betting: the Crusaders have won their last 12 fixtures against the Blues – a streak that goes back to 2014. The Blues will know however that the Crusaders haven’t been at their vintage best over the last three weeks, while the hosts are stronger now than they have been in many seasons. I’m expecting a competitive contest so I will back both the Blues 1-12 at 2.80 (Sportsbet) and the Crusaders 1-12 at 3.75 (bet365). For those looking for more risk I would simply back the Crusaders 1-12 selection simply because it offers better value than the Blues 1-12.
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