Super Rugby enters Round 5 this weekend. Alongside my own opinions I have included the winner predictions of 15 ‘experts’ from Rugby Heaven in Australia and TVNZ in New Zealand. Below are the Luxbet odds for this weekend’s fixtures (subject to change).
Chiefs vs. Sharks
5:35 PM AEDT
Expert tips: 5 for Chiefs, 10 for Sharks
Based on the bookmaker odds this is the most even fixture of the round. It’s interesting to see that despite the close odds, most ‘experts’ are backing the Sharks. The Sharks sit top of the standings with four wins out of four, while the Chiefs languish at the bottom of the New Zealand conference. The reason the odds are so tight is because of the Sharks’ weary effort against the Rebels last week. After not conceding a try in their first three fixtures, the Sharks conceded four against the lowly Rebels. Contrastingly, the Chiefs overpowered the Rebels 38-10 in Week 3. This fixture will be determined by which Sharks team shows up. If they are travel fatigued and play like they did in Week 4 then I think the Chiefs will be too good for them. If the Week 3 version of the Sharks turns up, then they should be good enough to grab an away win. Given the 2.00 odds you can get on the Sharks, I would back them in a head-to-head bet. I certainly wouldn’t back either team at anything less than 2.00 odds. Update: you can get 2.27 odds on the Sharks at Pinnacle Sports.
Reds vs. Rebels
8:40 PM AEDT
Expert tips: 13 for Reds, 2 for Rebels
The bookmakers aren’t giving the Rebels much of a chance here. The Reds come in refreshed on the back of a bye, while the Rebels have had to make numerous squad changes due to injury. Mark Gerrard and Michael Lipman are the latest casualties of their inaugural campaign. The Rebels were competitive against the Sharks last week and managed to beat the Brumbies in Week 2, but apart from that, they’ve been poor. Looking at the odds, I don’t think 1.07 is sufficient reward for backing the Reds. I will sit on the sidelines for this one, as there’s too much uncertainty over the form of the Rebels.
Highlanders vs. Crusaders
3:30 PM AEDT
Expert tips: 4 for Highlanders, 11 for Crusaders
In terms of pride, this fixture is arguably the most important of the year for the Highlanders. The Crusaders have been the bigger brother of South Island rugby for many years, and the Highlanders would love to get one over their local rivals at home. A main obstacle for the Highlanders is that while this is a home fixture, they return to Dunedin on the back of two away games in South Africa, while the Crusaders have only had to make the short trip south. The Crusaders have looked fantastic in parts during their impressive victories over the Waratahs and Brumbies, so the Highlanders will be wary of a blow out. Having said that, while they’re not overly spectacular, the Highlanders are solid, and they don’t tend to give away too many cheap tries. I would back the Crusaders in a head to head bet. You may also want to consider the Crusaders (-10) in a line bet, given the Highlanders were unable to score a try last week.
Blues vs. Hurricanes
5:35 PM AEDT
Expert tips: 11 for Blues, 4 for Hurricanes
Like the Highlanders, the Blues have made the long flight home on the back of a string of overseas games, while the Hurricanes have only had to make the short trip north to Auckland. If the Blues can replicate the home form they showed against the Crusaders, they should be too much for the Hurricanes. Either way, I expect this to be a close encounter. I think the bookmakers have got the odds right here, so it pays to shop around to see where the best value is. At Pinnacle Sports you can get 2.47 odds on the Hurricanes, while at Luxbet you can get 1.65 odds on the Blues and 31.00 odds on a draw. My inclination is to sit on the sideline. I back the Blues to win, but I would want slightly better odds before I backed them in a head to head bet.
Waratahs vs. Cheetahs
7:50 PM AEDT
Expert tips: 15 for Waratahs, 0 for Cheetahs
This is the first fixture in three weeks that every ‘expert’ is in agreement on. Unfortunately, the bookmaker odds reflect this, with a miserly 1.05 odds on offer for the Waratahs. I would be weary here, as no Australian team has yet beaten a South African side this season. I expect the Waratahs to win, but I would be more inclined to back the Cheetahs (+19.5) in a line bet.
Lions vs. Force
2:05 AM AEDT
Expert tips: 8 for Lions, 7 for Force
This should be a fairly even encounter. The Lions have been installed as the favourites by the bookies due to home field advantage, but the experts are evenly split on who will triumph. I don’t think the Lions are too bad a team this year, and I back them to win in a close contest. Unfortunately, I think the bookmakers have got the odds spot on, so I won’t be placing any bets here.
Bulls vs. Stormers
4:10 AM AEDT
Expert tips: 13 for Bulls, 2 for Stormers
South Africans will be looking forward to this fixture, which is a replay of last year’s Super 14 final. Neither team has really hit their stride this season, although I was impressed by the Stormers’ ability to shut down an in-form Highlanders side last week. The Stormers have the best defensive record in the competition, while the Bulls score on average almost 26 points this season. I would make two bets, backing both teams to win by 1-12 points, as I don’t expect a blowout.