Super Rugby enters Round 7 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). Keep in mind that Readbet is offering 2.00 lines on Super Rugby this season.
Highlanders vs. Brumbies
5:35 PM AEDT
Expert tips: 14 for Highlanders, 1 for Brumbies
The Highlanders come into this fixture on the back of two losses and a bye. Their most recent loss was a demolition job by the Crusaders, but you can’t look too much into that because the Crusaders have been embarrassing everyone this season. The Highlanders will be buoyed by the return of All Black Colin Slade from pre-season injury. Tom Donnelly and Kade Poki will also be returning after injury absences. The Brumbies enter this fixture having not won since the first round, and will be desperate for a win. Unfortunately for them, this fixture will be played in Invercargill, a place that provides fantastic home support. Looking at the odds, I think 1.41 on the Highlanders is quite reasonable, but the Highlanders don’t tend to blow teams away when they win. Their three victories so far this season have been by 5, 10 and 7 points, so I recommend backing the Highlanders to win by 1-12 at 2.65 odds (you can get 2.80 odds at Readbet).
Waratahs vs. Chiefs
7:40 PM AEDT
Expert tips: 15 for Waratahs, 0 for Chiefs
Ouch, no pundit is giving the Chiefs any chance here, although the bookmakers recognize the threat they can pose. The Waratahs have been unconvincing of late, beating the lowly Brumbies by a fairly narrow margin and losing at home to the Cheetahs. They will be buoyed, however, by the returns of Tatafu Polota-Nau and Benn Robinson from injury. While the Chiefs sit bottom of the New Zealand conference, they are a stronger team than they appear on paper. They lost by narrow margins against the Blues and Hurricanes, and managed to beat a previously undefeated Sharks outfit. I think the Waratahs will win, but it’s hard to pick a winning margin here. Given the 1.43 odds in a head to head bet, I will sit on the sideline for this one.
Blues vs. Cheetahs
3:30 PM AEDT
Expert tips: 13 for Blues, 2 for Cheetahs
After storming to a 23-3 away win over the Waratahs, the Cheetahs stunk last week as they were crushed 41-8 by the Reds. They now head across the ditch to face a Blues outfit that is undefeated at home this season. To add to the Cheetahs’ woes, they will be without their influential flanker Heinrich Brussow. The Kiwi media reckons the Blues will “run amuck” here, but apart from last week, the Cheetahs have pushed every team they’ve played. If you ignore last week, a line bet on the Cheetahs looks to be good value (+24.5 at 2.00 odds with Readbet). If you expect last week’s form to continue for the Cheetahs, then 1.15 on the Blues to win by 13+ looks to be a good bet. It’s your call!
Hurricanes vs. Bulls
5:35 PM AEDT
Expert tips: 10 for Hurricanes, 5 for Bulls
After such a strong 2010 season, the Bulls have been disappointing this year, although I’m aware of a number of pundits who predicted this. After starting the season with wins over the Lions and Cheetahs, the Bulls succumbed to defeats against the Highlanders and Stormers, before beating the Lions again last week. The Hurricanes have also disappointed this season. Ominously, they managed to blow a 17-0 lead to lose 42-25 against the Rebels last week. I think this will be a close contest. My inclination is to take a line bet on the Bulls (+3.0) at 2.00 odds with Readbet.
Force vs. Rebels
10:05 PM AEDT
Expert tips: 10 for Force, 5 for Rebels
The Force take on an in-form Rebels side this week, but will be comforted by the fact that the Rebels have yet to win away from home. Having said that, the Rebels will be buoyed by the return of Mark Gerrard and Kevin O’Neill from injury. The Force return to Australia on the back of a heavy loss to the Stormers, but you can’t read too much into the result because the side was hit by a virus on the eve of the game. Prior to this the Force enjoyed a 27-15 away victory over the Lions, and a 22-22 draw with the Blues. As I’ve said before, the Rebels have been hot and cold all season, as shown by their results: 0-43 against the Waratahs (cold), 25-24 against the Brumbies (hot), 10-38 against the Chiefs (cold), 32-34 against the Sharks (hot), 3-53 against the Reds (cold) and 42-25 against the Hurricanes (hot). Based on this pattern you would expect the Rebels to go cold again, so for this reason alone I would back the Force in a head to head bet! However, if you’re not the gambling type, I would sit on the sidelines.
Lions vs. Reds
12:00 AM AEDT
Expert tips: 1 for Lions, 14 for Reds
The Red have been impressive of late. Not only have they enjoyed wins, but they have embarrassed sides along the way. Most recently they beat the Cheetahs 41-8 and the Rebels 53-3. The Lions have had a 1-5 start to the season, but have been competitive in virtually every loss. Based on the fact that the Force were able to travel to Johannesburg and win, I back the Reds to do the same. Just be warned that Ewen McKenzie has rested forwards Ben Daley and Rob Simmons for this fixture. Having said that, I would still back the Reds in a head to head bet.
Sharks vs. Stormers
1:05 AM AEDT
Expert tips: 4 for Sharks, 11 for Stormers
I genuinely feel sorry for the Sharks. Their tour schedule has been ridiculous: Week 2: Durban, Week 3: Perth, Week 4: Melbourne, Week 5: Hamilton, Week 6: London, Week 7: Durban. No make matters worse, their bye isn’t until Week 9! The Sharks started the season well, but their performances have gone down hill since then, and I think their schedule has had a lot to do with it. The Stormers are the only undefeated team in the tournament, and will feel that there’s no better time to play the Sharks in Durban. Their 23-13 away win over the Bulls highlights their ability to win away from home, and I expect their run to continue this weekend. Based on the available odds, I would back the Stormers (1.85) in a head to head bet.