Super Rugby enters Round 9 this weekend. We’re in that stage of the season where the teams’ relative strengths are fairly well established. The past two weeks for this column have been fairly successful with 6 winning bets out of 8, with three of those winning bets at odds of 2.00 or more.
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.
Chiefs vs. Crusaders
5:35 PM AEST
Expert tips: 2 for Chiefs, 13 for Crusaders
The Chiefs and Crusaders open round 9 at Mt Maunganui on Friday. The Crusaders welcome the return of Richie McCaw, who will start the game on the bench. Dan Carter is still out with a hamstring injury, with Matt Berquist continuing in his place. I’m actually surprised by the odds here. I thought we’d be getting sub 1.20 odds on the Crusaders by now, especially with the Chiefs having a 2-5 record, but you can actually get 1.24 on them. I would back the Crusaders (-9.5) in a line bet at 2.03 odds with Readbet. If you’re more conservative you could back the Crusaders in a head to head bet.
Rebels vs. Highlanders
7:40 PM AEST
Expert tips: 8 for Rebels, 7 for Highlanders
This looks to be an even encounter. Both teams sit third in their respective conferences, and both sides come into the fixture on the back of consecutive wins. The Highlanders have been one of the surprise packages of the season, although they looked a tad rusty last week. The Rebels have been the Jekyll and Hyde team of the competition, but have been more consistent of late. The Highlanders will be resting Jimmy Cowan for at least the start of the game, with Aaron Smith given his first start as halfback. It’s interesting to see the ‘experts’ at odds with the bookmakers here. The bookies have installed the Highlanders as favourites while the experts seem to fancy the Rebels. I’m going to sit on the sidelines for this one, but if you do want to bet, I would take a close look at either team to win by 1-12 points.
Blues vs. Waratahs
5:35 PM AEST
Expert tips: 12 for Blues, 3 for Waratahs
This fixture sees two teams with similar records go head to head. Each has five wins, and each sits second in their respective conferences. The Blues welcome Jerome Kaino back for this fixture, while Phil Waugh remains out for the Waratahs. The Blues have been installed as firm favourites here, but I believe the Waratahs have a genuine chance of winning. I would back the Blues to win by 1-12 points. Another bet worth considering is a line bet on the Waratahs (+6.5) at 2.05 odds with Readbet.
Reds vs. Bulls
7:40 PM AEST
Expert tips: 14 for Reds, 1 for Bulls
The Reds are on a roll at the moment. They’ve had a great season thus far, and seem to be getting stronger as the competition goes on. The Bulls have had a tepid season by their standards, highlighted by the 27-0 loss to the Crusaders last week. I expect them to be far more competitive this week, but the Bulls simply aren’t the force they once were. I would back the Reds in a head to head bet.
Lions vs. Stormers
1.05 AM AEST
Expert tips: 1 for Lions, 14 for Stormers
The Stormers enter this fixture on the back of their first loss of the season to the Reds, while the Lions only have the one win to show for themselves. The Stormers will be without Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers and Rynhardt Elstadt, which will give the Lions some hope. I would actually make two contrasting bets here. I would back the Stormers to win by 1-12 at 2.90 odds with Readbet. I would then also back the Lions in a head to head bet at 4.30 odds with Readbet.
Cheetahs vs. Hurricanes
3.10 AM AEST
Expert tips: 8 for Cheetahs, 7 for Hurricanes
The Cheetahs will be lining this fixture up as a genuine opportunity for a second win of the season here. The Hurricanes have been deeply disappointing. Given their quality backs you can only say they’ve under achieved in 2011. To make matters worse for the Hurricanes, they’ve lost Conrad Smith to a jaw injury, while the Cheetahs welcome back their inspirational skipper Adrian Strauss to the bench. Both the experts and bookies agree that this should be a close encounter, with some bookmakers not even offering line odds for the fixture. I’m really not sure what will happen here. This could be a close encounter or either team could run away with this. I will sit on the sidelines, but you may want take a look at the 3.00 odds on the Cheetahs to win by 1-12 at Readbet.
Brumbies vs. Force
5:35 PM AEST
Expert tips: 9 for Brumbies, 6 for Force
The Brumbies will be overjoyed at breaking their losing streak last week with a gutsy one point victory over the Hurricanes. The Force languish at the bottom of the Australian conference and will see this fixture as a key to avoid ending the season as the worst side in Australia. I would expect the Brumbies to limp over the line here, so I will persist with my favourite bet on the hosts to win by 1-12 points at 2.90 odds with Readbet.