Super Rugby enters Round 11 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. Blues
5:35 PM AEST
Expert tips: 10 for Highlanders, 5 for Blues
Not only do the Highlanders return home on the back of an away victory over the Crusaders, but they welcome the returns of Adam Thomson, Alando Soakai, Jimmy Cowan and Kade Poki. The Blues have been highly inconsistent in the last two rounds. In both games they started in blistering form and looked all conquering, only to let the opposition back into the game later on. Luke McAlister will start with Stephen Brett relieved of his kicking duties after a woeful performance with the boot last week. I can’t predict a winner here, but I think 3.30 odds on the Highlanders to win by 1-12 is good value.
Cheetahs vs. Brumbies
3:10 AM AEST
Expert tips: 8 for Cheetahs, 6 for Brumbies, 1 for a Draw
The second game of the weekend sees two teams with three wins between them clash in Bloemfontein. Both sides should be well rested after each having a bye last week. The Cheetahs will view this as a great opportunity to secure their second win of the season, while the Brumbies will eye a chance to put right a soul destroying home loss to the Force two weeks ago. Despite sitting third in the Australian conference, the Brumbies only have an outside chance of securing a playoff spot at this stage, with the second placed Waratahs sitting outside a wildcard position. The Brumbies will feature a reshuffled back line, with Captain Matt Giteau donning the No. 12 jersey and Christian Lealiifano playing at five eighth. Halfback Patrick Phibbs will get his first start of the season with Josh Valentine dropping to the bench. Rugby World Cup winning coach Jake White has been appointed as head coach of Brumbies for the next four seasons, however his appointment is effective from mid July, so I don’t anticipate it will have a substantial impact on this fixture. I can’t predict who will win, but I think 3.20 odds on the Brumbies to win by 1-12 is fair value.
Hurricanes vs. Reds
5:35 PM AEST
Expert tips: 3 for Hurricanes, 12 for Reds
The Reds’ dream season continued last week with their 19-15 win over the Waratahs, although their victory came at a cost. Rod Davies, Digby Ioane, James Slipper and Ben Daley incurred injuries and are unavailable for selection. Davies will be out for around eight weeks but the rest are expected to be available for week 12 onwards. The Hurricanes return home on the back of three away games in Australia and South Africa, and fatigue may be setting in due to their travels. All Blacks Ma’a Nonu and Cory Jane are the latest additions to an injury list that has now contains seven players. Looking at the odds I would back the Reds in a head to head bet.
Waratahs vs. Rebels
7:40 PM AEST
Expert tips: 15 for Waratahs, 0 for Rebels
The second game of the evening is an all Australian affair. The Waratahs will be keen to avoid consecutive defeats to Australian sides, while the Rebels will be trying to reverse the 0-43 trashing at the hands of the Waratahs in week 1. The Waratahs continue to be plagued by injuries, with Drew Mitchell, Phil Waugh and Wycliff Palu unavailable and Berrick Barnes and Kurtley Beale perhaps out as well, depending on tests on Friday. The Rebels welcome back Mark Gerrard, and have dropped Danny Cipriani to the bench for his recent defensive lapses. Like everyone else I anticipate a Waratahs victory here, but the odds reflect this. If you can I would hunt around for the best value. Pinnacle Sports is offering 1.251 on a Waratahs victory, but I think it’s marginal as to whether it’s worth the risk. I’m going to sit this one out.
Force vs. Crusaders
10:05 PM AEST
Expert tips: 4 for Force, 11 for Crusaders
The Force are on a high at the moment after winning consecutive games against the Brumbies and Bulls. They have a tough task ahead, however, as they take on a wounded Crusaders outfit that will be desperate to return to winning ways. The Crusaders will be without the services of Andrew Ellis, Brad Thorn, Dan Carter and Sam Whitelock, but welcome back a number of key players for this clash. Richie McCaw will make his first start of the season after missing last week’s loss to the Highlanders. He will play in the No. 8 jersey, while surprise call up Reuben Thorne will also start. The former All Black returns after leaving Super Rugby at the end of the 2008 season to play in Japan. Sonny Bill Williams and Sean Maitland will also return to the squad. This side looks far more formidable than the one that fell to the Highlanders, so I think the Force will have their work cut out for them. I would back the Crusaders in a head to head bet.
Bulls vs. Chiefs
1:05 AM AEST
Expert tips: 11 for Bulls, 4 for Chiefs
The Bulls return to South Africa on a real low after a tour that saw them lose to the Crusaders, Reds and Force. With the winning records of the Blues, Crusaders and Highlanders, the playoff aspirations for the Chiefs are fading, so a win here is vital. I think the bookmakers have got the odds spot on here, so I will sit this one out.
Stormers vs. Sharks
3:10 AM AEST
Expert tips: 11 for Stormers, 4 for Sharks
South African rugby fans will be looking forward to this fixture, which sees 1 play 2 in the South African conference. The two sides played each other in week 7, with the Stormers winning 16-6 in Durban. The Stormers have an impressive 7-1 record, but sit only 3 points ahead of the the 6-3 Sharks, due to only picking up one bonus point this season. The Stormers welcome back Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana for this fixture but Peter Grant’s availability is in doubt. For the Sharks, Bismarck du Plessis is available, but Jaques Botes is out. The Sharks showed some good form last week against the Hurricanes, so this should be a great game. Once again I can’t predict a winner, but given the Stormers’ habit of winning without scoring a ton of points, I would back them to win by 1-12.