After 20 weeks of rugby, the Super Rugby series in its new fifteen team format has reached the final. History favours the home team as the Reds host the Crusaders on Saturday night. 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). Note that you can view and compare the latest odds for Australia’s leading bookmakers using the live rugby odds comparison tool.
Reds vs Crusaders
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Saturday, July 9
7:40 PM AEST
Expert tips: 11 for Reds, 4 for Crusaders
Both semifinals went to form last week, with the Reds defeating the Blues in Queensland and the Crusaders beating the Stormers in South Africa. The resulting final is a rematch of the Week 15 fixture that saw the Reds secure a last minute penalty to beat the Crusaders 17-16 in a game that was hailed for its test match quality. This weekend’s final should be a cracker, with both sides able to field near full strength teams. The Crusaders have much more finals experience than the Reds, but playing at Suncorp Stadium will be a great equaliser.
After enjoying a bye for finals week 1, the Reds beat the Blues 30-13 to set up a home final. Quade Cooper made up for a disappointing night with the boot by setting up two of the four tries. Rod Davies scored a hat-trick of tries as the Reds asserted their dominance in the second half. The Reds have re-found their form just at the right time, with numerous players back from injury in time for last week’s semifinal.
The Crusaders have had to take a much tougher route to the final, beating the Sharks 36-8 in New Zealand before making the 11,000 km journey to South Africa where they beat the Stormers 29-10. Like the Reds, the Crusaders have had their fair share of injuries this season, but have enjoyed a near full strength team for the semifinals and final. The only injury cloud is over Andy Ellis, who came off last week after taking a knock. Should he fail to recover, Willi Heinz would be flown in as cover.
Boy is this a tough one to call. I think the bookmakers have got it right by installing the Crusaders as favourites, but I’m surprised to see them below 1.60 odds, as I had anticipated something around the 1.80 mark. I think the fact that the Crusaders were able to travel to South Africa and dispose of the Stormers the way they did has has a lot to do with the odds, because the Reds were the tournament favourites prior to the semifinals. History is also playing a major role in determining the odds, with the Crusaders boasting seven titles to date, but I am concerned about their travel schedule.
Given how tough it is to travel in this competition, and given the historical form of the host team in this tournament, I would back the Reds (+4.5) in a line bet.
UPDATE: Andy Ellis has been cleared to play for the Crusaders.
UPDATE: here are the squads for the final:
REDS: Jono Lance, Rod Davies, Anthony Faingaa, Ben Tapuai, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Radike Samo, Beau Robinson, Scott Higginbotham, James Horwill (c), Rob Simmons, Greg Holmes, Saia Faingaa, Ben Daley.
Reserves: James Hanson, Guy Shepherdson, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Ian Prior, Will Chambers.
CRUSADERS: Tom Marshall, Sean Maitland, Robbie Fruean, Sonny Bill Williams, Zac Guildford, Daniel Carter, Andy Ellis; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett
Reserves: Quentin McDonald, Ben Franks, Luke Romano/Chris Jack, Matt Todd, Kahn Fotuali’i, Matt Berquist, Ryan Crotty.