Super Rugby – Round 16 Preview and Betting Tips

Super Rugby Odds

The following are previews and betting tips for Round 16 of the 2012 Super Rugby competition.

It has been almost a month since round 15. The international break would have been a relief to struggling sides like the Waratahs and a frustration for teams that were flying at the beginning of June. The Crusaders and Hurricanes in particular will not have appreciated the timing of the international fixtures. An international break during a Super Rugby season is unprecedented so it remains to be seen how disruptive it will be to form guides. Punters should tread carefully for this reason.

It’s always interesting to see how there’s no love lost between compatriot sides in this competition. In round 15 the Blues raised their game to almost topple the Chiefs, while the Lions severely dented the Sharks playoff chances with an upset win.

Friday 29 June

Highlanders v Chiefs

5:35 PM AEST, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

The Highlanders sit just one point behind the 6th and 7th placed Hurricanes and Sharks who are both on 45 points. With the Sharks getting four points for a bye this week, and with a tough visit to Queensland next round, the Highlanders arguably must win this game to keep their playoff chances alive. They’ve had almost a month to stew over their worse loss of the season when they were hammered 51-18 by the Crusaders in round 15. They were competitive for the first 27 or so minutes, but had no answers to the Crusaders try scoring machine once it got into gear.

The Chiefs would have breathed a sigh of relief after seeing off the Blues 41-34 prior to the break. The Auckland side has only won two games this season but they lifted their game against their local rivals and came close to securing a draw. Chiefs winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma was the difference between the two sides in the end as he ran in four tries. That guy some has serious pace. The Chiefs will have to defend better than they did against the Blues when they face the Highlanders. The Dunedin side can hurt you from anywhere in the park and are excellent at attacking from set pieces – particularly from the scrum. The Chiefs blew a comfortable lead to lose at home to the Highlanders in round 1 this year, so they will be keen to avenge that result on Friday. Aaron Cruden is set to start for the Chiefs despite aggravating his Achilles injury against Ireland last week.

Tip: Chiefs to win by 1-12

Betting: this should be an even contest. Prior to the break they were both in similar form. Both sides have recently played the Bulls and Blues. The Highlanders won those games by 5 and 7 points respectively, while the Chiefs won by 6 and 7 points. A result either way wouldn’t surprise me, but I’m leaning towards a head to head bet on the Chiefs at 1.67 (Centrebet).

Rebels v Reds

7:40 PM AEST, AAMI Park, Melbourne

After winning consecutive games the Rebels were hammered 66-24 by the Hurricanes before falling 19-27 at home to the Brumbies. They played bravely against the Brumbies and were a bit hard done by with a Hilgendorf try not awarded. The international break came at a good time for the Rebels, with Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor out injured at the beginning of the month. James O’Connor looks set to play at five-eighth with Kurtley Beale fighting to regain fitness after picking up a knock to his ribs against Wales.

With three wins followed by a bye in round 15, the Reds are currently the in-form team of the competition. Like the Crusaders they appear to have saved the best for last, with Quade Cooper back in the side after a long injury layoff. The Reds will be without the services of captain James Horwill for the rest of the season. The lock tore his hamstring against the Brumbies in round 14. Adam Wallace-Harrison gets the nod in his absence.

Tip: Reds to win by 1-12

Betting: the Rebels have been a much better team at home this season. In the previous round the Brumbies won 27-19 in Melbourne and I expect a similar margin of victory for the Reds on Friday. I would back the Reds to win, but not by a massive margin. The 1.30 head to head odds on the Reds are a touch short so you may want to consider the 2.80 odds (Centrebet) on the Reds to win by 1-12.

Saturday 30 June

Crusaders v Hurricanes

5:35 PM AEST, Rugby League Park, Christchurch

On paper this should be an excellent, high scoring game for the neutral. Both sides had little trouble scoring prior to the break. The Crusaders scored 59 and 51 points in their previous two games, while the Hurricanes scored 66 and 33 points. The only disappointment is that neither side will be at full strength for this fixture. Halfback TJ Perenara is out for the season after fracturing his ankle during a friendly against the Reds. The Hurricanes are also without Victor Vito who picked up a knee injury in the first Ireland Test. The Crusaders will be without Dan Carter who sustained a hamstring injury against Ireland in the second Test. They could also be without Kieran Read and Israel Dagg. The Crusaders looked more balanced with Carter at No. 10 and Crotty at No. 12, so it will be interesting to see if they can maintain their fluid form on attack without Carter on the field. Their scrum dominates most sides and they should have too much for the Hurricanes forward pack. The two sides are more evenly matched in the backs, and I expect a free-flowing game with the ball kept in hand. The Hurricanes will be desperate for points to remain in finals contention. They currently score more points per game than any other team, but I predict their defence will be their undoing this week. The Wellington side averages over 27 points conceded per game and the Crusaders will be a good chance of picking up a bonus point victory on Saturday.

Tip: Crusaders by 13+

Betting: the international break has disrupted the momentum of these two in-form sides, which makes it difficult to predict how they will fare after almost a month off. Rather than a line bet I would take the Crusaders in a head to head wager at 1.26 (Centrebet).

Western Force v Brumbies

7:40 PM AEST, NIB Stadium, Perth

After six consecutive defeats the Force returned to winning ways with a 17-11 victory over the travel-weary Lions in round 14. They had a bye in round 15 which has brought them within two points of the Rebels. With three rounds to go I’m sure their goal will simply be to avoid the wooden spoon in the Australian conference. The Brumbies saw off a brave Rebels effort to bounce back from their round 14 loss to the Reds. They sit only four points ahead of the Queensland side, but with fixtures against the Force, Waratahs and Blues to come, their destiny is in their own hands. The Reds to have three winnable fixtures to finish the regular season so the Brumbies will probably have to go three from three if they are to secure the Australian conference.

Tip: Brumbies to win by 1-12

Betting: back the Brumbies to win at 1.50 (Centrebet). In round 1 the Brumbies beat the Force 19-17, and I don’t expect a blow out this weekend. If you wish to be more aggressive I quite fancy the 2.80 odds (Centrebet) on the Brumbies to win by 1-12.


Stormers v Lions

1:05 AM AEST, Newlands Stadium, Cape Town

Winger Bryan Habana continues to have a strong season for the Stormers. His try with eight minutes to go snatched victory from the Bulls in the round 15 clash for South African supremacy. That result puts the Stormers five points ahead of the Bulls and into a firm position to win the South African conference. The jury is still out as to whether they have enough to win the competition, however. They are only the 11th ranked side in points scored this season, with their competition-leading defence winning them games. If they had to play the Crusaders prior to the break I wouldn’t have fancied their chances. On the plus side for the Stormers is the fact that Schalk Burger, Nick Koster and Andries Bekker are expected to return from injury over the next few weeks, so they should be close to full strength going into the finals.

The Lions enter this fixture without coach John Mitchell who was suspended amid reports of player complaints over his coaching style. Carlos Spencer and Johan Ackermann will take on the coaching duties in his absence. The Lions threw a spanner in the works by beating the high flying Sharks 38-28 in round 15. The result denied the Sharks any bonus points, and may have extinguished their chances of winning the South African conference. The Stormers will be all too aware of the threat that the Lions, with nothing to lose, pose. They beat the Lions 24-19 in round 5, and a similar score line this weekend would suit them nicely.

Tip: Stormers to win by 1-12

Betting: the Stormers haven’t blown anyone away of late, so I don’t anticipate a blowout. Given the low head to head odds of 1.09 (Centrebet) on the Stormers, you’ll get better value by backing the Lions +16.5 at the line. The Stormers have not beaten a team by more than 15 points this season and have yet to beat a South African side by more than 5 points.

Bulls v Cheetahs

3:10 AM AEST, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Despite losing their last three games the Bulls still have a chance of winning the South African conference. They sit just five points behind the Stormers courtesy of their nine bonus points to the Stormers’ two. They will back themselves against a Cheetahs outfit that has only won only one domestic game this competition (over the Lions in round 7). The last time the two sides played the Bulls won 51-19, and I expect them to win comfortably again this weekend, albeit not quite by the same margin. The only possible spanner in the works is that the Bulls had numerous players involved in Springboks duties, so there are questions over how fresh they will be after the three Tests against England.

Tip: Bulls to win by 13+

Betting: back the Bulls to win at 1.20 (Centrebet) if you wish to be conservative. Those who are more aggressive may fancy the 1.90 line odds on the Bulls -11.5.

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