The following are previews and betting tips for Round 17 of the 2013 Super 15 Rugby competition.
This is the last round before the international break. It is also the penultimate round for Australian sides who will not be participating in Rounds 18 and 19 due to the Lions Tour. The Reds will pick up four points for an official bye this week while the New Zealand and South African sides receive no points.
The Australian squads will be missing numerous Wallabies players this round so you should tread very carefully when betting. A couple of sides have made ten or more player changes from last week so historical stats won’t be as reliable.
Friday, 7 June
Brumbies v Rebels
7:40 PM AEST, Canberra Stadium, Canberra
The Brumbies held off a late Hurricanes fightback to win 30-23 last week. They were the better side and once again their defensive effort was key as the Hurricanes were unable to capitalise on their late possession and territory. Christian Lealiifano was in good form, going 7/8 with the boot. The Reds pick up four points for a bye this week so a win is required to ensure that the Brumbies’ fate is in their own hands going into the final round. Regular captain Ben Mowen is away on Wallabies duty so Nic White will captain the side. Pat McCabe returns to the side in place of Christian Lealiifano.
1. Scott Sio, 2. Siliva Siliva, 3. Dan Palmer, 4. Leon Power, 5. Sam Carter, 6. Scott Fardy, 7. Colby Faingaa, 8. Peter Kimlin, 9. Nic White (c), 10. Matt Toomua, 11. Clyde Rathbone, 12. Pat McCabe, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Henry Speight, 15. Jesse Mogg
Replacements: 16. Josh Mann-Rea, 17. Ruan Smith, 18. Etienne Oosthuizen, 19. Jordan Smiler, 20. Ian Prior, 21. Robbie Coleman, 22. Zack Holmes
The Rebels led 20-13 at the 44 minute mark but fell 20-33 to the Reds for their first defeat in three weeks. It was an expensive loss, with star loose forward Scott Higginbotham and lock Hugh Pyle both dislocating their shoulders and Jarrod Saffy suffering a medial ligament strain. Higginbotham’s injury involved extensive ligament damage so he’s been ruled out for the rest of 2013. Halfback Luke Burgess has been added to the squad sooner than expected due to Nick Phipps’ Wallabies selection and Richard Kingi’s long-term injury. Burgess had been playing for Toulouse since 2011 and was originally scheduled to join the Rebels in 2014. The Rebels will feature ten changes to the squad from last week, with Gareth Delve returning to the starting fifteen as captain.
1. Nic Henderson, 2. Ged Robinson, 3. Laurie Weeks , 4. Cadeyrn Neville, 5. Luke Jones, 6. Jordy Reid, 7. Scott Fuglistaller, 8. Gareth Delve, 9. Nic Stirzaker
10. Bryce Hegarty, 11. Lachlan Mitchell, 12. Rory Sidey, 13. Mitch Inman, 14. Tom English, 15. Jason Woodward
Replacements : 16. Pat Leafa, 17. Paul Alo-Emile, 18. James King, 19. Tim Davidson, 20. Luke Burgess, 21. James Hilgendorf, 22. Kimami Sitauti
Betting: the Rebels upset the Brumbies 25-24 in their inaugural season but it has been all the Brumbies since as they have picked up four wins by an average of over 17 points. With that being said, I will be treading carefully given the substantial squad disruptions. The Rebels are 1-8 as the road underdog in the last 12 months and with both sides 4-3 at the line in this situation, if I had to bet, I would simply back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.19 (Pinnacle Sports).
Sunday, 9 June
Force v Waratahs
4:05 PM AEST, NIB Stadium, Perth
The Force have likely done enough to avoid this year’s wooden spoon after they defeated the Highlanders 19-18 in Round 15. Former Highlander Jayden Hayward was the hero with his match winning penalty contributing to his 14 points for the night. The Force picked up four points for a bye last week and now sit just five points behind the Rebels with two games to play. Like the Rebels the Force have the opportunity to play the spoiler this week, although the Waratahs’ final chances are likely already over. The Force come into this clash having played mid-week against the British & Irish Lions, however they rested many key players and should be relatively fresh for Sunday.
They’ve lost their last two games, but other sides may be relieved that the Waratahs’ finals chances are likely over. They have steadily improved during the season and were unlucky not break their ten-game losing streak against the Crusaders last week. The Waratahs led for the first 73 minutes and were up 15-3 at one stage but Berrick Barnes’s injury time penalty missed to give the Crusaders a 23-22 victory in Christchurch. The Waratahs will field a notably weaker side this weekend, with ten players on Wallabies duty and a further six injured. Below is the current squad situation (sourced from SuperXV.com):
1. Jeremy Tilse (vc), 2. John Ulugia, 3. Paddy Ryan, 4. Will Skelton, 5. Ollie Atkins, 6. Lopeti Timani, 7. Pat McCutcheon (c), 8. Jed Holloway, 9. Brendan McKibbin, 10. Bernard Foley (vc), 11. Cam Crawford, 12. Tom Carter, 13. Tom Kingston, 14. Peter Betham, 15. Drew Mitchell
Replacements: from Sam Talakai, Luke Holmes, Damien Fitzpatrick, Richard Aho, Adam Coleman, AJ Gilbert, Matt Lucas, Grayson Hart, Terrence Hepetema, Ben Volavola
Unavailable Wallabies: Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Wycliff Palu, Rob Horne, Berrick Barnes, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau
Injured: Tatafu Polota Nau (broken arm), Greg Peterson (dislocated shoulder), Mitchell Chapman (medial ligament), Sitaleki Timani (broken thumb), Michael Hodge (torn hamstring), Lachie Turner (broken leg)
Betting: at the time of writing the bookmaker odds are all over the place with arbitrage opportunities available in the head-to-head market. This round is tough to predict, but if I had to bet, I would back the Force in the head-to-head at 1.80 (Sportsbet)