Super Rugby – Qualifying Finals Preview

Super Rugby OddsThe following are previews and betting tips for the Qualifying Finals of the 2014 Super Rugby competition.

Saturday, 19 July

Brumbies v Chiefs

7:40 PM AEST, Canberra Stadium, Canberra
View a detailed form guide for Brumbies v Chiefs

The Brumbies enter the playoffs on a high after putting seven tries past the Force in their winner-take-all clash last week. The win will have helped to erase memories of their 8-39 hammering at the hands of the Waratahs in Round 17, when the Brumbies were missing eleven players to injury. The timing of their Round 18 bye was ideal, with the Brumbies welcoming back Matt Toomua, Sam Carter, Pat McCabe and Joe Tomane for last week’s game. Matt Toomua in particular looked impressive on his return as he ran in three tries. The bonus point win earned the Brumbies a home qualifying final, with just one point separating them from the Chiefs in the final standings. The location of this fixture is crucial, because the Brumbies are on a seven-game winning streak at home. The Canberra side are also 6-2 at the line at home this season.

The Chiefs kept their hopes of a third consecutive title alive with a hard fought 11-8 away win over the Blues in rainy conditions last week. While their defence was excellent last round, their recent form hasn’t been convincing, it has to be said, so they face an uphill battle on Saturday. The Chiefs haven’t won Canberra since 2008 and they will have to rely on another excellent defensive performance to keep them in it this week. The Chiefs have only won twice on the road this season, with both of those wins coming on New Zealand soil.

Head-to-head pick: Brumbies
Line pick: Brumbies -4.5

Conservative betting: this is a replay of last year’s final, but this time the Brumbies play the hosts. Also, this season the Brumbies are coached by Stephen Larkham, so they are more attack minded than they were last year under Jake White. The two sides have already played at Canberra Stadium this year, when the Brumbies won 41-23 in Round 11. While the Brumbies aren’t at full strength, the Chiefs don’t look to be in title winning form at the moment. Since their Round 14 bye they’ve only averaged 17 points per game whilst conceding over 26 points on average during that stretch. I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.64 (Betfair).

Aggressive betting: while the Chiefs lost by 18 points the last time they visited Canberra, they were without key players such as Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick and Aaron Cruden. With so much on the line and with the Chiefs defence holding up well last week I expect this week to be much closer. I would back the Brumbies 1-12 at 2.76 (Palmerbet).

Sunday, 20 July

Sharks v Highlanders

1:05 AM AEST, Kings Park, Durban
View a detailed form guide for Sharks v Highlanders

After a late season wobble which saw them lose back to back games for the first time this season, the Sharks returned to winning ways last week with a 34-10 away win over the in-form Stormers. The Sharks came within one try and 11 points of securing 2nd overall seed, but coach Jake White will be simply relieved to have righted the ship in time for the playoffs. He will be pleased with their defence in particular, which withstood a barrage of attacks from the Stormers, who threw the kitchen sink at them. While the Sharks are the firm favourites for this clash, punters must be wary of the fact that four of their five losses this season came when they were installed as the favourites. One of those losses was a home defeat to the Highlanders in Round 11. The Sharks welcome back Patrick Lambie and Tendai Mtawarira for this clash.

The Highlanders are the only team entering the playoffs having lost their final round clash. With just one win from their last five games, the Highlanders are in fact in the midst of their worst patch of the season. Over the last four games they’ve conceded 37 points per game on average, compared to just over 21 points per game scored. The Waratahs and Crusaders shredded the Highlanders in their last two games, so you have to wonder how much belief they have left in them. The Highlanders look a bit unsettled at the moment, with coach Jamie Joseph rotating out regular fly-half Lima Sopoaga for last week’s clash due to indifferent form. The loss of Ben Smith last week also didn’t help their cause, however I can’t see how it would have made much difference as they really had little to offer against the Crusaders.

Head-to-head pick: Sharks
Line pick: Sharks -13.5

Conservative betting: the Highlanders did upset the Sharks as 11 1/2 point underdogs in Round 11, however the Durban side were guilty at the time of having one eye on their pending tour. The Sharks also had a couple of late withdrawals for that clash, including captain Bismarck du Plessis. I don’t see the Sharks getting beaten at home again by the Highlanders, especially given the poor form that the visitors are in. All six of the Sharks’ home wins this season have been by 11 points or more so I would back the Sharks -9.5 at 1.56 (Sportsbet).

Aggressive betting: in recent weeks the Highlanders have been guilty of drifting in and out of games. In the last four straight clashes they have at some stage conceded three consecutive tries without scoring a try of their own. The Sharks themselves scored three unanswered tries last week against the Stormers. In the market ‘Will Any Team Score 3 Unanswered Tries’ I would back the ‘Yes’ selection at 4.33 (bet365).

Share this:


Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.