Super Rugby Round 9 Preview & Betting Tips

Super Rugby OddsThe following are previews and betting tips for Round 9 of the 2015 Super Rugby competition.

Friday, 10 April

Blues v Brumbies

5:35 PM AEST, Eden Park, Auckland
View a detailed form guide for Blues v Brumbies

The Blues pushed the Chiefs hard but fell 16-23 in Hamilton last week to move to 0-7 for the season. It was an opportunity missed with the Chiefs putting in a poor performance, but the Blues let themselves down too as they fell off tackles and lost possession in the rucks. The Blues now have 5 losing bonus points from their 7 losses, so while they remain without a win, it’s evident that they’re not far off from returning to winning ways.

After being out-muscled by the Waratahs prior to their bye two weeks ago, the Brumbies put in a physical performance to dominate the Cheetahs in their 20-3 win last week. Their set pieces were excellent and the Brumbies defended well, so Stephen Larkham will be pleased with the side’s response to their setback in Sydney.

Head-to-head pick: Brumbies
Line pick: Brumbies -2.0

Conservative betting: the Blues continue to be competitive and they have a strong record at Eden Park, however combining this season and last they have lost nine straight, while the Brumbies were clinical last week. It’s worth noting that while the Brumbies are 3-7 on the road over the last 12 months, they have been predictable, going 3-1 as the road favourite and 0-6 as the road underdog. I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.73 (Palmerbet).

Aggressive betting: only 1 of the Blues’ last 12 losses were by 13 points or more, with none of their 4 home losses over the last 12 months coming by more than 12 points. I would back the Brumbies 1-12 at 2.88 (Pinnacle Sports).

Saturday, 11 April

Crusaders v Highlanders

5:35 PM AEST, AMI Stadium ,Christchurch
View a detailed form guide for Crusaders v Highlanders

After a sub-par performance against the Bulls, the Crusaders found their rhythm on attack as they thrashed the Sharks 52-10 in Durban. They outscored the hosts 8 tries to 1 with the only blemish on the performance being discipline, with three players picking up yellow cards. The result highlights the Crusaders’ depth, with Dan Carter away last week and Richie McCaw starting on the bench. Despite sitting 6th in the overall standings, incredibly, the Crusaders sit just 4th in the New Zealand conference, which as been incredibly strong this season.

Prior to their bye last week the Highlanders beat the Stormers 39-21 to end a six-game losing streak to the Cape Town side. Fijian recruit Waisake Naholo continues to have an excellent season, adding two more tries to his tally against the Stormers. The Highlanders have exceeded most people’s expectations this season, starting with a 4-2 record despite losing a lot of talent in the off-season. The scheduling has been unkind to them however, with both bye weeks completed before the second half of the season. The Highlanders now face a 10-week run of fixtures leading up to the playoffs.

Head-to-head pick: Crusaders
Line pick: Crusaders -8.5

Conservative betting: domestic New Zealand fixtures tend to be close games, however the Crusaders have seen off the Highlanders easily in their last three home games. The men from Canterbury have won their last six straight against their southern rivals. I would back the Crusaders -4.5 at 1.54 (William Hill).

Aggressive betting: the Crusaders have a 7-2 home line record over the last 12 months and are 4-1 at the line against the Highlanders in recent years. I would back the Crusaders -8.5 at 1.92 (TopBetta).

Waratahs v Stormers

7:40 PM AEST, Allianz Stadium, Sydney
View a detailed form guide for Waratahs v Stormers

It was a sloppy performance at times, but the Waratahs saw off the Blues 23-11 prior to their bye last week to move to 4-2 for the season. As has been the case with most of their fixtures, they have shown glimpses of the form that saw them win the Super Rugby title last year, but the Waratahs a far from being a finished product at this stage. The scheduling has been unkind to them this year, with both bye weeks completed before the second half of the season. The Waratahs now face a 10-week run of fixtures leading up to the playoffs so they will have to manage player fatigue going into the sharp end of the season. Adam Ashley-Cooper has recovered from a knee injury that has kept him on the sidelines since Round 2 and has been named on the bench.

The Stormers paid the price for a poor first half last week, conceding 3 tries in 12 minutes against the Hurricanes to trail 3-25 at the break. The Stormers then reduced their error rate and protected the ball well, scoring 17 unanswered points in the second half. The loss saw them slip to 9th in the overall standings, but they sit just two points behind the South African conference leading Bulls, who have yet to play overseas.

Head-to-head pick: Waratahs
Line pick: Stormers +9.5

Conservative betting: the Waratahs should win this however the Stormers were very competitive in the second half against the Chiefs last week. This could be quite close so I would back both the Waratahs 1-12 at 2.78 (Pinnacle Sports) and the Stormers 1-12 at 5.00 (bet365).

Aggressive betting: given the Waratahs boast a 9-1 home record over the last 12 months, of the above two selections I would back the Waratahs 1-12 at 2.78 (Pinnacle Sports).

Force v Cheetahs

9:45 PM AEST, nib Stadium, Perth
View a detailed form guide for Force v Cheetahs

Once again the Force put in an impressive overseas performance only to have to settle for a consolation bonus point after they fell 9-15 to the Sharks prior to their bye last week. They picked up 2 points from their tour but more clinical finishing could easily have made it 8 or 9 points. The defeat leaves them with a 1-7 record for the season, so while their playoff chances are arguably extinguished, the Force have shown enough in the last few weeks that they can be a thorn in the side of other opponents in the second half of the season.

The Cheetahs were completely dominated by the Brumbies last week as they fell 3-20 for their 5th loss in a row. They conceded numerous penalties and were simply out-muscled at set-pieces and mauls. The Cheetahs now face the Force who proved to be tougher than expected in their tour of South Africa, frustrating both the Bulls and Sharks who only just managed to squeak away with wins. The Cheetahs welcome back Sarel Pretorius to the starting XV this week after he missed the opening matches on tour.

Head-to-head pick: Force
Line pick: Cheetahs +5.5

Conservative betting: both sides bring lengthy losing streaks into this clash, however the Force have been the more impressive of the two in recent weeks. I would back the Force in the head-to-head at 1.52 (Luxbet).

Aggressive betting: all six of the Forces’ wins over the last 12 months were by 1-12 points. I would back the Force 1-12 at 2.89 (Pinnacle Sports).

Sunday, 12 April

Lions v Sharks

1:05 AM AEST, Ellis Park, Johannesburg
View a detailed form guide for Lions v Sharks

After a highly successful overseas tour the Lions came from behind to beat the Bulls 22-18 last week. Trailing by three points late in the game, the Lions opted for a tap penalty rather than take a straightforward kick at goal. The move caught the Bulls napping, with Armand Van der Merwe scoring the match-winning try. The win sees them move to just two points off the conference leading Bulls as the Lions continue to exceed expectations this season.

The Sharks will be reeling from a humiliating 10-52 home loss to the Crusaders last week. They were outscored 8 tries to 1 despite the Crusaders being down to 12 men at one point. Discipline continues to be an issue for the Sharks this year after Jean Deysel was shown a red card for kneeing Matt Todd in the head last week. He has been given a seven-week suspension. This is on top of Francois Steyn’s five-week ban for a lifting tackle and Bismarck du Plessis’ four-week ban for kicking. The Sharks have further been hurt with fly-half Patrick Lambie ruled out for six weeks with a neck injury. In better news, Willem Alberts has recovered from injury and is available for selection.

Head-to-head pick: Lions
Line pick: Lions +0.5

Conservative betting: the Sharks have a good record against the Lions however they have been hit with suspensions to key players. Five of the Lions’ last seven wins were by 1-12 points so I would back both the Lions 1-12 at 3.10 (bet365) and the Sharks 1-12 at 3.00 (Pinnacle Sports).

Aggressive betting: taking a more aggressive stance to the wager above, I would back the ‘Any Other Result’ in the 7.5 margin market. This selection wins if either team wins by 1-7 or if there is a tie. (William Hill).

Bulls v Reds

3:05 AM AEST, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
View a detailed form guide for Bulls v Reds

The Bulls fell 18-22 to the Lions in Johannesburg last week but their losing bonus point saw them jump to the top of the South African conference. Only two points separates 1st from 4th at this stage so it’s anyone’s guess as to who will win the conference. Last week’s loss will be bitterly disappointing given their strong performance to see off the Crusaders the week before. The Bulls will be without Victor Matfield for the next three weeks, however they will have Springboks Flip van der Merwe and Arno Botha available for selection along with Jan Serfontein and Handre Pollard, who missed last week’s clash.

The Reds started well against the Rebels last week, scoring two quick tries to lead 12-3 in the 20th minute. James Horwill then had a moment of madness, punching Paul Alo-Emile in the head to receive his second red card of the season. The change of momentum brought Melbourne back into the clash, who went on to win 23-15. The Reds now have a 1-6 record for the season with only two losing bonus points collected. To further compound their woes, fly-half Quade Cooper fractured his right shoulder in only his second game back from a broken collarbone and Jake Schatz ruptured a tendon in his elbow. James Horwill is suspended this week.

Head-to-head pick: Bulls
Line pick: Bulls -15.5

Conservative betting: the Reds remain in tatters and they now face an angry Bulls side that let a winnable game slip away last week. With the Bulls getting so many players back, including kicking sensation Handre Pollard, I would back the Bulls -12.5 at 1.55 (William Hill).

Aggressive betting: the line is awfully high, however I am mindful that the Reds are 2-5 at the line on the road over the last 12 months and the last time they visited Pretoria with an injury crisis they were slaughtered 61-8. I would back the Bulls -15.5 at 1.961 (Pinnacle Sports).

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