The following is a preview with betting tips for the 2015 Super Rugby final between the Hurricanes and Highlanders. The game will be played on Saturday, July 4 at 7:35 PM (5:35 PM AEST) at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
While South African and Australian rugby fans will be disappointed to not have any representation in the final, both the the Hurricanes and Highlanders play an entertaining brand of rugby so this should be a good game for the neutral. Neither team has won a Super Rugby title before, so the loser will become the sole New Zealand franchise to have never won a title.
This final features two less fancied teams so there will be a few people sweating on their futures wagers. At the start of the season the Hurricanes were 18.00 odds with Palmerbet to win the title while the Highlanders were 41.00 with Sportsbet.
There will be a few people celebrating this fixture before kick off begins. The New Zealand TAB confirmed that it had received a couple of bets at 251.00 odds on the two New Zealand sides meeting in the final before the tournament had started. Another punter had placed a $500 bet on a Hurricanes v Highlanders final back in April at odds of 11.00 for a $5,500 payout.
- Lions 8-22 Hurricanes
- Bulls 13-17 Hurricanes
- Force 13-42 Hurricanes
- Hurricanes 30-23 Blues
- Highlanders 13-20 Hurricanes
- Hurricanes 36-12 Rebels
- Hurricanes 25-20 Stormers
- Hurricanes 24-29 Waratahs
- Reds 19-35 Hurricanes
- Hurricanes 29-23 Crusaders
- Hurricanes 32-24 Sharks
- Hurricanes 22-18 Chiefs
- Blues 5-29 Hurricanes
- Crusaders 35-18 Hurricanes
- Hurricanes 56-20 Highlanders
- Chiefs 13-21 Hurricanes
- SF: Hurricanes 29-9 Brumbies
- Highlanders 20-26 Crusaders
- Highlanders 20-13 Reds
- Chiefs 17-20 Highlanders
- Highlanders 26-19 Waratahs
- Highlanders 13-20 Hurricanes
- Highlanders 39-21 Stormers
- Crusaders 20-25 Highlanders
- Highlanders 30-24 Blues
- Brumbies 31-18 Highlanders
- Highlanders 48-15 Sharks
- Lions 28-23 Highlanders
- Cheetahs 24-45 Highlanders
- Force 3-23 Highlanders
- Highlanders 36-9 Chiefs
- Hurricanes 56-20 Highlanders
- Blues 7-44 Highlanders
- QF: Highlanders 24-14 Chiefs
- SF: Waratahs 17-35 Highlanders
Comparative Stats (2015 season)
- Average points for: 29
- Average points against: 17
- Win/Loss Record: 15-2
- Home win/Loss Record: 8-1
- Capped All Blacks – 9
- Average Points For: 28
- Average Points Against: 20
- Win/Loss Record: 13-5
- Away win/Loss Record: 6-3
- Capped All Blacks – 3
- 2015: Hurricanes 56-20 Highlanders
Note: the Highlanders rested their All Blacks for this fixture
- 2015: Highlanders 13-20 Hurricanes
- 2014: Hurricanes 16-18 Highlanders
- 2014: Highlanders 35-31 Hurricanes
- 2013: Hurricanes 44-49 Highlanders
- 2013: Highlanders 19-23 Hurricanes
- 2012: Highlanders 20-26 Hurricanes
- 2012: Hurricanes 17-19 Highlanders
Six of the last eight clashes were won by the visiting team. Apart from the 36-point margin when the Highlanders rested their All Blacks in Round 17, every game was settled by seven points or fewer.
Super Rugby Final History
The team seeds are shown in brackets.
Super Rugby with 15 teams and a three-round finals format:
- 2014: (1) Waratahs 33-32 Crusaders (2)
- 2013: (1) Chiefs 27-22 Brumbies (3)
- 2012: (2) Chiefs 37-6 Sharks (6)
- 2011: (1) Reds 18-13 Crusaders (3)
Super Rugby with 14 teams and a two-round finals format:
- 2010: (1) Bulls 25-17 Stormers (2)
- 2009: (1) Bulls 61-17 Chiefs (2)
- 2008: (1) Crusaders 20-12 Waratahs (2)
- 2007: (1) Sharks 19-20 Bulls (2)
- 2006: (1) Crusaders 19-12 Hurricanes (2)
Super Rugby with 12 teams and a two-round finals format:
- 2005: (1) Crusaders 35-25 Waratahs (2)
- 2004: (1) Brumbies 47-38 Crusaders (2)
- 2003: (1) Blues 21-17 Crusaders (2)
- 2002: (1) Crusaders 31-13 Brumbies (3)
- 2001: (1) Brumbies 36-6 Sharks (2)
- 2000: (1) Brumbies 19-20 Crusaders (2)
Only twice in the last fifteen years has the visiting team won a Super Rugby final. Both of those results were settled by a solitary point.
1. Reggie Goodes , 2. Dane Coles , 3. Ben Franks , 4. Jeremy Thrush , 5. James Broadhurst , 6. Brad Shields , 7. Ardie Savea/Callum Gibbins , 8. Victor Vito , 9. TJ Perenara , 10. Beauden Barrett , 11. Julian Savea , 12. Ma’a Nonu , 13. Conrad Smith (c) , 14. Nehe Milner-Skudder , 15. James Marshall
Replacements: 16. Motu Matu’u , 17. Chris Eves , 18. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen , 19. Callum Gibbins/Mark Abbott , 20. Blade Thomson , 21. Chris Smylie , 22. Rey Lee-Lo , 23. Matt Proctor
1. Brendon Edmonds , 2. Liam Coltman , 3. Josh Hohneck , 4. Alex Ainley , 5. Mark Reddish , 6. Elliot Dixon , 7. James Lentjes , 8. Nasi Manu (cc) , 9. Aaron Smith , 10. Lima Sopoaga , 11. Patrick Osborne , 12. Richard Buckman , 13. Malakai Fekitoa , 14. Waisake Naholo , 15. Ben Smith (cc)
Replacements: 16. Ash Dixon , 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown , 18. Ross Geldenhuys , 19. Joe Wheeler , 20. Gareth Evans , 21. Shane Christie , 22. Fumiaki Tanaka , 23. Marty Banks
The Hurricanes have tied the 2012 Stormers for having the best regular season record of 14-2 since Super rugby was expanded to fifteen teams. They are lethal from broken play and can accumulate points very quickly. The Hurricanes backline in particular is packed with talent. Perenara, Barrett, Nonu and Smith, Jane and Julian Savea are all All Blacks while Nehe Milner-Skudder is an immense rising talent who has joined the All Blacks extended squad after just one season of Super Rugby.
The Hurricanes forward pack is also strong, if not quite as scary on paper, with some great ball runners in the likes of Victor Vito and Ardie Savea. Ardie was unlucky not to receive an All Blacks call up this year. Ben Franks and Dane Coles are well-established All Blacks while fellow All Black Jeremy Thrush is vastly experienced.
While the Hurricanes are best known for their attacking flair, much of their success this season has been due to their stingy defence, with the side boasting the second best defensive record in the competition.
The death of former Hurricane Jerry Collins a few weeks ago has provided an additional source of motivation, with Collins’ initials embroidered on their sleeves for the finals. The Hurricanes will also be looking to send the likes of Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and Ben Franks off on a high, with the veterans heading overseas after the 2015 World Cup. With key talent departing during the off-season the Hurricanes may view this as a key window of opportunity to win a title before entering a rebuilding phase. For the likes of Ardie Savea this fixture provides one last opportunity to impress ahead of the Rugby Championship and World Cup. You never know how injuries will pan out so he could yet feature later in the year.
Of concern for the Hurricanes will be injuries. Nehe Milner-Skudder and Ardie Savea left the field early in the second half last week while Beauden Barrett ceded the goalkicking duties in the second half, which suggests his knee still isn’t 100%. At the time of writing the reports are that all three are expected to play.
The Highlanders were hard done by with the conference system this year. Despite finishing with the second highest points tally they were given the 4th seed behind the Australian and South African conference winners. While they have made the final nonetheless, they’ve had to play an extra playoff fixture to get here.
On paper the Highlanders look to have a lopsided squad, with five backline players getting All Blacks call ups this year but not one forward selected. The forward back is highly underrated, however. They have an excellent work ethic and are very well coached. A number of them were unwanted by other franchises so many play with a chip on their shoulder. The Highlanders went up against a Wallaby-laden Waratahs pack last week and dominated them at line outs whilst comfortably holding their own at scrum time. The week before the Highlanders pack also got the better of the Chiefs pack, which had four All blacks in it. The veteran Nasi Manu is a workhorse for the side, as is Elliot Dixon. The Highlanders pack is certainly worth more than the sum of its parts.
While the forward back is good, the backline is excellent. Aaron Smith is arguably the best halfback in the world at the moment and Waisake Naholo has been a revelation for them on the wing. All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa is a fantastic ball runner while fellow All Black Ben Smith is incredibly solid at fullback. Fly-half Lima Sopoaga has had a fantastic season, with his cross field kick for an easy try last week highlighting why he has been called up into the All Blacks squad this year. Midfielder Richard Buckman is another underrated Highlander while Fijian-born Patrick Osborne is an excellent winger. They really have no weaknesses in their backline, which, like the Hurricanes backline, is lethal from broken play and clinical at finishing.
The primary weakness of the Highlanders is their lack of squad depth. They are heavily reliant on their All Blacks trio of Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa. The Highlanders only lost two fixtures by more than seven points this year and both occurred when the trio were rested. This lack of depth increased their season loss tally, however the trio are all fit this week, so the Highlanders have every chance of causing an upset.
History is certainly stacked against the Highlanders. Since the Super Rugby playoffs were expanded to three rounds in 2011, no side that has played in a qualifying final has gone on to win the title. In the last fifteen years only two finals were won by the away team. The Highlanders can take heart, however, from the fact that six of the last eight clashes between them and the Hurricanes were won by the visiting team. They also haven’t had to make the trip across the Indian Ocean to South Africa, so the side shouldn’t be fatigued.
The Hurricanes have already beaten the Highlanders twice this year and if they play their best rugby, they should be too strong on Saturday. The Highlanders are a good enough side, however, to cause an upset if they catch the Hurricanes on an off night. The Hurricanes kept the Brumbies in the game with too many errors last week, something they can’t afford to do against the Highlanders.
Nevertheless I will go with the side that has been playing the best rugby this season. I would back the Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.44 (Betstar, Bookmaker, Ladbrokes). Note that if you’re happy to bet in a home/draw/away market, you can get the Hurricanes at 1.50 with Marathonbet.
For those who wish to back the Highlanders, you can get 3.29 on them with Pinnacle Sports. Note that Pinnacle Sports tend to have the sharpest Super Rugby odds, and they’re only offering 1.36 on the Hurricanes, suggesting the sharp money this weekend is on the home side.
Most bookmakers have the Hurricanes as 5.5 to 6.5 favourites, which I think is pretty much spot on so I don’t have any strong opinions about line betting on this fixture.
If I had to pick a winning margin I would go with the Hurricanes 1-12 at 2.60 (Unibet) because seven of the last eight games between the two were settled by seven points or fewer.
Given this will be their 13th fixture in as many weeks, if you expect the Highlanders to run out of steam in the final you can get the Hurricanes 13+ at 3.25 with bet365.
Total Score Betting
The total has been set at 44.5 by most bookmakers. With this in mind, here are a few totals stats:
- The average total for the last eight games between the Hurricanes and Highlanders is 53.25 with a median of 44 points.
- The average total for the last four games between the two played in Wellington is 59.75 with a median of 56 points.
If you ignore the 76-point total when the Highlanders rested their key players then the above stats become:
- The average total for the last seven games between the Hurricanes and Highlanders is 50 with a median of 42 points.
- The average total for the last three games between the two played in Wellington is 54.33 with a median of 36 points.
With a range of 33-93 points, the standard deviation is through the roof for the head-to-head totals, which makes predicting a total difficult. The same isn’t true for Super Rugby finals history, however.
The following are the average Super Rugby final totals for the following sets of years:
- Last 5 years – 46 points on average with a median of 43 points
- Last 10 years – 47 points on average with a median of 42.5 points
- Last 19 years – 46.84 points on average with a median of 42 points
It’s remarkable how persistent the totals have been in these finals.
The following are the average totals for final fixtures between domestic opponents for the following sets of years:
- Last 5 years – 42 points on average with a median of 42 points
- Last 10 years – 37.33 points on average with a median of 39 points
- Last 19 years – 37.67 points on average with a median of 38.5 points
It’s clear that finals between domestic opponents tend to be lower scoring games, although you have the balance this against the frequently high totals when the Hurricanes and Highlanders play.
I will be staying clear of this market, but if I had to wager on over/under 44.5 I would be more inclined to take the under given the consistent finals history. Last week the Highlanders opted for more of a tactical kicking game, which suggests they are playing a more conservative brand of rugby in the finals. The two sides have strong defensive records so a total around the 40 mark wouldn’t surprise me.
Try Scorer Betting
At the time of writing not many bookmakers were offering first try scorer or anytime try scorer markets, but based on the offerings of Sportsbet, the bookmakers don’t have a clear favourite for these markets.
When it comes to the first tryscorer market, for the Hurricanes I would consider the likes of Julian Savea (9.00) and TJ Perenara (15.00) along with Ardie Savea (23.00) for a bit of value. It’s worth noting that TJ Perenara has scored three tries against the Highlanders already this year. He also scored against the Brumbies last week. Dane Coles (26.00) may also be worth a shout. He has scored three tries in his last four fixtures against Kiwi opposition.
For the Highlanders the obvious candidates are Waisake Naholo (11.00) and Aaron Smith (17.00). Lima Sopoaga (26.00) is also worth a shout given he scored a try in each of the Highlanders’ two fixtures against the Hurricanes this year.