Super Rugby Round 2 Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 2 of the 2016 Super Rugby Season.

View and compare bookmaker odds for this round.

Friday, 4 March


Crusaders v Blues

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

The Crusaders fell 21-27 at home to the Chiefs last week in a game that could have gone either way. They can certainly take positives from the loss. Richie Mo’unga looked assured on debut at fly-half, the Crusaders forward back looked superior to the Chiefs, and the performance was a huge step up from their 74-7 pre-season defeat to the Hurricanes. The Crusaders have only lost consecutive home games twice in the last six years, and they haven’t lost to the Blues at home since 2004, so history is certainly on their side, however with the likes of Dan Carter gone, this isn’t the same Crusaders team as before.

The Blues backed up their promising pre-season results by seeing off the Highlanders 33-31 in a tricky opening fixture. Under new coach Tana Umaga they look better structured than in previous seasons. They also look lethal from broken play. In one of six (mainly rotational) changes to the squad from last week, captain Jerome Kaino returns from suspension.

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

Betting: in the last four years the Blues have only won once away from home against a New Zealand side. In 2015 they lost all eight away fixtures. While they do enter a new era under new coach Tana Umaga, I’m not yet prepared to back them on the road until they can prove they have shaken off their atrocious away form. I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.57 (Ladbrokes).


Brumbies v Waratahs

7:40 PM AEDT, GIO Stadium, Canberra
View a detailed form guide for Brumbies v Waratahs

The Brumbies lived up to their pre-season title favouritism by thrashing the Hurricanes 52-10. They played an expansive, high tempo attacking game and backed it up with solid defence. The Brumbies are focusing on playing with speed this season after head coach Stephen Larkham recruited sprint specialist John Pryor. The Brumbies have lost their last four straight against the Waratahs, but based on last week’s performance, it’s easy to understand why they’ve been installed as the favourites this week.

The Waratahs got their season off to a comfortable start with a 30-10 win over the new look Reds. They looked impressive in the first half, but weren’t as dominant in the second. We’ll get a better look at how the Waratahs are going once we see them take on the Brumbies. Both teams are physical in defence and they both employ expansive attacking games, so this should be a good, high intensity clash. The Waratahs have named an unchanged starting XV this week, with Wycliff Palu added to the bench.

Head-to-head pick: Brumbies
Line pick: Waratahs +8.5

Betting: the Waratahs have won their last four straight against the Brumbies, but I’m going to back the home side. The Brumbies looked fantastic last week and they will be desperate to turn their home stadium back into a fortress. I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.40 (Ladbrokes).

Saturday, 5 March


Chiefs v Lions


The Chiefs started their campaign with a 27-21 win over the Crusaders in a game that saw the lead change five times. They have a fantastic home record against South African opposition and start as the firm favourites in this clash.

The Lions were too strong for the Sunwolves last week, winning 26-13, but it wasn’t a convincing performance. The side wasted good field position on a number of occasions by making unforced errors. We’ll get a much better indication of what to expect from them this season when we see them take on the Chiefs.

Head-to-head pick: Chiefs
Line pick: Lions +15.5

Betting: the Chiefs haven’t lost at home to a South African team since 2010, so I don’t like the Lions’ chances in the head to head. With that being said, the Chiefs went 1-6 at the line at home last season while the Lions went 6-2 at the line on the road. I’m going to back both the Chiefs -9.5 at 1.53 (Sportsbet) and the Lions +19.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.54 (William Hill).


Highlanders v Hurricanes


The Highlanders fell 31-33 to the Blues in Auckland last week. They missed out on a second bonus point for scoring 4 tries because the new points scoring system has changed to awarding a point for scoring 3 mores tries than your opponent. To add insult to the defeat, the Highlanders have lost Waisake Naholo and Fumiaki Tanaka for the next month due to injuries sustained in that clash.

The Hurricanes’ 74-7 pre-season win over the Crusaders is now a distant memory after they suffered a 52-10 defeat to the lightening-fast Brumbies. They have lost a lot of leadership during the off-season, which may have played a roll in that thrashing. Like with so many teams, we will learn a lot more about their 2016 prospects when they take on the Highlanders. They looked off the pace last week but that may have been due to the Brumbies being in blistering form. Chris Boyd has resisted the urge to make sweeping changes and has named an unchanged XV. Nehe Milner-Skudder has been bracketed with Marshall at fullback this week after picking up a knock. Matt Proctor, Motu Matu’u, Ben May, James Blackwell, and Dane Coles remain unavailable due to injury.

Head-to-head pick: Highlanders
Line pick: Highlanders -4.0

Betting: this is a dangerous fixture for the Highlanders because 6 of the last 8 meetings between the two have been won by the away team. I’m sure we’ll get a huge response from the Hurricanes after their pitiful showing last week, however the Highlanders went 4-0 on the back of a defeat last season. Eleven of the last twelve meetings between the two sides were settled by 12 points or less so I will back both the Highlanders 1-12 at 2.80 (bet365) and the Hurricanes 1-12 at 3.80 (bet365).


Reds v Force

7:40 PM AEDT, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
View a detailed form guide for Reds v Force

The Reds fell 10-30 in their opening round clash against the Waratahs. They were blown away 20-0 in the first half but can take positives from their improved second half performance when they matched the Waratahs on the scoreboard. Discipline was an issue. The Reds conceded four penalties in the first eight minutes and had a player sin-binned in each half. In player news, Liam Gill is expected to be out for another three weeks while Henry Teafu has been ruled out for 6-8 weeks.

The Force showed plenty of attacking intent last week, but handling errors and turnovers thwarted their ability to score, with the side falling 19-25 to the Rebels. Once again the Perth side struggled to convert forays into the opposition’s 22 into points. The loss was costly from a personnel perspective, with centre Kyle Godwin and flanker Chris Alcock possibly out this week. The Force are already without props, Tetera Faulkner and Francois van Wyk for several weeks.

Head-to-head pick: Reds
Line pick: Force +6.0

Betting: the Reds went 1-6 at the line at home over the last twelve months while the Force went 5-1 at the line on the road (while going 1-5 in the head-to-head!). Nevertheless, I’m going to back the Reds in the head-to-head at 1.45 (bet365). They won both of their matches against the Force last season despite having a horrible year.

Sunday, 6 March


Bulls v Rebels

12:00 AM AEDT, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
View a detailed form guide for Bulls v Rebels

The injury-hit Bulls got their season off to a limp start with a 33-9 loss to the Stormers at Newlands. They were guilty of trying to run the ball too often rather than kick for field position and they ended the game tryless after seldom threatening the Stormers try line. The Bulls are now on a six-game losing streak spanning this season and the last. In team news, Jesse Kriel is out injured so Burger Odendaal will start at inside centre and Jan Serfontein at outside centre.

Reece Hodge scored two tries on debut as the Rebels beat the Force 25-19 to extend their strong record against the Perth franchise. The win was impressive given they lost flyhalf Jack Debreczeni before the match and his replacement Mike Harris 30 minutes into the game, which forced winger Reece Hodge to shift to the playmaker position. It was a messy performance, however, with perhaps the hot muggy playing conditions contributing to the error-ridden match. The win was costly, with Mike Harris ruled out for up to 12 weeks and Colby Fainga’a for 6 weeks. In addition, Nic Stirzaker, Cam Crawford and Scott Fuglistaller remain injured.

Head-to-head pick: Bulls
Line pick: Bulls -5.5

Betting: I’m expecting the Bulls to settle down a bit this week and go back to their kicking game. The Rebels have a dreadful record in Pretoria, losing 47-10 and 40-7 in their previous visits, so I would back the Bulls in the head-to-head at 1.45 (bet365).


Cheetahs v Stormers

2:05 AM AEDT, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
View a detailed form guide for Cheetahs v Stormers

The Cheetahs led 24-3 at one stage, but fell 33-34 at home to the Jaguares last week. Once again the Cheetahs’ defence has been called into question after they had the league’s worst defensive records in both 2014 and 2015, conceding over 33 points per average each year.

The Stormers extended their recent dominance over the Bulls by beating them 33-9 at home in the opening round. The new conference structure sees the Stormers looking rosy at this stage, with the best placed team out of them, the Bulls, Sunwolves and Cheetahs automatically given a home playoff quarter-final.

Head-to-head pick: Stormers
Line pick: Cheetahs +6.5

Betting: the Cheetahs only managed to win two home games last season, although one of those wins was against the Stormers. While the last six meetings between the two have been won by the home team, I’m going to back the Stormers in the head-to-head at 1.44 (Sportsbet). The Cheetahs look weaker on paper than last season.


Sharks v Jaguares

4:10 AM AEDT, Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
View a detailed form guide for Sharks v Jaguares

The Sharks started slowly, but ended up running in seven tries to see off the Kings 43-8 in Port Elizabeth last week. The Kings are expected to be one of the whipping boys of this year’s tournament so we will get a much better indication of the Sharks’ title credentials when they take on the Pumas-laden Jaguares.

The Jaguares trailed 3-24 at one stage, but fought back to win their opening Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs 34-33. While it was a great result, discipline was an issue for them. They had two players sin binned in the space of a few minutes and lock Tomas Lavanini was cited for foul play and will miss this clash.

Head-to-head pick: Sharks
Line pick: Sharks -3.0

Betting: the Sharks should provide a much sterner opponent than the Cheetahs so the Jaguares can ill-afford a slow start this week. The Sharks had a disappointing 2015, but they finished the season strong and are on a four-game winning streak spanning this season and last. I’m going to back the Sharks in the head-to-head at 1.65 (Palmerbet).

Best Bets of the Round

Back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.40 (Ladbrokes)

Back both the Highlanders 1-12 at 2.80 (bet365) and the Hurricanes 1-12 at 3.80 (bet365)


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