Super Rugby Round 3 Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 3 of the 2016 Super Rugby season.

View and compare bookmaker odds for this round.

Friday, 11 March


Blues v Hurricanes

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

After starting the season with an impressive win over the Highlanders, the Blues came back down to earth with a 13-28 loss to the Crusaders to extend their miserable record away from home. One of the talking points was the decision to make six changes, five of which were rotational, to the winning team from week 1. The Blues defended well for long periods of the game to frustrate the Crusaders, but they let themselves down with unforced errors, sloppy line out execution and wayward passes. The Blues have made a whopping nine changes to the squad from last week, with Akira Ioane and Charlie Faumuina getting their first starts of the season. The inside backs combination of Ihaia West and Bryn Hall has been reinstated as well.

The Hurricanes remain without a win after falling 16-17 to the Highlanders last week. Their mistakes proved to be costly, but at least it was a huge improvement from their Round 1 thumping by the Brumbies. The Hurricanes have received a boost this week with Nehe Milner-Skudder cleared to play. Dane Coles remains out.

Head-to-head pick: Blues
Line pick: Blues -1.5

Betting: I find this game really hard to predict. I expect both sides to be competitive so I will back both the Blues 1-12 at 2.91 (Pinnacle Sports) and the Hurricanes 1-12 at 3.40 (bet365).


Force v Brumbies

10:05 PM AEDT, nib Stadium, Perth
View a detailed form guide for Force v Brumbies

It wasn’t a high quality performance but the Force defeated the inexperienced Reds 22-6 last week to lodge their first win of the season. They welcome back Ben McCalman to the starting line-up after he made a 10-minute appearance off the bench last week.

The Brumbies ended a four-game losing streak to the Waratahs last round by beating the NSW side 32-15 in Canberra. The Brumbies seem to be going from strength to strength and appear to be the strongest team in the competition at the moment. This will be their first away fixture of the season so we will see whether they can extend their dominant form away from home.

Head-to-head pick: Brumbies
Line pick: Brumbies -10.5

Betting: the Force have a miserable 1-7 record at home over the last 12 months. They have also gone 1-7 at the line during this time. I would back the Brumbies -6.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.55 (William Hill).

Saturday, 12 March


Highlanders v Lions


In another classic close encounter between the two sides, the Highlanders saw off the Hurricanes 17-16 at home last week to lodge their first win of the season. The Highlanders now take on a team that has previously beaten them at home so they will fully aware of the tough task ahead of them.

The Lions caused the upset of the round by defeating the Chiefs 36-34 in Waikato last week. In a well-rounded performance, the Lions dominated the hosts at the scrum and they withstood some heavy pressure from the Chiefs at the death to hold on for victory. The win came at a cost, however, with Harold Vorster and Fabian Booysen picking up long-term injuries. In addition Lionel Mapoe has returned home for the birth of his child.

Head-to-head pick: Highlanders
Line pick: Lions +11.5

Betting: with the Lions looking a bit depleted, I expect the Highlanders will edge this, but the visitors will make them work for it. The Lions have a 5-1 line record as the away underdog over the last 12 months so I will back the Lions +11.5 at 1.877 (Pinnacle Sports).


Rebels v Reds

7:40 PM AEDT, AAMI Park, Melbourne
View a detailed form guide for Rebels v Reds

The Rebels were blown away 42-3 in the first 46 minutes by the Bulls in Pretoria last week, but fought back with four late tries to deny the hosts a bonus point. They have had the lengthy travel back and forth across the Indian Ocean to contend with, but will nevertheless start as the favourites against the out of sorts Reds.

The Reds failed to fire any real shots in attack last week as they fell 6-22 at home to the Force. It was hard to take positives from their error-riddled performance and to compound their woes, in addition to the already sidelined Liam Gill, James Slipper and Kane Douglas, Saia Fainga’a looks to be in doubt this week after he suffered an ankle injury. The Monday following the listless defeat the Reds sacked head coach Richard Graham. The QRU had actually reappointed Graham last August saying there wasn’t a better option among the other candidates, so his downfall this season has been quick. Matt O’Connor and Nick Stiles have been named as co-interim head coaches. QRU CEO Jim Carmichael has revealed that he will step down at the end of this year.

Head-to-head pick: Rebels
Line pick: Rebels -6.5

Betting: teams often get a short-term boost when a coach is sacked, but I don’t know if it will be enough for the Reds given last week’s insipid performance. I would back the Rebels in the head-to-head at 1.40 (Sportsbet).


Sunwolves v Cheetahs

9:50 PM AEDT, Singapore National Stadium, Singapore
View a detailed form guide for Sunwolves v Cheetahs

Prior to their bye last week the the Sunwolves put on a brave performance but fell 13-26 to the Lions. It was by no means an embarrassing result for the Japanese side, however the Lions did put in an error-ridden performance that could have otherwise led to a much larger margin of victory.

The Cheetahs fell 10-20 at home in a hard-fought loss to the Stormers last week. There were certainly positives to take from the defeat. Defensively it was a better performance than what we’ve been used to seeing from them and they put the Stormers under pressure at the set-piece, particularly in the first half. They remain without a win for the year but will start as firm favourites against the Sunwolves.

Head-to-head pick: Cheetahs
Line pick: Cheetahs -6.0

Betting: I saw enough from the Cheetahs last week to suggest they should be too strong for the Sunwolves. I would back the Cheetahs in the head-to-head at 1.44 (Sportsbet).

Sunday, 13 March


Kings v Chiefs

12:00 AM AEDT, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
View a detailed form guide for Kings v Chiefs

Prior to their bye last week the Kings fought hard for the first 30 minutes, but ended up being outclassed by the Sharks to lose 43-8 at home, with five of the seven tries conceded coming in the second half. They have since been boosted by a number of players returning from injuries sustained in the pre-season, including fly-half Louis Fouche.

The Chiefs started as 14.5 point favourites against the Lions last week, but fell 32-36 at home in what was the biggest shock of the round. The Chiefs’ scrum was badly exposed and to add insult to injury, All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick has been ruled out for 6-8 weeks after breaking some ribs during the clash.

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

Betting: I expect the Kings will face the backlash from an angry Chiefs outfit this weekend. I would back the Chiefs -9.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.46 (William Hill).


Stormers v Sharks

2:05 AM AEDT, DHL Newlands, Cape Town
View a detailed form guide for Stormers v Sharks

The Stormers saw off their bogey team the Cheetahs 20-10 in Bloemfontein last week to remain at the top of the Africa 1 Conference. It wasn’t an accurate performance, with their set piece coming off second best for much of the game, but the Stormers clicked in the final 20 minutes to pull away for the hard-fought win. The victory came at a heavy price, however, with promising flyhalf Robert du Preez ruled out for 12 weeks with a knee injury.

The Sharks have stamped their authority on the Africa 2 Conference by grinding out a 19-15 win over the Jaguares in Durban last week. They were outscored two tries to one but capitalised on the poor discipline of the visitors to pick up the win.

Head-to-head pick: Stormers
Line pick: Sharks +5.5

Betting: the Sharks tend to be a momentum team. They seem to always be in either a great patch of form or a terrible patch. To highlight this, over the last 12 months they have a 6-1 record on the back of a win and a 2-5 record on the back of a loss. With the Sharks on a five-game winning streak spanning this season and the last, I’m going to back them +10.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.46 (William Hill).

Best Bets of the Round

Back the Brumbies -6.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.55 (William Hill).

Back the Cheetahs in the head-to-head at 1.44 (Sportsbet).


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