Super Rugby Round 9 Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 9 of the 2016 Super Rugby season.

View and compare bookmaker odds for this round.

Friday, 22 April


Highlanders v Sharks

5:35 PM AEST, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
View a detailed form guide for Highlanders v Sharks

Last round’s bye probably came a week too late for the injury-hit Highlanders, who got off to a slow start for the second straight game and paid for it against the Reds, losing 27-28 in Brisbane after trailing 6-28 at one stage. They will nevertheless be pleased to have picked up a bonus point and they remain in a strong position to push for a playoff spot. They welcome back Elliot Dixon and Ben Smith this week.

The Sharks remain without a win since Round 3 after falling 18-23 to the Blues in Auckland. They are six points adrift of the playoffs but that gap could widen, with the Durban side set to play three consecutive New Zealand sides followed by a trip to Argentina. As I’ve written before, they are a streaky team, with a 5-1-0 record on the back of a win and a 1-5 record on the back of a defeat over the past 12 months. The Sharks have rotated their fly-halves for this clash, with Garth April getting the start and Joe Pietersen dropping to the bench.

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

Betting: I expect the Highlanders will be refocused after their slip up against the Reds. They have a 4-0 record on the back of a defeat over the last 12 months so I would back the Highlanders -4.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.43 (William Hill).


Rebels v Cheetahs

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

The Rebels’ woes against New Zealand and South African sides continues as they were thrashed 13-38 at home by the Hurricanes last week. The Melbourne side boasts a 3-0 record against Australian sides but they have lost by 23 points on average to foreign teams other than the Sunwolves. The Rebels remain well placed within the Australian conference but their season has hit a snag, with winger Dom Shipperley ruled out for the season with an ACL injury. In better news, Colby Fainga’a will start from the bench after overcoming an elbow injury while Toby Smith returns after recovering from a concussion.

The Cheetahs commence their two-game Australian tour full of confidence after thrashing the hapless Sunwolves 92-17 last week. Based on the Sunwolves’ performance, any Super Rugby team would have steamrolled them, but the win was on the back of a competitive performance against the Bulls so the Cheetahs have good reason to feel positive. They have a short turnaround for this match to go with the travel involved, so their fitness will be tested. The Cheetahs have named an unchanged starting XV as last week.

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

Betting: the Cheetahs are the clear underdogs in this fixture but they have shored up their defence in recent games so I don’t see them getting blown away this week. I would back the Cheetahs +11.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.45 (William Hill).

Saturday, 23 April


Sunwolves v Jaguares

3:15 PM AEST, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
View a detailed form guide for Sunwolves v Jaguares

The Sunwolves weren’t expected to be competitive this year, but their 17-92 defeat to the Cheetahs last week was embarrassing. For the perhaps the first time this season, they appeared to have given up, showing no intensity and playing with little defensive structure when the Cheetahs were in possession.

The Jaguares fell 15-32 to the Crusaders last week in a game that was a microcosm of their season. They enjoy plenty of possession each week but once they get into promising positions a lack of composure costs them time and time again. On defence, the Jaguares have also been hurt by their missed tackles count. The brutal travel schedule also isn’t helping their cause, with head coach Raúl Pérez forced to rotate players each week rather than stick with a winning formula. Ten players were left in Argentina for the tour, which has definitely had an impact on their competitiveness.

Head-to-head pick: Jaguares
Line pick: Sunwolves +17.5

Betting: both teams will be battling travel fatigue so I’m not expecting a high quality game. I don’t see much value in the head-to-head market and I find a winning margin hard to predict so I will sit this one out.


Hurricanes v Chiefs

5:35 PM AEST, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
View a detailed form guide for Hurricanes v Chiefs

The Hurricanes thrashed the Rebels 38-13 in Melbourne last week to continue a strong start to the season for New Zealand sides. It was a clinical performance which extended their winning streak to five games, with their opening round thrashing at the hands of the Brumbies now a distant memory.

The Chiefs entered last week’s bye on a five-game winning streak, but the bye was arguably well timed for them given they didn’t put in a clinical performance against the Blues in a game they had to come from behind to win. As they’ve showed against their Brumbies, their best rugby is frighteningly good. They just need to navigate around the fact that their scrum has been hit by season ending injuries to two props.

Head-to-head pick: Hurricanes
Line pick: Hurricanes -1.0

Betting: both sides bring five-game winning streaks into this fixture but the Hurricanes have won 5 of their last 6 home fixtures against the Chiefs, so if I had to pick a winner it would be the home team. I can see this going either way and 5 of the last 6 games between the two have been settled by 12 points or less so I will back both the Hurricanes 1-12 at 3.10 (bet365) and the Chiefs 1-12 at 3.60 (bet365).


Force v Waratahs

7:40 PM AEST, nib Stadium, Perth
View a detailed form guide for Force v Waratahs

The bye last week couldn’t have come fast enough for the Force, who entered the break on a five-game losing streak. To be fair though, all five were very tough fixtures and the Perth side showed marked signs of improvement defensively in their two defeats to the Highlanders and Crusaders. They have four of their five trans Tasman clashes out of the way and an easier run of fixtures coming up so the Force have a chance to build some momentum leading into the international break. The 19-20 defeat to the Crusaders came a heavy cost, with prop Pek Cowan breaking his arm and hooker Nathan Charles dislocating his right shoulder. Cowan and Charles join Jono Lance, Luke Burton, Chris Alcock and Marcel Brache on the sidelines.

The Waratahs fell 20-26 to the Brumbies last week to record their third consecutive home defeat. They have just two wins for the season – both over the Reds, with the form of Michael Hooper in question along with the long-term future of Daryl Gibson as head coach. The other talking point is the experiment of playing Israel Folou at centre with Rob Horne sidelined with injury.

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

Betting: the Force have won three straight against the Waratahs but their injury list concerns me. Nine out of the last twelve fixtures between the two have been settled by 12 points or less so I would back both the Force 1-12 at 3.75 (bet365) and the Waratahs 1-12 at 3.30 (bet365).


Stormers v Reds

11:00 PM AEST, DHL Newlands, Cape Town
View a detailed form guide for Stormers v Reds

The Stormers are ruing a 22-29 defeat to the Lions which they partially blame on under-fire referee Stuart Berry. With a 5-2 record they remain at the top of the Africa 1 Conference however the Bulls have now moved to just one point behind them.

After upsetting the injury-depleted Highlanders for their first win of the season two weeks ago, the Reds have come back down to earth, losing 22-41 to the Bulls in Pretoria. They have a poor record in South Africa and have lost loose forward Jake Schatz to a knee injury for six weeks. If the Reds are to be more competitive against the Stormers they will need to be more clinical once they get themselves into good positions.

Head-to-head pick: Stormers
Line pick: Reds +14.5

Betting: the Reds will be pleased to have returned to a sea level venue where they have been much more competitive in recent years than Pretoria. I expect they will be going up against a fired up Stormers team, however, who will be looking to make amends for last week’s loss. I would back the Stormers -7.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.42 (William Hill).

Sunday, 24 April


Kings v Lions

1:05 AM AEST, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
View a detailed form guide for Kings v Lions

After defeating the Sunwolves in Round 6 the Kings suffered a sobering 6-38 defeat to the Bulls. One of the telling sttories was the fact that the Kings were unable to score more than a penalty when the Bulls had two players in the sin bin. Despite beating the Sunwolves they still remain a risk of receiving the competition wooden spoon due to the fact that they have yet to win a losing bonus point. The timing of last week’s bye was good for the Kings, with a number of players having picking up light injuries in their previous fixture. Nevertheless they will be without Edgar Marutlulle and Sti Sithole this week, while a late decision will be made regarding locks Steven Sykes and JC Astle.

The Lions have moved out to a 5 point lead over the Sharks in the Africa 2 conference after they saw off the Stormers 29-22 last week. With the Sharks winless since Round 3 the Lions are now firming as the favourite to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001 when they were called the Cats. They face a player shortage at hooker at the moment, with Robbie Coetzee, Malcolm Marx and Julian Redelinghuys all injured, leaving Armand van der Merwe as the only specialist left.

Head-to-head pick: Lions
Line pick: Lions -24.0

Betting: the Lions will eye this fixture as a chance to pick up a precious bonus point. They recently beat the Sharks by 15 points in Durban so I expect they’ll win by a comfy margin this weekend. I would back the Lions -16.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.40 (Sportsbet).


Brumbies v Crusaders

4:05 PM AEST, GIO Stadium, Canberra
View a detailed form guide for Brumbies v Crusaders

A hat-trick from Joe Tomane helped the Brumbies see off the Waratahs in Sydney last week to complete the double over their NSW rivals. The two wins ends a long-term losing streak to the Waratahs, which has largely contributed to the Brumbies finishing 2nd in the Australian conference in recent years. They sit top of the Australian conference but incredibly would be 5th if they were in the New Zealand conference, a stat that highlights the gulf between the two conferences at the moment.

The Crusaders enter this fixture on a six-game winning streak after seeing off the Jaguares last week convincingly. Israel Dagg has had an immediate impact after returning from a four month absence due to injury, scoring two tries on his return to Super Rugby. With a new set of fly-halves in the squad I had honestly expected them to take a backward step this year but they have been making me eat my words each week.

Head-to-head pick: Crusaders
Line pick: Crusaders +2.5

Betting: after a blistering start to the season the Brumbies have cooled off a bit. Since beating the Hurricanes in Round 1 the two sides they have faced with winning records have beaten them by 20 and 25 points. The Brumbies have only beaten the Crusaders once in the last ten years, with their last win coming back in 2009. Since then the Crusaders have won five straight by an average margin of 20 points. Fixtures in Canberra have been closer, however, with the Crusaders winning by 10 points on average during that time. The Crusaders are undefeated on the road this season but they won all of those fixtures by 7 point or less. I would back both the Brumbies 1-12 at 2.92 (Pinnacle Sports) and the Crusaders 1-12 at 3.30 (bet365).


Best Bets of the Round

Back both the Hurricanes 1-12 at 3.10 (bet365) and the Chiefs 1-12 at 3.60 (bet365).

Back both the Force 1-12 at 3.75 (bet365) and the Waratahs 1-12 at 3.30 (bet365)

Back both the Brumbies 1-12 at 2.92 (Pinnacle Sports) and the Crusaders 1-12 at 3.30 (bet365)


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