Super Rugby Semi-finals Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for the semi-finals of the 2016 Super Rugby season, which feature the Hurricanes vs. the Chiefs and the Lions vs. the Highlanders.

View and compare bookmaker odds for this round.

View the form guide for this round.

Saturday, 30 July


Hurricanes v Chiefs

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

The Hurricanes put in a sublime performance in wet and windy conditions last week to thrash the Sharks 41-0 in Wellington. The six tries to nil result has seen the Hurricanes firm as title favourites, especially given the travelling that the Chiefs and Highlanders are having to do. The result highlighted the Hurricanes’ attacking prowess as they forced the Sharks to make 21 missed tackles. The Hurricanes’ defence wasn’t sternly tested, it has to be said, as the Sharks opted to kick the ball away for much of the match. The win came at a cost, however, with the Hurricanes now facing a possible injury headache at the hooker position. Dane Coles will face a game-day fitness test after picking up a rib injury, while backup hooker Motu Matu’u is already out with a broken arm. In other team news, winger Julian Savea has again been named on the bench with Jason Woodward getting the start.

The Chiefs completely outclassed the Stormers 60-21 in Cape Town last week to book their semi-final clash against the Hurricanes. It’s hard to read too much into the performance given the Stormers’ awful showing. Just a few weeks ago the Chiefs thrashed the Reds 50-5 in Brisbane only to be suffocated to a 15-25 defeat by the Highlanders a week later. Wellington will hold no fear for the Chiefs, who defeated the Hurricanes 28-27 at this venue in Round 13, but that was on the back of a bye, not a trip back and forth across the Indian Ocean. The Chiefs have been boosted by the likely return of midfielder Seta Tamanivalu this week, while Sam Cane is expected to start despite leaving the field injured against the Stormers. Michael Leitch may also feature after recovering from a dislocated thumb in May.

Head-to-head pick: Hurricanes
Line pick: Chiefs +4.5

Betting: This is an intriguing match. The Chiefs haven’t been as consistent as they would have liked this season, but when they are at their best they look peerless. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are on a six-game winning streak and are in sublime form. They should also be the fresher of the two sides. The Chiefs did win this fixture 28-27 in Round 9 but there was an element of good fortune in that result. I would back the Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.60 (Luxbet). Given 7 of the last 8 meetings between the two were settled by 12 points or less, you might actually prefer the Hurricanes 1-12 at 2.87 (bet365).

Keep an eye on Seta Tamanivalu in the try scorer markets. He scored twice against the Hurricanes when the two sides last met.


Lions v Highlanders

11:00 PM AEST, Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
View a detailed form guide for Lions v Highlanders

The Lions remain the only non-New Zealand side in the competition after they saw off the Crusaders 42-25 last week. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Cantabrians, and it will have given the Lions confidence that they can mix it with the New Zealand sides after suffering three defeats to them during the regular season – one of which was a 15-34 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin. In team news, Ross Cronjé who will undergo a late fitness test after he picked up an injury against the Crusaders last weekend.

The Highlanders were done no favours by the competition format after they were forced to play their semi-final clash against the Brumbies in Canberra despite scoring nine more competition points than their opponents. Despite having not won at GIO Stadium in 10 years, the Highlanders managed to defeat the Brumbies 15-9 in a tense clash. The highlight of their performance was their defence, which managed to keep the Brumbies tryless in their own backyard. Titles are often won the back of defence, so the result is a good omen for the southern team. Another aspect of which stood out was their solid game plan. The Highlanders are a well coached side that can play to different game plans for different opponents. Their clash this weekend against the Lions will be fascinating because they’re going up against another team that is coached very well. The Highlanders may be the defending champions, but they are largely going under the radar at the moment and their players have said that this suits them. The side is perfectly happy to let the New Zealand media gush over the Hurricanes and Chiefs. In mixed injury news, prop Siosuia Halanukonuka is out but utility back Marty Banks could return after missing the entire season with a hamstring injury.

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

Betting: I expect the Highlanders will provide a sterner test for the Lions than the Crusaders did last week, but you have to wonder when their extensive travels will begin to take their toll. Since Round 14 the Highlanders haven’t played consecutive games in the same country. When asked, players have said they have enjoyed the travel and that it has served to bring the side closer together, but at the sharp end of the tournament the travel must surely begin to take its toll. I would back the Lions in the head-to-head at 1.82 (Unibet). I expect the Highlanders to put up an almighty fight, so you might actually prefer the Lions 1-12 at 3.60 (Betstar). The last three Lions’ wins over the Highlanders were by 5, 4 and 5 points.

Keep an eye out for Waisake Naholo in the first try scorer market. In three of the Highlanders’ last four matches against playoff-calibre sides he was the first try scorer for his team and in two of those four matches he was the first try scorer in the match.


Best Bets of the Round

Back the Lions 1-12 at 3.60 (Betstar). I had to double check that these odds (taken from the bookmaker odds comparison page) were even correct, because other bookmakers have set odds as low as 2.65 for this selection.


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