Super Rugby Round 14 Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 14 of the 2017 Super Rugby season.

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View the Super Rugby form guide.

Friday, 26 May


Blues v Chiefs

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

The Blues return home from a one-game tour of South Africa where they lost 22-30 to the Stormers. They paid the price for ill-discipline, including two yellow cards to Matt Duffie. To be fair, however, the Blues were given no favours by the refereeing. With the Highlanders winning big the Blues are now 10 points adrift of a playoff spot. They now face the tough task of returning to New Zealand and hosting the Chiefs, who are 7-0 on the back of their last seven defeats. Fly-half Piers Francis suffered a head knock last week but has been cleared to play.

The Chiefs have slipped to 3rd in the New Zealand conference after losing 24-31 to the Crusaders in Fiji. The Chiefs outscored the Crusaders 4 tries to 3 but were undone by the 12 points conceded through penalties and missed goal kicks by Aaron Cruden. Some mistakes and ill-discipline derailed their chances of victory in what was overall a high quality game. Hika Elliot’s line out throwing at the end was atrocious though!

Betting: the best time to back the Chiefs is on the back of a loss. The last time they suffered back to back defeats was in 2015. The Blues have lost their last 10 straight against Kiwi opponents and are on an 11-game losing streak against the Chiefs. I would back the Chiefs in the head-to-head at 1.56 (bet365). All of the Blues’ last five home defeats to the Chiefs were by 1-12 points so I also like the Chiefs 1-12 at 3.10 (Ladbrokes)
Confidence: medium-high


Reds v Force

7:45 PM AEST, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
View a detailed form guide for Reds v Force

Prior to their bye last week the Reds moved to 3-8 for the season after seeing off the Rebels 29-24 in Melbourne. The win snapped a ten-game losing streak against Australian opposition. The victory was also the Reds’ first away from home since May 2015. With the Australian conference as weak as it is the Reds are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. They will be hoping they can maintain their momentum after the bye. The last time they won and had a bye the following week they followed it up with two poor defeats. The Reds have made one change to the starting XV this week, with Chris Kuridrani replacing the concussed Campbell Magnay on the wing.

The Force would have been disappointed to have gone into halftime 6-17 down the to Highlanders last week, only to get thrashed 0-38 in the second half for an embarrassing 6-55 final scoreline. The result highlighted the massive gulf in class between Australia and New Zealand at the moment. The Kiwi sides simply do the basics better than the Australians, and the little things add up. A chronic problem for the Force is their inability to convert territory and possession into points. This is nothing new. They’ve been at or near the bottom of the points per game statistics for years. The Force receive some respite with an Australian opponent this round before they take on the Hurricanes in Round 15. Matt Hodgson returns to the starting line up this week.

Betting: my first instinct was to back the Reds but the stats aren’t pretty. The Reds have only won 2 of their last 8 against the Force and the Reds are 1-6 at the line at home over the last 12 months and 0-4 at the line as the home favourite. The Force meanwhile are 8-4 at the line on the back of a defeat. I will back the Force +12.5 at 1.43 (William Hill).
Confidence: medium-low

Saturday, 27 May


Sunwolves v Cheetahs

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

The Sunwolves fought hard against the Sharks last week. A win was still within reach with 6 minutes to go, but three quick tries to the Sharks resulted in a cruel 17-38 scoreline. That “home” fixture was played in Singapore, so the Sunwolves will be pleased to be back at their real home in Tokyo when they take on the Cheetahs. This is the Sunwolves’ first fixture in Tokyo since Round 7, when they defeated the Bulls 21-20 – their only win of the season thus far. Looking at the remaining schedule, this fixture provides the Sunwolves with their best and possibly last chance of getting another win in 2017.

The Cheetahs slumped to their 9th consecutive loss when they were hammered 7-61 by the Hurricanes in Wellington last week. Ill-discipline cost them in the first half and the less that’s said about their second half performance the better. The Cheetahs are conceding on average 40 points per game this season, which is the leading reason for their 2-10 record. One of their two wins was at home over the Sunwolves (38-31), so they will be aiming for the double this weekend. They only won this fixture by a solitary point last season and based on their current defensive inadequacies, it’s hard to be optimistic about their chances.

Betting: the Cheetahs won this fixture by just 1 point last season and they only managed to beat the Sunwolves by 7 points at home in Round 3. I would back the Sunwolves +6.5 at 1.50 (Sportsbet).
Confidence: medium


Highlanders v Waratahs

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

The Highlanders extended their winning streak to 8 games with a 55-6 thrashing of the Force in Perth last week. To put the scoreline into perspective, it was the Highlanders’ highest ever score outside New Zealand and their biggest winning margin in franchise history. The win extends New Zealand’s winning streak against Australian sides to 18 games. Just when you think the gulf between the two conferences couldn’t get any wider, it does.

The Waratahs started poorly but ended the game strongly last week as they defeated Rebels 50-23. After a poor season thus far, Israel Folau had a strong performance, setting up three of the Waratahs’ eight tries. The scores were 29-23 late in the game but three tries in the final 12 minutes caused the blowout. The Waratahs will be hoping for a repeat of the final quarter of last week’s match this weekend rather than the first quarter.

Betting: you’d think I’d have learned my lesson and would stop backing Australian teams at the line against the Kiwis! Four of the Highlanders’ last five home wins were by 8+ points while three of the Waratahs’ last four away defeats were by 8+ points, so the Highlanders -7.5 at 1.30 (Sportsbet) looks to be the practical play. I haven’t learned my lesson, however, so I’m going to back the Waratahs +21.5 at 1.53 (Sportsbet). They only lost by 10 points to the Hurricanes in Wellington earlier in the season and they only lost by 7 points to the Blues despite a horrific start. I’m counting on Israel Folau to have another big game after a quiet start to the season. Keep an eye on the over/under market. No totals have been published at the time of writing, but the Waratahs have gone over the total in their last seven straight away games.
Confidence: low


Rebels v Crusaders

7:45 PM AEST, AAMI Park, Melbourne
View a detailed form guide for Rebels v Crusaders

The Rebels suffered another poor end to a game last week when they conceded three late tries to suffer a 23-50 defeat to the Waratahs in Sydney. They actually dominated the first half but fell away badly as their winless run extended to five games. The Rebels have won just one game all season and three of their last four opponents have scored 40+ points against them, so it’s fair to say they will be up against it this weekend against an undefeated team.

The Crusaders moved to 12-0 for the season and tightened their grip on the first overall seed after they showed great composure to win 31-24 over the Chiefs in Fiji last week. They were outscored 4 tries to 3 but prevailed through the 16 points from the boot of Richie Mo’unga, who had a fantastic performance. This win came on the back of a winning tour of South Africa and victory over the Hurricanes, so the Crusaders have navigated their trickiest part of the season incredibly well. They face the Highlanders next week so I wouldn’t be surprised if they rotate some of the squad for this clash.

Betting: this fixture has banana peel written all over it because the Crusaders have just come through two high-intensity domestic fixtures against quality opponents and now have to re-find that intensity against a team that everyone has written off. Earlier in the season the Chiefs defeated the Hurricanes in a high quality game only to struggle against the unfancied Rebels a week later. The Crusaders are too professional, so I expect them to get the win, but the scoreline might be closer than what people expect. They will likely rotate the squad, so I’m not prepared to touch the Crusaders at the 26.5 line, but given the Chiefs put in a bad performance and still won this fixture by 13 points, I will back the Crusaders to match that. I would back the Crusaders 13+ at 1.28 (bet365).
Confidence: high – I had to double check that these odds were correct – at the time of writing no other bookmaker offered better than 1.21 odds, with most offering 1.13-1.17


Bulls v Hurricanes

11:05 PM AEST, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
View a detailed form guide for Bulls v Hurricanes

The Bulls limp into this fixture on the back of a 14-51 thrashing by the Lions. The Bulls found themselves down by 25 points by the end of the first half and couldn’t add to their score in the second spell. They were also thrashed 24-62 at home by the Crusaders three weeks ago and only managed to put 10 points on the board against the Highlanders, so it’s fair to say the Bulls are hurting at the moment. I wrote last week that the Bulls announced they have instituted a turnaround plan to improve their performances on and off the field, which will involve “embarking on wide-ranging consultation”. Perhaps that consultation will result in a change of coaching personnel.

The Hurricanes bounced back from their defeat to the Crusaders by thrashing the Cheetahs 61-7 last week. In what has been a trait of their season, 7 of their 9 tries came in the second half as they finished strongly. The Hurricanes have now won 12 on the trot at home, which bodes well for their Rounds 16 & 17 home clashes against the Chiefs and Crusaders.

Betting: the Hurricanes should be too strong but given punters are staying well clear of the Bulls the line has blown out during the week. I will instead back the Hurricanes 13+ at 1.57 (bet365). This bet goes in the face of historical trends given the Bulls’ long-term home record, but the record book has been torn up repeatedly this season.
Confidence: medium-low

Sunday, 28 May


Sharks v Stormers

1:15 AM AEST, Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
View a detailed form guide for Sharks v Stormers

The Sharks bounced back from their shock defeat to the Kings by beating the Sunwolves 38-17 last week to move to 8-1-3 for the season. The game was in the balance with 6 minutes to go but three quick tries in the final minutes gave the Sharks the bonus point victory. The Sharks have 8 more competition points than the Stormers but due to the bombastic conference structure the Sharks currently occupy the 8th and last playoff seed while the Stormers are seeded 3rd! This fixture is the first of three domestic clashes played in Durban to see off the regular season.

The Stormers overcame the Blues 30-22 in an incident-packed game last week to end a four-game losing streak. The Stormers are 6-0 against sides in the bottom half of the table and with the 8th placed sharks the highest ranked opponent they will face for the rest of the regular season, the Stormers should win the Africa 1 conference comfortably. This clash against the Sharks is on paper their last tough fixture prior to the playoffs. The Stormers will be without centre Shaun Treeby for the next three weeks due to suspension.

Betting: the Sharks are 6-1-0 as the home favourite over the last 12 months while the Stormers are 0-3 as the away underdog. I would back the Sharks in the head-to-head at 1.76 (Palmerbet).
Confidence: medium


Jaguares v Brumbies

7:40 AM AEST, Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires
View a detailed form guide for Jaguares v Brumbies

Prior to their bye last week the Jaguares fell 6-16 to the Force in a poor quality game. Every time they got into a promising position they let themselves down with a handling error. The defeat came on the back of almost losing to the Sunwolves at home, so the Jaguares’ home form has taken a dive in recent weeks. After starting the season 4-1 the Jaguares have since gone 1-5.

The Brumbies scored two late tries to see off the Kings 19-10 in Port Elizabeth last week. They held their opponents to less than 20 points for the ninth time in eleven games, but the Brumbies remain unconvincing on attack, with the Kings contributors to their own downfall. The Brumbies currently have the 3rd best offensive statistics in the competition but are ranked 16th in points scored.

Betting: I’m expecting this to be a grind. I would back both the Jaguares 1-12 at 3.20 (Ladbrokes) and the Brumbies 1-12 at 3.80 (Palmerbet).
Confidence: medium


Lions v Kings

10:30 PM AEST, Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
View a detailed form guide for Lions v Kings

The Lions mauled the Bulls 51-14 last week to move to 11-1 for the season. They scored four tries in the first nine minutes and were up by 25 points at the break, so the game was virtually over before it started. The icing on the cake was the Lions then held the Bulls scoreless in the second half. It’s early days yet, but I wonder whether their decision to send an under-strength squad to Argentina will cost them the coveted first seed again. They lost that fixture without picking up a bonus point and the Lions currently sit 3 points behind the table-topping Crusaders.

The Kings raced out to a 10-point lead against the Brumbies last week but were contributors to their own downfall as they fell 10-17 to end a three-game winning streak. It’s hard to be optimistic about them bouncing back against the Lions because the Kings have a nasty habit of losing games in batches. The last time they lost a game on the back of a win they went on to lose the following four games as well. Since being reintroduced to the competition last year, the Kings’ defeats have come in batches of 4, 6, 4, and 5 games.

Betting: my first instinct was to jump all over the Lions but I am wary of the fact that the Kings are 7-0 at the line on the road over the last 12 months. Instead of taking the -23.5 line I will instead back the Lions -18.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.53 (Sportsbet).
Confidence: medium-low


Best Bets of the Round

Back the Chiefs in the head-to-head at 1.56 (bet365)

Back the Crusaders 13+ at 1.28 (bet365)


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