Super Rugby Round 15 (AUS & NZ) Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 15 (AUS and NZ only) of the 2017 Super Rugby season.

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Friday, 2 June


Blues v Reds

5:35 PM AEST, Apia Park, Apia
View a detailed form guide for Blues v Reds

The Blues’ winless streak against Kiwi opposition extended to 11 games with a 16-all draw against the Chiefs last week. Both sides missed late opportunities to grab the win, with both fly-halves missing crucial kicks. This clash is the first ever Super Rugby fixture to be played in Samoa, so if the Fiji fixtures are anything to go by, there should be a great atmosphere. The Blues welcome back Rene Ranger and Jimmy Tupou from injury this week. Sam Nock gets his first start at halfback. Augustine Pulu, Blake Gibson, Matt Duffie, George Moala and Sonny Bill Williams are unavailable.

The Reds’ playoff hopes were majorly dented when they fell 26-40 at home to the Force to slip to 3-9 for the season. It seemed like every time the Reds took the lead they went back into their shells, which enabled the Force to fight back. Ill-discipline was also an issue. In reality the Reds were only an outside chance of playing finals rugby, but the nature in which they fell out of contention will hurt. With nothing left to play for, a furious coach Nick Stiles has indicated he will blood some of their young guys for the rest of the campaign. The Reds’ tour squad features eight players with Samoan heritage. Hooker Stephen Moore has been left at home to manage his workload.

Betting: while they struggle against compatriots sides, the Blues are on a 13-1-2 run against foreign teams. Over the last 12 months as the underdog the Reds are 0-5 away from Suncorp Stadium and 1-4 at the line. Five of their last six away defeats were by 8+ margins. Having this fixture played in Samoa muddies the waters, but nevertheless I will back the Blues -7.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.45 (Sportsbet).
Confidence: medium

Saturday, 3 June


Crusaders v Highlanders

12:35 PM AEST, AMI Stadium, Christchurch
View a detailed form guide for Crusaders v Highlanders

The Crusaders managed to avoid any banana skin result when they saw off the Rebels 41-19 in Melbourne last week. This was on the back of two high intensity games against the Hurricanes and Chiefs so they did well to maintain their focus and momentum against a weaker opponent. The Crusaders now face their third tough opponent in four weeks. The Crusaders beat the Highlanders 30-27 in Round 2 but had to fight back from a huge deficit to do so.

The Highlanders extended their winning streak to 9 games with a 44-28 win over the Waratahs in Dunedin. Kiwi teams are now 20-0 against Australian opponents this season. The win was impressive given they had just returned home from a three-game overseas tour, but the Waratahs will feel the scoreline was harsh. The Highlanders are virtually guaranteed a playoff spot but are still fighting the Hurricanes and Chiefs for the 5th seed, which would see them visit Canberra in the playoffs rather than South Africa.

Betting: both sides are on a great run but the Crusaders have been playing the better rugby. I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.43 (Sportsbet). Sportsbet’s odds are a standout at the moment, with even the low-margin bookmaker Pinnacle only offering 1.35 for the Crusaders.
Confidence: medium-high


Chiefs v Waratahs

3:05 PM AEST, FMG Stadium, Hamilton
View a detailed form guide for Chiefs v Waratahs

The Chiefs are now 9-1-2 for the season after a 16-all draw with the Blues in wet conditions in Auckland last week. Aaron Cruden’s kicking let them down again as both sides missed opportunities to steal the win. The result has likely killed off any outside chance the Chiefs had of securing the first overall seed. They now find the Highlanders breathing down their neck so in the space of a few weeks the Chiefs have found themselves fighting to avoid becoming the 7th seed. They will be without Charlie Ngatai and Sam McNicol due to concussion symptoms.

The Waratahs lost 28-44 to the Highlanders in Dunedin last week to continue their run of failing to win back-to-back games. Overall the Waratahs actually had a decent game. They led 14-13 at the break but a yellow card infringement hurt as they couldn’t keep up with the second half surge from the Highlanders. Some of the refereeing also didn’t help the Waratahs’ cause. Nevertheless the result will give them confidence that they can be competitive against the Chiefs.

Betting: the Waratahs have won five of their last six against the Chiefs. Aaron Cruden’s wayward kicking will help the visitors’ cause, so I’m going to back the Waratahs +20.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.55 (William Hill).
Confidence: medium-low


Brumbies v Rebels

7:45 PM AEST, GIO Stadium, Canberra
View a detailed form guide for Brumbies v Rebels

The Brumbies picked up a much needed bonus point win over the Jaguares last week to extend their lead in the Australian conference to 9 points. It was a clinical performance against the sloppy Jaguares, with the Brumbies set pieces in particular working well. They now have two winnable fixtures coming up so the Brumbies look virtually assured of a playoff spot.

The Rebels remain winless since Round 8 after they fell 19-41 to the Crusaders in Melbourne. It wasn’t a terrible result given they outscored their opponents 12-10 in the second half, but the Crusaders always looked comfortable despite making rotations to the squad. The Rebels languish at the bottom of the Australian conference with half the number of points as the 4th placed Reds, so it’s fair to say it has been a demoralising season. They are now playing for pride as they try to put a spanner in the works of the Brumbies’ playoff bid. The Rebels will be going for the double after beating the Brumbies 19-17 in Melbourne in Round 8, which is their only win of the season.

Betting: the Rebels have won 3 of their last 6 against the Brumbies, including their most recent trip to Canberra in 2015, but the two sides look to be heading in opposite directions at the moment. One of the reasons why the Brumbies make the playoffs so regularly is because of their strong record against Australian sides. They have won 10 of their last 11 games against Australian teams. I’m a bit torn on the winning margin, though. Since 2014 only 1 of the Brumbies 6 clashes against the Rebels were settled by more than 8 points, however all 5 of the Rebels away defeats over the last 12 months have been by 13+ points. If I were to bet on this fixture I would back the Brumbies -7.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.45 (Sportsbet). Four of the Brumbies’ last five wins over the Rebels were by more than 7 points.
Confidence: low


Force v Hurricanes

9:55 PM AEST, nib Stadium, Perth
View a detailed form guide for Force v Hurricanes

The Force are 9-4 at the line on the back of a defeat over the last 12 months after they bounced back from the 55-6 hiding at the hands of the Highlanders to upset the Reds 40-26 in Brisbane. The game could have gone either way but the Force showed more composure late in the second half to pull away with the win. They now finish the season with three consecutive home games. The Hurricanes will be a tough ask but the Force will back themselves in their final two clashes against the Rebels and Waratahs.

The Hurricanes followed in the footsteps of the Crusaders and Highlanders by winning both their overseas fixtures against the Cheetahs and Bulls. They now aim to replicate the Highlanders’ feat of flying from South Africa into Perth and picking up another win. The Force were surprisingly competitive against the Blues and Chiefs, but were thrashed by the Crusaders and Highlanders, so it will be interesting to see how the Hurricanes go against them.

Betting: the Hurricanes have a dominant record against the Force and with the New Zealand conference as tight as it is they will be looking for a bonus point win. Their last two fixtures against the Force resulted in 42-13 and 41-6 wins, so I will back the Hurricanes -15.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.53 (William Hill).
Confidence: medium


Best Bets of the Round

Back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.43 (Sportsbet)


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