The following is a preview with betting tips for Round 16 (New Zealand only) of the 2017 Super Rugby season. This round features just one clash, the Hurricanes v Chiefs in Wellington.
Friday, 9 June
Hurricanes v Chiefs
View a detailed form guide for Hurricanes v Chiefs
The Hurricanes saw off the Force 34-12 in Perth last week with the bonus point win extending their lead over the Chiefs to 4 points. The result showcased the Hurricanes in a nutshell. The Force were able to keep them quiet for much of the game, but a four-try blitz in the space of 18 minutes quickly took the game away from the home side. When most people think of the Hurricanes they think of their #1 ranked offense (5 points per game better than the Crusaders!), but they are also ranked 1st in defence this season. With both the Chiefs and Hurricanes having just one fixture remaining after this, a win for the Hurricanes would cement the 5th seed.
The Chiefs thrashed the Waratahs 46-31 last week. Their attacking potency was excellent but their defence wasn’t up to scratch, which is something the Chiefs will have to resolve ahead of the playoffs if they are to be a title chance. The timing of this fixture is harsh because both sides need the win desperately to secure a higher seed, but the All Blacks in both squads will have one eye on the Lions series. In mixed injury news the Chiefs will be without Brodie Retallick due to a concussion while Charlie Ngatai returns.
15. Jordie Barrett, 14. Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13. Vince Aso, 12. Ngani Laumape, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. TJ Perenara (c), 8. Ardie Savea, 7. Callum Gibbins, 6. Brad Shields, 5. Vaea Fifita, 4. Sam Lousi, 3. Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2. Leni Apisai, 1. Chris Eves.
Res: 16. Ricky Riccitelli /James O’Reilly, 17. Loni Uhila, 18. Mike Kainga, 19. Mark Abbott, 20. Reed Prinsep, 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22. Matt Proctor, 23. Wes Goosen.
Kane Hames, Nathan Harris, Nepo Laulala, Dominic Bird, Michael Allardice, Mitchell Brown, Sam Cane (co-captain), Liam Messam, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden (co-captain), James Lowe, Charlie Ngatai, Anton Lienert-Brown, Solomon Alaimalo, Damian McKenzie.
Reserves: Liam Polwart, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Atu Moli, Tom Sanders, Lachlan Boshier, Finlay Christie, Alex Nankivell, Shaun Stevenson.
Brodie Retallick’s absence is a big loss for the Chiefs. The Chiefs beat the Hurricanes by 8 points in Hamilton in Round 3 but the Hurricanes are 6-2 in their last 8 at home against the Chiefs and they are on a 12-game winning streak at home. I would take the Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.40 (Ladbrokes).
I’m on the fence regarding the -8.0 line, but if I were to bet on the winning margin market my preference is for the Hurricanes 1-12 at 2.88 (Sportsbet) because while three of the Chiefs’ last four losses were by 8+ margins, only one was by 13+ points. Also, five of the Hurricanes’ last seven wins over the Chiefs were by 1-12 points.