Super Rugby Round 16 (Australia & South Africa) Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 16 (Australian and South African conferences only) of the 2017 Super Rugby season. The New Zealand teams will rejoin the competition next week.

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Friday, 7 July


Reds v Brumbies

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

Prior to the international break the Reds made a good game of it but ultimately fell 29-34 to the Blues in Samoa. Mistakes proved costly, with their mishandling of restarts in particular hurting their cause. The poor refereeing also didn’t help. In team news, Rob Simmons gets the start at blindside flanker in place of Hendrik Tui, who picked up a few knocks on international duty. Hooker Stephen Moore returns to the starting line-up and will captain the side in place of injured centre Samu Kerevi (ankle). Adam Korczyk starts at No.8 in place of Scott Higginbotham, who is out with a neck injury.

Prior to the international break the Brumbies thrashed the Rebels 32-3 to secure the Australian conference and the top four playoff seed that comes with it. Kiwi fly-half Wharenui Hawera starred as the Brumbies shut the Rebels out in the second half. The Brumbies have been below average on offence all season, but the key to their dominance of the Australian conference is their defence, which has been the best in the country for the last three straight seasons. The Brumbies have conceded just 18 points per game this season, which is 11 points better than the next best Australian team. The Brumbies welcome back prop Scott Sio to the starting line-up this week. Christian Lealiifano’s comeback has been delayed due to hamstring tightness.

Betting: the Brumbies thrashed the Reds 43-10 in Round 7 in what was arguably their best offensive display of the season. It was their 5th straight win over the Queensland side and the Brumbies enter this fixture with a 10-1 record against Australian teams over the last two years. The last time the Brumbies visited Suncorp Stadium they won 29-0. I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.45 (William Hill).
Confidence: high


Force v Rebels

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

Prior to the international break the Force pushed the Hurricanes for much of the game but couldn’t make their territory and possession count as they ended being blown away 12-34 in Perth. Like the Reds and Waratahs, their playoff hopes have now extinguished, so the Force will be aiming to finish the season 2nd in the Australian conference to build towards next season (if there is one!). Adam Coleman will captain the squad this week. Chance Peni returns from a groin injury and Jono Lance returns via the bench after recovering from a fractured hand.

Prior to the international break the Rebels put in a limp performance to lose 3-32 to the Brumbies in Canberra. This reverses the Rebels’ 19-17 win over the Brumbies in Round 8, which to date is their only win of the season. The Rebels will have to hope their on-field performances don’t factor into which Australian team is cut from Super Rugby, because they currently sit on 8 points, with the rest of the Australian sides on 17 or more points. There will likely be solidarity between them and the Force players this week, who are in the same predicament regarding their future. Winger Sefa Naivalu suffered a season-ending injury while playing for the Wallabies so Tom English has moved to the wing with Jonah Placid given his first start at fullback.

Betting: the Rebels have won 4 of their last 5 against the Force, but the home side has been playing the better rugby this season. 11 of the 12 previous fixtures between the two were settled by 7 points or less, so I would back the Force 1-12 at 2.88 (Ladbrokes).
Confidence: medium

Saturday, 8 July


Waratahs v Jaguares

7:45 PM AEST, Allianz Stadium, Sydney
View a detailed form guide for Waratahs v Jaguares

Prior to the international break the Waratahs lost 28-44 to the Highlanders in Dunedin then 31-46 to the Chiefs in Hamilton to complete a 0-5 losing sweep against the Kiwi sides. The scoreline against the Highlanders was harsh but the scoreline against the Chiefs was what they deserved as poor defense and ill-discipline derailed their cause. The Waratahs need to cut down on unforced errors next season if they are to push for the playoffs. It’s something they’ve spoken about doing this season but it’s much easier said than done. The Waratahs also need to sort out their defence, which has conceded 34 points per game this year. Only the Sunwolves, Cheetahs and Rebels have worse records.

The Jaguares fell 30-31 to the Kings at home last week to continue their dreadful run of form. Nicolás Sánchez and Joaquín Díaz Bonilla had a terrible night from the kicking tee and their set pieces were awful. After a promising 4-1 start to the campaign the Jaguares have since gone 1-7, with their performances getting progressively worse by the week.

Betting: I can’t back the Jaguares given how badly their form has degenerated. Given the Waratahs’ dreadful defence I’m not sure about the -11.5 line, especially in lieu of their 1-4 line record as the home favourite and the Jaguares’ 3-1 line record as the away underdog. I would simply back the Waratahs in the head-to-head at 1.22 (Mad Bookie).
Confidence: medium-low – I was able to back the Waratahs at 1.27 earlier in the week but there is little value at the time of writing

Sunday, 9 July


Bulls v Kings

1:15 AM AEST, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
View a detailed form guide for Bulls v Kings

The Bulls upset the Sharks 30-17 last week, with centre Jan Serfontein continuing his fine Springboks form from the June series against France. The win ended a four game losing streak and the dominant performance begs the question as to why the Bulls weren’t able to play like that earlier in the season.

The Kings heaped more misery on the out of sorts Jaguares last week, winning 31-30 in Argentina to move to 6-8 for the season. While the Jaguares contributed to their own downfall, the Kings forwards have to be commended for their dominant tight five display. With South Africa set to decide which two franchises to drop from Super Rugby next season, the Kings currently sit above the Bulls and Cheetahs in the standings, so their culling may not be as straight forward as predicted earlier in the season.

Betting: the Bulls sit 4 points behind the Kings in the standings and would love to finish above them to make the decision easy as to which club to cut from Super Rugby along with the Cheetahs. I think the Bulls will win but given the Kings are 7-1 at the line away from home this season, I would back the Bulls 1-12 at 3.50 (Ladbrokes) (I had to double check that these odds were correct because no one else was offering more than 2.90 at the time of writing)
Confidence: medium


Stormers v Sunwolves

3:30 AM AEST, DHL Newlands, Cape Town
View a detailed form guide for Stormers v Sunwolves

The Stormers beat the Cheetahs 40-34 in Bloemfontein last week to continue their lopsided run of going 7-0 against sides ranked 9th or below but 1-5 against sides in the top 8. Due to the bombastic competition structure they are currently in a two-way battle with the Brumbies for the 3rd overall seed, despite having fewer competition points than the Blues, Sharks, Highlanders, Chiefs and Hurricanes, who all sit below them in the standings. In mixed injury news, centres Juan de Jongh and Shaun Treeby picked up injuries last week but Damian de Allende has returned to training. Fullback SP Marais might not feature after injuring his knee. Props Oli Kebble (thigh) and Ali Vermaak (calf) are in a race against time to be fit for the playoffs. Flanker Rynhardt Elstadt is suspended this week.

The Sunwolves risk letting their season completely fall to pieces unless they can turnaround their drop in form. They were thrashed 94-7 by the Lions last week in a game where the Japanese side missed 53 tackles out of 108. Their scrum was also completely dismantled. This was on the back of a 40-point home defeat to the 16th placed Cheetahs so there are some worrying signs.

Betting: the Stormers will be fielding a banged up squad but should still be too strong. The line started at -29.5 but has blown out to -34.5. The line value has probably eroded so I will simply back the Stormers 13+ at 1.10 (Ladbrokes). The Stormers beat the Sunwolves by 13 points in Singapore in Round 5, so given the Sunwolves’ poor form they should be able to at least match that. Other bookmakers are offering as little as 1.05 for this selection at the time of writing.
Confidence: medium-low – wish I could get better odds


Best Bets of the Round

Back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.45 (William Hill)


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