Super Rugby Round 5 – Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 5 of the 2018 Super Rugby season.

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View the Super Rugby form guide.

Friday, 16 March


Chiefs v Bulls

5:35 PM AEDT, FMG Stadium, Waikato
View a detailed form guide for Chiefs v Bulls

Prior to their bye last week the severely under-strength Chiefs saw off the Blues 27-21 in Eden Park to move to 1-1 for the season. The win want’s pretty, with Blues’ mistakes letting the Chiefs off the hook, but it was a great testament to the character of the depleted squad. Their injury woes have only worsened since, with Nepo Laulala ruled out for 8-12 weeks with a fractured forearm and Atunasa Moli ruled out for the entire season with a quad injury. Tiaan Falcon gets the start at fly-half this week, with Damian McKenzie moving to fullback.

The Bulls got off to a 14-3 start against the Reds in Brisbane last week, but couldn’t add to the score-sheet as they fell 14-20 to slide to 1-2 for the season. What will hurt most is their famed set-piece came off second best on the night. The Bulls were good defensively early on and looking dangerous in attack, but it was alarming how much worse they were in the second half. The Bulls welcome back captain Burger Odendaal for this clash.

Betting: the Chiefs have gone 5-1 at home over the last 12 months, but 1-5 at the line. It’s a similar story for away games too. Over the last 12 months the Chiefs have gone 9-1-1 as the favourite but 2-9 at the line as the favourite. For this reason I’m not prepared to back the Chiefs at the -18.5 line. Four of their 5 home wins over the last 12 months were by 13+ points, so I will instead back the Chiefs 13+ at 1.53 (bet365).
Confidence: low

Saturday, 17 March


Highlanders v Crusaders

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

The Highlanders put in a strong offensive performance last week to see of the Stormers 33-15 in Dunedin. The forwards in particular were impressive, showing a solid scrum and tremendous work at the breakdown. They also showcased some sublime offloads and finishing. As in their game against the Blues, the Highlanders’ defence was far from perfect, but the Stormers weren’t able to take advantage. Aaron Smith continues to have an excellent season and Waisake Naholo was a menace last week. Some second half handling errors prevented an even bigger scoreline, but they will be happy with their 2-0 start to the season.

The Crusaders suffered their first loss of the season last week, falling 19-29 to the Hurricanes in Wellington. The Canterbury side already had a lengthy injury list leading into the fixture and lost Sam Whitelock and Ryan Crotty early on with head knocks. They quickly found themselves down 5-26 before getting a foothold in the match, largely through their dominance at the set-piece. Crusaders fans will be hoping that early season hero Richie Mo’unga can recover quickly from his broken jaw, because they looked weaker in his absence last week.

Betting: 6 out of the last 8 meetings between the two in Dunedin were settled by 12 points or less, so I would back both the Highlanders 1-12 at 3.40 (Ladbrokes) and the Crusaders 1-12 at 3.25 (Ladbrokes).
Confidence: medium


Brumbies v Sharks

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

The Brumbies slumped to 1-2 for the season after being comprehensively beaten 33-10 by the Rebels in Melbourne last week. They started competitively but as the game wore on the Rebels’ dominance over them only grew. Their only win so far was over the Sunwolves, so the pressure will increase on new coach Dan McKellar if they can’t return to winning ways soon. The problem is there are few positives to draw from in their last two fixtures. To compound matters, Brumbies co-captain Sam Carter suffered a head injury last week while Josh Mann-Rea suffered what looked to be a serious leg injury.

After a loss followed by a draw, the Sharks picked up their first win of the season, seeing off the Sunwolves 50-22 in Durban last week. They looked good as they completely outclassed the Sunwolves, playing at a high tempo with slick passing and a strong set-piece, but the test is whether they can replicate that type of performance against a stronger team.

Betting: the Sharks have won 2 of their last 3 visits to Canberra and with the home side looking out of sorts, I would back the Sharks in the head-to-head at 1.91 (Ladbrokes). All four recent meetings between the two in Canberra were settled by 12 points or less, so for those looking to be more aggressive, I would consider the Sharks 1-12 at 3.20 (Ladbrokes).
Confidence: medium

Sunday, 18 March


Stormers v Blues

12:05 AM AEDT, DHL Newlands, Cape Town
View a detailed form guide for Stormers v Blues

The Stormers return home from a winless 3-game, injury-affected tour of Australia and New Zealand. They were still in the contest at halftime, down 15-19 against the Highlanders last week, but were blown away in the second half to lose 15-33, with some poor tackling not helping their cause. They also paid the price for not being able to turn more of their territory and possession into points. Both the Crusaders and Highlanders exploited the Stormers in the wide channels. This is something they need to address before taking on the dangerous Blues. The Stormers’ line-outs also need work. In mixed injury news, the Stormers are expected to welcome back lock Pieter-Steph du Toit and flanker Cobus Wiese this week, however lock Chris van Zyl and fullback SP Marais are doubtful.

The Blues stunned the Lions with a 38-35 win in Johannesburg last week. They trailed 10-28 with 17 minutes to go but scored a flurry of late tries, including the game-winner in the final minute, to snatch the win. The game summed up the Blues’ mercurial nature. If they could ever find consistency they would be a scary proposition. The Blues are now 1-2 for the season and will be in a great position if they can return from South Africa with two wins.

Betting: the Blues are the marginal favourite but I’m yet willing to trust them to be consistent. They haven’t won in Cape Town in years, so I would back the Stormers +7.5 at 1.40 (Sportsbet).
Confidence: low


Lions v Sunwolves

2:15 AM AEDT, Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
View a detailed form guide for Lions v Sunwolves

Perhaps complacency was an issue last week as the Lions let a 28-10 lead with 17 minutes to go slip as they fell 35-38 to the Blues. Up until that point the Lions were comfortably in control, making fewer mistakes than the Blues and were more clinical on attack. Nevertheless the Lions remain top of the South African conference and have a good chance to pick up a bonus point win this week. They will be without captain Warren Whiteley for up to four weeks due to a knee injury.

The Sunwolves’ seem to be getting weaker by the week as they lost 22-50 to the Sharks in Durban. They had no answers to the high tempo game of the Sharks and any early optimism based on their Round 1 performance is quickly disappearing.

Betting: the Lions’ defeat last week is probably a bad thing for the Sunwolves because the home side will be looking to make amends. With everyone writing the Sunwolves off, there is hardly an value to be found, so I will simply take the Lions 13+ at 1.10 (bet365).
Confidence: medium


Jaguares v Reds

8:40 AM AEDT, Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires
View a detailed form guide for Jaguares v Reds

After a poor performance against the Hurricanes a fortnight ago, the Jaguares shot out to a 26-0 lead inside 20 minutes against the Waratahs last week and comfortably held on for a 38-28 win. The only sour note was they conceded 2 tries in the final 2 minutes to miss out on a bonus point. Nevertheless they will be pleased to have picked up their first win of the season.

For the second week running the Reds showed good game finishing ability as they ground out a 20-14 win over the Bulls to move to 2-1 for the season. Coach Brad Thorn’s pre-season focus on the set-piece has clearly paid dividends, which is just as well given they now take on the Jaguares, for whom the set-piece is a strength. The Reds’ forward pack has been performing well but they need to improve on is their backline play, with their backs appearing to lack organisation at times. The Reds have no new injury concerns, with the full matchday 23 named in the touring squad. Scott Higginbotham, whose suspension ends next week, will also head out along with Ben Lucas who has recovered from a pre-season knee injury.

Betting: the Reds have only won once away from home over the last 12 months and Buenos Aires is not the easiest of away fixtures, especially given the Jaguares have been at home for three weeks now. I would back the Jaguares in the head-to-head at 1.40 (bet365). For those looking to be more aggressive, I expect the Reds’ forward pack to keep them competitive, so I would also consider the Jaguares 1-12 at 3.10 (Ladbrokes).
Confidence: medium


Waratahs v Rebels

4:05 PM AEDT, Allianz Stadium, Sydney
View a detailed form guide for Waratahs v Rebels

The Waratahs return home after a mixed overseas tour. They earned a commendable draw against the Sharks before putting in a dreadful performance against the Jaguares. The damage was done in the first half last week as the Jaguares ran up 33 points (26 in the first 20 minutes) against an awful Waratahs’ defence. When the Waratahs did have possession they all to quickly coughed it up.

The Rebels’ dream start to the season continued with a 33-10 win over the Brumbies last week in Melbourne. The bonus point win was their third in succession, which gives the side a perfect 15 points from their opening three games. As with the Sunwolves game, the Rebels started slowly but finished with a dominant second half performance. No doubt coach David Wessels will prevent any complacency setting in, however, as he has been quick to point out their deficiencies after recent wins. This clash against the Waratahs provides another opportunity to put further distance between themselves and the rest of the Australian conference.

Betting: the Waratahs have won 6 of their last 7 at home against the Rebels, however his Force-augmented Rebels team is vastly different to the one of previous seasons. Based on the relative quality of rugby each side has played so far this season, I would back the Rebels +6.5 at 1.53 (William Hill).
Confidence: high


Best Bets of the Round

Back the Rebels +6.5 at 1.53 (William Hill)


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