Super Rugby Round 6 – Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 6 of the 2018 Super Rugby season.

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View the Super Rugby form guide.

Friday, 23 March


Crusaders v Bulls

5:35 PM AEDT, AMI Stadium, Christchurch
View a detailed form guide for Crusaders v Bulls

The Crusaders enter this fixture on the back of consecutive regular season losses for the first time in three years. With seven All Blacks sidelined with injury, the Crusaders still managed to make a real game of it as they fell 17-25 to the Highlanders in Dunedin last week. They weren’t able to take their opportunities at key moments but you feel once they get back closer to full strength they will be a major force to contend with. The Crusaders now take on the first of seven consecutive overseas opponents.

For the second straight week the Bulls lead at halftime but were held scoreless in the second half as they let a 14-point lead slip to fall 28-41 to the Chiefs in Hamilton. Under Kiwi coach John Mitchell the Bulls are keeping ball in hand much more often this season, while at the same time they have retained their effective use of the driving maul. They’re a fun team to watch at times, they just need to replicate their first 40 minutes in the second half.

Betting: with the Crusaders not quite themselves with so many key players injured, I don’t see much value in them at 1.05 odds. I would instead back the Bulls at the first half handicap of +10.0 at 1.90 (CrownBet). For those who are looking for a more aggressive option, you can get the Bulls/Crusaders in the HT/FT double market at 8.00 (Ladbrokes).
Confidence: low


Rebels v Sharks

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

The Rebels were given a major reality check last week as they were blown away 27-51 by the Waratahs in Sydney. The defeat brought to the end a 3-0 unbeaten start to the season. With the heat perhaps playing a role, the Rebels struggled to cope with the Waratahs’ intelligent kicking involving Israel Folau on the wing. They got off to the stronger start and were actually up 20-3 early on, but lost their composure and succumbed to a try-scoring blitz by the Waratahs in the second half.

The Sharks started their four-game tour of Australia and New Zealand with a 17-24 defeat to the Brumbies. They were unable to take advantage of two yellow cards to the hosts and while they finished the stronger of the two sides, the Sharks couldn’t find a last-minute equalizer. The Sharks are now 1-1-2 for the season and would love to pick up points here ahead of their tour of New Zealand. It’s not out of the question that they could lose all four tour fixtures, which would put them massively on the back foot for the rest of the season.

Betting: the Sharks have an unbeaten 4-1-0 record against the Rebels, but this Force-augmented Rebels team is far stronger than in previous seasons and the Sharks only won by 6 points or less in previous visits to Melbourne. I would back the Rebels to in the head-to-head at 1.50 (Ladbrokes).
Confidence: medium

Saturday, 24 March


Sunwolves v Chiefs

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

The Sunwolves gave the Lions an almighty scare last week but fell just short, losing 38-40. The last time the Sunwolves visited Johannesburg they were trounced 94-7, so their competitiveness came as a huge surprise, especially given they lost 22-50 to the Sharks just the week before. The Sunwolves remain the only side without a win this season, but hopefully their competitive performance last week is a sign of improvement to come.

The Chiefs found themselves down 14-28 to a dominant Bulls first half performance last week, but fought back well to win 41-28 and deny their visitors a bonus point. Much like in their clash against the Blues, the Chiefs showed great resilience and self-belief in a tough situation, which is made more impressive by their lengthy injury toll. This week provides (on paper) a reprieve before three tough domestic fixtures. The Chiefs injury crisis has only worsened, with forwards Mitchell Brown and Fin Hoeata ruled out of the rest of the season and lock Dominic Bird also in doubt to return. Also out are winger Shaun Stevenson (4-6 weeks), Tim Nanai-Williams (entire season), prop Atu Moli (entire season) and Nepo Laulala (3 months).

Betting: I find it really hard to read the Sunwolves’ form, so I can’t recommend a bet with great confidence. Given the Chiefs are 1-4 at the line as the away favourite over the last 12 months and in their previous clash against the Sunwolves they only won by 7 points at home, if I were to bet on this fixture I would back the Sunwolves +30.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.53 (Sportsbet).
Confidence: low


Hurricanes v Highlanders

5:35 PM AEDT, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
View a detailed form guide for Hurricanes v Highlanders

Prior to their bye last week the Hurricanes shook off any potential travel fatigue to see off the injury-hit Crusaders 29-19 in Wellington. Most of the damage was done early in the game, with the Hurricanes shooting out to a 26-5 lead as the Crusaders had no answers to their physicality. It was Beauden Barrett’s 100th game, but it was Jordie Barrett who shone. Jordie continues to have an impressive season on the back of 7 months sidelined with injury. New winger and former 7’s player Ben Lam also continues to impress. The fact that Vince Aso can’t make the starting XV shows how strong the Hurricanes backline is. Their forward pack came off second best at the set-piece against the Crusaders, however.

The Highlanders stretched their winning streak at home to nine games with an impressive 25-17 win over the under-strength Crusaders last week. They show great intensity on defence and remain the only undefeated team in New Zealand, but this will be their first away fixture of the season. They will be without All Blacks flanker Liam Squire for six weeks after he broke this thumb.

Betting: home advantage has been of little value in this head to head in recent years, with the Hurricanes winning just 3 of their last 8 at home against the Highlanders. I expect this will be close. The Hurricanes have not lost a home game by more than 7 points over the last 12 months while the Highlanders have only lost once by more than 7 points during that time. Of the last 8 meetings between the two in Wellington, 6 were settled by 1-7 points so I would back both the Hurricanes 1-12 at 3.25 (Ladbrokes) and the Highlanders 1-12 at 4.00 (Ladbrokes).
Confidence: high

Sunday, 25 March


Stormers v Reds

2:15 AM AEDT, DHL Newlands, Cape Town
View a detailed form guide for Stormers v Reds

The Stormers ended a 3-game losing streak by seeing off the dangerous Blues 37-20 last week to move to 2-3 for the season. It was a clinical performance that saw the Stormers up 29-8 at one stage before the Blues made a fightback. So far this season the Stormers have won every home fixture and lost every away fixture.

The Reds are on a 3-game winning streak for the first time since 2013 after they saw off the Jaguares 18-7 in Argentina. Prior to that win they had only won 1 of their previous 20 overseas fixtures. Under new head coach Brad Thorn their defensive efforts have been the key to their success. The Reds are ranked only 15th in points scored, but they boast the 2nd best defensive record with none of their three previous opponents managing more than 14 points. Also, the pack has come through stern tests against the Bulls and Jaguares very well, particularly at scrum time. The Reds receive a boost this week, with captain Scott Higginbotham available for selection after serving his three-match suspension.

Betting: this should be a great game. I’m leaning towards the Stormers, who have a fantastic record when installed as the favourite, but the Reds’ defence and forward pack will keep this close. I would back the Reds +15.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.53 (William Hill). For those who wish to be more aggressive, I would consider the Stormers 1-12 at 3.40 (Ladbrokes).
Confidence: medium


Jaguares v Lions

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

The Jaguares suffered an upset home defeat to the Reds last week to slide to 1-4 for the season. After scoring a try in the 7th minute, they had no answers to the Reds’ defensive efforts as they were held pointless for the rest of the game. The Jaguares were often their own worst enemy, with a number of botched line-outs to go with 16 handling errors and 25 turnovers. They also paid the price for turning down kickable penalties and instead opting for touch. It was the second time this season that the Jaguares been held to less than 10 points in a home fixture. They will hurt from the fact that their famed scrum came off second best, but it’s their line-out that needs the most work. In some positive news, the Jaguares’ infamous ill-discipline has improved, with the side now on a 3-game streak without receiving a yellow card.

The Lions were given a massive scare last week but managed to prevail 40-38 over the Sunwolves in a game that they started as 34.5 favourites with some bookmakers not even offering a head-to-head market. The Lions have the number 1 ranked offence in the competition at the moment but I have major concerns about their defence, which has conceded 35, 38, and 38 points in their last three games. Last year they averaged 19.1 points conceded per game, so defensively they have really slackened since the departure of head coach Johan Ackermann.

Betting: in the previous seasons the Lions left key players at home and consequently lost both fixtures in Argentina, but under new head coach Swys de Bruin they have named a stronger team in their touring squad this year. Apart from the first half against the Waratahs two weeks ago, the Jaguares have been poor at home this season, so if I were to bet on this fixture I would back the Lions in the head-to-head at 1.37 (Unibet).
Confidence: low


Best Bet of the Round

Back both the Hurricanes 1-12 at 3.25 (Ladbrokes) and the Highlanders 1-12 at 4.00 (Ladbrokes)


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