Super Rugby Round 11 – Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 11 of the 2018 Super Rugby season.

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Friday, 27 April


Hurricanes v Sunwolves

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

Prior to their bye last week the Hurricanes extended their winning streak to six games by seeing off the Chiefs – a team who were on a 5-game winning streak themselves – 25-13 in Wellington. Their star-studded backline proved to be too good with Ben Lam, Ngani Laumape and Beauden Barrett continuing to have strong seasons. Their quality attack gets the headlines, but while they are the 2nd highest scoring side in the competition, the Hurricanes actually boast the competition’s most stingy defence, which for me is the leading indicator of a title contender.

The Sunwolves fell 11-33 to the Crusaders last week in awful conditions that featured strong winds, heavy rain and hail. Once again they were relatively competitive in the first half, down 5-14 at the break, but fell out of the contest as fatigue set in during the second spell. The Japanese side is now 0-8 for the season so any early optimism regarding their overseas squad acquisitions has well and truly evaporated. They now face a team that beat them 83-17 in Tokyo last year.

Betting: if I were to bet on the halftime handicap I would take the Sunwolves +19.5 at 1.85 (bet365). They often start positively and it’s typically in the second spell that things get ugly. If I were to bet on the full-time handicap I would take the Hurricanes -27.5 at 1.30 (Sportsbet). The forecasted conditions are much better than what the Crusaders and Sunwolves played in a week ago so I can see the Hurricanes winning this by more than 4 converted tries.
Confidence: low


Stormers v Rebels

11:05 PM AEST, DHL Newlands, Cape Town
View a detailed form guide for Stormers v Rebels

The Stormers fell 17-24 to the Sharks in Durban last week to continue their lopsided statistic of going 3-0 at home and 0-6 on the road. They did well to stay in that match against the Sharks, but as is so often the case in Super Rugby, they paid the price for the Dewaldt Duvenage yellow card in the second half, with the Sharks scoring a crucial try in his absence. The good news is the Stormers only have two remaining away fixtures this season, and one is against the Sunwolves. The Stormers have only lost once at home over the last 12 months.

The Rebels’ two-game tour of South Africa started with a 10-28 defeat to the Bulls last week. Most of the damage was done in the fist half, with the Rebels trailing 3-21 at the break. They can take positives from their improved second half performance, but in the end they just couldn’t find a way through the Bulls’ defence. The loss extended the Rebels’ losing streak to 3 games and extended their losing streak in South Africa to 14 games. After starting the season 3-0 they have since gone 1-4, with the only solace being that most of the Australian conference is struggling.

Betting: given that the Stormers are 5-1 at home over the last 12 months and the Rebels are 1-6 away from home, I would back the Stormers in the head-to-head at 1.25 (Ladbrokes). At the time of writing no other bookmaker was offering more than 1.20 for this selection.
Confidence: medium

Saturday, 28 April


Reds v Lions

3:05 PM AEST, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
View a detailed form guide for Reds v Lions

The Reds limp into this tough fixture on the back of four consecutive defeats. They were carved up with ease by the Chiefs last week as they fell 12-36 at home. They turned the ball over too many times in the first half, and while the Reds were improved in the second spell – enjoying 65 percent possession after the break – they simply weren’t clinical enough in attack. The defeat was the Reds’ 9th in a row to Kiwi opposition.

Following their Round 9 bye the Lions delayed their trip to Australia by a week and it paid off as they shut out the Waratahs 29-0 at Allianz Stadium. They started slowly but found more rhythm in the second half, while comfortably handing the Waratahs’ usually potent attacking threat. After a poor four-week stretch between Rounds 4 and 7, the Lions have rediscovered much of the form that saw them make the previous two seasons’ Super Rugby finals. They’ve won 10 of their last 11 fixtures against Australian opponents including their last 7, so will back themselves again this weekend.

Betting: the Lions are playing much better rugby than the Reds at the moment. Even prior to their emergence as a Super Rugby title contender in 2016, the Lions won 2 of their previous 3 visits to Brisbane. I would back the Lions in the head-to-head at 1.22 (William Hill). Four of their previous six away wins were by 13+ points, so for those looking for more risk, I recommend the Lions 13+ (-12.5) at 1.93 (bet365).
Confidence: high


Blues v Jaguares

5:35 PM AEST, Eden Park, Auckland
View a detailed form guide for Blues v Jaguares

The Blues’ winless streak against domestic opponents extended to 15 games with a 16-34 home defeat to the Highlanders last week. They were missing an eye-watering 18 players for that clash so they did well to prevent a complete blowout. The Blues enjoyed the majority of possession but weren’t nearly as efficient with it as the ruthless Highlanders. They were too one-dimensional in trying to bust up the middle, which the Highlanders were comfortably able to handle. A similar approach won’t work against the Jaguares either. The Blues look at the most dangerous when they go for passing rugby with offloads in the tackles, as we saw glimpses of last week. In mixed injury news, TJ Faiane and Patrick Tuipulotu are the latest to be sidelined, while Gerard Cowley-Tuioti is set to return, along with possibly Augustine Pulu.

The Jaguares boast a perfect 4-0 record on Australian soil after they upset the Brumbies 20-25 last week. In doing so they became the first ever foreign Super Rugby team to beat the Brumbies in Canberra on their first attempt. It was a deserved win, with the Jaguares dominating possession even when they were down a player. They’re still well adrift of the Lions at the top of the South African conference, but are only 3 point behind the Bulls, who currently occupy the final playoff spot.

Betting: the Blues’ injury list is still enormous. They have a 1-5 line record at home over the last 12 months and have gone 0-4 at the line as the home favourite. They’ve only won once at home by 13+ points over the last 12 months so I would back the Jaguares +13.5 at 1.53 (Sportsbet).
Confidence: medium


Brumbies v Crusaders

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

The Brumbies slumped to 3-5 for the season with a poor showing last week in their 20-25 defeat to the Jaguares in Canberra. They hardly touched the ball in the first half and when they did they either kicked it away or conceded a penalty. Another low point was their inability to take advantage of the Jaguares going down a player in the second half, with the visitors dominating possession regardless. Henry Speight’s defensive mistakes also proved costly in the build up to two Jaguares’ tries. A similar performance against the Crusaders will only result in one outcome.

The Crusaders remain at the top of the New Zealand conference with a 6-2 record after they saw off the Sunwolves 33-11 in bad conditions last week in Christchurch. They are now on a 15-game winning streak against foreign opponents, with an 8-game winning streak on overseas soil.

Betting: the Crusaders are on a 7-game winning streak against the Brumbies and have both won and covered the line in each of their last 3 visits to Canberra. I would back the Crusaders -8.5 at 1.40 (William Hill).
Confidence: medium

Sunday, 29 April


Bulls v Highlanders

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

The Bulls extended their winning streak to three games with a 28-10 win over the Rebels at home last week. The game was won in the first half, with the home side rushing out to a 21-3 lead. The only concern is the Rebels had the better of the second half. The Bulls will need to put in an 80-minute performance this week if they are to see off the dangerous Highlanders, who have won 2 of their previous 3 visits to Pretoria.

The Highlanders picked up their first away win of the season last week by defeating the severely depleted Blues 34-16 at Eden Park. The Blues enjoyed the large majority of possession, with the Highlanders making about three times as many tackles at one stage of the game, but the Highlanders were far more efficient with the possession they had. The performances of Rob Thompson, Lima Sopoaga and Shannon Frizell remind you of just how much quality they have within the squad. The Highlanders now take on the first of five consecutive overseas opponents. The last time they lost to a foreign team was back in 2016. Their last 7 defeats were all against Kiwi opponents.

Betting: over the last 12 months the Highlanders have gone 4-0 as the away favourite (and 0-4 as the away underdog), while the Bulls have gone 2-5 as the home underdog. The Highlanders’ last 2 wins in Pretoria were by 7 points, so I would be inclined to take both the Highlanders in the head-to-head at 1.52 (bet365) and the Bulls +12.5 at 1.40 (Sportsbet). Those looking for more risk could opt for the Highlanders 1-12 at 2.70 (William Hill).
Confidence: medium


Best Bet of the Round

Back the Lions in the head-to-head at 1.22 (William Hill)


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