Super Rugby Round 17 – Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 17 of the 2018 Super Rugby season.

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Friday, 29 June


Blues v Reds

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

Prior to the break the Blues put in a poor performance in their 10-20 defeat the Rebels at home. Despite being the home side they only enjoyed 30% of territory and possession and had to make twice as many tackles as the visitors. The single try came from a bit of good fortune so there was little for the local fans to cheer about. The Blues have only won 1 of their last 6 games and with only 3 wins for the season with three games to go, they are guaranteed to finish worse than their 7-1-7 campaign in 2017. Much of this is due to their injury woes, with seven players picking up season-ending injuries. The Blue will have extra motivation for this clash, with this being Jerome Kaino’s final home game for the club. They will field a stronger team than they did against the Rebels, with All Blacks Rieko Ioane and Ofa Tuungafasi returning to the side, along with Blake Gibson. Sonny Bill Williams is out with a shoulder injury while halfback Augustine Pulu will undergo a late fitness test and is bracketed with Sam Nock.

Prior to the break the Reds lost 41-52 at home to the Waratahs to slump to 4-9 for the season. They can take positives from their attacking game and resilience when down 19-40, but their defence and kicking game left much to be desired. After starting the season 3-1 the Reds have since gone 1-8 and are on a four-game losing streak.

Betting: the Blues haven’t won a home game over the last 12 months, but the Reds have a miserable 1-7 record away from Brisbane. Apart from being hammered by 24 points by the Chiefs, the Reds have been respectable against Kiwi sides this season, losing by 4 points to the Hurricanes and by 3 points to the Highlanders. The last two fixtures between the Reds and Blues were settled by 5 points or less, so I will back the Reds +11.5 at the line at 1.91 (Palmerbet). The Blues have yet to cover the line as the home favourite this season.
Confidence: low


Rebels v Waratahs

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

The Rebels received a number of players back from injury two weeks out from the international break and it seemed to give them a shot in the arm as they surged past the albeit depleted Sunwolves before upsetting the Blues 20-10 in Auckland. After starting the season 4-1 the Rebels went on to lose 5 straight games but have righted the ship by winning their last 3. They will have to hope the international break hasn’t arrested their momentum. In two changes to the starting XV that beat the Blues, Ben Daley makes his first start for the season in the front row, while Geoff Parling will start in the second row in place of captain Adam Coleman, who is out this week with injury. In a major blow, halfback Will Genia has been ruled out for the rest of the season after breaking his arm against Ireland. On the bench, hooker Nathan Charles returns to the 23-man squad following Jordan Uelese’s season-ending knee injury.

The Waratahs saw off the Reds 52-41 in Brisbane prior to the break to move to 7-1-5 for the season. Given they put up a record 52 points against a domestic opponent the Waratahs will be disappointed to have not scored a bonus point, but the Reds fought back well to avoid a potential blowout in the second half. The Waratahs have a slender 1 point lead over the Rebels at the top of the Australian conference, so this fixture is crucial. As things stand the winner of the conference will be given the 3rd seed and a home quarter-final in the playoffs, while the 2nd best Australian team will be given the 8th seed and a likely trip to Christchurch. In team news, flanker Michael Hooper is out for at least four weeks with a hamstring injury. Fullback Israel Folau has received a one-match ban for a mid-air collision against Ireland, but Rugby Australia and Folau have indicated they will appeal the ban.

Betting: the international break and injuries to both sides muddies the waters, but the Waratahs have won 7 of their last 8 against the Rebels, as well as 5 of their last 6 in Melbourne. It was the Waratahs who snapped the Rebels’ three-game winning streak early in the season by beating them 51-27. I were to bet on this fixture I would back the Waratahs in the head-to-head at 1.70 (CrownBet). The Waratahs are unbeaten against Australian opposition this season. Given the Waratahs’ last two wins in Melbourne were by 1-12 points, those looking for more risk should consider the Waratahs 1-12 at 3.00 (Ladbrokes).
Confidence: low

Saturday, 30 June


Highlanders v Chiefs

5:35 PM AEST, ANZ National Stadium, Suva, Fiji
View a detailed form guide for Highlanders v Chiefs

The Highlanders are within striking distance of the 4th ranked Hurricanes after they saw off the Reds and Hurricanes prior to the international break. They continue to be immense at home, as highlighted by the 30-14 win over the Hurricanes, but in contrast to their 12-game winning streak in Dunedin that dates back to last year, the Highlanders’ Achilles heel has been their away form, where they have gone 3-4 this season. Playoffs rugby is all but guaranteed, but they will want to finish strongly to clinch the 4th seed and a home quarter-final. In team news, Liam Squire is out with a shoulder injury this week.

Prior to the international break the Chiefs continued their streak of following wins by defeats and vice versa by losing to the Crusaders 20-34. They weren’t as clinical as the Crusaders when it mattered and will be crestfallen to have lost out on the bonus point late in the game. The Chiefs’ last eight results have gone W-L-W-L-W-L-W-L. They currently sit in the 6th seed position but they could slip to as low as 8th with the resurgent Jaguares and Rebels breathing down their necks. The injury news for the Chiefs is mixed. The good news is that lock Brodie Retallick could return as early as next week, while Tyler Ardron and Lachlan Boshier are available after missing recent rounds with a concussion and illness, respectively. The bad news is that Nepo Laulala’s recovery from a broken harm has had a setback, while fellow props Kane Hames and Mitchell Graham are possibly out for the season. Hooker Nathan Harris is away this week for family reasons.

Betting: the Highlanders have won 6 of their last 8 against the Chiefs, but they have lost the last 2. Historically, home advantage has mattered little between the two sides, so it isn’t a huge deal that this fixture is being played in Fiji. Given 7 of the last 9 clashes between the two outside of Hamilton were settled by 12 points or less, I would back both the Highlanders 1-12 at 3.10 (Ladbrokes, Betstar) and the Chiefs 1-12 at 3.75 (bet365).
Confidence: medium


Brumbies v Hurricanes

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

Prior to the international break the Brumbies ignored Wallabies coach Michael Cheika’s request to rest David Pocock, Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa, and it was probably best that they did, because even with their star players they put on an unconvincing performance to see off the under-strength Sunwolves 41-31 in Canberra. They had almost 75% of possession in the first half but only led 19-10 before edging the second half 12-11. Despite the unconvincing nature of the win the Brumbies will be pleased to have picked up back to back wins for the first time this year. They are now 5-8 for the season and sit 3rd in the Australian conference. In team news, Chance Peni has been ruled out for the season after picking up a lengthy suspension during a club rugby game.

Prior to the break the Hurricanes’ 10-game winning streak came to a crashing halt with back to back defeats to the Crusaders and Highlanders. Both defeats were disappointing given the Crusaders were missing key personnel and the Highlanders blew them away in the final quarter to win by 16 points, which is a huge margin by domestic standards. The Hurricanes will hope that the international break has served as a circuit breaker given they were losing so much momentum prior to June. With the Crusaders sitting this week out, the Hurricanes must return to winning ways if they are to have any chance of winning the New Zealand conference. Unfortunately, they will be without a number of players for this clash. Ardie Savea and Matt Proctor have been ruled out, while Beauden Barrett, Brad Shields and Vaea Fifita are unlikely to feature.

Betting: the Hurricanes won this clash by 19 points last season, but with the side missing possibly five big names, I will back the Brumbies to do better this time round. I would back the Brumbies +18.5 at 1.42 (bet365).
Confidence: low


Sunwolves v Bulls

9:55 PM AEST, Singapore National Stadium, Singapore
View a detailed form guide for Sunwolves v Bulls

The Sunwolves took a depleted side on a two-week tour of Australia prior to the international break. Missing their international players and coach Jamie Joseph, they lost 13-40 to the Rebels and 31-41 to the Brumbies. Prior to that, when they were at full strength, the Sunwolves won back to back fixtures for the first time, seeing off the Reds in Tokyo and the Stormers in Hong Kong. It will be interesting to see whether they can return to winning ways now they’re back to full strength. Head coach Jamie Joseph has returned to New Zealand to undergo back surgery, so Tony Brown will manage the side for the rest of the season.

Prior to the international break the Bulls fell 28-38 to the Brumbies at home to strike a further blow to their playoff aspirations. It was a poor result given the Brumbies went down to 14 men for a red card infringement in the 62nd minute, yet built on their lead in the final 18 minutes. That defeat was on the back of a 30-point loss to the Jaguares. The Bulls now sit at the foot of the South African conference and have only won 1 of their last 5 games, so from a strong position earlier in the season they look on track to miss out on the playoffs for the 5th consecutive season. In team news, Burger Odendaal is out with injury, so Handre Pollard will captain the side. In better news, the Bulls welcome back Jamba Ulengo, Hanro Liebenberg and Jannes Kirsten from injury.

Betting: with the Sunwolves showing more promising form prior to sending a depleted side on tour, I will side with the home team at the line. The Bulls have only won 1 fixture away from home over the last 12 months and both previous fixtures between the two when played in Asia were settled by 3 points or less. While this fixture isn’t being played in front of a fervent Tokyo crowd, the Sunwolves have already shown they can be formidable at other “home” venues, having beaten the Stormers in Hong Kong in Round 14. I would back the Sunwolves +8.5 at 1.90 (Sportsbet).
Confidence: low

Sunday, 1 July


Sharks v Lions

1:15 AM AEST, Growthport Kings Park, Durban
View a detailed form guide for Sharks v Lions

Prior to the intentional break the Sharks were clearly second best as they fell 13-29 to the Jaguares in Argentina. Ruan Botha’s red card late in the game proved costly as the Sharks conceded late tries to both deny them a bonus point and gift the Jaguares a bonus point. The result was a hammer blow to their South African conference title aspirations, but they are still a small chance of making the playoffs, with six points separating them from the 8th place Rebels.

Prior to the international break the Lions scored a late try to see off the 14-man Stormers 26-23 in Cape Town. The win was crucial as it keeps the in-form Jaguares, who have a game in hand, 6 points back with three rounds to play. You have to go back to 2015 for the last time the Lions lost to a South African team, so they will back themselves to win their remaining fixtures.

Betting: the Lions have won their last seven against the Sharks, but I am wary of the Sharks’ 3-game winning streak at home. They are a mercurial side and can beat anyone on their day. Nevertheless, given the Lions’ strong form against domestic opponents I will side with them in the head-to-head at 1.57 (Ladbrokes, William Hill).
Confidence: low


Jaguares v Stormers

5:40 AM AEST, Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires
View a detailed form guide for Jaguares v Stormers

Prior to the international break the Jaguares extended their winning streak to six games with a 29-13 home win over the Sharks. They now sit clear 2nd in the South African conference and are well placed to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Under new coach Mario Ledesma the Jaguares finally appear to be playing to the high potential that everyone had expected of them. They will have to hope that the June break hasn’t disrupted their form, with the Argentinian national team losing twice to Wales and once to Scotland.

Prior to the international break the Stormers paid a heavy price for poor discipline as they lost 23-26 to the Lions. During the match they received two yellow cards and a red card, which always makes winning difficult. It was the first time since 2011 that the Stormers had lost consecutive home games and with a 5-9 record, they are on track to miss out on the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Stormers have had their fair share of injuries this campaign. Left out of the touring side due to injury are Juarno Augustus, Jaco Coetzee, Dan du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, SP Marais, Scarra Ntubeni, Sergeal Petersen, JD Schickerling, Seabelo Senatla, Chris van Zyl, Jano Vermaak and Damian Willemse.

Betting: the only previous meeting between the two in Argentina was won by the Stormers by 4 points in 2016 – a season in which the Stormers went 10-1-4 and the Jaguares went 4-11. With the Jaguares surging prior to the break while the injury-hit Stormers have suffered three consecutive defeats, I will back the Jaguares to get the win at 1.40 (Ladbrokes). They just have to shut out all memories of Argentina’s horror results in June.
Confidence: medium


Best Bet of the Round

Back both the Highlanders 1-12 at 3.10 (Ladbrokes, Bookmaker, Betstar) and the Chiefs 1-12 at 3.75 (bet365)


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