Super Rugby Semi-finals – Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for semi-finals of the 2018 Super Rugby season. The 1st seeded Crusaders host the 4th seeded Hurricanes in the first semi-final and the 2nd seed Lions host the 3rd seeded Waratahs in the second semi.

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Saturday, 28 July


Crusaders v Hurricanes

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

The Crusaders stormed to 40-10 win over the Sharks last week to maintain their 100% home record in home playoff fixtures. It was also their 19th consecutive victory against foreign opposition. The win extended New Zealand’s perfect 14-0 home record against South Africa in playoff fixtures. The Sharks actually had the better of territory and possession but the made too many mistakes, while the Crusaders were happy to hit on the counter-attack. Hurricanes fans won’t need reminding that the Crusaders are on an 18-game winning streak at home. In mixed injury news, prop Joe Moody is expected to return from a knee injury, while winger Seta Tamanivalu is in doubt after he picked up a head knock last week.

The Hurricanes saw off the Chiefs 32-31 in their quarter-final, with late tries to the Chiefs making the game look closer than it was. The Hurricanes were starved of possession and territory for most of the game, but were more productive with the ball they had. The Hurricanes benefited from the wastefulness of the Chiefs when in good scoring opportunities, but they can’t afford to give the Crusaders that much ball. In team news, flanker Ardie Savea is recovering ahead of schedule from his ankle sprain and is an outside chance of returning for this clash.

Betting: the Hurricanes have lost their last 4 away fixtures while the Crusaders have won their last 18 straight at home. Seven of the last 8 meetings between the two were won by the home team. I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.40 (William Hill). Four of the Crusaders’ last five home wins over the Hurricanes were by 1-12 points, so those looking for more risk might prefer the Crusaders 1-12 at 2.88 (Ladbrokes).
Confidence: medium


Lions v Waratahs

11:05 PM AEST, Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
View a detailed form guide for Lions v Waratahs

The Lions held off a spirited comeback from the Jaguares to win 40-23 in Johannesburg last week. They led 24-6 late in the first half before the Jaguares fought back to make the scores 27-23. The Lions then suffocated the visitors out of the game, aided by previous finals experience and possibly the high altitude. One of the key contributors was hooker Malcolm Marx, who has been immense this season.

The Waratahs overturned a 17-point halftime deficit to defeat the Highlanders 30-23 in Sydney in their quarter-final. The Highlanders were in cruise control, up 23-6 in the 52nd minute when the game was turned on its head with a yellow card to Waisake Naholo. The Waratahs scored three tries in his absence and were able to shut the Highlanders out despite being a player down from the 74th minute onward. What will please Waratahs fans is the fact that the key backs (Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale & Bernard Foley) all had strong performances, however critics will point out that apart from the seven-minute burst in which they scored three tries, the Waratahs were pretty average. This fixture gives the Waratahs the opportunity to avenge their 0-29 home defeat to the Lions in Round 10. History is against them, however. The Waratahs have never won a playoff game in South Africa.

Betting: the form guides are fairly similar. Both sides have won 4 of their last 5 and both have gone 5-4 in their last 9 games. The Lions went 2-1 against Australian teams during the regular season while the Waratahs went 1-1-1 against South African opponents. What gives the Lions the advantage, however, is the venue. Five of the last six meetings between the two were won by the home team and the Lions haven’t lost a home game against an Australian opponent since 2015. It’s worth keeping in mind that Johannesburg is at an altitude of 1,753 metres, which takes its toll on visiting teams, particularly in the second half. I would back the Lions in the head-to-head at 1.30 (William Hill). I’m staying clear of the winning margin market because the stats are conflicting: 6 of the Lions’ 8 home wins over the last 12 months have been by 13+ points, however only 1 of the Waratahs’ 4 away defeats were by this margin.
Confidence: medium


Best Bets of the Round

Back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.40 (William Hill)


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