The following are previews with betting tips for Round 3 of the 2019 Super Rugby season.
Friday, 1 March
Hurricanes vs Brumbies
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The Hurricanes won the second half 22-7 against the Crusaders to deny their opponents a bonus point last week, but the game had already been lost after the Crusaders’ backs cut them to pieces 31-0 in the first half. The result leaves them with a 1-1 record for the season. The Hurricanes will likely introduce Beauden Barrett for the first time this after he was rested in Weeks 1 and 2. They have sorely missed his creativity this season.
After losing to the Rebels in Round 1, the Brumbies thrashed the Chiefs 54-17 last week to move to 1-1 for the season. They dominated the visitors in the forward exchanges and put on an attacking clinic to rout the Chiefs by 8 tries to 2. The Brumbies are expected to welcome back David Pocock from a concussion this week. Winger Henry Speight might also return. They will be looking for their first win on New Zealand soil since 2014.
Betting: the Hurricanes have gone 9-0 at home over the last 12 months but they haven’t been in good form of late. Beauden Barrett should give them a lift, however. The Brumbies were fantastic last week but they’ve gone 2-5 away from home over the last 12 months and have a poor record in New Zealand. If I were to bet on this fixture I would back the Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.24 (bet365).
Rebels vs Highlanders
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Prior to their bye last week Quade Cooper linked up well with old teammate Will Genia as the Rebels defeated the Brumbies 34-27 in Canberra. The scoreline could have been greater if the Rebels hadn’t butchered some opportunities, but nevertheless they will be pleased by the strong result and particularly dominant second half. The forwards’ performance wasn’t as strong as the backs, however, with two of the Brumbies’ tries coming from driving mauls and their other two also scored by forwards. In team news, the Rebels welcome back Adam Coleman and Reece Hodge via the bench for this clash.
The Highlanders showed their qualities to see off a spirited Reds side 36-31 last week to move for 2-0 for the season. The win extended their home winning streak to 13 games. For the second week running the Highlanders showed good character to come from behind in the final quarter to win, but it wasn’t a great performance by their high standards, with too many errors committed. Their away record last season was poor and they’re taking on a team that is fresh from a bye so the Highlanders will have their work cut out for them this week. They have opted to rotate the squad for this clash, with Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Luke Whitelock all rested. Bryn Gatland will start at fly-half with Josh Ioane shifting to fullback.
Betting: the Highlanders have a 6-1 record against the Rebels but this is their first trip to Melbourne since the Rebels were augmented with Western Force players. The Highlanders won this fixture by six points in Dunedin last season, but with this fixture being played in Melbourne and the Highlanders resting their All Blacks, I will back the Rebels in the head-to-head at 2.07 (Sportsbet).
Saturday, 2 March
Chiefs vs Sunwolves
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The Chiefs will be looking to bounce back from a humiliating 17-54 defeat in Canberra last week. Their forwards were completely dominated and they had no answers defensively to the Brumbies’ onslaught. The result leaves them at the foot of the competition standings with a 0-2 record.
The Sunwolves started as heavy underdogs put pushed the Waratahs all the way last week before falling just short, 30-31. They were outscored by 5 tries to 3 but were kept in the contest by the accurate boot of Hayden Parker. Their competitive showing was a welcome sight but the Sunwolves have a notoriously bad record away from home. Their record in Rounds 1 to 6 is 0-17.
Betting: I expect the Chiefs to bounce back with a win but there’s no value in the 1.04 head-to-head odds. It’s hard to pick at the 25.5 line so I will sit this one out.
Reds vs Crusaders
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In a performance that bodes well for the rest of the season, the Reds fell just short in Dunedin, losing 31-36 to the Highlanders last week. They were 20.5 underdogs before that match. Their kicking in the first half was poor and a few lineout mistakes proved costly, but it was a gallant effort from a Reds squad that clearly backed themselves against a quality side. They brought in three high quality assistant coaches during the off-season and it already appears to be paying dividends. The defeat extended the Reds’ losing streak in New Zealand to 11 games, but that encouraging performance gives Reds fans plenty of hope for the rest of the season. They certainly don’t lack in effort or desire.
The Crusaders extended their winning streak to 17 games with a 38-22 crushing win over the Hurricanes last week. They were missing key forwards but their backs dominated their Hurricanes counterparts. The only disappointing aspect of the performance was they lost the second half 22-7 after leading 31-0 at the break.
Betting: the Crusaders have a 7-game winning streak against the Reds but they are missing key All Blacks in the forwards and may elect to rest other players for this clash as well. The last time the two sides met was in 2017, which the Crusaders won by 2 points in Brisbane. Given the Reds have gone 5-2 at the line in home games over the last 12 months while the Crusaders have gone 3-6 at the line away from home, if I were to bet on this fixture I would take the Reds +20.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.50 (Sportsbet).
Sunday, 3 March
Lions vs Bulls
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The Lions somehow found a way to lose 17-19 to the Stormers last week. They were up by 8 at the break and looked in control, but succumbed to a converted try five minutes into stoppage time. The Lions switched off mentally and were undone by ill-discipline and the Stormers’ accumulation of points through the boot of SP Marais. It was only their 2nd defeat to a South African team in 24 games. The loss was costly on a player front, with captain Warren Whiteley ruled out for 6-8 weeks with a pec injury.
The Bulls led 12-10 with 20 minutes to go but faded badly in the final quarter to lose 10-27 to the Jaguares in wet conditions in Argentina last week. They didn’t play to the conditions, which made them look a far cry from the side that trounced the Stormers 40-3 a week before. The defeat continues the Bulls poor away form, with the side going 1-8 in their last nine away fixtures.
Betting: the Lions have gone 6-1 as the home favourite over the last 12 months while the Bulls have gone 1-8 away from home. I would back the Lions in the head-to-head at 1.42 (Lions).
Sharks vs Stormers
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The Sharks enjoy a 2-point lead at the top of the overall standings after they suffocated the Blues 26-7 last week. They led 19-0 at the break but put in a poor offensive performance in the second spell in hot and trying conditions, with too many opportunities squandered. Their only second half points came from an 80-metre interception in the dying seconds. Nevertheless the Sharks will be pleased by their defensive work in keeping a dangerous Blues outfit scoreless until the 62nd minute.
The Stormers bounced back from a 3-40 mauling at the hands of the Bulls to shock the Lions 19-17 in Cape Town last week. They continue to be a Jekyll and Hyde team based on whether they’re at home or away. The Stormers have gone 6-2 at home over the last 12 months but 0-7 away from home. It wasn’t a great quality game against the Lions, so I’m not convinced the Stormers’ woes are over yet.
Betting: the Sharks have a 7-1-1 home record over the last 12 months while the Stormers have been winless on the road. I would back the Sharks in the head-to-head at 1.45 (Sportsbet).
Jaguares vs Blues
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The Jaguares bounced back from their defeat to the Lions by beating the Bulls 27-12. In wet conditions they were down 10-12 with 20 minutes to play but scored 17 unanswered points to secure the win. Ill-discipline continues to be an issue for the Jaguares, but they can take positives from the fact that they kept the visitors tryless.
The Blues put in a flat performance and lost 7-26 in hot conditions away against the Sharks last week. They were particularly poor in the first half and didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 62nd minute. It was a disappointing result given how they arguably should have beaten the Crusaders in their 22-24 defeat the week before. The Blues have now lost 7 of their last 8 fixtures.
Betting: the Jaguares defeated the Bulls in Auckland last week and I fancy the visitors will struggle in their first ever visit to Argentina. I would back the Jaguares in the head-to-head at 1.80 (Sportsbet).
Best Bets of the Round
Back the Rebels in the head-to-head at 2.07 (Sportsbet)
Back the Jaguares in the head-to-head at 1.80 (Sportsbet)