Super Rugby Round 2 Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 2 of the 2020 Super Rugby season.

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Please note that to take advantage of odds before they possibly shorten, these previews are published before the team sheets are announced. Those who are more risk averse may prefer to wait for the squad lists before wagering.

Friday, 7 February


Highlanders vs. Sharks

5:05 PM AEDT, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
View a detailed form guide for Highlanders vs. Sharks

The Highlanders get their campaign started this week after an unfortunately timed bye in Round 1. I’m pessimistic about their chances this year given the exodus of 15 players during the off-season, including All Blacks Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Luke Whitelock and Liam Squire. The Highlanders were thrashed by both the Waratahs and Crusaders in pre-season, so this will likely be a period of rebuilding for the franchise.

The Sharks are the first South African team to commence their tour of Australia and New Zealand. They started their season with a hard-fought 23-15 win over the Bulls – their first win in ten matches over the Pretoria side. It wasn’t a high quality match with both sides squandering opportunities so it will take more time to assess the Sharks’ season prospects.

Betting: the Highlanders have an unbeaten 4-2-0 record as the home favourite over the last 12 months but this squad is unrecognisable compared to last season’s. The only big-name player left is Aaron Smith. While they have been good in the head-to-head, the Highlanders have gone 2-5 at the line at home over the last twelve months and they lost the last time they hosted the Sharks. My fear with the Sharks, however, is they have also lost a lot of experience, which muddies the waters. I will sit on the sideline but if I had to bet on this game I would back the Sharks +6.5 at 1.90 (Sportsbet, Unibet).
Confidence/value: low


Brumbies vs. Rebels

7:15 PM AEDT, GIO Stadium, Canberra
View a detailed form guide for Brumbies vs. Rebels

The Brumbies came back from 7-17 down at halftime to beat the Reds 27-24 in 39-degree heat in Canberra last week. The win continues their impressive home record. The last time the Brumbies lost in Canberra was in Round 1 of last season, to the Rebels incidentally. They will be grateful to know that the forecast is more a much more comfortable high of 22 on Friday.

The Rebels were stunned 27-36 by the Sunwolves in Fukuoka last week. Prior to that the Melburnians had never won by fewer than 20 points over the Japanese side. The Rebels were wasteful when in good positions and their defence was poor as the Sunwolves ran out deserved winners. This start is made worse by the fact that the Rebels were atrocious at the end of last season. They finished that campaign with a 0-66 defeat to the Crusaders and a 8-59 home defeat to the Chiefs.

Betting: the Brumbies have won their last nine straight home games while the Rebels have won just two of their last ten games spanning this season and the last. The visitors have gone 1-5 as the away underdog over the last 12 months. On the back of the Rebels’ poor showing against the Sunwolves, I expect the Brumbies will break their four-game losing streak to the Melbourne side. I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.44 (BetEasy).
Confidence/value: high

Saturday, 8 February


Chiefs vs. Crusaders

5:05 PM AEDT, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
View a detailed form guide for Chiefs vs. Crusaders

The Chiefs came back from 14 points down at halftime to defeat the Blues 37-29 in Auckland last week. They will be pleased with the performance of ex-All Black Aaron Cruden who looked sharp on his return from France. The game changed when he came on to replace Kaleb Trask and Cruden’s drop kick late in the game was crucial. His long-range penalty at the death to deny the Blues a bonus point showed he still has his kicking accuracy.

The Crusaders got their title defence off to a solid start by defeating the Waratahs 43-25 last week. The Crusaders led 24-6 at half time but two quick Waratahs tries in the third quarter brought the visitors to within six points before the Crusaders pulled away for the bonus point win. The scary thing is they only fielded three of their 2019 World Cup All Blacks in the starting XV.

Betting: this is the game of the around as it (hopefully) pits Richie Mo’unga against Aaron Cruden. Unfortunately it looks like it will be played in wet weather. The Chiefs won this fixture 40-27 last season but it was played in hot, humid conditions in Fiji as the Crusaders fatigued and blew a 20-point lead. The Cantabrians had won the previous five meetings. I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.61 (Sportsbet). Those who are more risk averse may want to see whether Richie Mo’unga starts for the Crusaders. There’s a chance he won’t given the All Blacks’ limited playing time restrictions for the first three rounds.
Confidence/value: low


Waratahs vs. Blues

7:15 PM AEDT, McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
View a detailed form guide for Waratahs vs. Blues

The Waratahs fell 25-43 to the Crusaders in Nelson last week. They found themselves down 24-6 at halftime before 19-year-old winger Mark Nawaqanitawase scored twice from limited chances in the second spell. This reduced the deficit to 6 before the Crusaders showed their superior class to pull away. The Waratahs’ biggest issues to work on after that match are tackling (they missed 33 tackles) and avoiding turnovers.

The Blues fell to the Chiefs in a game of two halves in Auckland last week. They led 17-7 at the break but lost 29-37 as Aaron Cruden changed the game when he was introduced. In a major injury blow, winger Rieko Ioane has been ruled out for several weeks with a fractured hand. Ioane scored two tries last week. This is in addition to hooker Ray Niuia, was ruled out for the season and prop Alex Hodgman, who is out for several weeks with a calf tear. In better news, hooker James Parsons and fly-half Otere Black are expected to return from injury as early as this week.

Betting: the Blues have won four straight against the Waratahs but all four wins were by 7 points or less. Prior to that the Waratahs’ last four wins over the Blues were all by 1-7 points. I would back both the Waratahs 1-12 at 3.50 (bet365) and the Blues 1-12 at 2.90 (bet365).
Confidence/value: medium

Sunday, 9 February


Lions vs. Reds

12:05 AM AEDT, Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
View a detailed form guide for Lions vs. Reds

The Lions were thrashed 38-8 in Argentina by the Jaguares last week. They trailed by only two points at the break but ran out of steam and weren’t able to match the quality of the hosts. The Jaguares are one of the toughest sides in the competition so we will learn more about the Lions’ season prospects this week.

The Reds blew a 17-7 halftime lead to fall 24-27 to the Brumbies in stifling conditions in Canberra last week. The 39-degree conditions played heavily on the game, so like the Lions, there is still a lot to learn about the Reds’ season prospects.

Betting: the Reds have gone 2-7 away from home over the last 12 months and they have lost their last four straight away from Brisbane. They were mauled 44-14 by the Lions the last time they visited Johannesburg but this Lions squad is much weaker on paper than the 2017 edition, so I expect this will be much closer. Nevertheless, if I were to bet on this game I would back the Lions in the head-to-head at 1.47 (Sportsbet).
Confidence/value: low


Stormers vs. Bulls

2:15 AM AEDT, DHL Newlands, Cape Town
View a detailed form guide for Stormers vs. Bulls

The Stormers got their campaign off to a perfect start by thrashing the Hurricanes 27-0 last week. Herschel Jantjies and Damian Willemse starred as the Hurricanes had no answer to the Stormers’ 9/10 pairing. The Stormers also defended well as a unit. The side fielded seven members of the Springboks’ World Cup winning squad and they have vowed to make amends for last year’s disastrous season in which they missed out on the playoffs. In one piece of bad news, captain Siya Kolisi picked up a knee injury which will sideline him for six weeks.

The Bulls fell 15-23 to the Sharks in Durban last week. In a kick-dominated contest all of their points came from the boot of Morne Steyn as their blunt attack and poor finishing left them tryless. The good news is the veteran Steyn controlled the game well on his return to Super Rugby.

Betting: the Stormers have won their last eight straight at home against the Bulls. I would back the Stormers in the head-to-head at 1.29 (Sportsbet).
Confidence/value: medium


Jaguares vs. Hurricanes

8:40 AM AEDT, José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires
View a detailed form guide for Jaguares vs. Hurricanes

The Jaguares are on a 10-1 regular season run spanning this season and the last after they thrashed the Lions 38-8 last week. They led by just two points at the break but pulled away in the second half as the Lions ran out of steam.

The Hurricanes were thrashed 27-0 by the Stormers in Cape Town last week, which is an inauspicious start for coach new Jason Holland. Their handling was terrible at times, their discipline was poor and the absence of Beauden Barrett showed as they were dominated by the 9/10 pairing of the Stormers. The injury absence of Ardie Savea also didn’t help. The Hurricanes were dominated at the set-piece as pretty much nothing went right for them.

Betting: the Jaguares have gone 8-0 as the home favourite over the last 12 months while the Hurricanes have gone 0-3 as the away underdog. I would back the Jaguares in the head-to-head at 1.52 (Sportsbet).
Confidence/value: high


Best Bets of the Round

Back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.44 (BetEasy).
Back the Jaguares in the head-to-head at 1.52 (Sportsbet)


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