Super Rugby Round 3 Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 3 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, 14 February


Blues vs. Crusaders

5:05 PM AEDT, Eden Park, Auckland
View a detailed form guide for Blues vs. Crusaders

The Blues thrashed the Waratahs 32-12 in Newcastle last week to extend their winning streak over the NSW franchise to five games. It was the Blues’ first away win in ten games, with their previous away win before that also coming over Waratahs. In team news, Rieko Ioane is expected to remain sidelined with a hand injury.

The Crusaders fielded a strong side but fell short against the Chiefs last week, losing 15-25 after leading 12-8 at halftime. This takes them to 1-1 for the season after their Round 1 win over the Waratahs. Both of their most recent defeats have now been to the Hamilton side. The Crusaders will hope to get All Blacks fly-half Richie Mo’unga back as soon as possible after he missed the Chiefs clash with a minor injury.

Betting: I’m expecting Mo’unga to be back for this game, which will lift the Crusaders. They have won their last ten straight against the Blues but given they both beat the Waratahs by similar margins I expect the home side will be competitive. The Crusaders’ last three wins at Eden Park have been by 5, 8 and 2 points, so I would back the Blues +13.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.50 (Sportsbet).
Confidence/value: low


Rebels vs. Waratahs

7:15 PM AEDT, AAMI Park, Melbourne
View a detailed form guide for Rebels vs. Waratahs

The Rebels fought hard but didn’t have the quality to match the Brumbies last week. They lost 26-39 in Canberra after losing 27-36 to the Sunwolves in Japan. The scoreline against the Brumbies actually flattered the Melbourne side after they scored a late try when the contest was already lost. The Rebels’ set-piece came off second best and they were guilty of poor discipline. The goods news is they now play three softer fixtures against the Waratahs, Sharks and Highlanders. If the Rebels fail to win any of those fixtures, however, then their season prospects will be dire.

The Waratahs were outscored by five tries to two in their 12-32 defeat to the Blues in wet conditions in Newcastle last week. All of the damage was done in the second spell after the Waratahs trailed by just one point at halftime. This leaves the NSW side winless for the season after their Round 1 loss to the Crusaders. It is the first time in franchise history that they have started 0-2 and the attendance last week was a record low, so the team will be desperate for a good result. The Waratahs look short of creativity at the moment and they need to pick up their work rate when not in possession.

Betting: with the Brumbies 2-0 this is already an critical game for both sides. The Waratahs have won their last six against the Rebels and they have won their last five games in Melbourne. While both sides have had rough starts, the Waratahs have played tougher opponents. I will take the value and back the Waratahs in the head-to-head at 2.21 (Sportsbet).
Confidence/value: medium

Saturday, 15 February


Sunwolves vs. Chiefs

2:45 PM AEDT, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
View a detailed form guide for Sunwolves vs. Chiefs

Some pundits had predicted the Sunwolves wouldn’t win a game this year but they apparently didn’t get the memo as they upset the Rebels 37-26 to record their first home win since 2018. New fly-half signing Garth April controlled the game well as the Sunwolves capitalised on poor Rebels defending. The Sunwolves’ own defence left plenty of room for improvement but the Rebels paid the price for profligacy.

The Chiefs came from behind to defeat the Crusaders 25-15 in Hamilton last week. This was on the back of their away win over the Blues in Round 1 so the Chief remain the only undefeated side in New Zealand. The icing on the cake was they denied the Crusaders a losing bonus point. The win was made all the more impressive by the fact that the Chiefs were without All Blacks Angus Ta’avao, Luke Jacobson, Nathan Harris and Nepo Laulala due to injury. Having Aaron Cruden and Damian McKenzie in the backline is working well and the side’s defence is excellent, as highlighted by the fact that they restricted the Crusaders to 3 points in the second half.

Betting: the last time the Chiefs visited the Sunwolves they won by 51 points. Incredibly the Sunwolves defeated the Chiefs in Hamilton last year, so the Chiefs will be looking to make amends for that. I would back the Chiefs in the head-to-head at 1.08 (Unibet). For those looking for a small high odds wager, you might want to consider the Sunwolves/Chiefs HT/FT selection at 7.00 (Unibet). The Chiefs trailed at halftime in both games this season and as per the All Blacks rotation policy they may start some key players on the bench to stay within the restrictions of 180 minutes of rugby over the first three rounds.
Confidence/value: medium


Hurricanes vs. Sharks

5:05 PM AEDT, Sky Stadium, Wellington
View a detailed form guide for Hurricanes vs. Sharks

The Hurricanes bounced back from their 27-0 hammering by the Stormers by scoring two late tries to defeat the Jaguares 26-23 last week. They were second best for most of the contest but Jordie Barrett’s accuracy with the boot kept them in the game and they scored 14 unanswered points at the death to claim a fortunate victory.

The Sharks thrashed the Highlanders 42-20 last week in Dunedin to remain unbeaten for the season. It was a clinical, dominant display albeit against a Highlanders side that is a shadow of previous versions. The Sharks will now look look for back to back wins in New Zealand when they take on a Hurricanes squad that is playing in its third continent in as many weeks.

Betting: the Hurricanes have won their last four home games against the Sharks. They also boast a 6-1 record as the home favourite over the last 12 months. I expect this will be close, however, given the Hurricanes’ travel schedule. The Hurricanes opened as firm favourites but have drifted as a result over the Sharks’ wins, which has created a bit of value given I don’t rate the Highlanders or Bulls this season. I would back the Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.50 (Sportsbet) (other bookmakers are offering 1.38-1.41 odds at the time of writing). Those looking for more risk should consider the Hurricanes 1-12 at 2.70 (Sportsbet).
Confidence/value: low


Brumbies vs. Highlanders

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

The Brumbies won their 10th consecutive home game last week when they defeated the Rebels 39-26. Late points for the visitors made the game look closer than it was. The ACT side remains the only unbeaten team in Australia while not one of their local rivals has picked up a win this campaign.

My fears for the Highlanders’ season prospects were confirmed when they were completely outclassed in their 20-42 home defeat to the Sharks last week. This was on the back of a bye in Round 1. The Highlanders lost 15 experienced campaigners during the off-season and the drop in ensuing quality really shows. The wooden spoon in the New Zealand conference is my prediction for their season.

Betting: this is my best bet of the round. The Brumbies have gone 10-0 at home over the last 12 months while the Highlanders have gone 0-6 as the away underdog. The Highlanders have won their previous two visits to Canberra but they have since lost 15 squad members during the off-season, which has gutted the side of experience. I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.47 (Sportsbet, BlueBet, Unibet). Those looking for more risk should consider the Brumbies -5.5 at 1.91 (bet365) or the Brumbies 13+ at 3.30 (Sportsbet).
Confidence/value: high

Sunday, 16 February


Lions vs. Stormers

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

The Lions bounced back from their 8-38 defeat to the Jaguares in Round 1 by defeating the Reds 27-20 at home last week. It was a scrappy, hard-fought affair and the closeness of the result doesn’t bode well for the Lions’ playoff chances given the visitors had two players in the sin bin during the contest. If the Lions are to cause an upset this week then Elton Jantjies will have to be more accurate from the tee than he was last week. They will also have to reduce their handling error count.

Two weeks into the season the Stormers have yet to concede a point after they defeated the Hurricanes 27-0 in Round 1 and the Bulls 13-0 in Round 2. It was a physical, ill-tempered affair against the Bulls, which could be a preview of this match. The 13-0 scoreline should have been greater had Damian Willemse been more accurate than 1/5 from the tee.

Betting: the South African derbies so far have involved a lot of kicking possession away in low scoring games. I expect another such contest this week with the Stormers prevailing thanks to their brick wall defence. My only concern is this is the Stormers’ first away win of the season and they were poor away from home last year. If I were to bet on this game I would back the Stormers in the head-to-head at 1.38 (Sportsbet, Unibet).
Confidence/value: low


Jaguares vs. Reds

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

The Jaguares blew an 11-point lead in the 71st minute to lose 23-26 at home to the Hurricanes last week. This takes them to 1-1 for the season after they beat the Lions 38-8 in Round 1. Last week’s loss ended a 7-game unbeaten streak at home. The Jaguares controlled the game for 65 minutes so they will be furious to have let a win slip away.

The Reds fought hard but fell short against the Lions last week, losing 20-27 in a scrappy affair in Johannesburg in which the refereeing didn’t help their cause. This was on the back of their three-point defeat to the Brumbies in Round 1. Things don’t get any easier this week given the Jaguares will be furious about the nature of their defeat. Ill-discipline has been an issue for the Reds, which is something they will need to clean up if they are to cause an upset. Overseas games are hard enough as it is without having two players in the sin bin.

Betting: the Reds picked up an upset win in Argentina two years ago but the Jaguares now are a much tougher side that has won 8 of it’s last 10 games, compared to 3 out of 10 for the Reds. I would back the Jaguares in the head-to-head at 1.22 (Sportsbet), but I wish the odds were higher.
Confidence/value: low


Best Bet of the Round

Back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.47 (Sportsbet, BlueBet, Unibet)


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