Super Rugby Round 5 Preview & Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 5 of the 2020 Super Rugby season.

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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, 28 February


Highlanders vs. Rebels

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

The Highlanders slid to 1-2 for the season after they were swatted aside 13-33 by the Crusaders in Christchurch last week. To their credit the Highlanders worked hard but they couldn’t convert their territory and possession into enough points. They now face a much more important fixture to the extent that it’s one they have a good chance of winning.

The Rebels slumped to 1-3 for the season with a 24-36 home defeat to the Sharks in Ballarat last week. Their build up to the game was hampered by the injury losses of fly-half Matt Toomua (undetermined time) and utility back Reece Hodge (six weeks). The Rebels stayed in touch and had their chances in the game but their backs came off second best as the Sharks’ backs showed superior speed out wide and were more clinical.

Betting: the Highlanders opened at 1.29 and have been crunched down to 1.19 the time of writing. As the opening odds I would have backed the hosts but the shift has eroded value. The Rebels have gone 0-6 as the away underdog over the last 12 months and are 0-4 in Dunedin but I give them a fighting chance of covering the +11.5 line against a Highlanders side that is far weaker than previous versions. The Highlanders won this clash by 6 points in 2018 and lost by 5 points to the Rebels in Melbourne in 2019. The Highlanders have only won once at home by 13+ over the last 12 months so if I were to bet on this game I would back the Rebels +15.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.53 (Sportsbet).
Confidence/value: low


Waratahs vs. Lions

7:15 PM AEDT, Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
View a detailed form guide for Waratahs vs. Lions

Prior to their bye last week the Waratahs fell 10-24 to the Rebels in very wet conditions in Melbourne. The Waratahs had never started the season 0-2 before and they now find themselves without a win in three games. All three defeats were by 14+ points and two of those defeats were to sides that will quite likely miss out on the playoffs. The Waratahs will have to cut back on their 19 unforced errors against the Rebels if they are to have any chance of turning their season around. The bye has probably come at a good time as it will have given the Waratahs a week to address their issues. They now play the Lions at Bankwest Stadium, a venue they went 0-3 at last season.

Prior to their bye last week the Lions conceded an 83rd minute try to fall 30-33 to the Stormers in Johannesburg. They are now 1-2 for the season. Worryingly the Lions have now lost 7 of their last 9 South African derbies having previously gone undefeated in 21 derbies. The Lions commence their four-game Australasian tour this week before they head home to host the Chiefs, so there are challenging times ahead.

Betting: the Waratahs opened as 2.25 underdogs but have since firmed into 1.65 favourites. At this stage I can’t back them, however. They bring a five-game losing streak into this clash with all five defeats coming by 11+ margins. They have also lost their last four straight home fixtures. The Waratahs have a five-game losing streak to the Lions and while four of those five games were played in Johannesburg, the last time the Lions visited Sydney they won 29-0. The Lions themselves are notably weaker now than they were then, however, and they have lost their last four straight away games. I will personally be sitting this one out, but if I were to bet on this game I would back the Lions +6.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.50 (Sportsbet).
Confidence/value: low

Saturday, 29 February


Hurricanes vs. Sunwolves


Prior to their bye last week the Hurricanes defeated the Sharks 38-22 thanks to a second half surge. The nature of the win was impressive given they had just played their third game in as many continents. They are now 2-1 for the season and are the only Kiwi team to have completed their tour of the South African conference.

The Sunwolves started the season with an upset win over the Rebels but they have since been brought back down to earth with a 17-43 home defeat to a rotated Chiefs squad and a demoralising 5-64 away defeat to the Reds. They conceded 10 tries to 1 in Queensland in a game that threatened to breach the point-per-minute mark at one stage. That performance certainly doesn’t bode well for their trip across the Tasman.

Betting: it’s hard to find value with the Hurricanes installed as 1.01 favourites. The -33.5 line is hard to touch because the Hurricanes might be tempted to rotate the squad or pull senior players off the field early. The hosts will be looking for a bonus point win but they don’t need to win by a 34-point margin to achieve that. I’m not prepared to back the Sunwolves +33.5 either because their defence has conceded 43 or more points in two of their three games this season. I will sit this game out.


Reds vs. Sharks

7:15 PM AEDT, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
View a detailed form guide for Reds vs. Sharks

After starting the season with three games in as many continents, the Reds played at home for the first time and thrashed the Sunwolves 64-5. They say there’s no place like home and that is certainly true for the Queenslanders, who have been far more effective at Suncorp Stadium compared to their 2-15 run away from Brisbane. We saw a glimpse of what the Reds were capable of a week earlier when they led the Jaguares by 12 points at the break. Against the Sunwolves the structures they put in place in training finally clicked as they executed their plans well. A key change to this year’s squad is the inclusion of James O’Connor at fly-half. His form has put him back into the reckoning for the Wallabies No. 10 jersey. The Reds looked like a million dollars against Sunwolves but we will learn more about their conference prospects when they face the in-form Sharks.

The Sharks moved to 3-1 for the season by defeating the Rebels 36-24 in Ballarat. The damage was done by the Shark’s superior speed out wide and quality finishing by their backs. Expectations were modest for this young Sharks side at the start of the season but they have been one of the pleasant surprises of the tournament. Curwin Bosch looks to be in his best position at fly-half and he’s been pulling the strings well this season.

Betting: this is a great game because both teams bring good momentum into it. Since 2015 all three meetings between the two were settled by 7 or fewer points and I see this year’s edition as an even contest. I will back both the Reds 1-12 at 3.25 (bet365) and the Sharks 1-12 at 3.00 (Sportsbet).
Confidence/value: medium

Sunday, 1 March


Stormers vs. Blues

12:05 AM AEDT, DHL Newlands, Cape Town
View a detailed form guide for Stormers vs. Blues

The Stormers sit at the top of the competition standings with a 4-0 record after they defeated the Jaguares 17-7 in wet conditions in Cape Town last week. Much like their first two wins, the victory was down to their excellent defence. Only one side has scored more than 7 points against the Stormers this season.

The Blues scored late to prevail 23-21 over the Bulls in a scrappy encounter in Pretoria last week to move to 2-2 for the season. Much of the win came down to self-inflicted damage by the Bulls, but the Blues will nevertheless be delighted to pick up just their second away win in nine trips.

Betting: the Stormers have won their last four straight at home against the Blues and they have gone 7-2 as the home favourite over the last 12 months. The Blues meanwhile have gone 2-7 as the away underdog over the last 12 months. I would back the Stormers in the head-to-head at 1.36 (bet365).
Confidence/value: medium


Bulls vs. Jaguares

2:15 AM AEDT, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
View a detailed form guide for Bulls vs. Jaguares

The Bulls slid to 0-3 for the season with a 21-23 home defeat to the Blues. The good news is the Bulls scored their first tries of the season in that match, but their offence still leaves a lot to be desired, with handling errors and ill-discipline undoing any good work.

The Jaguares are 2-2 for the season after they fell 7-17 away to the Stormers last week. The Jaguares had their chances during the game, but poor handling (in wet conditions to be fair) and ill-discipline hurt their cause. They were also the latest victim of the Stormers’ suffocating defence.

Betting: I can’t back the Bulls given their winless start to the season. The Jaguares prevailed in Pretoria last season so I will back the Jaguares in the head-to-head at 1.60 (bet365, BlueBet, Unibet). Given last year’s contest was settled by 2 points, an alternative to that bet is to back both the Bulls 1-12 at 3.50 (Sportsbet) and the Jaguares 1-12 at 3.00 (Sportsbet).
Confidence/value: low


Best Bet of the Round

Back the Stormers in the head-to-head at 1.36 (bet365)


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