The following are previews with betting tips for Round 2 of the 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa season.
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.
Saturday, 20 June
Chiefs vs. Blues
View a detailed form guide for Chiefs vs. Blues
The Chiefs had to overcome an arduous game-day travel schedule that started with a 6:30 AM bus ride to Auckland last week and fell 27-28 to the Highlanders in Dunedin. The two sides traded drop goals in the final minutes in a game that could have gone either way. Damian McKenzie featured prominently with 17 points from the boot but a missed sideline conversion proved the difference. The Chiefs were also unable to take full advantage of two yellow card infringements by the Highlanders. Both sides had issues with the new offside rule at the ruck so the Chiefs will need to tidy that up before this clash. The Chiefs’ lineout needs work but in a huge boost they should welcome back Sam Cane this week. It wouldn’t surprise me if Aaron Cruden gets the No. 10 jersey after starting on the bench last week.
The Blues overcame the Hurricanes 30-20 at Eden Park last week. They struggled early on with the new breakdown rules, but with the scores 14-13 at halftime, the Blues then ran out to a 30-13 lead in the second half before the Hurricanes scored a late consolation try. Both sides scored three tries but the Blues’ superior discipline was the difference as the Hurricanes coughed up repeated second half penalties. Otere Black cemented his hold on the kicking duties over Beauden Barrett with a 6-from-6 kicking display.
Betting: the Chiefs have lost 3 of their last 4 while the Blues are on a five-game winning streak. To win, however, the Blues will have to overcome an eight-game losing streak in Hamilton. Of the Chiefs’ last 16 home wins over the Blues, 13 were by 1-12 points and 10 were by 1-7 points, so the Blues were rarely too far off the pace. With the Auckland side finally looking like title contenders I will back the Blues +1.5 at 1.96 (Unibet). I’m expecting a close contest so an alternative option is to back both the Chiefs 1-12 at 3.05 (Unibet) and the Blues 1-12 at 3.50 (bet365, Unibet).
Sunday, 21 June
Hurricanes vs. Crusaders
View a detailed form guide for Hurricanes vs. Crusaders
The Hurricanes fell 20-30 to the Blues in Auckland last week with poor discipline enabling the hosts to pull away in 3-point increments. The Hurricanes’ lineout went astray and handling errors mounted as they were held scoreless from the 26th minute until the 78th minute. One advantage they have over the Crusaders is they’ve had a game to get used to the new breakdown offside rules, while the Crusaders had a bye in the opening round.
Prior to the Covid-19 disruption the Crusaders sat at the top of the New Zealand conference with a 5-1 record. Despite losing a huge amount of talent and experience during the off-season the Crusaders continued to be a major force. Their last defeat was back in Round 2. No other side had gone undefeated from Round 3 onward. In a team boost, the Crusaders welcome back All Black Sam Whitelock to the side after his plans to play in Japan were derailed by Covid-19.
Betting: the Crusaders have won their last five straight against the Hurricanes. The men from Canterbury are good travellers too, having won 7 of 8 over the last 12 months away from home. The Hurricanes’ forward pack came off second best against the Blues in the second half and life doesn’t get any easier this week. I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.44 (bet365). For those looking for more risk, given the Crusaders might cough up early penalties due to the new rules, the Hurricanes/Crusaders HT/FT selection at 6.50 (bet365) holds appeal.
Best Bet of the Round
Blues +1.5 at 1.96 (Unibet)