The following are previews with betting tips for Round 2 of the Super Rugby AU season and Round 5 of the 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.
Friday, 10 July
Rebels vs. Reds
View a detailed form guide for Rebels vs. Reds
The Rebels started their Super Rugby AU campaign with a 23-31 defeat to the Brumbies in Canberra. They got the better of the set-pieces in the first half but struggled to find their rhythm as the hosts built a healthy lead. All four Brumbies tries came from attacking lineouts as they punished the Rebels’ ill-discipline. The Melbournians were also left to rue some poor decision making after they took a quick-tap following a penalty in front of the posts. With Victoria in lockdown this fixture will be played at Brookvale Oval in Sydney.
The Reds defeated the Waratahs 32-26 last week to end an 11-game losing streak to the NSW franchise and a 5-game losing streak to Australian opponents. The scoreline would have been bigger had the Reds been more disciplined or had Bryce Hegarty been more accurate from the kicking tee. James O’Connor successfully took over the kicking duties at the end so it will be interesting to see who gets the responsibility in this match. The Reds will be looking to work on their lineouts and discinpline heading into this fixture.
Betting: the Rebels did the double over the Reds last season and they have won 5 of the last 7 meetings between the two. The Reds have lost their last four away games however this is being played at a neutral venue. Of the two sides, the Reds have been the marginally more impressive in 2020. Both have a 3-2 record this year but the Reds had tougher opponents in the high-flying Crusaders and Sharks. I’m struggling to pick the winner, but with neither team having lost by more than 12 points this season, I will back both the Rebels 1-12 at 2.80 (Sportsbet) and the Reds 1-12 at 3.50 (bet365).
Saturday, 11 July
Crusaders vs. Blues
View a detailed form guide for Crusaders vs. Blues
The Crusaders are now 3-0 for the Aotearoa season after they defeated the Highlanders 40-20 in Dunedin. They trailed by 3 points at halftime due to poor discipline but pulled away late in the second half as the Highlanders fatigued. The Crusaders are now 8-1 in 2020.
Prior to their bye last week the Blues defeated the Highlanders 27-24 in a tense contest in Auckland. The win sees them move to 3-0 for the campaign. Once again the Blues are showing signs of being able to close out competitive contests after repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot in previous seasons. They will be pleased by the fact that they were able to win despite the forwards not having a great game.
Betting: the Crusaders haven’t lost at home since 2016. Since then they have gone 34-1-0 and 18-0 against domestic opposition in Christchurch. The Crusaders have won their last 11 against the Blues however I expect the visitors will make this a great contest. Given the host’s imperious home form, I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.36 (bet365).
Waratahs vs. Force
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The Waratahs fell 26-32 to the Reds in Queensland last week to extend their horror run of 1 win from their last 9 games. Their cause was helped by ill-discipline from the Reds as wells as wayward goal kicking by the hosts, but the Waratahs could only settle for a losing bonus point. The Waratahs weren’t helped by their penchant for kicking possession away.
The Force take on a Super Rugby opponent for the first time since their axing from the competition after the 2017 season. The Perth-based franchise has since participated in the National Rugby Championship and Global Rapid Rugby. The Force have brought new and returning players for the Super Rugby AU competition: Jono Lance, Kyle Godwin, Greg Holmes, Ollie Atkins, Kane Koteka and Jordan Luke. Veteran flanker Chris Alcock announced his retirement before the competition commenced.
Betting: the Waratahs have the advantage of having played a game under the new breakdown rules, which should help lower their penalty count compared to the visitors. I would back the Waratahs in the head-to-head at 1.31 (Sportsbet). At the time of writing they were as low as 1.24 with other bookmakers.
Sunday, 12 July
Hurricanes vs. Highlanders
View a detailed form guide for Hurricanes vs. Highlanders
The Hurricanes picked up their first win of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season last week with a 25-18 away victory over the Chiefs. They shot out to a 17-point halftime lead with Jordie Barrett returning from injury to take on the kicking duties. The Hurricanes then held on with 14 men for 35 minutes in the second half after Scott Scrafton picked up two yellow cards.
The Highlanders fought hard to take a halftime lead against the Crusaders last week but ran out of steam as the visitors showed their superior quality to run out 40-20 winners. This leaves the Otago/Southland side with 1 win from 3 in this competition and 2 wins from 8 in 2020.
Betting: the Hurricanes have won 5 of the last 6 games against the Highlanders and the visitors bring 1-6 away form into this clash. I would back the Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.46 (Sportsbet).
Best Bets of the Round
Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.46 (Sportsbet)