The following are betting tips for Super Rugby AU Round 5 & Aotearoa Round 4 for the 2021 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, 19 March
Rebels vs. Waratahs
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The Rebels picked up their first win of the season by narrowly edging the Force 10-7 in Perth last week. They led 10-0 until a 68th-minute try by the Force and red card to the Rebels set up a nervous finish. The Rebels finally crossed for their first tries of the season, but their offensive display won’t silence the critics who believe they rely too heavily on ill-discipline by opponents to accrue points. For all of their territory and possession advantage they couldn’t do nearly enough with it as handling errors undid their cause. After playing all of last season away from Melbourne and the first three games of 2020 the road, the Rebels finally return to AAMI Park this week for the first of four straight home games.
Prior to their bye last week the Waratahs’ dismal 2021 campaign continued with a 16-20 home defeat to the Force. This was on the back of heavy thrashings by the Reds and Brumbies. In all three games the Waratahs scored first but were overrun in the second half. Against the Force they led 13-0 at one stage and went on to lose despite the visitors finishing with 14 men. After just three games the Waratahs’ points differential is -89. The good news is the Waratahs put in a much better defensive performance in their latest game, which is something to build upon. They also picked up their first competition point of the season. The Waratahs just need to find a way to get their error count down, which is easier said than done.
Betting: the Rebels are only scoring 18.3 points per game this season and have only crossed the try line in one of three games, so the +11.5 line looks to be too big a head start for the Waratahs. Having said that, I have very little faith in the Waratahs and am loathed to back them in any capacity. I would simply back the Rebels in the head-to-head at 1.25 (bet365). For those looking for more risk I would back the Rebels 1-12 at 2.88 (Sportsbet). The total score markets aren’t yet available at the time of writing, but I would be leaning towards the under if the total is in the mid-40’s or higher.
Saturday, 20 March
Hurricanes vs. Chiefs
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Prior to their bye last week the Hurricanes fell 16-33 in Christchurch to the Crusaders to slide to 0-2 for the season. Much of the damage was done when the Hurricanes were down to 14 men, with the Crusaders scoring 21 while captain Ardie Savea was sin binned. The Hurricanes are sweating on the fitness of fly-half Jackson Garden-Bachop after he aggravated an Achilles injury against the Crusaders. Backup fly-half Simon Hickey is already out for the season with a knee injury and with no other specialist fly-half available, the Hurricanes are rumoured to be giving someone from their wider training squad the No.10 jersey.
The Chiefs extended their losing streak in Super Rugby to eleven games following a 17-39 away defeat to the Crusaders last week. They had a habit of being hard done by the referees last season and this trait continued with the Chiefs being on the end of some controversial calls in Christchurch. The Chiefs did concede too many penalties, however, and the Crusaders were definitely the stronger side on the night, particularly at the scrums. The good news is that Damian McKenzie is looking as dangerous as ever following a quiet 2020 campaign. For two weeks running the Chiefs have jumped out to an early lead. They just need to find a way to maintain that quality for longer.
Betting: the Hurricanes are looking to snap a 3-game losing streak while the Chiefs have lost all ten games in Super Rugby Aotearoa. Both teams are hurting. The Hurricanes lost by 15+ points in each of their last three defeats while the Chiefs lost by 16 points on average in their last four games. The Hurricanes have gone 1-4 at the line at home over the last 12 months but the Chiefs have failed to cover the line in each of their last four games as well as in each of their last four fixtures against the Hurricanes. If I had to place a bet I would take both the Hurricanes 1-12 at 2.75 (Unibet) and the Chiefs 1-12 at 3.40 (Sportsbet, Unibet).
Reds vs. Force
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The Reds avenged their AU final defeat to the Brumbies last season with a 40-38 win in Canberra last week. This required combing back from 0-17 down early on as well as overcoming a 15-point deficit with a quarter of the game to go. The Queenslanders are now 3-0 and remain the only unbeaten team in the competition. The Reds’ superior discipline proved to be the difference between the two sides. The Brumbies scored one more try than the Reds but the visitors only conceded six penalties, only one of which resulted in a shot on goal. The Brumbies, in contrast, conceded twelve penalties, four of which resulted in a successful kick at the posts. The Reds’ victory ended an 8-game losing streak in Canberra and puts them in the box seat for at least a playoff berth as they and the Brumbies appear to be a cut above the rest of the competition.
The Force slid to 1-2 for the season with a narrow 7-10 defeat at home to the Rebels last week. They didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 68th minute but the Force’s defending was again impressive after limiting the Waratahs to 16 points the week before. The Force will be left to rue the decision to turn down a kickable penalty with three minutes to play. They opted for a scrum instead because the Rebels had a man in the sin bin, but the tactic didn’t pay off. The scrum resets slowed the game down and ran out most of the remaining clock, before the referee awarded a contentious scrum penalty to the Rebels. It capped a night of set-piece issues for the Force.
Betting: the Reds have a 7-0 home record in Super Rugby AU but the Force have gone 5-0 at the line away from home over the last 12 months. The visitors have also gone 5-1 at the line in their last six games at Suncorp Stadium. I will stay clear of the Reds -14.5 and instead back them in the head-to-head at 1.19 (Sportsbet). For those looking for more risk I would back the Reds 1-12 at 3.40 (Sportsbet).
Sunday, 21 March
Blues vs. Crusaders
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The Blues thumped the Highlanders 39-17 in Auckland last week to move to 2-0 for the season. They dominated the set-piece whilst feeding off the visitors’ mistakes. The win extends their winning streak to five games, which sets up this mouth-watering clash with the Crusaders. This fixture was scheduled for the final round of last season but was cancelled due to a covid outbreak. The Blues look well balanced between the forwards and backs this season and they certainly look the side best placed to challenge the Cantabrians.
The Crusaders moved to 3-0 for the season with a 39-17 win over the Chiefs in Christchurch last week. They benefited from some poor refereeing decisions but were nevertheless the stronger of the two sides. They also did well to maintain their composure after falling behind 0-10. The Crusaders maintained their reputation for having a Rolls-Royce forward pack after they battered their counterparts by winning multiple scrum-penalties and dominating the breakdown. Fly-half Richie Mo’unga had a fantastic game as he continues to look like the best No. 10 in the country.
Betting: the Crusaders have won 12 straight games against the Blues but the Auckland franchise has improved remarkably in recent seasons. I’m expecting (and as a neutral, hoping) that the Blues give the Crusaders a real test, but given their fantastic away record (4-0 over the last 12 months and 9-1 in their last 10), I will side with the visitors. I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.70 (bet365). For those looking for more risk I would back the Crusaders 1-12 at 2.75 (Unibet). You could actually pair that bet with the Blues 1-12 at 3.25 (Sportsbet) if, like me, you’re expecting a close game.
Best Bets of the Round