The following are betting tips for Super Rugby AU Round 6 & Aotearoa Round 5 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, 26 March
Highlanders vs. Hurricanes
View a detailed form guide for Highlanders vs. Hurricanes
Prior to their bye last week the Highlanders were humbled 17-39 by the Blues at Eden Park to slide to 1-2 for the season. It was an error-ridden display, particularly early on, which saw the hosts run out to a 29-3 lead. The Highlanders have yet to put a quality 80-minute performance in this season so no doubt there was plenty coach Tony Brown had them working on during the bye week.
In a game of two halves the Hurricanes fell 29–35 to the Chiefs in Wellington last week to slide to 0-3 for the season. The hosts blew a 26-7 halftime lead to be out-scored 28-3 in the second spell. The Hurricanes showed poor game management in the second half and they now sit bottom of the table as the only side without a win in 2021.
Betting: the two sides have been hard to separate over the last few seasons. The Highlanders have won 10 of their last 21 against the Hurricanes and 5 of the last 10 against the Hurricanes at home. This version of the Hurricanes is the weakest I’ve seen in years, however, both in terms of halves quality and leadership on the field. I would back the Highlanders in the head-to-head at 1.60 (BlueBet). Keep a close eye on the odds, however. I wouldn’t back the Highlanders if they firm any further.
Brumbies vs. Force
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Prior to their bye last week the Brumbies’ unbeaten streak at home came to an end with a thrilling 38-40 loss to the Reds. The Brumbies outscored the visitors five tries to four and enjoyed at 17-point lead at one stage, but the twelve penalties conceded to the Reds’ six proved the difference as the visitors kicked four penalties to the Brumbies’ one. The Brumbies also came off second best at the scrums, losing three in total. The defeat ended an 8-game home winning streak over the Reds but the Brumbies are still in an excellent position to make the playoffs as they and the Queenslanders continue to be a cut above the rest of the competition.
The Force battled well in their 19-26 defeat to the unbeaten Reds in Queensland last week. The hosts jumped out to an early 14-3 lead before the Force won the remainder of the contest 16-12. The Reds outscored the visitors 4 tries to 1 but the boot of Jake McIntyre kept the Force in the contest. They didn’t get the win, but the Force have showed a notable lift in competitiveness compared to last season.
Betting: the Force have gone 1-5 away from home over the last 12 months but they have also gone 6-0 at the line. The Brumbies won this clash by 17 points last season but the Force are stronger this year. I will back them to improve on that 17-point deficit and back the Force +17.5 at 1.57 (Sportsbet). Four of the Force’s five away defeats over the last 12 months were by 1-12 points so those looking for more risk should consider the Brumbies 1-12 at 3.20 (Sportsbet).
Saturday, 27 March
Chiefs vs. Blues
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The Chiefs secured their first ever win in Super Rugby Aotearoa last week with a come-from-behind victory over the Hurricanes in Wellington. The hosts led by 19 points at halftime before the Chiefs roared to life in the second spell to end their 11-game losing streak. Once they tidied up the penalties conceded when in possession the Chiefs were duly rewarded.
The Blues fell 27-43 at home to the Crusaders last week to move to 2-1 for the season. They remain the only franchise other than the Crusaders with more than one win for the season, but the defeat is a blow for those who were hoping the Blues would pose the Cantabrians a sterner challenge. The loss was the Blues’ 13th in a row to the Crusaders. Both sides scored four tries but the five converted penalties to one count in favour of the visitors proved the difference. The Crusaders’ superiority in the halves was also telling. In team news, hooker Kurt Eklund has been suspended for three weeks after pleading guilty to a foul play offence last week.
Betting: the Blues have gone 2-0 as the away favourite over the last 12 months while the Chiefs have gone 0-5 at home. Also noteworthy is the Chiefs have gone 0-5 at the line at home over the last 12 months while the Blues have gone 4-1 at the line away from home and 2-0 at the line as the away favourite. I would back the Blues in the head-to-head at 1.52 (Sportsbet).
Waratahs vs. Reds
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The Waratahs fell 14-33 to the Rebels in Melbourne last week to slump to 0-4 for the season. The Rebels led 33-0 at the 77th minute before the Waratahs scored two late tries once the benches had cleared to cover up what would have been an embarrassing scoreline. The Waratahs actually had the better possession and territory stats but shot themselves in the foot with poor discipline, handling errors and lost line-outs. Their season hasn’t been helped by losing almost one quarter of their scrums this campaign, either.
The Reds top the AU standings with a 4-0 record following a 26-19 victory over the Force in Brisbane last week. They were made to work for the win in the wet conditions but will be pleased with their composure to secure another close contest. Their last three wins have been by 2, 2 and 7 points. The Reds outscored the Force 4 tries to 1 but blown opportunities and penalties conceded made the result closer than it needed to be.
Betting: the Waratahs fell 7-41 to the Reds in Round 1, which makes their 45-12 win over the Queenslanders last year look a distant memory. The hosts have averaged just 12 points scored this season whilst conceding a whopping 39 points per game. To put their defensive woes into perspective, the Reds and Brumbies are tied with the second worst average of 21. The Waratahs have won six straight at home against the Reds and covered the line in each of those six games, but this year’s edition of the NSW side is the worst in recent memory. The Reds would dearly love to end that streak and I expect they will. I would back the Reds -14.5 at 1.86 (Unibet).
Best Bets of the Round