The following are betting tips for Super Rugby AU Round 8 & Aotearoa Round 7 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, 9 April
Rebels vs. Force
View a detailed form guide for Rebels vs. Force
The Rebels will be looking to make amends after they were thrashed 19-44 at home by the Reds last round. They did well to fight back after falling behind 0-24 but it was a poor home performance in which they conceded six tries. With a 2-3 record the Rebels still occupy the 3rd seed but the Force remain within striking distance and the Waratahs looked much improved last week.
Prior to their bye last week the Force were thrashed 14-42 by the Brumbies in Canberra to slide to 1-4 for the season. The game was over by halftime as the Brumbies ran in four unanswered tries. The Force weren’t helped by losing fly-half Jake McIntyre in the eighth minute, however the 9-0 first half penalty count didn’t help either. After hardly getting their hands on the ball in the first spell the Force were more competitive in the second but the result had already been determined by that point.
Betting: the Force have gone 1-6 away from home over the last 12 months but they also went 6-1 at the line in those fixtures. All twelve of the Rebels’ previous wins over the Force were by 1-7 points so I will back the Force +9.5 at 1.90 (Unibet). Those looking for more risk should consider the Rebels 1-12 at 2.80 (Sportsbet).
Saturday, 10 April
Highlanders vs. Chiefs
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The Highlanders caused the shock of the season by securing a deserved 33-12 away win over the previously unbeaten Crusaders last week. The Highlanders started as 20.5-point underdogs but dominated every facet of the game to record their first win in Christchurch since 2015 and end a seven-game losing streak to the Crusaders. The result was made all the more remarkable by the fact that the Highlanders had dropped six players midweek for breaching team code. How many of those players will get their spot back this week?
Prior to their bye last week the Chiefs snatched a win from the jaws of defeat to upset the Blues 15-12 in Hamilton. After a winless 2020 campaign and 0-2 start to this season the Chiefs are now 2-2 and will harbour genuine aspirations of making the final. Their resurgence seems connected to the form of talisman Damien McKenzie, who has found his feet again following an injury-plagued 2019 season and poor 2020 campaign. In a major blow to their season, co-captain and All Blacks captain Same Cane has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a pectoral injury.
Betting: little separates the two sides historically so given only 3 of the last 12 meetings between the two in Dunedin were won by 13+, I will back both the Highlanders 1-12 at 3.10 (Sportsbet) and the Chiefs 1-12 at 3.60 (Sportsbet).
Reds vs. Brumbies
View a detailed form guide for Reds vs. Brumbies
The Reds remain at the top of the AU standings with a 6-0 record after they thrashed the Rebels 44-19 in Melbourne last week. Most of the damage was done in the opening spell as the Reds raced out to a 24-0 lead. The 25-point winning margin is Queensland’s biggest against the Rebels in Melbourne. They now have the opportunity to virtually secure the top seed in the playoffs when they host the Brumbies this week.
The Brumbies saw off a spirited Waratahs side 24-22 in a scrappy game last week to move to 5-1 for the season. With complacency perhaps an issue the Brumbies put in a lacklustre performance. They will be pleased to have notched another away win to keep pace with the Reds in the race for the top seed, but a repeat of that performance would see them beaten easily this week.
Betting: the Reds have gone 8-0 at home over the last 12 months. They have won their last 4 home fixtures against the Brumbies and they did so by a 19-point margin last year. I would back the Reds in the head-to-head at 1.78 (Sportsbet).
Sunday, 11 April
Hurricanes vs. Crusaders
View a detailed form guide for Hurricanes vs. Crusaders
The Hurricanes fell 17-27 to the Blues in Auckland last week to remain at the foot of the table with a 1-4 record. They lacked a cutting edge inside the opposition 22 and didn’t cross the try line until the 77th minute when the game was out of reach. What the Hurricanes would give to have a quality 9/10 pairing again!
The Crusaders suffered a shock home defeat to the Highlanders last week. With the visitors limping into the fixture with just one win for the season and without six players, perhaps the Crusaders were guilty of complacency. They put in an error-ridden performance and were deservedly thrashed 12-33 by the better team on the night. The Crusaders still top the standings with a 4-1 record but their aura of invincibility following four prior 13+ wins (13, 17, 22, 16) has been diminished.
Betting: over the last 12 months the Crusaders have gone 5-0 on the road and 5-0 at the line on the road. They won all five of those fixtures by 13+ margins. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have lost their last two at home and they have gone 1-5 at the line at home over the last 12 months and 0-2 at the line as the home underdog. I would back the Crusaders -9.5 at 1.90 (Sportsbet).
Best Bets of the Round
Reds in the head-to-head at 1.78 (Sportsbet)