The following are betting tips for Super Rugby AU Round 9 & Aotearoa Round 8 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, 16 April
Highlanders vs. Blues
View a detailed form guide for Highlanders vs. Blues
The Highlanders suffered a heart-breaking 23-26 extra-time home defeat to the Chiefs last week. The Highlanders had fought back from 10 points down to force extra time before the Chiefs won the contest with a long-range penalty. The Southern side were left to rue Mitch Hunt’s off-day with the boot as he missed three penalties and a conversion. The result leaves the Highlanders sitting 4th in the standings with a 2-4 record. They are only 4 points behind the 2nd placed Blues, however, so their playoff hopes will remain alive if they win this fixture.
Prior to their bye last week the Blues defeated the Hurricanes 27-17 at Eden Park to move to 3-2 for the season. The quality of the game was poor but the Blues will be pleased to have ended a two-game losing streak. Owing to the Crusaders’ shock defeat to the Highlanders the Blues remain in contention for the top seed, but they have the Chiefs and Highlanders breathing down their necks in the race for the 2nd seed.
Betting: bookmakers have a good track record of predicting this result. In recent years the Highlanders have gone 8-2 as the favourite and 3-9 as the underdog against the Blues. The Blues have also gone 7-1 as the favourite over the last 12 months, so with them installed as the favourite for this clash, I will back the Blues in the head-to-head at 1.60 (Sportsbet).
Saturday, 17 April
Chiefs vs. Crusaders
View a detailed form guide for Chiefs vs. Crusaders
The Chiefs moved up to 3rd in the standings with an extra-time 26-23 win over the Highlanders in Dunedin last week. It continues a long trend of close contests between the two sides. The kicking accuracy of Damian McKenzie proved to be the difference as he went 6/7 while the Highlanders missed a flurry of kicks. The Chiefs sit just two points behind the Blues in the race for the 2nd seed so they still have everything to play for.
The Crusaders squeaked past the Hurricanes in Wellington last week with a 30-27 extra-time win. This was on the back of a shock home defeat to the Highlanders so after looking invincible for four games the Crusaders suddenly look vulnerable. For two games running the Crusaders have put in error-ridden performances. The win last week came at a cost with Jack Goodhue and Joe Moody both picking up serious injuries.
Betting: the Chiefs have gone 1-5 at home, both in the head-to-head and at the line, over the last 12 months, while the Crusaders have gone 6-0 in the head-to-head and 5-1 at the line. I will back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.37 (BlueBet).
Force vs. Waratahs
View a detailed form guide for Force vs. Waratahs
The Force upset the Rebels 16-15 in Melbourne last week. Defence won the day as they kept the hosts try-less. It has to be said it was a low-quality game that underscored the gap between the Reds & Brumbies and the rest of the competition. The Force are now 2-4 for the season and sit just one point behind the Rebels in the race for the 3rd playoff spot.
Prior to their bye last week the Waratahs lost 22-24 at home to the Brumbies. They had axed head coach Rob Penney prior to that clash and the side responded with a spirited second half performance against the heavily favoured visitors. A conversion attempt after the final hooter missed the posts as the Waratahs almost forced extra time. Captain and halfback Jake Gordon made his first start of the season after recovering from injury and he had a clear positive influence on the side as they showed more direction in attack. The competitive showing was a marked improvement on the 10-61 hammering the Waratahs received at the hands of the Brumbies in Round 2. Making the playoffs is likely a bridge too far but the Waratahs can now entertain thoughts of avoiding the wooden spoon.
Betting: with Jake Gordon back I’m going to take my chances with the Waratahs +7.5 at 1.90 (Sportsbet).
Sunday, 18 April
Rebels vs. Brumbies
View a detailed form guide for Rebels vs. Brumbies
The Rebels fell 15-16 at home to the Force last week to slump to 2-4 for the season. The result means the Force now sit just one point behind them in the hunt for the 3rd playoff spot. The Rebels dominated territory and possession against the Force but paid the price for their inability to cross the try line, with all of their points coming from penalties. To compound matters, the Rebels have likely lost Reece Hodge for the season with a knee injury while Matt Toomua may miss this clash after failing a head injury assessment. The good news is that Dane Haylett-Petty may be available after recovering from a concussion that has kept him out since October last year.
The Brumbies fell 22-24 to the Reds in Brisbane last week to move to 5-2 for the season. They will feel they let one slip away after leading 22-13 in the 56th minute before the Reds kept them off the scoreboard for the rest of the contest. Both of their defeats this season have come to the Reds, who have now secured the 1st seed while the Brumbies have locked in the 2nd. It will be interesting to see how the Brumbies approach this fixture given they can’t improve or worsen their standing and they have a bye for the final round next week.
Betting: the Brumbies have lost four straight away against the Rebels. The home side has only lost one game by more than 7 points over the last 12 months so I would back the Rebels +8.5 at 1.89 (bet365). Those who are more risk averse may want to wait and see if Matt Toomua is cleared to play.
Best Bet of the Round
Waratahs +7.5 at 1.90 (Sportsbet)