The following are betting tips for the Super Rugby AU Qualifying Final & Aotearoa Round 10 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, 30 April
Hurricanes vs. Highlanders
View a detailed form guide for Hurricanes vs. Highlanders
The Hurricanes enter this fixture on the back of successive heart-breaking defeats. They lost to the Crusaders in extra time a fortnight ago and conceded an 84th minute penalty to fall 24-26 to the Chiefs last week. The Wellington side is 1-6 for the season and even if they win this fixture they will still finish with the wooden spoon.
Prior to their bye last week the Highlanders kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 35-29 home win over the Blues. In an even contest they took full advantage of ill-discipline by the visitors to secure their first home win of the season and improve to 3-4. Since that match the Chiefs’ upset win over the Crusaders torpedoed the Highlanders’ playoff hopes, so they will be playing for pride this week.
Betting: the Hurricanes have won five straight at home against the Highlanders, but the visitors have gone 6-1 at the line away from home over the last 12 months. Given 17 of the last 22 meetings between the two were settled by 1-12 points, I will back both the Hurricanes 1-12 at 3.20 (Sportsbet) and the Highlanders 1-12 at 3.60 (Sportsbet).
Saturday, 1 May
Blues vs. Chiefs
View a detailed form guide for Blues vs. Chiefs
The Blues suffered their 14th consecutive defeat to the Crusaders last week. The brutal 6-29 scoreline was reflective of the hosts’ dominance and it knocked the Blues out of playoff contention. The Auckland side was considered by many pundits to be the Crusaders’ biggest challenger at the start of the season, but following a 2-0 start they have since gone 1-4 as the franchise continues its reputation for under-performing. I put their persistent lack of success down to the fact that it has been an awfully long time since the Blues have had a world-class 9/10 pairing.
The Chiefs pipped the Hurricanes 26-24 in Hamilton last week to book themselves a spot in the final. They finished 2020 on a nine-game losing streak, which included a 0-8 run in Super Rugby Aotearoa, so many had feared for the worst when the Chiefs started this campaign on a 0-2 run. Since then, however, the Waikato side has won five straight with their last four wins coming by 1 to 3 point margins. Much of their success can be credited to the return to form of Damian McKenzie, who appropriately was the one who kicked the winning 46-metre penalty over the Hurricanes last week. It will be interesting to see the Chiefs’ squad selection this week given their place in next week’s final is already secure. This fixture has banana skin written all over it. In team news, The Chiefs have called up 37-year-old Liam Messam into the squad in response due their decimated loose forward stocks. In addition to Sam Cane, the franchise announced on Tuesday that Kaylum Boshier, Mitchell Karpik and Simon Parker are out for the rest of the season.
Betting: at the time of writing the rumours across the ditch are that the Chiefs will make a raft of changes for this dead-rubber. With their loose-forward stocks decimated and Damian McKenzie likely rested, I will back the Blues in the head-to-head at 1.27 (Sportsbet). As short as those odds seem, the Blues are as low as 1.18 with other bookmakers at the time of writing. For those looking for more risk I would back the Blues 1-12 at 3.10 (Sportsbet).
Brumbies vs. Force
View a detailed form guide for Brumbies vs. Force
Prior to their bye last week the Brumbies capitalised on Rebels’ errors and ill-discipline to grind out a 26-20 win in Melbourne. The win was significant because it ended a four-game losing streak for the Canberra side away against the Rebels. The Brumbies finished the regular season 2nd in the standings with a 6-2 record. Both defeats came against the table-topping Reds.
The Force booked their spot in the qualifying final with a 30-27 upset win over the Reds in Perth last week. The victory was all the more remarkable given the Force were down by 14 points at one stage and they had played for 30 minutes with 14 men due to three yellow card infringements. The win took them to 4-4 for the season, which was enough to secure the 3rd seed and final playoff spot. Belief is at an all-time high for the Perth franchise. After starting the season 1-4 they have won three straight to pip the Rebels in the playoff hunt. It could be argued that Tevita Kuridrani was lucky to receive a yellow card rather than a red in the second minute of last week’s clash and the judiciary panel has reached that conclusion, with Kuridrani since picking up a three-game ban which will rule him out of the Super Rugby AU finals.
Betting: the Force gave away three yellow cards and 16 penalties against a Reds side that had nothing to play for last week. A similar performance will see them beaten by the Brumbies. The Brumbies have won 11 straight against the Force and 8 straight against the Perth franchise at home. The host side has gone 8-1 in Canberra over the last 12 months while the Force have gone 2-6 away from home. I’m wary of the fact that the Force have gone 7-1 at the line away from home over the last 12 months so I will stay clear of the Brumbies at the line and simply back them in the head-to-head at 1.19 (Sportsbet). For those looking for more risk I would back the Brumbies 1-12 at 3.10 (Unibet).
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