The following is a preview with betting tips for Round 2 of the 2022 Super Rugby 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, 25 February
Highlanders vs. Crusaders
View a detailed form guide for Highlanders vs. Crusaders
The Highlanders put in a poor performance last week and were beaten 16-26 by the Chiefs. They were outscored by three tries to one in an average quality contest.
Leicester Fainga’anuku scored a hat-trick as the Crusaders saw off the Hurricanes 42-32 last week. The five-try offensive performance was impressive but less so was the four tries conceded. The Hurricanes also out-gained the Crusaders by 517 metres to 417. Nevertheless, it bodes well that the Crusaders still manage to win despite starting the season under-strength, with flyhalf Richie Mo’unga among those not featuring.
Betting: note that this game will be played without an audience. The Crusaders have won seven of the last eight meetings against the Highlanders. There are no real trends in the line betting so I will simply back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.25 (bet365).
Waratahs vs. Reds
View a detailed form guide for Waratahs vs. Reds
The Waratahs broke their 13-game losing streak by thrashing the Fijian Drua 40-10. Jake Gordon put in a captain’s performance as his side dominated from start to finish but a true measure of their form will come this week. They will have to clean up on the 19 missed tackles and 21 penalties conceded last round.
The Reds saw off the Rebels 23-5 in a scrappy encounter in wet conditions last week. The Rebels were their own worst enemy in that match, with the Reds leaving plenty of room for improvement, but the Queenslanders will nevertheless be pleased to start the campaign with a win.
Betting: the Reds endured a torrid losing streak against the Waratahs a few years ago so they will be very keen to build a sizable streak of their own. Their wins over the Waratahs last season were by 41-7 and 46-14 scorelines. I expect a much closer game on Friday but will still side with the Reds, who have a 6-2 record as the favourite when facing the NSW side. The Reds went 7-1 as the favourite last season while the Waratahs went 0-12 as the underdog. There are no clear trends at the line so I will simply back the Reds in the head-to-head at 1.36 (bet365).
Saturday, 26 February
Brumbies vs. Fijian Drua
View a detailed form guide for Brumbies vs. Fijian Drua
The Brumbies scored on the full-time siren to see off the Force 29-23 in Canberra last week. They outscored the visitors by four tries to two but the visitors were kept in the contest through penalty kicks and the Brumbies’ lineout woes.
The Fijian Drua commenced life in Super Rugby with a 10-40 defeat to the Waratahs. They put in a spirited performance but were completely outclassed. To highlight the discrepancy in experience, the Drua fielded just one player with any Super Rugby caps while the Waratahs fielded only one Super Rugby debutant.
Betting: at the time of writing the Brumbies are 1.02 favourites with a line of -27.5. The Brumbies will most certainly win this game but the winning margin will come down do hard the Brumbies choose to push out of the 80 minutes. With such a paucity of data on the Drua I will sit this one out.
Blues vs. Hurricanes
View a detailed form guide for Blues vs. Hurricanes
The Blues’ opening round fixture was postponed due to a covid outbreak in the Moana Pasifika squad. That postponement, combined with the fact that many of their players missed out on the NPC season due to Auckland’s covid restrictions means they might be under-cooked for the start of the season. In mixed team news, they have Beauden Barrett from Japan this season, however Patrick Tuipulotu is away on sabbatical.
The Hurricanes fell 32-42 in Round 1 to the under-strength Crusaders. Two late tries added some respectability to what was threatening to be a heavy scoreline. The Wellington dominated most of the stats but somehow came off as the losing side. The Hurricanes scored four tries and had three further tries disallowed, which bodes well for their offence going forward, but the five tries conceded reflected a poor defensive performance.
Betting: the Blues went 10-2 as the favourite over the last 12 months while the Hurricanes went 1-6 as the underdog. Nine of the Blues ten wins last season were by 8+ margins and their last four wins over the Hurricanes were by 9+ points. Given the early season uncertainty I will simply back the Blues in the head-to-head at 1.33 (bet365). Those who want to take on more risk should consider the Blues -8.5 at 1.97 (Sportsbet).
Rebels vs. Force
View a detailed form guide for Rebels vs. Force
The Rebels fell 5-23 to the Reds in Brisbane last week. Poor ball retention in the wet conditions undid their cause as they made life easy for the hosts. Rebels supporters will hope that their form improves as a few key players return from injury.
The Force fell just short against the Brumbies in Canberra last week. They took the lead with four minutes to go but conceded an 80th minute try to fall 23-29. The Force will be disappointed they couldn’t take greater advantage of their strong field position in the first half but the competitive showing in fortress Canberra bodes well for the rest of their campaign.
Betting: the Force won this fixture last year and they covered the line in five of their last six away games against the Rebels. I would back the Force +1.5 at 1.85 (Unibet).
Best Bets of the Round
Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.25 (bet365)